21 June 2011

Happiness is. . .

. . . hearing that you've passed all your commercial pilot license exams.

What can I say? I got the news 30minutes ago, and I'm shaking with relief and happiness. The hard work has paid off!

18 June 2011

Just Do It!

Saturday, 18 June

I’ve finally done it! After several days of procrastination and bad weather, I finally got my act together and told myself to go for a flight in a Cessna 152. And I survived!

For the past couple of days I’ve been asking myself one question; To fly, or not to fly?
Ask any pilot that question and they’ll probably hit you with a large, heavy object. Trying to decide whether or not you should go fly is like deciding whether or not you need oxygen. So why the hesitation?

Well, the last time I flew all on my lonesome in a C152 was about a year ago. During my PPL training, I only flew solo after a quick dual flight to make sure that I hadn’t forgotten anything. So this was quite different; I would be climbing into a relatively new aircraft, by myself, right off the bat, and I was scared.

I knew that if I didn’t get over my fear soon, it would just consume me. I knew that all I had to do was get in the plane and fly... And I eventually did that (after the thing started). When I climb into the Cubby, I feel like I’m at home. The stick is familiar, the throttle movement is smooth, and the sound is comforting.

Climbing into a C152 is like going to a friend’s house for the first time; you feel okay, but you’re weary, you don’t want to accidentally step over a line and get kicked out, it doesn’t quite feel natural. It sounds different, it looks different, and sun visors tend to fall off and hit you in the face. . .

But going through the checks is comforting. Rolling down the runway and lifting off, applying left aileron to compensate for the x-wind, seeing the world sink away... well, that’s always an amazing experience, no matter what aircraft you’re in.

I decided to do a circuit to make sure that I was happy. On downwind I ran through my checks as if I was flying the Cubby. “Brakes, undercarriage, throttle, mixture, temps, pressures, flaps, lights... Wait, flaps... I actually need to use those now, right?!” Right. Close the throttle slightly to bring the speed into the white arc, 10 degrees of flap. Turn onto Base, close the throttle, apply carburettor heat, flaps 20 degrees. Final, get the speed right, control height with the throttle, flaps 30 degrees. Cross the fence, carburettor heat cold, fly towards the numbers, look to the end of the runway and flare...


A weight has been lifted from my shoulders – I can land it in a x-wind. With that out of the way, it was time for a scenic flight to the beach. Lurvely. She just purrs along... Well, purrs with a whole lot of squeaking and rattling. After the scenic flight it was back to Stellenbosch for a few circuits.

After a couple with full flaps I tried one with 20 degrees, and then another with no flap. I decided to be brave and try side slipping. Side slipping it felt a bit like side slipping a dishwasher... But I got her down, and I landed after only one small balloon. Getting a landing ‘perfect’ in a C152 isn’t as satisfying as in a taildragger, but it still feels good!

So I’m quite happy, and now that I’ve got past my fear, I think the C152’s and I will be getting quite familiar with each other. Bring on the night hours!

15 June 2011

Check Once, Check Twice, Check Thrice

After waiting several weeks to get my paperwork for my Night Rating back, I got fed up and called the CAA. They had received my application, but they just hadn’t posted the stuff I need. They sent me a fax to prove that they had indeed processed my application, and I was Night Rated.

A few days later I get a phone call from them. “We can’t process your application because you don’t have the required hours.”... Well isn’t that just fantastic. So I hauled out my logbook, and hey look, I didn’t actually have the required number hours. My instructor and I somehow missed that I only had 4.9hrs actual instrument time (requirement is at least 5hrs).

Now what? It’s been over 30 days since my test, so will I have to retest? After calling the CAA for hours my instructor and I finally got through to someone in Licensing, and they said it would be okay if I just get the hours and submit a new logbook summary. Thank goodness!

So it just goes to show how easy it is to miss something. Needless to say we won’t be making that mistake again!


On Monday I wrote Air Law. They always manage to ask the weirdest, most irrelevant questions. But I think I was better prepared for it this time (not that one can really be prepared; you can read the book until your eyes bleed, and they’ll still ask you a question on something you’ve never heard of or seen).

I wrote Navigation yesterday morning. It was infinitely better than the last time I wrote it. We got the correct papers, and started on time. I forgot my eraser at home, but luckily a friend allowed me to steal half of his.

I worked fast, seeing as the biggest problem with Nav is taking too long and having 5 questions left and no time. I don’t know if it’s a good thing that I finished within 1hr30 (2hr paper). So I went through my work and came to a question involving scale, where they kept changing the units (had to work with statute miles, nautical miles, kilometres, centimetres and inches). Let’s just say that I got different answers depending on if I used the conversions and a regular calculator, to when I used the CX2 Pathfinder.

And so I broke a very important multiple choice rule, and I changed my answer. Now I’m wondering if I made the right decision.

Hopefully I’ll know early next week. Of course I want to pass, but what happens, happens. I worked hard, and I did my best.