Sunday, October 29, 2006

A very reasonable training request

In life we often evaluate our progress by comparing what we have with our peers. At Goodyear airport our peers are the trainees from Lufthansa and The German Air Force. Whilst we get parity with the Lufthansa cadets we do feel the German Air Force guys are getting a little more than us. Consequently we have petitioned Oxford Aviation Training to rectify this and have asked for a few small additions to be made to the fleet of Piper Warrior PA128 aircraft.

This has been requested to liven up back seating.

ATC won't be denying me touch and go's with these babies on board

Training will have to be modified and two extra lessons will need to be added to the syllabus, namely “Dog fighting for beginners” and “practical bombing for the low hours pilot”. Additionally the lessons on step turns and stalling will have to be modified slightly to include surface- to-air missile avoidance techniques.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Update from Phoenix

Not much to report on the flying front for two reasons. Firstly there is an air display this weekend so airspace has been restricted to allow the Blue Angels (US equivalent of the Red Arrows) and various other aerobatic aircraft to train. Watching these guys do their stuff has been amazing and definitely influenced my flying. In my third lesson I was replicating a lot of what I saw; up and down, left and right just like the stunt planes. My instructor wasn't happy; He was trying to teach me to fly straight and level !!! Maybe that's why he quit? Or it could have been because in both of my take offs too date I've attempted to demonstrate the vertical capabilities of the Piper warrior aircraft we use. He kept saying something about stalling and how this isn't a good idea but I've seen how the Blue Angels do this and it looks pretty easy. He muttered something about our aircraft not having a sufficient thrust to weight ratio, popped another valium, and then drove off into the sunset to join North West airlines (The second reason why I've done so little flying)!! Hopefully, we'll get a nice, new, brave instructor early next week.

Consequently I've had lots of time to practice checklists, emergency drills and get an Arizona state driving license. The former was painfully easy. 30 multiple choice questions, a quick drive around the block without leaving to much death and carnage and the license was attained. My examiner spent more time watching the Blue Angels practicing for this weekends air display than my actual driving.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The ass that is the law

Hurrah! It's the weekend, and for those of us not flying the next day the chance to blow off a bit of steam and get off site. I was one of the lucky ones without a saturday slot so hopped in the "bangbus" (a large minibus provided by OAT for student use) for a trip to Tempe, a student area of Phoenix. As a pilot you get used to check lists (well, at least I hope I will) and generally we do a "check" before departing mainly for passports and, if we are going to a nightclub, a footwear check. Anyways, coming back to the title of this entry I am amazed that I still have to carry my passport everywhere. I can only assume that the law says that everybody must show ID, however, common sense rarely seems to prevail in these circumstances. At Devils Martini, a local nightclub, I first tried to use my driving license but this wasn't accepted. As it happens I had my passport but do I really look under 21???? I challenege any body of 21 or under to grow this amout of grey hair (refer to the 747 photo) in just 21 short years !!!

There endeth my grumble.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Drapes (Finally) goes flying

The first thing that hits you about flight training is the astonishing number of checks you have to carry out not just on the ground but in all phases of flight. It took nearly 40 minutes of checks before we even left the ground. They say they aircraft is ready to fly when the paperwork weighs the same as the aircraft. Even before the 4o minutes of ground checks there was the mass and balance sheets to complete and the ATIS (weather) report to check. I'm glad I paid attention in groundschool (well most of the time).

Once in the air and at around 4000ft, I was handed the controls for the first time. Within about 5 minutes an F-14 jet fighter flew almost directly overhead (We have to stay below 5000 ft to avoid them) and my immediate thoughts were that I was going to break all sorts of records for the quickest ever interception.

The rest of the lesson was spent getting the feel of the controls and about 50 minutes later we landed at a small airfield called Gila bend). We swapped over and I was now "backseating" as my flight buddy Merel took over and repeated the lesson I had just done on the trip back to Goodyear airport, our base.

Fantastic fun and I can't wait to get out again (tomorrow).

Landing at Goodyear airport

Arizona from the air (City of Poenix top left of picture)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The serious business of pilot training in Arizona - A pictorial view

The first hurdle is gaining access to the country which is not easy. Their were many barriers including the requirements for J-1 visas, I-20's, various registrations and my own utter incompetence with anything administrative (Just ask Denise Wilcox at OAT !!)...Perhaps I could have used a slightly better passport photograph

With as little as 7 days to recover from jetlag the trainee pilot prepares by ensuring that he/she is fully up to date on the latest aviation issues. With the bookwork complete we wasted no time at all and began practicing key manoveures in the "primary training area" Some of these manoveures are demonstrated by trainee pilot Steve Davies (The editor had to cry off with an ear infection)

Take Off

level flight


Thursday, October 05, 2006

At the controls of a 747

Flight training so far

Well ground school is over and now I get let loose on the toys. So far we are still finding our feet and undergoing a number of inductions which they are desperatley stretching out as they've got no spare planes until a previous class finishes (this should happen Saturday). I've sorted out most of the creature comforts I will require such as wirless internet, local mobile phone and other odds and sods...well, beer mainly.