Saturday, 6 August 2011

Our new home

Nearly another week has passed and some more flying has been done. Not only work in the air but work on the ground has also been taking place as I write this from my new accommodation.

Last weekend dozens of students made moves to new residences across campus. For a number of different reasons since our arrival we were put into 'halls' where we each had a large room and a share bathroom.

Said building while on approach into Melbourne International (KMLB)

Each floor was split into north and south with a communal area in the centre. On the 'north side' there originally six of us but with a couple of additions and one leaving we ended up as a seven. The remainder of the male contingent of the course were on the 'south side' while our female colleagues were in a different hall on campus.

Anyway, it was announced we would be moving to our permanent accommodation last weekend and from Friday to Sunday it was time to pack up, move and unpack. Where we are now is a great improvement on where we were for the simple fact that we are now able to cook for ourselves (the halls had no cooking facilities other than a microwave). 

Each apartment comes with a kitchen, living area, bathroom and two bedrooms (I sound like an estate agent [or realator as they call them over here...])

New room here in Melbourne

Where I am now staying is called 'Southgate Apartments' and is where I will stay for the remainder of my training here in Florida. It is just across the road from the main Florida Institute of Technology campus.

Southgate Apartments while on approach into Melbourne International (KMLB)

Flying wise this week I've been focusing on preparing for my JAA progress test  in the coming week or so. The check is conducted internally by a JAA qualified instructor. The progress test covers everything required by JAA from stalls and cross country flying to different types of landings. More on that in a future post.

With my instructor we have been covering pretty much everything I have been doing over the past two months in the sky. I have never really been one for repetition but with each manoeuvre comes a different procedure and by doing each frequently and consistently I find it very beneficial. I'm sure all have improved considerably over the past week. 

During the past week I've also started to look at the dreaded ATPL material. The worst four letters in any JAA student pilot's training. Just mention those four letters in that order to any JAA trainee and you'll see their eyes wince, their skin go pale and a shiver as if someone had just walked over their grave.

Every pilot's nightmare - 'the ATPLs'

Six months, fourteen exams, three modules. Almost everything that you would want (and even wouldn't want!) to know about everything with the word 'plane' in it or associated to it is covered. Our first day of ground school begins on the 29th August putting it little over three weeks away. However I'm sure this subject will be exhausted on here over the next six to seven months. 

Finally, yesterday evening I back seated a night flight in the pattern here in Melbourne with a fellow student. Since arriving here I've wanted to get up at night as see the lights of the airport and the surrounding area. It didn't disappoint. Having arrived at the Flightline it was great to see how quiet and deserted it was. There was literally our flight and that would be it. All paperwork complete we headed out to the plane.

Due to work on the ramp the aircraft aren't currently parked in their normal parking spaces therefore after ten minutes or so we did eventually find our plane. Pre-flight complete, instructor ready, student ready, we headed out to the run up area where we would test the engine at a high RPM rate.

As my fellow student was running through his checks he noticed that in fact the flight controls (the yoke that makes the plane turn about two of it's axes) were not "full, free and correct." They were actually quite stiff so we returned to the ramp for a quick look by maintenance. A bit of WD-40 and a cloth did the trick and in no time we were back where we left off.

Taxiing to the runway I was a bit taken aback by the difference of flying during the day. Obviously I expected the visuals to be different but the beauty of a lit up airfield was truly fantastic.

We departed on Runway 27L and entered the pattern on Runway 27R. The instructor was very keen to put his student through his paces by having him land in different configurations and landing types. 

Runways 5/23 and 9L/27R are much shorter than the main runway 9R/27L and only the latter has lights running down the centreline. It wasn't until the second to last landing (below) as we turned onto final and you could see the whole runway lit up like a Christmas tree that I realised how much I'm going to love night flying.

Landing at night on Runway 27L at KMLB

The best part of the evening by far was when the instructor, after take-off following the above video asked if she would be so kind to turn of the centreline lights for the final approach - much to the disapproval of the student! 

Tomorrow I hope to get in my second cross country solo done and then early next week get back into it with my instructor.


  1. Another great post, pix and video. For your purposes, that simple room will probably do just fine for the 6-8 months that you'll be there. Sleeping and studying (even the ATPL materials)is all you need to do for a while . As for the runway center lights going dark: Good move by the instructor! Keep the reports coming. Your fan base is growing and you have lots of support!
    -Craig (Cedarglen)

  2. Great post! I really like the addition of the videos on your blog! Have fun with your ATPL....Last year I thought my PPL books where much when school gave em.

    During landing...was that the stall buzzer going off?

  3. Thanks Craig! :-)

    Kip, it was the stall warning sound going off meaning the aircraft was approaching it's maximum angle of attack before lift is lost. The idea is to hear it for a split second before touching down but here it is more prevalent.

    It wasn't the best landing by my colleague I must admit...

  4. Dave W said.....

    I wish Blogger would sort it's access issues!

    My goodness, that's a lot of learning, but hey, get it out the way now while your brain's still a sponge!

    I too was going to ask about the stall buzzer so instead I'll ask about turning off the centre lights - was it done for a joke or were they left off and if so I'm guessing it makes for more difficult judgement of situational awareness?

    Keep up the hard work and the great blog!


    Dave from the UK

  5. Hey Dave,

    It was done as a sort of party piece but also a learning tool. When flying at night while here in the US the likelihood is we'll not be flying to many airports that have centre line lights therefore why not become proficient without them and if we are at any time lucky enough to have one then it can be used as a tool?

    Hope this answers your question.

  6. Dave W said....

    Hi there, thanks for the quick response, yes it does answer my question, I guess you are spoilt at KMLB then - as a result of your video posting I saw your others on youtube - a good collection so far, are the instructors ok with you filming on flights?, I appreciate you are in the back seat so not taking part in the flight as such.


    Dave from the UK

  7. Yes the instructors are fine with it. All of those that I have come across have been very good and as long as the learning environment isn't disturbed they are happy.