All posts by Poul

First flying lesson

This day was really a mile stone in this entire project acquiring my PPL license. Getting airborne!

Going through the check lists made very much sense with all the theory behind me. The problems didn’t start until I started taxiing. I was supposed to turn the ailerons up against the wind while steering the nose wheel with the pedals. But that basically means that when taxiing against te wind, the wind turns right when I turn left, so I am supposed to turn left with the pedals and turn right on ailerons. For some reason my brain had some trouble allowing me to do that.

Once in the air I could only focus on actually flying the plane and keeping it levelled. Not until 15 minutes into the flight I could begin focusing on other things like “where are we” and “how do we get down on the ground again?”. It was very intense, and it felt like my body temperature increased 20 degrees – I had to ask my instructor to take controls for a minute while getting rid of my jacket and shirt. It was quite windy with gusts, so it really took all my focus to fly it. I really got challenged on my first flight and one of the basic elements of the theory got very relevant: “fly the plane rather than fighting it” and I did my outmost to do that.

The flight was 23 minutes – basically out of the Roskilde control zone, doing a few turns and returning for a straight in landing on runway 21.

Map First Flight

But really that was all I needed on this first flight. Now there are thousands of impressions that need to be processed before continuing on second lesson in 10 days where I will for sure not get away with just a few turns and one landing.

 

By the way I also spend half an hour during the day to buy some basic equipment for the practical flying. Since I kind of like gadgets this was also something that I had been looking forward to. I bought this very cool pairs of classic headset from American David Clark – the “H10-13X” with active noise reduction which is really a comfortable feature in a noisy cockpit:

David Clark H10-13X

David Clark H10-13X

Then I bought my first log book, and of course after the lesson I made my first entry in the log book:

First log book entry

Handling the radio

One important part of flying is the ability to communicate with flight controllers – both for security reasons and for navigation purposes. One must learn and acquire a certification in the standard phraseology used on the air traffic radio frequencies. In Denmark it is allowed to use either Danish and English language.

I have looked very much forward to the radio courses because that is a point where all the theoretical training gets very close to the real stuff. Half of the course is radio training by simply simulating a flight where the instructor acts as ATC and all the students are having each their flight plan. That is a lot of fun!

Each language (Danish and English) has its own standard phraseology. The certification for the Danish radio (called N-BEG) is the easiest, so that is where I start out, and then I will go and get the English one (called BEG) as well later. Both BEG and N-BEG are limited to VFR traffic (visual flight rules)  whereas the general GEN certification also covers IFR traffic (instrument flight rules).

Here is a small video I did with my phone that gives an idea of te training. It is rather easy compared to the rest of the theoretical curriculum in the PPL training, but there is a lot to just remember, and the right words must be used in the right order:

A couple of weeks later was the certification test which was a 24 questions multiple-choice test followed by a flight simulation with our instructor again acting as ATC while everything was monitored by a guy from the transport authorities.

Grades is given from 1-6 and 4 is minimum to pass. Of course I was given a 6 for excellent performance. :o)

N-BEG radio certificate

Basically the radio training have been a lot of fun, and it all becomes a little bit more real now. Specially because my first flying lesson is just around the corner.

Theory examination passed

Today was the day to prove that at least some of all the stuff we learned the last 3 months sticks to my brain. I passed with a result of 97%.

PPL theory passed

I was pretty confident as I have spend 3 full days over the last week just going through as much theory and previous years examination exercises as possible. The minimum score to pass is 75%, and I really need to have a bad day to get in conflict with that.

The examination is written multiple choice and is split in four individual examinations with breaks between them. As far as I understood this is however going to change next year.

PPL theory examination

PPL exam room at Roskilde Hallerne. 

One of the questions I had wrong was this one:

Wrong answer

Bilag

Basically, the question is: Can you in case of engine failure get from point 6 to Kalundborg (EKKL) airfield and land with a glide rate of 1:10 and with an attitude of 4000 feet.

The annoying thing about the enclosed chart is that it has been zoomed out of its original scale, so the scale is now 1:210000.

The attitude of 4000 feet is 2/3 of a nautical mile (NM), so with a glide rate of 1:10, that means that the aircraft can glide for 6,6 NM. The distance from point 6 to EKKL airfield is 3,9 cm on the chart, so with a scale of 1:210000 that will be 8,19 km which is 4,4 NM.

Gliding 4,4 NM means that the aircraft with a glide rate of 1:10 will loose 2673 feet of attitude (1 NM = 6076 feet). So after gliding 4,4 NM the aircraft will be at an attitude of approximately 1327 feet, which means that the closest answer in the multiple choice is B.

Fore some reason I made the calculations with a distance from point 6 to EKKL of 5 NM, which will give me a wrong result. Never mind…

 

Next step will be the radio communication course which will commence mid January, so now I have a break of one and a half months, which is fine as I have some traveling with work and a lot of family events during the christmas.

Presentation of an alternative type of aircraft

One of the guys on the theory course is an aircraft mechanic and has worked with a type of aircrafts called gyrocopter (or autogyro). One evening a presentation was arranged so all the questions could be answered; is it really a real aircraft?

Okay, it LOOKS like a helicopter, but that is pretty much also where the similarities stops. It has two rotating fans, which on a helicopter provides lift via the angle of attach against the air. That means that the fans will be tilted forward when flying forward. On a gyrocopter it is the other way around. The fans actually works like a disc when spinning in high speed and it is the disc that provides the lift via its angle of attach against the wind. That means that the fans/disk will be tilted backwards when flying forward. So in other words; the power is not provided by the fans (like on a helicopter) but by a propeller on the back of the gyrocopter. Confused? Take a look at the Wiki article for more information.

The interesting thing about gyrocopters is that they can be flown on a PPL license – actually even with a UL license as it is classified as a UL aircraft.

Gyrocopter

Auto-Gyro Cavalon

Gyrocopter cockpit

The cockpit of this Auto-Gyro Cavalon is nice and sporty and you have a great view while flying as there are no wings in the way.

Well I am not convinced to go for the gyrocopter unfortunately. But I might be tempted to try it out one day.

 

Getting into all the theory

I have already decided what my favorite course is; navigation. It is rather simple math and geometry, and it is really getting close to what this is all about – flying!

Navigation course

Navigation course – the navigation instructor Ole is explaining the difference of magnetic heading, magnetic track and true track.

The training is getting to a point were we have been through everything – more or less – and it is time to practice on how to use the theory practically by planning a flight from one airport to another. Using weather data and aircraft specifications to calculate the correct course and heading. This is fun!

IMG_1612

A panorama photo of the tables during the coffee break with all the maps and papers and tools used for the navigation course. 

The hardest course is the metrology – there is just so much stuff to remember, and we are just touching the surface of the subject, so I often have the feeling that there is something I do not understand because it is related to something beyond what we are supposed to learn. When asking a question I have even got the reply that I shouldn’t think too much about how and why, but just remember it. But really it is true – it is really a balance to find the right level of abstraction. We can’t learn everything in 3 months.

Some of the more soft courses like human capabilities and limitations and aerodynamics are cool – and I don’t think anyone is really putting too much focus on these subjects. The subjects are pretty straight forward when reading the books, and the theory makes very much sense.

The engine and aircraft course seems to be easy for most of the guys, but just not to me. I have never touch an engine – I didn’t even know what a carburetor was until recently. Basically it is not a subject of very much interest to me, so I actually find a bit hard to follow the course because much of the talking and discussions became quite esoteric.

Finally the laws and regulations course was somehow straight forward as well even though there is quite a lot of stuff to remember. But a lot of the regulations are common sense.

Finally take a look at the group of PPL theory students in Roskilde Flyveklub fall 2014. Really cool guys all of them.

Roskilde Flyveskole Students

 

 

 

Airport tour

One of the days I had been looking forward to is the airport tour. We already did visit the hangars some days ago, but the tour in the tower and in the fire and rescue was still outstanding.

Roskilde Aiport (EKRK) is a rather small airport and is a part of the near by Copenhagen Airport. Roskilde Airport is mainly used for VIP handling, charter/taxi flights, offshore helicopter flights and quite a lot of school and  private leisure flights. That is also what makes the tower in Roskilde Airport attractive for air traffic controllers because they prefer the versatility of different rules and regulations that are used to handle both VFR and IFR traffic, private and commercial, helicopters, props and jets etc. rather than just handling one type of commercial IFR traffic in Kastrup Tower.

During our visit in the tower there were almost no traffic – one single King Air aircraft departed during the 15 minutes, but it was also close to VFR closure. According to the controller on duty the tower could be quite busy and often required two controllers so that one could concentrate on approach while the other one would take care of the tower frequency.

EKRK tower

View also towards the east from Roskilde tower.

EKRK apron

View over the apron towards the west from Roskilde Tower. In the lower right corner you can see the terminal building. 

After visiting the tower we went to the fire and rescue service. The airport has two fire tenders which are able to respond to any emergency in the airport within very few minutes. In case of emergency they are backed up by Roskilde Fire Department.

EKRK fire tender

EKRK fire and rescue

One of the fire and rescue guys tells about there work in Roskilde Airport.

Last time Roskilde Airport had a fatal accident was March 6th 2013 where a small private aircraft with two people on board crashed while performing a low attitude turn in a go-around maneuver.

First look at the aircrafts

Today we went on a hangar tour with our “engine and aircraft” teacher to have a practical look at some of the features of the aircrafts.

This aircraft YO-BLB is one of the two aircrafts belonging to Roskilde Flyveklub and used for practical training. Both aircrafts are of the type Piper PA28-151 Warrior and they are build in 1975 and 1976. Good classic aircrafts.

OY-BLB

The dashboard of the cockpit is somehow what one would expect:

OY-BLB

Even though the classic aircrafts are nice, it is no secret that my dream is to fly a more modern aircraft, and one of the aircrafts available to Roskilde Flyveklub has definitely caught my attention – this lovely Diamond Star DA40TDI. Really a cool aircraft!

OY-RBG

Buying books and tools

Obviosly I need some books and tools for the theory course. The aviation and pilot supplies store in Roskilde Airport is very conveniently located in the building just next to Roskilde Flyveklub.

Basically here is a book for each of the courses – and they are all in Danish, which to me is somehow convenient when dealing with completely new theory.

A couple of important tools are required for the navigation course; that is the “computer” and the rotating plotter, which basically is a ruler with a rotating protractor attached.

ASA CP-RLX rotating plotter

The “computer” is a calculation and conversion tool that with its turning wheels and sliding grids makes you able to calculate speed, wind correction angles etc. and makes you able to convert all kinds of things from one unit to another.

Pooleys CRP-1W computer
I bought this Pooleys CRP-1W computer – good stuff!

Finally I also needed some aviation maps for the navigation course – or as they call it: Aeronautical charts (ICAO). And of course I need the Denmark map and the Copenhagen Area map, and they are by the way both available in PDF on the Naviair website for those with big enough printers.

Total price for all the good stuff was DKK 2.683,-

Books and tools invoice

Medical (class 2) examination

To avoid negative surprises it is a good idea to get the medical examinations done as quickly as possible. There are different types of medical examinations depending on what to use it for. For PPL (private pilot license) a so called medical class 2 certificate is required. I booked an appointment at Glostrup Hospital (Aeromedical Center) 4 weeks in advance for September 2nd 2014.

The examination was carried out by specialized doctors in each of their field – e.g. urin analysis, heart cardiogram, vision, balance, general health. Within 2 hours I could leave the hospital with a valid medical class 2 certificate. The only remark/limitation was “VNL” meaning “Shall have available corrective spectacles for near vision and carry a spare set of spectacles“. This means I will have to buy a new spare set of glasses as I currently only have one pair.

 

Theory courses planning

After signing up for a membership in Roskilde Flyveklub, I signed up for the theory course commencing Monday, August 8th 2014. Already from the very beginning I had my considerations if I should go for the LAPL certificate or the PPL certificate. The theory course covers both, so I don’t need to decide before I have started the practical training. In the beginning I was mostly into the LAPL certificate mainly for financial reasons, but as we have already learned about the later possibilities to extend the PPL certificate with instrument rating etc. I quickly changed my mind. I just have a feeling that this flying thing will get too much under my skin to allow my self to setting up upper boundaries at this early stage.

Basically the difference between LAPL and PPL is that LAPL is limited to a take-off weight go maximum 2000 kg, and the LAPL certificate cannot be extended with e.g. an instrument rating.

The course consists of 6 subjects:

  • MET = meteorology
  • NAV = navigation
  • LOB = law and regulations
  • MYB = human capabilities and limitations
  • MIA = engine- instrument- and aeroplane
  • AD = aerodynamics

Here is the course plan:

Course plan

So basically 3 months of tough training is ahead. The good thing is that I am not alone – I have a dream in common with 13 other guys (not one single girl unfortunately).