Here are some more photos from my second set of night flights, which were solo circuits:
Sunday, 26 September 2010
It’s officially Autumn (or Fall) here in Arizona, and for us it’s pretty noticeable as the temperatures have dropped considerably. Okay, so it’s still hitting up to 40˚ every day, but then that is a lot cooler than when we first arrived! The storms seem to have mostly disappeared, though there were a couple hanging around this week, and now the sky is pretty much free of clouds every day.
Unfortunately the turbulence is as bad as ever, and now that we have moved on to the precision flying of holds and approaches, it is especially important to fight the bumps and keep altitude. Holds are procedures that involve flying a racetrack pattern in the air, to buy the pilot some time before making an approach. Anyone flying in to Heathrow will have probably experienced a lot of time waiting in holds before ATC clear them to land. It involves very precise flying as aircraft here are only separated by 500ft, so straying from altitude is not an option! Once we have done a few laps in the hold, we move on to the approach procedure, which we fly using approach charts. They give instructions as to where we need to fly and when we need to descend, all of which is done under the hood. At the end of the procedure we should be lined up with the runway, and it is then the pilot’s decision whether to land, or if he can’t see the runway, to perform the missed approach. Flying these precision approaches will be part of our day to day life as airline pilots , so it feels pretty cool to be practising them.
A few weekends ago a few of us flew up to Seattle for the weekend, which was an enormous change of scenery for us! I guess it is pretty similar to the UK in a lot of ways, with a lot of greenery and overcast skies. But what makes Seattle special is the enormous lakes and Ocean that it sits amongst, and the mountains in the background. There are also a lot of seaplanes buzzing around, which is quite unique. But then Seattle is quite a unique city, as we found out when riding the monorail to the Space Needle! We spent the Saturday evening dining at the revolving restaurant at the top, which gave us stunning views of the city and the harbour by sunset and night. We also visited the Boeing factory north of Seattle, and saw the brand new 787 rolling off the production line. There was also a local air show on at the time, so we spent some time there, and on our second day we visited the History of Flight museum at the second Boeing field. They had one of the Concordes there, J.F. Kennedy’s Air Force One, and the first 747 test plane, though it was sad to see them all outside and not really well looked after.
Last night a few of us went to see a baseball game at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They were playing the LA Dodgers, which sounded like it would be a good game. To be honest though, I wasn’t really sure of the rules, and it is a very slow paced game, so I don’t think we are missing much not having baseball in the UK. It was a great experience though and a good atmosphere.