Tag Archives: aviation

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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I have not been deedless…

…since I got my CPL in october.

Okay, the first week after my checkride in the Seneca I haven’t done very much. I just needed some days to relax. But at the end of my first week as FAA certified commercial pilot I did something I wanted to do for a long time: I took a ride in a seaplane. And not just a ride; I actually got trained for the multi-engine seaplane add-on for my CPL.
Training aircraft was this STOL Twinbee. Strange looking plane but flies pretty good. Bit heavy on the elevator control but you get used to it. Our first flight wasn’t very spectacular. We took off from one of the hard-surface runways in Flagler, departed to the west and did some airwork. Slow flight, stalls, steep turns, nothing fancy just getting used to the airplanes handling. Back in Flagler we did some touch ‘n’ go’s and practiced some taxiing because it was the first taildragger I’ve ever flown and taxiing around with a Twinbee is everything but easy. But it worked out fairly well so that the next flight could take us out to the lake.
Landing on the water is different but not necessarily more difficult than landing on a hard-surfaced runway (at least that’s how I feel about it). And to make my very first water landing even more challenging there was absolutely no wind that day and the water was like a mirror (so-called glassy water, which has the highest percentage of all seaplane accidents). Looks terrific but makes landing even more interesting. The problem with glassy water is you can’t judge your height above the water just from looking at it. You need a reference point and proper landing technique to touch down safely. But my instructor had decades of seaplane experience, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
There are other landing techniques for about any water condition someone could think of and the same goes for the take offs.
Additionally (because we were flying a multi-engine aircraft) I had to deal with one engine inoperative. No big difference to land planes there just using the same drills as for the land plane.
The next few days we just practiced take off and landing techniques for glassy water, rough water, and normal conditions; with both engines running and with one inop; idle taxi, step taxi and plow turns; and a cool thing called confined area take off. The advantage of seaplanes is that we don’t have to stick with prepared runways of certain dimensions. Rather we can take the whole lake or river if we need to and if the conditions permit. That allows us to take off in a circular arc if there is not enough space to take off straight ahead. It’s a lot of fun.
Then, after three od four days of training I had my checkride with Jon Brown, owner of the well-known Jack Brown’s Seaplane base and long-time friend of my instructor.
Checkride was no big problem and I enjoyed flying with a man whose name is known by virtually every seaplane pilot.
But that was not the last thing I did flying wise. So far I had only the multi-engine land and sea rating on my commercial. The single-engine rating was only good for my private pilot licence. So it was about time to change that. The next day after my seaplane cheride I started training for the SEL commercial add-on. Not a whole lot of things to do. Just a few new maneuvers I had to learn but nothing really complicated. It took me about four days to get them in and checkride wasn’t even one hour. Pretty easy after all the multi-engine flying. In consequence that left just one thing missing: the singl-engine seaplane rating.
It doesn quite make sense to get first the multi-engine seaplane rating and then go for the single-engine. But so far I could do everything in Flagler. Just for the SES rating I had to go somewhere else which made it easier to put that at the end.
For the SES rating I took the opportunity to do that at no other place than Jack Brown’s Seaplanebase.
They are the oldest and best known seaplane training facility in the United States so I had sort of no other choice than to train with them. And I don’t regret it at all.
They use old Piper J-3 Cub on Aqua 1500 straight floats for their training. The planes have no electric system what so ever. Only electricity on board is a little 9V battery for the intercom. And maybe the cell phone in your pocket. Everything else is mechanic. No electric instruments, no gyros, no GPS, no radios no generator and, most important, no starter!! That means you have to hand prop it (the instructors do that for you). Only instruments are a tachometer, two other engine instruments, airspeed indicator, altimeter and a magnetic compass. That’s it. That’s all you get, and that’s all you really need. It’s the pure joy of flying. The famous stick and rudder experience of a Piper Cub. Flying the Cub on float was the best experience I’ve ever had, it was heck of a lot of fun. I never understood what people meant when they were talking about the Cub. Now I know. Unfortunately, the course only includes 5 hours of training even though I would have loved to fly more. It’s been only three days since I had my checkride in it and I already miss the cute little yellow plane. That was the first but definitely not the last time I flew a Cub.
Because I already had the MES rating I wasn’t totally new to the principles of water flying (there are not that much differences between single and multi engine seaplanes. They all follow the same principles, just how you fly them is a bit different) and therefore I could enjoy the flying more than I could have if it would have been my first time in a seaplane.
To fly such a great plane and an icon of aviation history was truly the dessert after all the work (even though most of it was fun, it still was really hard work sometimes) I’ve done during the last five months.
Hope to get back there soon to get more time in that great aviation classic.

seaplanebase

CUB_1

CUB_2

CUB_3

seaplanebase and CUB

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About flying from one end of the United States to the other – part 4

Hi all,

well, I have good and bad news.
The good news is that we really made it to San Francisco. From Las Vegas we flew first a bit to the south to get around some terrain, then back on a westerly heading to the shoreline and then more or less following the Pacific shoreline all the way up to San Francisco. We parked the plane and checked in at a nearby hotel. The rest of that day we spent at the airport watching the planes come and go. The next day we planned to got to downtown San Francisco but as we just entered the train to SF I got a call that our plane was damaged during the night. So we left the train at the next stop, got back to the airport to have a look at our plane. And here are the bad news: we cannot fly home with it.
We spent three hours looking at the plane, talking to people making phone calls and writing emails to straighten things out.
Due to that we arrived in downtown SF not until late afternoon.
But we had a good evening in the city, spent the whole next they there too and are now about to leave for another day in San Francisco.
To Orlando we are getting back by airline as no one knows how long it will take to get the damage repaired.

What we’re gonna do back in Flagler, we don’t know yet. Without a plane to fly with we can’t go anywhere and I cannot continue building my flight time.
We’ll see how we solve that when we are back in Florida.

Until then I send my regards from San Francisco to anyone reading this.

PS: due to the trouble the last days I had no time to review my photos and edit them, so again no photos in this post. But I will post them as soon as I got the time for it.

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About flying from one end of the United States to the other – part 3

Hi guys,

just a short update today. We landed in Las Vegas Henderson executive this noon after about 2.5 hours of flight from Goodyear, Phoenix. After we checked in at the Mirage Hotel we spent the rest of the day on the Strip. We walked it all the way down to the famous Las Vegas sign and back to the Hardrock cafe were we had dinner. From there to the Bellagio to watch the well-known fountains and then back to the Mirage. A busy day, you see. So no photos for today but there will be a separate post with all the pictures.
Talk to you soon.

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About flying from one end of the United States to the other – part 2

Hi folks,

today I’m writing from Phoenix, Arizona. Yes, that’s right, we flew from Dallas all the way up to Phoenix in just one day. Within eight hours to be exactly. We took of from Fort Worth Spinks at 8AM local time and flew the first leg to Carlsbad, New Mexico where we stopped to get the tanks filled up again.
From there on the real fun began. We filed an IFR flight plan to Tucson, Arizona and just a few minutes after departure we got swallowed by the clouds. During our climb to 10.000feet altitude we passed several rain shower and the following two hours were a very interesting experience and a good opportunity to practice the procedures I’ve learned during my IFR training. Once we’ve passed Deming we had the worst weather behind us and the following miles we just passed some more thunderstorms and showers but were clear of clouds almost all the time.
In Tucson we took a few more gallons of fuel and continued for one more hour to Phoenix, Arizona. After 8 hours of flight time, two of which were IFR, and 800 nautical miles (~1500km) distance we landed safely at Goodyear airport and parked our plane right next to the planes Lufthansa is using for their initial flight training.
Tomorrow we will see how we continue our trip.

pic1

refueling

pic3

pic4

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About flying from one end of the United States to the other – part 1

Hey all,

I’m writing to you from Dallas, Texas where we arrived after four hours of flight from New Orleans, Louisiana.
We left Flagler County on Sunday and made it from there all the way up to New Orleans which is a distance of about 500 nautical miles (~930km). We made a quick stop at Pensacola, Florida to get the plane filled up with fuel again.
Our final destination for that day was Lakefront Airport in New Orleans. We parked the plane on the ramp and took a cab to downtown New Orleans where we spent the night. Later that night we had a good thunderstorm closing in. The sky was enlightened by lightning for hours. Very impressive. I’ve never seen anything like this in europe.
This morning we left Lakefront Airport by early noon under blue skies heading towards Dallas where we landed four hours later.
Tomorrow we are going to fly to Phoenix, Arizona to visit a friend of ours.
Below are a few photos we took so far on our trip, hope you like it. Thanks to my cousin Jochen for allowing me to use them.

cablecar

hardrock cafe 1

hardrock cafe 2

hardrock cafe 3

fire fighter

helicopter

Bonnie

Mississippi

lakes

Copilot/Navigator

Learjet

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