Hour 6: Basics revision
This was my first flight since Flight Camp in January. Today is August 30; its been a while. How much can I remember? I'll find out in Hour 6.
Also in this flight, I planned to test my new (and older) gadgets: Bose A30 headphones, GoPro Hero 10, Tascam audio recorder, cables and adapters
Back in Camden
On a beautiful and sunny Wednesday morning, I was back in the car and on the long drive to Camden aerodrome for my first lessons since Flight Camp. According to Google Maps, it takes 1.5 hours to do this trip, so I added 30 minutes extra for emergencies (i.e. traffic) and perhaps a stop at the Maccas at Mount Annan.
I had scheduled two hour-long flights with Greg, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. I had a call with Greg a few days earlier and so had a rough idea of what to expect. I knew that revision was definitely happening in the morning. And perhaps a bit more practice in the afternoon. But I would only know for sure during the pre-flight briefing.
Since this was my first day back, I decided to leave 2.5 hours early and get there with plenty of time. Altocap has a comfortable common area with tables and a couch where I can sit and review books and notes in preparation for the lesson. I also packed some food with me to save me the trip to town in-between flights.
In this first day back, I also wanted to try out some new and and older equipment. First and foremost, my top-of-the-line Bose A30 headset. Yes, they are expensive. But small planes are extremely loud and pilots need the best active cancellation they can get. The A30 only came out a few months ago as a better version of the A20 (which is also excellent). I plan to fly for a long time, so I felt justified to get the best headset I can afford.
I have little experience with other headphones. I (think) used the David Clark H10-30 Headset during the flight camp. They seemed OK to reduce noise without active noise isolation, but after about 30 minutes the pressure on the lobes of my head and against my sunglasses frame was giving me a headache. Based on this, I had an experience of what regular headphones feel like.
In my flight, the A30 felt comfortable for the entire hour. Audio was very good. I could hear Greg easily, and ATC was also clear once I increased the volume a bit. The straight cable and the clips are well designed to prevent the cable from getting tangled. I kept the control unit on my lap, but I will look for a better position and use the clip for better ergonomics. I prefer to keep my lap clear for things like the checklists and a notepad. So, after a grand-total of one hour using the A30, I can confidently say that it was definitely worth the money.
Also in my flight bag were a Gopro Hero 10, a Tascam DR-22WL audio recorder, and cables for connecting the Tascam to the aeroplane's intercom and radio. Part of my plan for my Flight Log series is to video-record all my flights. I want to keep a full record of my lessons so I can share it with you, and to learn more my mistakes.
I knew that VH-AHH has a mounting point for the Gopro, but I didn't know where and what kind. Without this, it was hard to know what type of adapter to bring along. So I took a few candidate adapters to see if one of them would match. Unfortunately, at the aeroplane, none of my Gopro adapters matched the mounting point. So, no video for this flight. For next flight, I think I have the right adapter, to be confirmed.
But the audio recorder and cables did work, and I was able to get an audio recording for the entire flight. This is what my first call to ATC sounded like:
The call was OK, I guess, thought there were to areas for improvement:
1. Press the radio button, not the autopilot disconnect button, to transmit.
2. Every response from ATC must be acknowledged by reading back the instruction to the controller. I totally forgot about that, but Greg had my back.
This flight was a revision of everything I had learned in flight camp. Greg gave me a briefing before the flight to explain the various exercises and determine how much I might remember from January.
As everything in aviation, there is a syllabus and every lesson is detailed in it. To help keep in sync with the exercises, know what is coming up, and rehears in my head or the simulator, I use the Flying Training Manual from Aviation Theory Center.
In this flight, I was going to review and practice these exercises:
- Aircraft control and effects of control. How the elevators, ailerons, and rudder work to control attitude, pitch and roll.
- Set throttle and mixture.
- Straight and level flight, trying to maintain altitude with constant of variable speed (i.e. accelerating or decelerating).
- Turning, level, ascending, descending.
- Low speed flight and stall (very exciting).
There are many other bits and pieces that I refreshed, such as:
- Checklists for everything. I practiced these:
- Normal start.
- After start.
- Taxi checks.
- Engine run up.
- Normal take off.
- After landing checks.
- Shutdown checks.
- Normal start.
- Refueling and doing a fuel drain check (Greg did the check, I did the refueling).
- And doing a pre-flight inspection (this includes a long list of items to check that I will not include here, but they are in the Flying Training Manual).
Finally all checks where done. It was time to take off. And Greg said I could do it! That was the most exciting part (up to that point). Here is the audio from the take off and the first 7 minutes of the flight when I practiced climbing, turning, trimming, and holding altitude.
As you can hear from this recording, the pilot workload is high. There's always a procedure to do, and to aviate -> navigate -> communicate. I left the navigation and communucation to Greg, but even simply aviating was a lot of work. By the end of the hour, I felt very tired.
Around 50 minutes later we started to prepare for landing. Here's those last few minutes of the audio recording, which also include the taxing back to the Scout hangar, and the after-landing and shutdown checklists.
This was a revision lesson, and it felt good being in the plane. I felt that I could control the plane. Definitely not with sufficient accuracy. My altitude hold had a "slack" of + or - 100 feet. My turning has a slack of + or - 10°. And I was unable to keep an active listening of the radio because all my bandwidth was taken up by controlling the plane and looking out the window for traffic.
But, I'm not in a harry, and I'm sure I get to a semi-competent level of piloting in a few more lessons.
Unfortunately, we were not able to do the second flight in the afternoon because a massive weather system with a lot of rain and wind came in. I was driving in heavy rain for two hours to get home. Flying with a small plane in that weather was not an option.
I was very lucky with the weather in the morning. Nice temperature around 15° and light winds as as good as it gets.
Next time (which is tomorrow for me as I am writing this), I'll do another practice lesson to repeat all the exercises from lesson of hour 5. After this, assuming I'm decent with all exercises, I'll start with the circuit exercises, which means take-offs, landings, and flying withing the circuit pattern. Rumor has it that this is an extremely stressful situation for student pilots. I'll know soon.
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Flightradar24 captures information from the aircraft's transponder and produces this animation. This is the animated track of our plane in this flight.