Hour Building: First flight with a passenger

Yesterday was a big day for me, it was the first time I had the chance to take someone up with me, I did Hour Building: First flight with a passenger.
I was planning a navigation flight and land away to Leicester but the poor weather put a swift end to that.
I only managed to get two circuits in as the rain started to come in and it came in fast. On the second circuit I was just happy I was on final when the sky decided to open up as it was really hard to see. I had to change my call from a touch and go to a landing call.
I took my girlfriend Nadege up with me, who is a nervous flier, she doesn’t trust pilots with thousands of hours, but seems to trust me with a massive 50 😆
The weather situation sucks as I could see she was starting to get into it and was transitioning from being nervous to actually quite excited
It felt like a big achievement to finally be able to share aviation with people and I look forward to being able to take friends and family up over the next few months. Most of my hour building will be done in the US however but I should be able to fit in a few flights.
Anyways, here the videos if you fancy a watch.

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The UK has voted to leave the EU

No matter if you was on the leave or the remain side,  today is a pretty big day in history as the UK has voted to leave the EU. At the time of this post the vote looks like 52% in and 48% out.
eu referendum ballot paper
How does this affect us trainee pilots?
Well the truth is right now nobody knows what is going to happen.
There is a two-year timescale to leave the EU, so depending on how quickly the government organise the exit will dictate how it affects us in the short-term. As things stand we are still members of the EU until the government decide to invoke the leaving process. There are still a lot of things that need to be sorted out and negotiated and this is not something that is going to happen quickly.

How does it affect our job prospects?

Under the EU free movement rules we have the right to live and work in any EU country, with us leaving we can only speculate that this will come to an end. This however does not mean that we will not be able to get jobs in other countries, we would just need a visa. Now the airlines may be perfectly OK with this, or they may see it as an inconvenience, we just do not know at this point in time. Obviously this is not as convenient as the current agreement, but the same would be the true for foreign pilots wanting to work in the UK.
An agreement could also be reached between the UK and other countries in regards to aviation, there are too many hypothetical at the moment to go into them.
The EU has an open skies agreement, I personally don’t see the UK being excluded from this, especially with London Heathrow being a major European hub for international travel and connections. This however is just my opinion and is something that would need to be negotiated.

So what do we do now?
Well me personally I will continue training, why would I not. Who knows what the state of play will be in 18 months when I aim to be finished? But this is the way that aviation works, it is an industry filled with uncertainty and upturns and downturns.

West Atlantic Cadet Scheme 2016

Great news, the details of the West Atlantic Cadet Scheme 2016 have been made available.
This is one of the better schemes out there as West Atlantic fund your training, then when you are ready to fly the line you pay them back 50% of the cost.
There are a few entry requirements that you must meet to be eligible.

  1. You must hold an EASA Private Pilots License.
  2. You must hold a class 1 medical.
  3. You must have a full and clean EU driving license with the right to drive a motor vehicle in the UK.
  4. You must have the right to live and work in the UK.

There are also two things that they prefer that you have which are –

  1. Have a night rating.
  2. Have 50 hours total time.

Applications go live on the 18th July and close on the 29th July.
You can find out more on the West Atlantic website.


ATPL theory week 2: Meteorology, Navigation

This week was ATPL theory week 2: Meteorology, Navigation. I was away for a big part of the week at the European championships in France however, so the study time this week was very limited.
I was lucky enough to see two games this week, Russia v Slovakia in Lille and England V Wales in Lens! Both games had really great atmosphere and despite the UK media only reporting the small pockets of trouble I saw none at all!
England v Wales
I got a chance to use the iPad app for the first time while traveling and the program works really well. It is a well thought out interactive program that replicates the desktop version very well.
I think when I am traveling I will just use the iPad version, as it seems to have all the features or at least the major features of the desktop application.
The subjects that I got through this week were temperatures and distance on the earth. This was learning how the environment cools and heats and the different methods of energy transfer from different states (like from solid to liquid) etc.
I then got my first taste of navigation and learned about longitude and latitude and how to work out distances traveled.
I also had my first progress test, this was the just a test on the first three met subjects that I had studied, I think there were 35 questions in total and you needed around 75% to pass.
Next week I will hit the books double hard to make up for the slower progress this week.

ATPL theory week 1: Maths, Physics and Meteorology

So on the 9th June I received access to the Bristol Ground School ATPdigital program and instantly got started with ATPL theory week 1: Maths, Physics and Meteorology.
ATPL Theory Week 1
You get a licence to install the software on two computers (PC or Mac) and one iPad. I haven’t had a chance to use the iPad version yet but as I am traveling to Euro 2016 next week (come on England!) I will get a chance to test this out and see how good it is.
I have given myself two months to complete module 1 with another month after that for revision and to work on question bank / identify weak areas. After this I will go to the revision week and take the exams the week after.
The very first module you need to complete is a maths and physics revision course. I am not bad with physics but I haven’t really done much maths since I left high school which is now a good 15 years ago (wow I’m old). Maths is not something that comes naturally to me but practice makes perfect and all that.
I went through this course over the period of 2 days and I found that YouTube is by far the most helpful site out there. There are great channels that explain just about everything you could ever want to know in very simple terms. I will list 3 of my favorites.

  1. The calculator guide
  2. Tecmath
  3. Mathantics

If you can’t find what you are after between them 3 guides then chances are you don’t really need to know it (at this level at least). I wish I had such great resources like this available when I was in school studying!
The maths and physics level is GCSE level I would say, so don’t worry you don’t need to be the next Albert Einstein or anything.
I then entered the ATPL course which kicks of with Meteorology, there is a lot of things that were on the PPL sylabus such as lapse rate, pressure, ISA deviation, QFE, QNH, drift etc. I have just started to touch on the subject so I am sure there is a lot more to go.

Preparing for the ATPL theory study

I have signed up for Bristol Ground Schools ATPL course so now I am preparing for the ATPL study.
I believe it is important to have an environment that is where you go to when you want to study. I am going to make a recommendation of how you should consider setting your environment up.
ATPL desk set up

  1. A Desk – Should go without saying really, you need somewhere to put all the stuff you will be using. I personally do not recommend working of a bed, or a chair or even on the floor. A desk won’t set you back much, I have had this one forever and it never cost much in the first place. It was definitely under £50.
  2. Laptop – I wouldn’t buy a desktop unless you have a specific need for it. In the corner of my room I have a desktop which is just for gaming. However for studying and basic day to day things I would choose the laptop simply because it is portable and you can take it with you when needed. Windows or Mac, it really doesn’t matter. Just get whatever you prefer.
    As an IT engineer I would say you should configure your laptop with the minimum of an i5 processor, 8gb ram and a 256gb SSD but of course that is just my opinion. I feel this gives you the best balance of power, performance and longevity. On most PC laptops you can swap out the ram & SSD if needed but in the mac I believe the ram is soldered and the SSD drive is non standard and expensive (Apple being Apple).
  3. Monitors – This may be the IT geek in me but with the cost of monitors these days buy two! I would say buy at least 22″ but I personally would get a minimum of 24″. With current prices both monitors will most likely set you back just over what a PPL lesson would.
    As you can see I actually have three monitors including the laptop. this means I can have the study material open on one, use the second to look things up and use the third to take notes.
  4. Monitor mount – Monitors take up far too much space when they are on the desk. Get a desk mounted monitor stand, take the stands off and mount them. Pretty much every monitor you can buy will have mounting points on the back. The mount I use set me back £20 on Amazon. The best part is that it allowed me to raise the screens so that the laptop will be under them. This means the laptop screen is usable as otherwise it would cover part of the monitors. On top of this I don’t need an additional keyboard or mouse as you can just use your laptop.
  5. Additional things – Get a surge protector to protect all your expensive equipment. I have a bluetooth speaker at the back but that’s a personal choice, your laptop will have speakers built in.

I feel that this is an environment that is ideal for learning, but of course it is a personal choice and you can set your environment up however you like.

You can buy all these things on Amazon


Now on to the study 🙂

My PPL licence has arrived!

Yesterday I got home to see that my PPL licence has arrived!
After being told my PPL initial issue was on hold,  I called the CAA on Tuesday and they told me that I could expect the licence within 4-5 working days.
I then sent an email to the lady who requested me to provide additional information asking if she could process my licence quicker as I have waited 3 weeks already and I am waiting to start the ATPL theory. I also explained the hold up wasn’t actually my fault but theirs and my ATO’s. She had previously quoted me up to 10 working days so I wasn’t sure if I was going to make any progress with this, but I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I was shocked when I came home yesterday and had a missed package from Fedex but they said it was with my neighbor. I hadn’t ordered anything, and I knew that the CAA use Fedex, so I got a bit excited!
Unfortunately, they were out when I tried to collect it on my lunch break, but after I got home from work I managed to get the package and was happy to see that my PPL licence has arrived!
PPL Licence
Excellent news! I am now officially able to share my love of aviation with my friends and my family by being able to have them come fly with me!
I had already chosen Bristol Ground School for my ATPL ground school so I logged onto the website and signed up for module one of the ATPL study. I purchased a Jeppesen Route Manual and a drawing kit, paid the £1,518.20 and I am now an ATPL student.
I am very keen to get cracking on the ATPL theory with a goal of completing it within 9-12 months.

GoPro vs Cheaper alternatives

As most of us as some point will want to film our flying I thought I would do this post on GoPro vs cheaper alternatives.
I have a GoPro 3+ silver and I also have a Xiaomi Yi camera, so is the GoPro worth the difference over the influx of cheap action cameras from China?
gopro 4

The audio captured from the internal microphone on the GoPro is significantly better than the audio from the Yi camera. The Yi seems to pick up everything very loudly while the GoPro seems to have an ability to capture the important sounds over capturing just a ton of background noise.

This is where the GoPro comes into it’s own. I did 0.6 hours of circuits (about 35 mins + 10 for set up etc) and when I got back down the Yi camera had already died. The GoPro was still recording with some battery life left. The GoPro can also be extended with an additional battery where as the Yi camera can not.
This means the GoPro is the better choice for filming your flights as with the additional battery it is more likely to make it through the flight than the cheaper Chinese cameras.

Build Quality
The GoPro feels more substantial than the Yi. It is built from higher quality materials and also has a useful display on the front which gives you some basic information. The Yi feels like a toy and you can tell despite it taking decent quality video that it was built to a price point.

Video Quality.
If you ask me the video quality between my GoPro and the Xiaomi Yi are pretty much exactly the same. I am no professional but while the colours might be slightly different they both give of a high quality image. I found this video comparing the image quality between a GoPro Silver 4, A Xiaomi Yi and A GoPro Hero so you can judge for yourself.
Both cameras record in the MP4 file format.

The apps are basically the same, there isn’t much between them and the main use is to see what you are going to record. Both cameras create a wifi network that you then connect to.
The GoPro does however have the GoPro editor studio to edit your videos, however you can use iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premier Elements as well as more professional programs like Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro should you wish.

The GoPro has a lot of accessories available but a lot of these Chinese cameras are compatible with them as they just copied the mount. A good thing is a lot of the expensive GoPro accessories have a much cheaper Chinese alternative that is a fraction of the price and works just as well. This includes mounts and the expandable battery.
On the higher end GoPro’s (Silver and Black) you can also do things like record audio from external sources.

Which one to buy?
Well if you ask me the camera to buy is most defiantly a higher end GoPro (the Silver or the Black depending on your needs). The reason for this is that it is a much more expandable device. Also the expandable battery makes a huge difference to the practicality of the camera. I know you can buy additional batteries (silver and black models) but you can’t exactly swap them out mid-flight can you?
There is a huge cost difference though, the GoPro alternatives are around £50-£100, the GoPro hero is around £100, the Silver is £270ish with the black setting you back the best part of £400!
I personally think the GoPro silver is the best value of the bunch but it all depends on your needs really.

Hour Building: Circuits at Cranfield (EGTC)

After a few weeks of poor weather I finally got up to the flying school for Hour Building: Circuits at Cranfield (EGTC).
Unfortunately as it had been 29 days since my last flight, I was one day outside of the schools rules so I had to do two circuits with an instructor. I won’t really go into to this as this was a non event and they passed without issue.
As I am still waiting for my licence to come through so I had to get my instructor to sign me out, which he did, and I headed out to the plane to get it ready for flight.
The weather today on the ground was beautiful but in the circuit it was actually pretty hazy on the downwind leg and the visibility wasn’t as great as you would have thought.
I had recently picked up a GoPro to go with the camera I already had so I decided that I would try to get some video now that my training is over. I did four touch and go’s but I have made a video of the taxi and 2 of the touch and go’s. Considering this was my first time editing the video I think the result isn’t bad at all and hopefully over time the videos will get better as I get more practice. I think I will probably pick up a 3rd camera eventually.
It is so much easier to have a video for people to watch rather than trying to explain what I am doing.

PPL inital issue on hold

So today I got an email from the Caa stating that my PPL initial issue is on hold.


This is very frustrating for me because the two reasons that are given, neither  of them are my fault and on top of this they are basically putting my application  (which has already been three weeks) to the back to the queue.
The first issue is that even though a certified driving licence was sent as requested on their list, they want to see my passport. I wish they would have just asked for the passport only in the first place.
This is even more frustrating for me as I presented the ATO my passport but they decided to use the driving licence.
The second issue is that my ATO didn’t fill in the total time in the course completion certificate!
I now need to chase them on Monday to get this done and judging by how long it has taken, wait another 3 weeks.
So much for starting the ATPL this month 🙁
The CAA are so slow,  I replied to the email and was told I would get a reply in 18 working days which is a complete and utter joke really.
I don’t see why the doesn’t call the ATO and get the answer or ask them to email it over? They also have a copy of my passport on file so this could have been resolved with a simple phone call.
At least Euro 2016 is on this month,  maybe that will help me take my mind off this endless wait.