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November 09, 2004

Lesson 7 Landing Approaches

For some unknown reason we couldn’t do circuits at Coventry airport. Air Traffic Control said it was due to traffic (didn’t seem much going on to me though ) so we were diverted to Wellesborne near Warwick. This is a a much more difficult circuit to fly as you have to make a sharp right hand turn just after take off to avoid flying over a village. And also the runway is shorter – much shorter

However I did five landings of which I thought only 2 were okay (Mark instructor said 4 were okay). Half way through the circuit exercise we were joined by another two circuit flyers. Luckily I wasn’t fazed by this but Mark said they were getting a little too close to us so we did wider circuits just to be on the safe side

No really learning points.. seems that I will be doing a lot of flying in squares for the next month or two

Re landing approaches (mainly for Steve R) here is the right angle for landing

November 01, 2004

Being a bat (PPL lesson 5 and a bit)

Just had my last evening lesson of the season. In the plane at 16:30 but were held by Air Traffic Control for nearly 2O mins while a Thompson 737 messed about. The sun set at 16.37 today so at 16:50 it was getting dark v quick. Unfortunately there was also a thick haze a so horizon wasn’t visible. Result was one very unsure student pilot. After one circuit we abandoned lesson although it was a good learning experience cos it shows how flying in low visibility is very disorientating and possible dangerous (imagine flying into low thick cloud with no insturment training)

To recreate conditions in a flight sim – set twilight conditions with haze and then turn down the brightness of the instrument panel (if you can do this) so that its barely visible and there you have it. Now try and land

October 29, 2004

First Landing (lesson 5)

Had a long preflight briefing session on taking off, circuits and landing before getting into the air.

an example circuit diagram

Starting off line yourself on the runway (more tricky than it seems – taxying a Cessna 152 is like control a shopping trolley) Remember to do the checks – then full power and make a mad dash down the runway – keeping onto the central line. When at 70kts (approx 80 mph) lift the nose up (called rotation)and then you’re airborne.

The crosswind and downwind legs are straightforward, However on the base leg you need another sets of eyes and hands. Quickly as possible get ready for descent (reduce power,set flaps for landing – oh and don’t forget the carb heat) and then descend. So far so good.

Now you have to keep your speed constant (70kts) and use power to control angle of descent – (I found this quite difficult because its all happening so fast – there’s no time to think) Also you have only got 1 hand on the control wheel (left hand) which is very difficult to make sure you have wings level

As you approach the landing point you reduce power (to idle) and start to bring the nose up. You should aim at the end of the runway and bring the nose up progressively so that the main wheels not the nose wheel lands first. On my first attempt I didn’t bring the nose up quickly enough and we landed with a big thud and proceeded to bounce – Mark had to take over to rescue the situation.(Otherwise we would have continued to bounce higher and higher until the nose wheel and pod would have collaspsed)

Fortunately by my 4th attempt(when it was starting to go dark) I was getting the hang of it and made some reasonably landings.

At the end of the session having completed my first circuit I fet amazing – I have been on air for the last couple of days. Its an amazing confidence builder

October 18, 2004

Lesson 4 – Biggles is me

Well just had lesson 4 – the review and everything went right. Decided right from the off just to relax and it worked. Feeling much more confident now again. However it was slightly worrying that I seemed to be ‘spot on’ when I ingnored the instructions and did my own thing.

Next lesson should be exciting – circuits (and bumps)

October 04, 2004

Flying Lesson 3 – When it all went wrong

This lesson didn’t go well, not well at all

My instructor (M) was a 1+1/2 hours late (not at all his fault though) which meant that my Fri lunch time flight ended up taking 3 hours and I had stay late Fri and come in Sat to make up time.

Today’s new activity was slow flight, i.e just above stall speed. Note A stall when flying – means loss of lift followed by rapid descent toward earth (not engine cut out). You need to have several hours practice at slow flight and stall recovery for licence.

The lesson started to go badly straight from the off – My taxing was awful and once in the air couldn’t get the basics right. After 10 mins or so I was getting really frustrated with myself.

Then onto the whole point of the lesson – slow flight. When flying very slowly you have to point the nose upwards to get maximum lift. But this is a really strange as you can’t see the horizon so it felt very disorientating. But more importantly was the effect of controls – because of (yep I forgotton why – must look it up) the controls are so sloppy – massive movement of controls to get any movement in air – really hard work. Again I didn’t feel I was any good. After about 30 minutes wallowing around not knowing where I suddently felt very sick (again) so having made a couple of pointed remarks to instructor we decided to go back to base.

After landing and taxing back to base had chat to M about my progress. Basically I feel that he is pushing me too hard and that I need to have a couple of revision lessons. Apparantly the idea is to learn lots of things at once rather than try and perfect any one technique. So next lesson will be stall recovery

Once inside feeling totally dejected M told me not to be so hard on myself and to learn to relax more but how do you relax when you are concentrating so hard? Any relaxation tips not involving drugs or alcohol?

After lesson I was was feeling like I might give up at this point. I didn’t have any fun at all. You can tell how bad I felt about the lesson as I could only just face blogging it now

I’m hoping that I have a better lesson next time and get some confidence back

September 16, 2004

Flying – Lesson 2

Had my second lesson last night. Purpose to master medium level turns (up to 30 degrees bank angle).

Unfortunately its not all good having done a bit of flying on microlights. Basically I learnt to be very cautious – nice slow shallow turning ‘no rush take all day just be smooth and gentle’ was the maxim. Now with the Cessna I need to learn to be a bit more positive and throw the plane around a bit. Need to get used to turning at a much steeper angle i.e. 30 degree (which does seem very steep) and to anticipate the roll out less. Also I must relax – I was actually holding my breath when turning.

Didn’t get up in the air till 7:00pm so by the time we were coming into land it was nearly dark. I didn’t feel very confident flying around in the semi-dark and couldn’t find the runway very easily (just a small group of lights amongst a mass of lights). Next time daylight flying please.

Things to remember

turning – left roll
little dab of left rudder and move the control to left- put wings into 30 degree angle – then centralise contols – watch attitude and apply a bit of back pressure (nose up) to stop plane descending during turn. Then at roll out reverse controls – (dab of right rudder and control to right to balance wings) also nose down to achieve correct attitude for straight and level flight.

turning – right roll
remember that the position of the horizon in the windscreen is different as on the turn I am now sat higher up than on the left turn

climbing turns
due to lift limitations can only turn at max angle of 15 degrees durning climb – if attempt steeper turn will have big problems which could end up in a spin

descending turns
30 degree bank angle okay

Things to do

Read Read Read – chapters 6,7,8,9,10 and study checklist
Watch relevant chapters on learning to fly videos

Next lesson – Monday slow flight and stall avoidance

September 02, 2004

My flying lessons some facts and figures

Learning to Fly at (URL) Coventry Flying School

The Coventry lot seem to be a nice friendly bunch – sometimes I find that the schools and clubs seem to be filled with ex RAF and can feel a little bit exclusive and unfriendly.

You need a minimum of 45 hours to get your licence, which with all the sundries such as books, exams, club membership etc works out to be £5400. However very few people get their licence with just 45 hours. I’ve worked on 60 hours which would be ~ £7000.

As well as the practical exams you have to pass 7 theory exams
  • aviation law
  • meteorology
  • navigation
  • human performance
  • aircraft technical
  • radio telephony
  • flight planning and performace

Looks at bit scary but I don’t think anyone has ever failed on the theory exams

Once you got your licence, hiring a plane is what most people do – cost ~ £85 per flying hour. Alternatively if you intend to do a lot of flying buying a group share of a plane is very popular.

If anyone is interested please feel free to contact me by email ( or phone 75580 and I can give you more details. My next lesson is Fri 10th Sept – plan is to do climbing and descending turns – should be very vomit inducing. I have been told to expect to stop feeling sick by my 6th hour

September 01, 2004

Private Pilots Licence PPL – Lesson 1

Just had my first lesson for my private pilots licence having given up on microlights (reasons bad weather, lack of instructions, distance to airfield etc.)

Initially very nervous (huge butterflies in my stomach before I even got up in the air) however after 5 -10 minutes settled down. 10 hours in microlights not a total waste of time and soon got the hang climbing, descending, and banking, quite relaxing really. Then the fun started – Mark my instructor decided to test how much I knew and put CESSNA through its paces. A number of occasions he handed control over to me to with instructions to ‘get back onto the straight and level’. After a few heroic attempts – I think we could simply say I’ve still got a long way to go! Towards end of lesson I suddenly felt violently sick and spent rest of flying time trying to keep down lunch (thankfully no spillages)

Facts to remember
Straight and Level – power 2200 rpm, airspeed 90 kts, horizon 1 hand
Climbing – P.A.T – Full Power – Nose up 2 hands – Trim
Level Out – A.P.T attitude (nose down – 1 hand) power 2200 rpm trim
Descending – A+P at same time? – then trim must check this out
Banking – lead with feet
Must remember to trim

To Do
  1. Read through chapters 1- 8 PPL Flying Training Manual by by next lesson
  2. Study instrument panel in detail by next lesson

Cessna 152

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Most recent comments

  • Good blog! Glad you got back in the air again. I am also doing circuits at the moment (at Southend) … by Dave on this entry
  • I think I left a comment back when you were still flying in 2004; glad to see you back in the air! by Fred Woodbridge on this entry
  • Good luck with the lessons. Ciruits will soon become a matter of habit and will give you a chance to… by Tony Harrison-Smith on this entry
  • too scary for me :–) by Christine Smith on this entry
  • Hello. Go for the wingsuit – … by Paul on this entry

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