Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Apparently time flies when you're NOT having fun!

It's amazing how another week has already passed. It's 21.30pm as I sit here on a Tuesday evening. Two days down, two to go before the end of week number four.

The weeks are starting to become very repetitive. Get up, lectures, lunch, lectures, dinner, revise, go to bed. Get up, lectures, lunch, lectures, dinner, revise, go to bed and so on...That's not to say however that I'm not getting time in to do other things as well.

The great thing about this course structure is that in line with studying we are also expected to continue flying. Last Friday I managed to get into the air to do a bit of time building with my instructor. Having been focusing on the run up to the FAA PPL recently it was quite refreshing to be able to relax a little bit and I found I actually learnt more in the more mellow environment than I normally would!

Saturday was spent revising and then Sunday I was able to get into the air once again. This time however was a bit of a different story compared to the flight two days previous.

As the week before, the Sunday afternoon is something I am still becoming accustomed to and it wasn't helped when I found out, with a big smile on his face, that my old instructor would be joining us for the flight. Being someone who doesn't shy away from a sarcastic comment or two and someone who gets on well with my current instructor I knew if nothing else this flight would certainly be interesting.

Aircraft ready for departure we headed to the active runway. Five minutes later we were leaving Melbourne airspace and heading into the practice area. A few manoeuvres under the hood and visually it was time to be diverted.

"First find out where we are, then I want you to take me to River Ranch (an airfield next to a small town in the middle of nowhere)."

Location found, route calculated and we were off. En route a bit of light hearted (at least I hope!) banter broke out between instructors before we entered the pattern at River Ranch.

Trees on three sides of the airport

The airport is quite peculiar in that it is surrounded on three sides by trees. On previous occasions this had been great as it would cut out all wind components close to touchdown aiding nice smooth landings. However these were no very calm days and although Sunday was not exactly windy there was a significant amount of mechanical turbulence, something I hadn't experienced before, which made landing much more difficult.

Two landings and then we headed back into the practice area for a couple more manoeuvres. Having completed the 'S-turns' it was time to try turns around a point.

Turns around a point involves pretty much what it says. The idea is to remain at one thousand feet, manoeuvre speed (approx. 90 knots) and the same distance from a point on the ground. This sounds pretty easy but taking into account the winds it can become quite difficult, especially when the two instructors decided they should make it a little more 'challenging.'

Usually we use static structures such as buildings or barns but no - I was to do turns around a cow. Cow found, I began the procedure. I thought I completed it within standards but both were unsure as to which cow in the field of hundreds I had chosen so we agreed to disagree and as the sun started to disappear over the horizon we headed back to Melbourne.

Having both instructors was at first the sign of a nightmare but in fact I thoroughly enjoyed the flight and great to get feedback from both.

Monday morning came as a bit of a shock as the alarm went off at 6.30am. Up I got and again headed into ground school for one full day (until 5.45pm) before again heading to the Flightline for another flight.

Since starting flying here in Melbourne all I have wanted to do is night flying. There is just something that attracts me to it. Maybe it's the tranquillity, the sense of knowing where you are but not being able to see it...or maybe it's just all the fancy coloured lights everywhere...

Whatever it is I arrived nice and early for my flight to get a bit of extra revision in. It was also great to bump into my old instructor who was happy to help me with a few questions!

We finally got airborne at 8pm and headed once again, yet only briefly into the practice area to complete two unusual attitudes and one steep turn before entering the pattern here in Melbourne. What I found most surprising was how much easier it was to land the plane. There are apparently a number of different reasons for this that I'm not 100% hooked up on yet but for one thing I'm sure I want to get back up into the night sky at some point in the near future!

As well as flying I've also been able to get in a couple of sports games including watching the Ireland v Australia game at 4am on Friday morning with a number of over excited Irishmen. The real business however happened on Sunday as the Theatre of Dreams, Mecca, the home of the Premier League saw another world class team shot down by a lethal Manchester United side.

My post title says 'not having fun' and as I've typed I've started to think less and less of that. It has actually been an enjoyable week, a week of learning lots of new things, watching some fantastic sport and getting into the air more than I was expecting. Please don't get me wrong, the course is going great. The ATPLs are not as challenging (yet) as I had fully intended them to be however when I sit here in my room with the weather outside being thirty degrees minimum, an airport down the road with aircraft there I could take to the very corners of Florida and beyond; sitting here with books, questions and a cup of tea is not exactly what I'd call fun.

However it could be much worse...I could be an Arsenal fan.


  1. Great post, they certainly fill your time! I imagine it was quite good fun listening to the banter between instructors, love the cow!

    Reference man u's win, my wife's a spurs fan and was pleased her team lost by less if only to avoid a mickey taking from the gunners fans in her office!

    Keep up the hard work and thanks for blogging!

    Dave from the UK

  2. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the comments! :-)