Category Archives: Aviation

About my experiences in aviation my thoughts about it.

All finished up

Well, it’s about time for a new entry here.
As you probably guessed from the title, I’m now done with all my training.
So what happen since my last post:
After I finished all the theory examinations, I still had to take some flight training and two check rides. While I did do the theory in England I decided to go with Iceland for the flight training, simply because it is way cheaper and I had a good feeling about the flight school.
As you probably know, Iceland is pretty far up north, and it was still winter when I got there. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that the weather could be rather challenging.
And indeed challenging it was.
The flight school told me I’d have to plan for about 4 weeks to complete the training, so that’s what I planned for, booked the flights and accommodation accordingly.
Flight training was planned to consist of 10 hours single engine IFR flying and 10 hours multi engine VFR and IFR (5 hours each).
So the first week went pretty well. The weather was fairly cooperative and I had one flight instructor assigned who flew with me. Therefore all the single engine stuff was no problem and completed in a couple of days. One day we had to go through a layer of clouds right after take off and picked up some ice. But as soon as we broke through it on top the sun was burning it off faster than you’d believe. Same picture on the approach, except no sun this time so we had to land with quite a bit of ice built up on the wings. After we parked the plane there were still about 1.5 centimeters (about 1/2 inch) of ice on all leading edges.
Then the weather decided to become crappy. Nothing to worry yet, still got 5 hours of IFR on the multi engine to fly after all. And that plane had a de-icing system installed so no worrying about icing any more.
But then, just about one week into my flight training, Murphy’s Law hit with all it got. First it was so windy that we couldn’t fly, then the wind, after weakening a bit, brought snow with it which fell so dense that the visibility dropped to nearly nothing. Then, my assigned flight instructor had to leave for his other flying job and the school had to find me another instructor (no big deal, but took a day that, guess what, I could have been flying). The next day, the weather was okay but not that good, during preflight inspection I noticed the oil dip stick had separated from the filler neck cap and was lying somewhere in the oil sump (the whole thing is a rather awkward design and it’s kinda difficult to push the dip stick back in and when you force it in it separates from the cap. Seems to happen rather often). According to the mechanic that wouldn’t have been a no-go item but both the instructor and I felt better with having that fixed right away, which took pretty much the rest of the day. But wait, there’s more. The very next day, we were taxiing to the runway for take off, out of nothing the left main gear tire got flat. Well, you can’t take of with that. Heck, you can’t even taxi with that. So we were stuck somewhere on a taxiway, a hundred meters from the active runway and about a mile from our hangar. After we waited for 1 hour (don’t know what took ’em so long) or so the mechanics came with a new tire which they changed right there on the taxiway (took another hour). We finally took of with some 2 hours delay.

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I then finished the remaining training within two or three days which left me with a week remaining for the check rides. Unfortunately Murphy hit again.
It was a Thursday that I was given the paperwork I had to fill out for the ICAA to apply for a check flight. On friday I handed them back to the training administrator because he needed the chief flight instructor to sign them and he would then take them personally to the ICAA. Well, sounds good, but didn’t work out. The chief flight instructor wasn’t in the school that day. So I lost the entire weekend. On Monday the Chief flight instructor finally signed them so the training administrator could take them to the agency. My flight back home was booked for Thursday by the way. So that left me with Tuesday and Wednesday available for the check rides and the weather forecast wasn’t really appealing for both days. As if that wasn’t enough it looked like there was no examiner available for the next two weeks. So I was going crazy trying to figure out how to get the checks done.
Around noon on Tuesday I got the relieving call that they were able to find an examiner and my check flight would be the very same day. So I quickly did the flight planning for the VFR part of the check flight (fortunately I had flown the same route before during the training so I just had to adapt the flight log according to the weather and did not have to measure all the distances and course directions), walked to the airport, jumped in the plane (did the preflight inspection first of course) and flew over to Reykjavik to pick up the examiner. As luck would have it our departure was delayed for another hour because the examiner lost a tooth during lunch which he had to get fixed first. Turned out that during this our the weather cleared out nicely so that the VFR portion of the check was no problem at all anymore and it turned out to be one of the nicest flights with the low standing sun shining over snow covered mountains but melted away in the lower terrain with the ocean always in sight, a couple of big clouds standing around us but none in your way.
After we were done with the VFR flight and all the maneuvers we landed at our planned destination and took a break. I took some photos (see below) and the instructor who was riding shotgun filed an IFR flight plan for our return flight to Reykjavik.
The flight went smooth, no weather problems or anything, luckily, so that just after 7pm we kissed the concrete runway in Reykjavik and I had passed my final CPL ME/IR check rides with just one day left before my departure back home.

The good thing about Iceland is that there are not many people and even less pilots, so the civil aviation agency is pretty quick in processing paperwork. My examiner took all the paperwork to the ICAA (which is located in Reykjavik) the next morning and I was able to pick up my brand new license the same day.
So I figured if I have to got to Reykjavik to pick up my license why no spend the whole day there and walk around the city. And that’s what I did. I took the bus to Reykjavik and spent the day exploring the city. At some point in the afternoon I went to the ICAA and picked up my license.
Turns out it was good that I had the check flight the day before because the weather was horrible the entire day. Low clouds with rain showers and gusty winds would have made the flights at least difficult if not impossible. But it was a nice day in the city after weeks spent mostly in my hotel room and the cockpit of an airplane (well, I didn’t mind so much the latter but the former got kinda annoying).

Having the CPL complete, that left only one thing to still be done: the Multi-Crew-Coordination training, or MCC.
That’s a ten day course teaching you how the work is split between both of the pilots in airplanes flown by two pilots (basically all airliners).
It consists of a theory portion teaching you the psychological aspects, how people behave in a crew environment, how to talk with each other (or how not to) and stuff like that. But the main portion is actually flying with another pilot. Not in a real airplane though, it’s just a simulator. 20 hours of Sim training are split into 10 hours as captain and 10 hours as co-pilot.
It’s not really that complicated, just very different to all the flying I had done prior to this course where I was the sole Pilot, some hours with a flight instructor or another pilot as passenger but it was always me flying. And now you suddenly share tasks, which takes some getting used to.
But I had a good time, met a couple cool people with diverse backgrounds.

So now instead of staring at the computer screen to learn stuff for examinations I’m staring at the screen searching the internet for jobs.
Who knows what will happen next, when and where I’ll find my first flying job.

Until next time…

Click on picture to see larger version

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One step closer…

…to finishing my license.

But let’s keep things in sequence.
Like I wrote in my last post, in December I attended this two week class room course that is part of the theory course I’m doing. A little over two weeks ago, I went back to england to take the exams. And today I finally had the results in my mail. And luckily I passed them all, keeping my 100% first time pass rate and average score of 94%. That’s better than I ever expected them to be and it sure would not have been possible without the amazing course materials, manuals and software and of course the teachers from Bristol Groundschool. If you should find yourself in the situation to need to do the european JAR/EASA ATPL examinations, I can highly recommend this place. The support is almost instantly and the teacher really know their stuff. It’s still a lot of work but there’s probably no better place to do it.

Now, with having all the ground work done
it’s time again to have some fun,
for the planes to take me higher
up there, in the land of fire
most of the time, though, it is snowing,
can you guess where I’ll be going?

Cheers

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A end-of-the-year wrap-up

Hello all,

it’s been a while since my last entry, I know. Reason being is that there was simply nothing to write about. I haven’t been flying since I came back from Florida in early September. I was studying for the remaining six ATPL exams all the time and didn’t really do anything else (nothing aviation related anyway).
The last two weeks I attended the classroom lessons that are part of the distance learing course I’m doing. Now I have a few more weeks before the exams to brush up my knowledge.

After the exams in January there should be more stuff to write about as I will conduct the final flight training required for the FAA to JAR conversion. And once I have my license it hopefully won’t take too long until I find a job. And then there will certainly be more posts here.

Meanwhile you can watch this video that I made of clips that I’ve taken during my SES training last year and during my Beaver flight in August:

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The legendary Beaver

Now I finally have some time to write a new blog-entry.
The thing I was about to do when I wrote my last post was to fly one of the most legendary aircraft out there, the De-Havilland of Canada DHC-2 Beaver.
Originally designed around 1946 they were built to be the workhorse for all the bush pilots up north. They were sturdy, had a huge wing to take the weight and fitted with a 450hp radial engine to get the plane out of even the shortest airfields. But they found their real purpose as seaplanes, fitted with floats. And over the years an uncountable number of modifications turned them into the finest floatplanes ever built, making them still the first choice for seaplaneoperators around the globe, especially where rough terrain and small lakes are an issue.
For years I wanted to fly one of these immortal Beavers. And last Wednesday I finally got to fly one.
All I can say is WOW. What a fantastic airplane. The one I flew got amphibian floats enabling it to land on water and hard surface runways. So when you walk up to them they appear quite massive and kind of intimidating.
Standing next to them the floats reach all the way up to my hips making it a bit challenging to get on top of them. Once up on the floats you got a big door allowing easy access to the spacious rear cabin. The Cockpit door is not as large but still allows for easy access to the pilot’s seat. The cockpit itself also is really spacious with quite a lot of levers and switches.
Getting the big 9-cylinder radial engine running was pretty easy, just pressurize the fuel lines, prime the engine, switch on the boost pump, engage the starter and it’s running in no time with this typical sound only this engine can produce. Taxiing again is a bit tricky as the nose wheels are not steerable and the rudder only has a limited effect at low speeds. So all you got is differential braking which takes some practice to precisely direct the plane. The take off run is shorter than you would expect of an airplane of that size. The 450hp pull the plane into the air within seconds and once airborne you don’t feel anything of the airplanes weight. The controls are unbelievably light, you hardly feel any pressure. Almost like they where hydraulically powered which they are not. It’s incredible. Every plane I’ve flown so far had much higher control loads than the beaver, even the mighty Piper Cub.
On the approach you reduce the power and lower the flaps to 35° which produces a ton of extra lift. On final approach power comes back to idle and when getting close to the surface you flare it to touch the water with the correct pitch attitude. Once decelerating on the water you hold the elevator pulled and wait for the speed to further drop until the plane falls off the step. Then you lower the water rudder to have better directional control on the water. The water rudders are quite big and are quite effective and you can turn the Beaver in tight spots but this time you really can feel the load the water is putting on them.
It really is an amazing airplane and I surely would love to have one myself but unfortunately they are more on the pricy side of the scale and so I only got one hour of flight time in this beautifully maintained 1953 Beaver.
Now I know why all the bush pilots love the Beaver, it’s absolutely marvelous. I can’t wait to fly it again, someday.

Last thing I gotta say is that this article is for entertainment and informational purpose only and does not substitute any formal training.

Beaver Cockpit

Beaver Tail

Beaver Nose

Beaver Nose 2

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Just a quick heads-up

my first week in Florida is over and so far it has been really good. I got my IPC done which allows me to fly IFR as PIC again and yesterday I took a short flight in the same Twin Bee that I got my AMES rating in last year. It was only one hour but it was a fun hour. 10 Take-offs and landings on the water, mostly glassy because there was almost no wind at all.
So far I didn’t take any photos simply because there was nothing new to photograph and while flying in the Twin Bee I had no one with me who could have taken pictures.
Tomorrow something exciting is going to happen which I’ll have plenty of pictures of, I’m sure 😉

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Soo much stuff to learn

Okay, I haven’t been posting in a long time. But I have a fairly good excuse for that: I’ve been studying for the european Airline transport Pilot licence. And that’s alot of stuff to learn.
So the last months I spent with reading manuals, filling out mass & balance sheets, planning virtual intercontinental flights, understanding global weather, figuring out gyro instruments, convergence factor and chart convergency, learned how a lack of oxygen affects the human body and how to talk on the radios.
And after I finished all that I went to england for two weeks of revision course at the flight school and learned that all the work I did was nothing compared to the amount of work I needed to do in those two weeks. Lessons started at 9 am and lasted ’till 5pm (with a few short breaks in between and one longer lunch break). And after we got home we had supper followed by several hours studying the materials we got in class. Some people studied untill early morning, for me it was usually 10 to 11pm when I called it a day.
It’s like learning everything you learned in highschool over several years within two weeks. It really was hard labour. But because of that, because you are using all the knowledge again and again it is highly efficient and after the course you are up to speed on everything. And because you usually take the exams right the following week all the knowledge is “fresh” and most people don’t have too much problems with ’em.
So that’s what I was doing the last days, weeks and months and it paid off. Today I got the results and I passed everything first time with an average score of 94%.
But I’m not done yet. These were only 8 out of 15 separate exams. Fun subjects such as airlaw, operational procedures and radio navigation are still to come. I hope to get that done by november/december so I have some more months of studying lying in front of me.
But because no-one can study so much without any break I will be heading to Florida again in august to get some flight time in and renew my IFR.
So until then there won’t be any updates here, I think. But when I’m in FL I will take lots of pictures and videos again (the videos I took last time almost all fell victim to a crash of my laptop).

The following pictures are from my flights to/from London.

My ride to london

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Not many news…

to share with you guys. I havent been flying since I came back to Germany in November.
A lot of time is consumed by studying all the stuff I have to know for the written exam for my future european licence. Besides, the german civil aviation authorities are soo slooowww with validating my licence so that I can fly as PIC here.

The only gleam of hope was a five-week trip to Australia in February. Of course we spent a couple of days in Sydney. And, as luck would have it, there is a seaplane base in Sydney. Needless to say I paid the a visit. I talked with the company’s owner for a while and he offered me a flight in his C208 Grand Caravan Amphibian from the seaplane base to an airport close by where the plane is being washed and parked fo the night. It was just a short flight of less than ten minutes but it was a great flight. I got to sit in the copilot’s seat and we fly really low over the Opera house and the Harbour bridge.
That ten minutes were the only cockpit time in the last fife months, so I really need to get flying again. Luckily spring is just around the corner here so there’s a good chance to sit in a plane some time soon again.

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