Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Grand Canyon

It’s been a long while and a lot has happened since my last post. It’s been a bit of a tough week this last week as I didn’t pass my progress test which has meant that I am a bit behind and it has taken a while to sort out. However, I re-sat it today with the Chief Flight Instructor and he DSC00828passed me with a good score! Without going in to too much detail, I should say that I had some issues with my first examiner which have been dealt with, and now I can put that week behind me and get on with my flying!

Other than that the solo navigation exercises have really kicked in, and     I am spending a lot of my time flying from waypoint to waypoint around the desert on my own! We also started our night flying with our instructor; one lesson of circuits and one navigation exercise. The first lesson was amazing, the world looks so different at night, and there are a few new challenges you face as a pilot. Aiming for the runway is the same as before because you have the lighting, but it is very difficult to tell how high you are when you are DSC00875waiting to touch down, and it comes as a surprise when the wheels hit the ground! For our night nav we flew down to Tucson International airport, which was easily the coolest place we’ve been so far. We were taking off and landing amidst 737s, and on arrival we were directed to their very nice ‘Executive Lounge’. On the way back we did a transition over Phoenix Sky Harbor airport at 3500ft agl which was also pretty amazing. Plus we get to do 2 solo night circuit lessons at some point.

We also made it down to the Grand Canyon last weekend. We left Phoenix at 3.00am and arrived in the town of Sedona in time to watch the sunrise, which was nothing short of spectacular. Then we continued our drive further north to the Canyon and spent the day there, before journeying back for dinner in DSC00969Flagstaff, and watching the sunset in Sedona. The scenery en route is stunning, as you watch the desert  change in to the big, red, rocky outcrops of Sedona, and then the lush mountain greenery of Flagstaff, before the very unique Canyon itself. It was a great day out, and we are  hoping for another this weekend as fingers crossed we’ll be heading up to Seattle to visit Boeing field.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Flight of the Navigator

Wow, that first solo flight seems like ages ago now! Over the last week and a bit we have moved on to a lot more of the navigation element of flying, which includes solo navigation flights. This involves planning a route based on approved ones Oxford give us, and flying and navigatingDSC00646 the route as best we can. My last solo flight was an hour and a half nav flight around the Rainbow Valley and Southwest Practice areas, covering just over 100 miles. Part of the way I was also flying in to the sunset so I couldn’t see the terrain ahead of me, which meant I just had to fly  the heading on my compass and hope I ended up at the right place! Luckily I wasn’t too far off, and managed to get back to Goodyear on time and in one piece! My next flight is around 200 miles, which I’m really looking forward to! We also had a couple of really cool flights to Ryan and Phoenix Mesa Gateway airports. Ryan is a place we will be headed on some of our solos and is located near Tucson. We even stopped for breakfast at the cafe before our return journey home!

I also have had a couple of flight cancelled this week, either due to nasty looking thunderstorms en route or the high temperature. Once it gets above 45 degrees then we are unable to fly, as the plane just don’t DSC00663get good enough performance. We had a nice break from the heat on Thursday when we had our first flight in the simulator. Oxford have a couple of Warrior/Seneca sims out here which we do part of our instrument training on. It was great fun, though it is a lot more challenging to fly than the real aircraft, and is designed to be so that we can deal with tough situations. We also had time for a bit of fun at the end of the lesson, involving loops and barrel rolls from 20000ft down to an engine-out approach into Phoenix Sky Harbor, so much fun! I have another sim flight this week, plus a few more solo navs, and then the night flights are fast approaching, which I am really looking forward to!