February 2017 – Well after a barren January for flying I was hoping that February was going to be the month I got it all done! However it wasn’t to be.
I had a great start. On the 3rd Feb I did a couple of circuits with Luke then I was off to Blyton disused airfield and Goole Docks on a solo navigation. This is a pretty simple triangular route, but does involves getting permission from Doncaster to pass through their airspace. If you don’t get permission then you’re not allowed to enter.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the organisation which controls general and commercial aviation in the UK, is having a campaign to stop the number of airspace infringements. The vast majority of these are caused by people not using GPS, or having it and not being able to understand how to use it. I always feel it’s a bit sad when people say how they’ve never felt the need to use GPS, and they only ever use charts, as if that’s something to be proud of, and that they’re better than anyone else. These are the people who cause the infringements, and they are the pilots who give everyone a bad name, and cause the CAA to introduce even tighter regulations.
Of course when training you are taught to use charts and calculate where you are from dead reckoning, plus of course spotting towns, lakes, rivers etc on the ground. However when you’ve passed I believe you should use every available means to make sure you are a safe and accurate pilot. This meant for me a blog calculated with the latest wind speed and direction, and being able to fly in a straight line. Basic skills every pilot should have!
And so it was, the old Blyton airfield was found and I turned to head towards Goole Docks. I called Doncaster up on the radio and the friendly controller there gave me permission and I flew on my direct route to Goole.
However when I arrived the controller then asked me to turn right, rather than left which would have been my natural turn to head straight to Gamston, due to current traffic. After avoiding the airspace as requested he then gave me permission to take a straight line back to Gamston, directly through his airspace and in sight of the runway at Doncaster.
It’s quite possible to fly around the UK and talk to almost no-one (so long as you stay out of controlled airspace), and some people do find it difficult and try and avoid requesting transits and would rather fly the long way round. However my training has shown me that air traffic controllers are very helpful, and will always allow you access to their airspace if they are at all capable. Don’t be frightened of talking to them!
So it turned out to be a simple exercise, and another solo flight crossed off my list.
My CloudAhoy debrief is at http://www.cloudahoy.com/debrief/?key=Tid5vS1ooOGGsfLjImIb (not sure why it cut out at Goole)
And there’s a video of the flight at 8x normal speed on YouTube at
That was all the flying I managed in February. I had lessons cancelled on the 6th, 12th, 14th and 23rd due to weather. There was one highlight though.
One the 7th Feb I went into True Airspeed Training to do my Radio Telephony test. To fly as Pilot in Command you need an RT licence, and so I had Graham give me training, then airline pilot Tim Darby took my test. The test is done using a computer to simulate a flight with a virtual plane on the screen, and headphone with Tim sat in the other room acting as ATC.
The training proved to be more stressful than the test itself. There was something about being sat with a headset on that made me feel more comfortable, like I was actually flying, and therefore the phraseology came to me more easily. There were MATZ Penetration requests, Mayday calls, zone transits etc. but it all went pretty smoothly and I passed.
Only some flying left to do now, Would March prove to be my month?
If you want to know more, the podcast, as always, contains an expanded version of the above.