It felt really good to fill the fuel tanks almost to the maximum knowing that I was going to burn almost all of it during this day (when not thinking of the cost of course).
The weather had been teasing me a bit, and originally the flight was planned for Wednesday but I had to postpone it to Friday because of bad weather. Even Friday there were a couple of weather concerns so I had actually made two flight plans; a safe one with minimum altitude to allow flying under low clouds and an optimal plan in case I was able to fly high. Fortunately the weather turned out fine. Near Vejle I did however pass some quite heavy comulus clouds with rain and turbulence, but the weather was moving slow, so on my way home I could go high in FL75 over the Kattegat sea home to Roskilde.
For some reason I did not perform very well with the landings during this flight. Maybe because there was a thousand other things to think about. I discussed the landings with my instructor and I actually had extra training in cross wind landing and use of rudder. Not that I didn’t know how to do it, but to get the procedures into my bones.
Nevertheless this was a brilliant day – a great experience – that fulfilled all my expectations. I really hope and look forward to being able to fly cross country again when I am done with the school flights.
Enjoy the video. I hope you sense the great feeling of flying cross country.
One of the best lessons in the entire lesson program is the long cross country dual navigation flight. The destinations are Billund Airport (EKBI) which is an international airport in mid Jutland. Second destination is Sønderborg (EKSB) which is a small airport that operates a view domestic routes and some general aviation. On the route from Billund to Sønderborg is the military air force base Skrydstrup which requires clearance for crossing of the airspace.
I grew up on a farm with my family not far from Billund and my parents still live there, so I planned a route going north of Billund to get a nice view of my home town before approaching Billund Airport.
Video from the flight with my instructor Ivan (in Danish):
The video starts where we are overflying my home town just north of Billund Airport. We did a 360 degree turn and started the approach to Billund Airport. Next we depart towards Sønderborg and get clearance to climb into the TMA (controlled airspace) because the air was quite turbulent in low altitude. Finally approaching Sønderborg in a quite strong cross wind – so because of my lack of cross wind training, my instructor had to help a bit with that one. The next day I actually went out and had 13 cross wind landings just to catch up on that one.
I had prepared the flight the day in advance and created 3 separate flight plans, and sent 3 separate ATS (ICAO) flight plans. As said the first one going a little bit north for a sightseeing at my home town, and the other two flights more or less direct.
During the flight there was time to focus on things that I really never had time to do during the short school flights previously – e.g. leaning the mixture correctly and play with the GPS. Also this was my first flight climbing to flight levels – more precisely FL65 on our way crossing Storebælt from Zealand to Fyn and Jutland.
One of my friends is working as a pilot for Primera Air in Billund Airport flying the Boeing 737, and unfortunately he was flying at the time I would land in Billund, but I got another surprise when I called the tower for the initial taxi clearance in Roskilde; “Cleared for taxi to run-up runway 11 via A and B, information X 1027 is correct, and then I have a greeting from Nikolas from Primera Air wishing you a nice flight.” So my friend obviously called the tower is Roskilde when passing during the morning on his way to Copenhagen in his B737.
A brilliant day with a lot of things to learn and a lot of great impressions.
A cold front had passed during the night with thunderstorms and heavy rain. Next morning on the backside of the front, the weather turned out beautifully. On the board for this school flight was short field landing on soft ground, so perfect conditions at Ringsted airfield (EKRS). After landing and take-off we returned to Roskilde Airport (EKRK).
Grass runways can be quite unreliable when wet. They can be soft and slippery. During landing it can be difficult to break the aircraft, so it is important to land the aircraft right at the treshold to have as much runway available for stopping.
When taking off it is advised to perform a rolling start (without stop on the runway) to avoid getting stuck in the soft ground. The aircraft is pulled in the air very early (so early that the stall horn will sound). The aircraft is kept in the ground effect (just a couple of feets over ground) to build up airspeed before starting the climb.
All in all a fun exercise and for the first time I was rather pleased with this (third) landing in Ringsted, so things are improving.
A lot of time is spend on training emergency procedures – and for a good reason. Following emergency procedures prevents incidents developing to accidents with risk of fatalities to follow. Most pilots will at some point during their career experience incidents that potentially can develop if not dealt with correctly. Far the most accidents are small incidents that escalates because they are either not dealt with or because they are overseen by the pilot.
The main emergency procedures trained for during the practical flying are:
Engine fire on ground, en-route and during landing
Engine stop (power off) during take-off, en-route and during landing
Stalls in different configurations (e.g. configured for landing during a turn)
Recovering from abnormal flight positions
Today we went out to train some of these procedures, and in the video below, you will experience how the emergencies are simulated in a controlled environment. Some of the exercises really makes ones stomach tickling because of the G-force.
Many recovering procedures involves quite violent application to one or multiple flight controls. It can be quite challenging to overcome ones own comfort zone to execute some of the procedures – e.g. pointing the nose straight down towards the ground in low altitude after an engine failure during take-off. Another aspect is the fact that the aircraft sometimes performs a bit unreliable during these abnormal configurations – e.g. during stalls where loosing lift one wing before the other causes the aircraft to bank very suddenly.
After a couple of solo flights (flying alone without pilot instructor) in the airport control zone and with the airport in sight, it was now time to leave the control zone to make some exercises and then find my way back to the airport.
On the agenda for this lesson was different maneuvering and basic navigation exercises. I had to use the VOR beacons for finding my way using the VOR radio in the aircraft. By entering the frequency of the VOR beacon on the VOR radio in the aircraft, a needle in the VOR instrument gives a left or right indication depending on how the directional selector (OBS) is set. This can be used to fly either direct inbound towards a VOR beacon or to intercept and follow a radial to or from the VOR beacon. Finally it can be used for finding the position of the aircraft by reading the radial of two different VOR stations and use the principle of triangulation to decide the position of the aircraft. All these three things I had to do today.
I think it was fairly easy but still complicated by the fact that attention should be shared between flying, looking for traffic and playing with the VOR radios and maps – that makes it easy to make mistakes. In the video you will see that it took me a little while to see that I had forgotten to enable the frequency of the second VOR beacon.
Now the practical flight training is half way done (15 lessons of 30) and now is actually the point where all the fun stuff begins; long navigation flights and getting more comfortable maneuvering the aircraft.
I am quite comfortable with take-off and landings as long as there is not too much cross wind. I still have a feeling that every time I do a landing Circuit, there is something to improve almost every time still, but I have been told by mu instructors to be patient – it will improve further, and there is still lessons with plenty of chances to do some more landing circuits (especially cross wind).
Today it was time to go solo. For the last 4 lessons I have just been struggling with the landings … or to be more accurate: the flare. The difficult part about the flare is that you need to balance the aircraft over the ground and raise the nose without causing the aircraft to either “balloon” over the runway or smash into the runway too hard. It took me at least 50 landings to get it right. Today there was a 10-14 kt wind so it was also a good day for cross wind landing training. Usually you would always land with a headwind, but for training purpose we requested the tower to allow us some cross wind landings. That was fun and difficult, but actually it didn’t take me much more than a couple of attempts to get it right, so finally all my landing training has paid off in more than one aspect.
After the training, my instructor left the aircraft and I was free to do the first flight on my own. A very simple flight; take-off, one circuit and then land Again on the same runway. Airborne for approximately 7-8 minutes. The total block time including taxi and checklists was 25 minutes.
Finally I got my solo approval in my log book, so for the remaining lessons I can now on my own prepare the aircraft by refueling and parking on apron. This will save time for the instructor and I will get more flying for my Money.
Finally a selfie with my plane after a successful solo flight:
Touch-and-go training is an important part of the flight training as it trains all the procedures for take-off, climb, landing circuit, final approach and landing – the most critical phases of flights.
On the 4th lesson I was doing my first touch-and-goes – but not until we had been flying a bit south west for some airwork. Some of the airwork was rather basic but the time spand since my last training must have made me a bit rusty on the basics, so I was struggling a bit with it. The two touch-and-goes went alright, but after one hour of intense flying my brain was just exhausted and my field of focus just narrowed in and made the last landing a bit scary.
Check out the video of this training flight:
The flight was approximately one hour and we went west and then a bit south to get a bit more space for airwork under the Copenhagen TMA (Copenhagen Airport controlled airspace).
On the next couple of lessons there will be a lot of landing circuits so I will for sure become a lot better at it.
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)
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.