Saturday, December 09, 2006

Trip to Groton

Nothing beats the feeling of completing a well planned cross country. I had read about it on blogs earlier, but experiencing the feeling yourself is a whole different pleasure !

So this morning I flew a long cross country with my instructor. 105 nm from caldwell, located along the coast of Connecticut, Groton (GON) provides for a really scenic flight. So the journey really began yesterday night with the cross country planning. Winds were forecast to be 12 gusting to 18. There was a strong tailwind expected enroute to Groton and a strong headwind on the way back. Other than that the weather looked pretty nice. After 2 hours of going over maps, weather data, fiddling with E6B I had a flight plan (to and from) finally charted out.

Since I had an 8-12 morning slot booked with my instructor, today was one of those days when I actually got to see the sunrise (well not actually, cause apparently the sun likes to get up much earlier this time of the year). The first thing I did was to check up on the weather and see that things did actually look as forecasted. Called up the weather briefers and got a rapid fire rundown on the weather. Things looked good and winds aloft were as forecasted. So far so good.

Once at the airport and preflight done, I went over the flight plan with my instructor quickly. I was worried that I had chosen check points too far apart, but I guess not really. As per the flight plan we were planning to try and get clearance to transition through the NY class Bravo airspace. The flight to Groton was expected to take 50 minutes. Everything set up, I started taxiing. The sense of adventure was high as I had never gone east of the airport esp. close to the class Bravo inner circles.

Since there was no traffic, we got an immediate takeoff clearance and a downwind departure. The weather was awesome, light winds, 10+ SM visibility and clear skies. Once downwind I started looking out for my first checkpoint while climbing to my first altitude.

After leaving the caldwell airspace, we dialled in NY Approach and tried to contact them for transition. Apparently they were too busy so we couldn't get through to them. Ok, time to deviate from the plan. We turned left to keep out of Bravo and avoid other airspaces around. My instructor guided me on how to keep clear of airspaces so that we wouldn't get yelled at by anyone and would still be able to get to our route. We passed the hudson between the Tapenzee and the GWB bridges. What an awesome sight. The city does look awesome from up there. From over hudson we headed for the coast line close to HPN. From there we intersected the planned route back and the rest of flight was uneventful but scenic. Flying over the coastline has a lot of advantages. The coastline provides a nice profile using which you can easil y locate your position. The awesome scenery is definitely an added bonus. Further off towards the horizon we could see the tip of long island.

I had planned for a cruising altitude of 5500 but since we had done most of the flight at 2500 to avoid airspaces we decided to climb up only to 3500. I guess I did a pretty good job of locating my checkpoints (well we didn't get lost at any point, if that helps :) ). On the way my instructor asked me to do quite some E6B work. "What's our ground speed", "How much time to destination", "How much fuel will be burn" were some typical questions. I guess I am also getting more used to using the E6B since the calculations are becoming more clockwork.

The ATIS at Groton was out as per the NOTAMs I had got in the morning. So we called up tower with negative ATIS and requested touch and go with west departure. As there was no traffic we got a right downwind entry for 23. Groton, what an airport? Wide runway with land on one end and water close to the other. The touch and go was pretty uneventful and thankfully to the winds (or absence thereof), it was pretty smooth too. Good thing I had read up on the airport information again in the morning as I remembered that the departure procedure for Rwy 23 calls for a turn to 210 till reaching 1000 feet. So I followed that and got clearance from tower to turn right. Back on route we were expected to have slower groundspeed and thus the journey back was expected to take 77 minutes. But luckily the winds weren't as strong so we had a higher groundspeed.

Since I had decided to use the same checkpoints on the way back, the return journey was much easier. Again the same exercise of carefully avoiding the airspace as we flew under the Bravo. Coming over yonkers we hit some turbulence, but nothing that I can't manage by now. Coming closer to caldwell, my instructor asked me to use the NDB for paterson and I did a fair job at tuning it in. Oh yea, note to Cessna, please angle the ADF channel display as 13 looks like 3 :). I had dialled 1347 instead of 347 without realizing that I couldn't see the 1.

We got a straight in for rwy 27 and there was hardly any traffic. My approach and landing were pretty ok, not the best but then I have done much worse !!

All in all, the cross country pretty much went as planned, around 2.4 hours flight time, almost as planned. Since I am going on vacation for a month, won't be flying for the next month. But after coming back I definitely do look forward to doing some more cross countries with my Instructor and hopefully I'll be able to pick some more interesting and scenic locations to go to.

Till then, Blue skies.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Yay baby, I soloed !!!

The title says it all, doesn't it? This Sat. I went on the most amazing ride of my life.. I soloed :)
As one of the instructor at the flight school said, its just another milestone, but a milestone nonetheless....

I had been trying to solo for the last couple of flights but sometimes the weather was bad, at other times I was :( Anywho, this sat. I had my mind set on giving my best shot. So after a week of rains, this saturday it cleared up. The winds were light. I was out partying fri. night and so stayed in NJ overnight.

While waiting at the bus stop I ran through my previous flights and what I had done wrong and what I could have done differently. When I got to the flight school, the weather had got pretty nice, so I had my hopes up.

Preflight done, me and my instructor got out to the runway. Apparently there was a lot of traffic (saturdays sometimes get quite busy at the airport). And to top it all the winds were 110 @8 which meant that caldwell was using Runway 9. In my 5 months of training there, I have never seen runway 9 being used. So this was all different. Anyway, after waiting for 5-7 minutes at the holdshort line, we got cleared for takeoff left closed traffic.

I lined up, transponder, lights and off we go. The takeoff was good and I flew up at Vy. It was crazy up there. Everyone trying to get in the pattern or contact the tower. When we were downwind tower had to ask everyone to standby. This meant we had to extend our downwind. We almost went out over lake boonton, when tower called queued us in. I started planning for descent, but never having gone so far on downwind I didn't have a good idea of descent. So I put in my flaps a bit early and then had to add power to arrest the descent. Runway 9 has a tree right before the runway and the threshold doesn't seem displaced enough (or maybe I was just too high), but that does add to a level of uneasiness. Anywayz, I managed to do a decent landing. Off the runway, we taxi back to the hold short line. Again after some wait, we do a second and third pattern. Each time as I got more familiar with this setting I got more comfortable and had a better approach. It was almost 4 pm, the end of my slot. After getting off the runway, my instructor took over the flight controls.

I had a sunken feeling that I wasn't going to solo today. As we taxied back, my instructor started talking about what I should be doing when I get back out here. At first I was like "Yay!!" then "uh.. oh !!". Sheepishly I asked, "so does this mean I solo??". His reply, "Yea, sure :)"

So we came back to the ramp, he got out, endorsed my logbook and then with a few words of wisdom and the time by when I should be back, he left. I was nervous as hell, but then as I started going through the checklist, everything fell into place and I had the thought "Hey, I've done this before so many times, what's the worry". So I did the engine startup and started taxiing. I called up ground telling them it was my first solo flight. The ground controller told me that I had quite some work cut out for me as it was pretty busy up there and asked me to be careful. Remembering the crowded skies some time back, I responded with a slight laugh "roger". Turning onto the taxiway I saw another plane further down on the taxiway coming up. For a moment I wasn't sure what to do (another first and one of my mistakes for not seeing far enough down). Then I saw the space on the right between two hangars and taxiied to the right into the space. The other cessna, passed my left and I taxiied back onto the centerline.

After taxiing back to the hold short line and doing the engine run-up, I called up tower. This time around, traffic didn't seem that heavy and I was cleared right after two cessna's made their landings for the day.

Lined up with the runway centerline, I spoke those eternal words that probably every solo flight student utters: "This is it !! There is no turning back". transponder and landing lights on, full power, track the centerline, and off I go. A little right rudder and I am climbing at Vy. I have another guy turning crosswind. So I wait for him to turn downwind and clear my wing, after which I turn crosswind. I see myself coming up at 1000AGL. Which means time to pitch the nose down to maintain altitude and as speed comes up at 90-95 knots. Scanning for traffic, I turn downwind and trim the aircraft to maintain level flight. I call up the tower as soon as I get a chance, and he tells me there is a guy on downwind. I spot the traffic and say "traffic in sight", so he clears me "no 3 to land". I fly to my point, start configuring for landing. Looking over my left wing I see that I've passed the numbers... hmm.. next time I need to configure as I pass over the numbers. Anywayz, no problem, I'll just extend my downwind a bit. I turn base, once the aircraft I am following clears my left wing. ok.. onto base, approaching the turn to final, next set of flaps in, final approach clear and I turn final, rolling out almost on the centerline. ok, final flaps in. Now to start correcting for the wind. Keeping the runway ahed of me I crab so that I can maintain the ground track to the centerline. The descent rate looks good, the speed is also good. need to get it to 70 knots for the slight chops on short final. I pass over the tree and then slowly walk the power out as I pass over the numbers for runway 9. I fly the plane down to the runway, roundout and flare. This is the part where I need some work. I try to maintain the ceterline but am a little off. The touchdown is pretty nice. I didn't grease it but then I also didn't just thud and bump :)

Getting off the runway, I taxi back to the hold short line. As I am taxiing I can't stop grinning. I have finally done it. I have soloed :)

I looked at the right seat and for a moment it felt strange to find it empty. I knew that if my instructor had been with me, he would have been proud. Well, I couldn't wait to get up in the air again. Again the departure was quick and nice. As I turned downwind, tower asked me to do a right 360 for spacing. Ok, no problem. I've done that before. I did a nice 360 to the right and notice a mooney joining the downwind. The tower then called me up and said "As you might have seen, there's a mooney who passed under your left and would be at your 1 o clock as you roll out, follow him, number 2 to land". I acknowledged, rolled out back on the down-wind and spotted the mooney, well not exactly at my 1 o clock , but around 11-12 o clock. Anywayz, I configured the plane a little after passing the numbers and started setting up the descent. The descent was nice and I crossed the tree at a much better altitude. I walked the power out and tried to maintain the centerline. I levelled off above the runway and then started flaring. I guess I didn't apply enough correction to maintain the centerline and off the side of my eye I could see the runway edge approaching closer.

This doesn't look good !!! I immediately appllied right rudder and a little bit of right aileron. The plane still seemed to be floating left. I resisted the urge to tip the nose down and applied more right rudder. Then the plane settled down on the runway and I saw that I had landed way off the centerline almost at the edge of the runway. Not good at all. I cursed myself all I could, but then was glad, I had seen and corrected it in time, not to land on the grass.

By then it was getting dark and my instructor had called up the tower to let me know that it was time to get back, although it was before the time he had mentioned. The following were the tower's words, verbatim... "3CL, your base has said this is the last one which sounded like to me you knew, cross rwy 22, turn right at papa and contact ground point niner, and dont know what's its worth, you did a really nice job today sir, it looked good from up here.."

That felt good and I wondered if they had seen my horrible second landing. Anywayz, it was getting hazy and dark and it definitely was a wise choice to head back. I taxiied back to the ramp and did the engine shutdown checklist. The fueller helped me tow back the plane and then he got busy fuelling the plane. With the plane secured I walked back to the school. I was felling happy and sad at the same time, but I couldn't stop grinning... :D

The first big milestone had been achieved. 5 months of training had paid off and I was back a more confident pilot. As I had read on some other student pilots blog, I did the checklist... 2 feet, check, 2 arms check, 1 secured airplane, check and 1 insanely crazy head.. checked.. :)

Now its time for stage checks and cross country and as my instructor says, its all downhill from here. Let's hope its that way ....... can't wait to get to the fun stuff.. now :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Review by night...

Wow !! What a day. Today was my review flight. All day long the wind was gusting really strong. I couldn't get much time at work today to check the weather in detail, so I headed out in the evening anyway to the airport. On my way to the airport I got a call from the instructor saying that it was pretty gusty and if I had not started, then perhaps we should postpone, but then it was a bit too late. So I went there anyway :)

Turns out, by the time I reached the airport, the winds had calmed down a bit, so we decided to go on with the review of whatever has been done till now. So off I headed to do the preflight. It was getting dark outside and my flashlight turned out to be handy. It's also started to get a little chilly outside, oh well... time for some warmer clothes. As per the ATIS winds were 330@8, not as strong as during the day 330@12 gustin to 22kts.

With the engines running and plan of action decided, it was taxi time. Seems like I am getting pretty comfortable with taxiing. Very few mistakes while taxiing.

As soon as we took off, the winds started showing their strength. It was quite difficult to keep it climbing at Vy and heading straight at the same time. Today my instructor showed me how to transition through another airspace, alebit another class D airspace. Then we did some VOR tracking again my first. Well actually I've been playing flight sim for over an year now and since its well suited for IFR, I've done a lot of virtual flying with VFR tracking. In real life, the needle seems to be a little bit more sensitive, but otherwise it was pretty easy. Due to the strong headwind, it seemed like forever for us to reach the VOR station. IAS was 95 kts and we had headwind of 34-35 kts.

After doing some simulated IFR, we climbed up to 3500 ft and reviewed slow flight, stalls, etc. I did a fairly good job at it I guess. I was glad that even in strong winds I was able to maintain my altitude, attitude and heading fairly well.

Time just flew by and it was time to head back. Its tough findng your way back at night, so my instructor showed me some neat tricks and signs to locate my whereabouts :) Approach was pretty normal, windy but normal.

The final approach was different today. Given that there was no traffic around the airport, tower asked us to report 2 mi out at left base for rwy 4. While approaching the turn to final I realized that the runways don't show up unless you're almost in line with them. So concerned I made a really steep turn on final and was soon warned by my instructor never to do it again. Point well taken :)

Landing was a bit whizzy with winds trying to blow us one way and me trying to get the airplane the other. But ultimately touch down was ok and I did land on the runway .. :)

So all in all it was a great night of flying and with 31.2 hours under my belt I am another step closer to soloing.

Till then, blue skies

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Landings Continued....

A month !! That's how long its been since my last flight. Probably a bit more. Riding on the bus on my way to the flight school, I was thinking about this and was sure that I would have forgotten a lot of stuff and would be all over the place. So I tried going over all the procedures involved in landing over in my head. For some reason there was an awful lot of traffic on the way and as a result the bus got delayed, but I got my time to go over the procedures.

Once at the airport it was time to preflight. As we approach winter the days are getting shorter and the clouds in the sky didn't help the situation much. As I walked towards the Cessna, a cool breeze was setting in. Approaching the aircraft memories passed by and I remembered the procedures I needed to follow. This gave me some comfort. I had promised myself to keep my cool and was glad it was helping me out. While doing the preflight I didn't have to refer to the printed checklist a lot. I was occassionally cross checking to let the good habit settle in, but I remembered it all at the back of my head. With the preflight done and engine started, it was time to taxi. So far so good.

I started taxiing trying to keep the aircraft centered on the yellow line. Must say I surpassed my expecatations. I guess the calm winds also helped out. Did the engine run up and as we got our clearance to take off, the tower adviced us that there was another cessna turning final. So it was time to get things going fast. The take off roll was smooth and lift off was at about 65 knots.

I wasn't as aggresive on the rudders and that's definitely an area I need to work on. But otherwise things went pretty smooth and had a nice approach. On landing I flared at the right time and had a decent landing, but for some reason I started applying forward pressure on the elevator rather than aft. Bad bad, never do it !!!

Touch and go and up we go. All in all we had 15 landings today which included touch and gos, go arounds, forward slip to land and short approaches. Forward slips are the most fun. When my instructor demonstrated it to me, I was like "what the....???". The aircraft just plummets down. Next time around, it was my time to perform it. Not bad for first time. I do need to get a hang of keeping the plane on the extended centerline. A little less aileron and the plane starts drifting off.

But all in all, it was a great flying experience today. So much to learn and oh so fun :) Even my instructor was surprised that I had not flown for a month and still didn't forget a lot. The next time around we'll go an review all that we have done till now and hopefully soon he'll be comfortable with me soloing. So let's keep fingers crossed. :)

Next flight is wed night. So till then blue skies.

Dual flight time: 1.3 hrs

Thursday, July 27, 2006

First Night Flight

Wow.. its been a long spell since I've written something down.. well better late than never !!

Time sure does fly by fast, doesn't it? I'm now up to 15.7 hrs of flying (dual) and that now includes the 1.2 hrs of night flight I did yesterday.. Since my last update I've done some slow flight, stalls (power off, power on) and some emergency procedures.

Stalls are an interesting beast. The controls just go mush mush.. very little control. Glad had my ground lessons covered so everything in the cockpit at that point made sense. Recovery from a stall is particularly fun :) Emergency procedures on the other hand require a lot more presence of mind (something I definitely have to work on). I was reading an article recently in AOPA flight training magzine and it talked about emergencies. The advice the columnist gave was to treat every practice emergency landing as if it were the real thing. And boy, does it make a difference. If you really tell your mind that the engine is out, you feel the pressure of the situation. I hope I can train good enough for emergencies so that if (god forbid) one happens, I'll be reacting to it as cool as ice.

Well so much for the routine stuff, now for the fun part. The first night flight I had yesterday:

I reached the school at around 8:10. The sunset was around 8:15. So I still had enough light to do the preflight checklist without a light. Everything was normal, although it was hot and humid like crazy. The density altitude was 1900 ft (field elevation is 173 ft). There was also quite some fog but visibility was P6SM. After my preflight I waited for my instructor and went over the procedures in my head. I guess the instructor was waiting for it to get dark outside.

Well, with sufficient darkness outside, we adjusted the lights started the engines and then started off with the routine chores. While I am getting better at taxiing, I still need quite some work (most importantly speed control).

We got assigned rwy 22 for dep, so we taxied to it, did engine run up, departure briefing etc and then called up tower for clearance. With no activity around the airport, clearance was immediate. So off we go into the mysterious night skies.

My take off was ok (need to maintain Vy more closely from start on). I think my rudder work on departure is much better now. After leaving the tower's frequency we switched over to NY approach and my instructor requested flight following (a big help given the haze outside). Everything looks so different at night. The lakes and fields are all dark, cities shine up like crystal balls. Surprisingly the runway isn't as bright as I thought it would appear.

Once we were in practice area, we went over the routine stuff, stalls, slow flight, steep turns. Then my instructor asked me to recover from unusal attitudes. I think my past experience with MS Flight sim helped me there quite a bit. I was right on the instruments figuring out what attitude we were in and correcting for it. Not once did I look out to feel what our attitude was. So I have to say I was quite proud of it..

Overall I think I did much better yesterday than the flight before when I was basically screwing up everything. After an hour of practicing stuff, we entered KCDW airspace, prepared ourselves for landing and requested tower clearance. I was scanning around trying to get a feel for what night flight is about and frankly it felt like starting all over again.. All visual cues are so different.

We were cleared to enter right base for 22 and getting down I used the PAPI. Came down centered on PAPI pretty much all the way down. The landing yesterdy in particular was quite smooth. Maybe its the night effect, or maybe I am getting a bit better, but the net effect was oh so fun !!!

So after a really enjoyable flight we were back on the dim lit ramp. I am sure I'll never forget the first day I flew, but I am equally sure that I'll never ever forget my first night flight.

Blue skies.

Dual FT for this flight: 1.2 hrs

Monday, July 03, 2006

Flight# 2

After a spell of bad days of almost 2 weeks (part of it I was out sick and part of it just plain bad weather), I finally was back up in the open blue skies !! Despite a cold front forecasted to move in the area, the weather was pretty good.

When I reached the airport, my instructor was still up in the air, so I checked out the plane and started my preflight. Surprisingly I finished up the preflight quite fast today (getting used to it I guess). So I belted up and waited for my instructor to arrive. After a few minutes, with the instructor on board, I was doing before start checklist and getting the plane ready to go.

Today I think was a good day. I was more active on the controls and did a better job at taxi (there's a long way on the road to perfection, but I think I am progressing ahead). After a quick engine run up we were cleared for position and hold. Caldwell utilizes intersecting rwys for takeoff and departures when there is traffic, so we waited for an aircraft on final for rwy 22. Once it landed, we were cleared for takeoff rwy 27.

27 departure requires that we climb no more than 800 ft for 2 mi. So, I kept the plane at 800 after takeoff till square lake and then we climbed out northwest of the field. Once into the practice area, we practiced a lot of slow flight manuvers. Bringing the plane almost at stall speed and then doing the manuvers is an interesting thing. You've got to be really active on those controls (which already are quite slushy in response).

I did a better job today and I think part of it had to do with the fact that I had gone over the procedures several times in my head by now. The things I need to keep a watch out for are esp. maintaining the altitude more stricltly and keeping an eye on that ball. After an hour and a half of our practice we turned back towards the airport.

I must say I have no sense of where we were, but I guess I need to learn to fly the plane first and then develop on my positional awareness skills. While heading back though, my instructor asked me to identify several landmarks getting me accustomed to the aiport area and the landmarks around it. I guess I'll refer back to my terminal chart and get the picture clearer in my head.

We got sequenced on the right downwind and were number 2 for arrival. Interestingly there was an aircraft circling just northeast of the field and the tower were trying to ident it. I am not sure if the guy was lost or was just careless.

So with some slow flight training under my belt today, my instructor asked me to set us up for arrival. Pretty similar procedures. For some reason I kept adding power on final fearing that we may go too low. I need to remember that these Cessna's can glide just fine.

Once on the ground, the journey back to the parking ramp was quite uneventful. All in all I was impressed with my radio work and the progress I had made despite the long spell of inactivity. As I write this I am listening to archives, trying to get to my radio comm. so that I can keep it as a souvenier. Next flight is friday. Hope the weather clears up real nice for then. Don't want to end up with another ground school :)

Dual FT: 1.4 hours

Monday, June 05, 2006

Off we go !!!

After a rainy saturday I had my eyes on the weather report since Sun morning. I am glad I had my lesson in the evening as the weather was getting better by the hour. By the time I got to the airport the clouds were broken at 048 and overcast at 060.

This time around I called up my instructor and he picked me up. So I got to the airport a bit early. I checked out the aircraft and started the preflight. I think I am getting better at the preflight. My instructor joined me towards the end and asked me a couple of questions to verify that I had done a proper job.

With engines running my instructor asked me to call up ground. I must say I did a pretty good job handling the radios and at the end got the compliment from the instructor about it :) (too bad the caldwell feed has been down otherwise I would have saved a recording, well some other time!!).

So we taxiied to the runway and I guess all the taxiing practice on saturday paid off as I was a bit better (though still a long way to go). Holding short, did engine run-up, called up tower and off we went.

Entering the practice area my instructor showed me some basic manuvers, straight and level flight, descending turns, etc and asked me to do them. Sometimes I did good, sometimes not so good. Two things I have to remember are:

a) Pitch, power trim
b) step on the ball

I also have to get comfortable with managing my time looking outside and at the same time making sure I am aware of the gauges. I think I am spending too much time outside and not monitoring the instruments enough. Also I need to stay ahead of the plane. Yesterday I felt as if I was reacting to the plane. So a lot of lessons learnt.

After an hour of so, we headed back to the airport. On the way back we encountered some confusion with the ATC as another aircraft in the area apparently reported his position wrong and the ATC thought he was very near to us. That made me realize how important it is to know where you are and what all traffic is around you. It is sooo easy to get lost up there. Well, once I am more comfortable flying I guess I'll work on the situational awareness aspect of it.

The landing was uneventful and 1.2 hours after the preflight we were back at the ramp. All in all a good day. Next lesson is fri and the instructor is going to show me some new manuvers and of course I'll practice the old ones.

Hoping for blue skies this friday, till then njoy !!!

Dual FT: 1.2

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Rainy Day

Wow ! Today it poured like crazy. As the weekend approached it was clear that it was going to pour down today. And truly it was overcast at 400 with mist. So I wasn't expecting a flight today. I anyway had ground lessons so I headed out to the airport right away.

After getting of the bus stop, the airport is a good mile hike. When I got off, the weather was pleasant and there was very light drizzle. So I decided to walk up to the airport as I normally do. Just as I was around 5 minutes away from the flight school, it started pouring down like crazy :( So my decision to hike turned out to be a bad one. Well, another lesson leart, but the rest of the walk, with the grass just washed in the rain and all bright green, was worth it !! Next time, I'll just call up the school for a ride :)

So I arrive at the school, meet the instructor and then we decide to do some ground work and wait for the rain to stop. Since I hadn't been assigned much the ground school was more of going over the material. I am glad we did cause I think I have a much better idea of airspaces now.

Well so an hour or so into the lesson the rain stopped, and we decided we could go out to the plane and practice on my preflight and taxiing skills.

So off we headed to dispatch, checked out the plane. I did the preflight with very little help from instructor. This part was fun :) There was practically no activity on the airport. In the controller's words to an IFR acft "Sir, there is absolutely nothing going on at the airport!!".

So engines started and all ready, we radioed ground for taxi practice. The next 40 minutes or so were just me trying to taxi around the airport following the ground's directions, hold short of rwy 22 at bravo, follow November all the way down to rwy 9, etc. I still have to get a feel for the directional control using rudders. I think I am not sitting forward enough to get full leg movement. Towards the end I was doing a little bit better, but still a long way to go :(

Well after a fun taxi excursion around the airport, we finally got back to the ramp and towed and secured the plane. Next lesson is tomorrow evening. Keeping finger crossed for VMC conditions .. till then back to the books !

Saturday, May 27, 2006

First Flight

Who doesn't want to soar the high skies and view the world the way it was meant to be :) I have been meaning to learn to fly for a long time (ever since I was 8 or something like that). Now that I have a job and can spare some earnings to learn to fly, I thought why not ?

So it all started a month or two back. In one of the NYC linkup events I met another student pilot and he brought back my inspiration to learn to fly. So I researched some schools that were accessible by public transport and finally decided on one. After getting the paperwork etc done, I had to go through two ground lessons (one reason why I chose this school was because their course is well structured and one cannot begin to fly till he/she completes the required ground lessons and stage test).

Today was my stage test for the prelim ground lesson and I have to say I got only 1 out of 22 questions wrong (snicker snicker :) ). After the test, my instructor showed me the checkout procedure for the aircraft and we went thoroughly over the preflight checklist. Must say it was fun.. so much to look for but I guess I will master it in some time.

On my way to the school I got me an AVCOMM headsets. I guess those are good to start with. So I donned my headsets, the instructor handled the radios and showed me how to taxi. Man those planes just don't want to steer on ground do they. I need to stay flush with the centerline.. (well more practice there). We approached the runway, went thru the run up and then off we went.

Flying is soooo much fun !!! After we reached the practice area, the instructor gave me the plane and I must say I did a fair job of keeping the plane level. He showed me around the area and some important landmarks we would be using in future.

I know I have a long way to go before I can really control a plane, but I guess I did a pretty good job at keeping the plane level and heading in the general direction the instructor wanted it to go.. (I guess playing MS Flight simulator a year or so must have helped me get over anxiety n stuff).

Well after some time it was time to land. The weather was a bit rough, so the landing wasn't very smooth but I was all up in the seventh heaven to realize much :) Oh yes and the instructor also asked me to handle some radio calls towards the end. As I had read on some other blog, your own voice doesn't sound good on the radio (at ALL !!!).

I wonder why planes don't come with a reverse gear. Towing it back in place is the no fun part ... but we got over that and it was time to secure the plane and end the lesson..

Back in the office, we went over what needed to be done the next time and yes I got my log book filled in for the first time. And yes, I got myself a photocopy of the logbook page so that I have a souvenier for myself.

So that's pretty much for now. Will keep you posted on what happens next weekend .. till then blue skies:

Dual FT: 0.8 hrs