Hour Building: Local flight from RAF Henlow

Yesterday I went up for a quick flight and did Hour Building: Local flight from RAF Henlow.

The weather conditions were perfect yesterday, still cold air, great visibility and high clouds!
I decided to take this opportunity to do a local flight. The route took me up out of Henlow below the Luton CTA, past Leighton Buzzard (which you can make out in the picture), up past Northampton, across to Alconbury and then back down into Henlow.
It was the same runway in use at Henlow but I am getting more familiar with the procedures etc.
The weather was so still that the plane was happy to just sit where you put it with very little intervention. This allowed me to take in the views a lot more than I normally would and on a day like yesterday they were absolutely breathtaking. It is days like this where you remember how privileged you actually are to be able to fly across this beautiful country of ours.
It has been a while since I have flown from Blackbushe but I have hours left on my account so I need to get down there and burn some hours soon.
In the end another 1.5 hours logged.

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Hour Building: RAF Henlow to Fenland

I had the plane booked for most of today so I decided to do some hour building: RAF Henlow to Fenland.
I was looking at the map and looking for somewhere new to go that wasn’t a huge distance away. The options came down to Wellesbourne and Fenland. The wind seemed to be a bit better towards the East so I choose Fenland which allowed me to increase my experience on grass fields.
I took off from Henlow and routed towards Cambridge, to the East of Connington and then into Fenland
One thing I have realised is that grass strips can sometimes be a lot more tricky to spot from the air, we was basically onto top of Fenland before we saw it.
The runway in use was 26 so we did a overhead join and descended on the deadside before doing a standard circuit. On final there was an aircraft still on the runway so I did a go around and finally landed and taxied to park.
Fenland is a cool little airfield with good food and just a £5 landing fee so very good value.
We stayed for about a hour, got some food, before departing back for Henlow.
The routing back was the same but in reverse before we joined long final for runway 26L at Henlow and then taxied back to park.
All in all a good day out and another 1.8 hours into the log book. The wind was a little sporty up there but nothing to be concerned about.
I will return to Fenland I think, it’s great value for money!

ATPL Theory Month 17: Gnav, Operational Procedures & IFR Communications.

A bit late on this one but a quick recap of ATPL Theory Month 17: Gnav, Operational Procedures & IFR Communications.
atp digital complete

I’m a bit late on this one but in the last week I have decided to drop flight planning from the subjects I am taking in December. I was finding that having four subjects around my full time job was just too much work. This allows me more time to focus on Gnav which tbh, I don’t really like that much but hopefully by exam date it will all click in place.
I am now spending my time going over the practice questions and looking up things in the material to try to get it all in my head before I sit the exams.
I am hearing operational procedures has changed a lot since quadrant so I am trying my best to get up to date on that. Quadrant really has made a lot of unknown in the exams as it seems many unused LO’s have had a load of questions chucked at them.
IFR comms I expect to be like VFR with a load of new questions in it but hopefully that will be alright.
The 4 weeks I will be doing more of the same and we will see where I am come exam week. Hopefully all will be fine.


Circuits at RAF Henlow

Today I went out for circuits at RAF Henlow.

Not an awful lot to say today.
I needed to get familiar with the procedures and flying at RAF Henlow so I decided to go up and do some circuits today.
Flying on grass is still a bit foreign to me, on the taxi I still feel like I am in a rally car but it is all good fun.
In total I did about 5 circuits. Taxi time at Henlow is quite a lot as the hangers are pretty far away. Every time I have gone to Henlow there has been a different runway in use. Today we was using 26 left with a right hand circuit.
Take off is with 10 degrees of flap and circuit height was 1000ft.
It was very choppy today and got worse as it went on, in the end I decided to land as the wind was getting to a point where it was making the flying very challenging. I think SkyDemon was showing 30-35 knots in the end.
I am still getting use to the procedures and the way things work at Henlow but practice makes perfect and all that so I look forward to flying more.
I also met a guy who was learning at Cranfield the same time I was and he is buying the other share in the aircraft so it will be good to meet up and do some flying together.

I bought a plane

I bought a plane! Well that is slightly misleading, I brought 1/15th of a plane so like the wheels or something.

I am now the proud 1/15th owner of a C150E that is based just down the road from me located at RAF Henlow.
I had been looking for a plane locally for a while, I seem to be in an area where there are not that many shares located (or that become available).
It is an old but well equipped plane with manual flaps but more importantly the radio has already been changed for a 8.33 one and the transponder is mode S.
On top of this it has a recent engine overhaul and there is only 700 hours on the engine in total.
The share cost me £1500 (£250 admin fee) and the monthly costs are £60 (membership of the club, insurance, hangarage etc).
The flying rate is £65 per tacho hour and £7 landing fee.
As you can see this will provide me with really cheap flying which is great as I still have a good 70 hours to build before I can start my CPL ME IR course next year (and I plan to keep up my SEP anyways after I am done).
This is really going to help me with my hour building as the current plane I am in is located anything from 2-3 hours from me. With so many hours to build, I need a plane that I can take a half day of from work when the weather is nice and build 2 hours or so without much hassle, which this allows.
I look forward improving my flying and getting more experienced while flying this plane.

Two years of flying

Another year has passed and this month marks two years of flying, so I thought it would be cool to recap what I have managed to achieve.
Shoreham to Cranfield

  1. Night Rating – I managed to achieve my night rating last winter. This allows me to fly at night (funnily enough) and means if you get caught coming back from somewhere and are late you can still fly.
  2. ATPL Exams – I have managed to pass 9 out of the 14 ATPL exams so far. It is a real struggle doing these around work but I am finally at the point where there just might be some light at the end of the tunnel.
    I really cannot wait until these exams are over and I can get my free time back.
  3. Flying from a new airfield – I started flying from Blackbushe and have been flying from there for the last year. It was nice to be based somewhere new and I am on the verge of moving somewhere new again.
  4. Booked my CPL ME IR – My prefered place to do my CPL ME IR course was Bartolini Air in Poland due to the good reputation and the cost. I should be heading there next summer!
  5. Buying a plane – Well technically 1/15th of a plane. If all things go well I should be joining a group locally in the trusty C150 and flying from a grass strip.
  6. Building Hours – It has been nice to spread my wings and travel to new airfields and increase my flight time. I still have about 70 hours to build before next summer so there is still lots of flying to do.

So I feel that I have achieved quite a lot this year building on from when I had completed one year of flying. I look forward to what the next 365 days has in store for me.


Checkout on a C150 at RAF Henlow

So yesterday I had a checkout on a C150 at RAF Henlow.

As you know, I have recently been flying down at Blackbushe which is about a 1.5 hour journey each way with traffic. Driving 3 hours round trip for a plane is a major bummer, so I have been looking for something closer that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Not to long ago I saw a share in a C150 based just 15 miles away come up, so naturally I jumped at the chance. Ironically, after months and months of waiting two actually came along, but this one came along first.
Today I had a check out flight with the group instructor and all being well I should hopefully be able to buy a share in the aircraft.
The plane is a C150 but an older one so it has some uniqueness. For instance the flaps are manual on a handbreak type of lever, kind of like in the PA28. The speed is in MPH so that will take some getting used to as well.
All in all its a nice basic aircraft that is cheap enough to fly, which is about all you need when building flight time.
The checkout was simple, we went out into the local area and checked out some of the VRP’s. We did a stall and steep turns and came back for two circuits.
This was the first time I have landed on grass so that was nice.
Henlow has 4 runways and I am used to just one, so that is going to also take some adjustment and getting used to.
The prospect of having a 20-25 minute journey to the airfield as opposed to a 1.5 hour one is really a huge selling point.
Time will tell how it goes but after 6 weeks of no flying, it was great to be back in the air.

ATPL Theory Month 16: Gnav, Flight Planning, Operational Procedures & IFR Communications.

Another month down so this is my recap of ATPL Theory Month 16: Gnav, Flight Planning, Operational Procedures & IFR Communications.
I am planning to sit these exams in December 2017.
atp digital complete
So I have been reunited with the subject I  love to hate Gnav along with Flight Planning, Ops and IFR Comms. I have decided to leave the POF resist of this bunch due to the fact that I think four is more than enough and this is my fourth sitting, so I still have two more left after this.
Gnav seems to be making a lot more sense this time round and slowly but surely I am starting to understand what is going on and getting up to speed.
Flight planning has quite a bit of cross over with Gnav so I am glad that I decided to sit the both together.
I am hearing that Operational Procedures has been hit hard again with new questions so I am glad I have two months or so for the dust to settle on that one.
I am hoping IFR communications won’t have changed much, but I sat VFR communications on the Quadrant system this month and it was mainly new questions but I guess we will wait and see.
As things stand I am getting more confident with these subjects and I hope with two months to go that by the time I actually sit them I should be ready.
It does feel like there is light at the end of this very long tunnel finally however.
Anyways back to studying!

Class 1 Medical Renewal

The last year seems to have gone pretty fast and today I had my class 1 medical renewal.

I had been trying for a week or two to get hold of my AME only to eventually find out that he has retired which meant I had to find a new one.
I was sent the details of an AME by a friend so I went to see him today and thankfully he isn’t based too far from my workplace so I could fit it in a lunch break.
We went through all the basic tests, eye sight, blood, urine, checking your stomach, in your ears, if you can feel vibration etc. This was all fine thankfully so we moved on to the next section.
As it had been two years since my initial I had to have a ECG which thankfully was also good with no issues.
And that was it, £195 lighter and another year on my class 1. This is good as I actually plan to exercise the privileges for the first time next year on my course.

ATPL Theory Module 3 Results

A whirlwind week for me as I tried to get 4 exams done here are my ATPL Module 3 results.
en route gamston

I tried to sit these exams in quite a short period after my last set due to the upcoming uncertainty with the new quadrant system and the CAA’s track record of badly implementing new changes.
I had a lack of holiday so I sat every exam at 11.30 then went back to work till 4.30 every day.

Performance – 80%
Quite annoyed with myself on this as one of the graphs I hadn’t seen the variation on the style of question they asked before so it threw me and cost me 3 points.
However, it seems like I must have got the other graphs right which is good as I didn’t spend a huge amount of time studying graphs. I just used the examples on the graphs we was given to get to what I believe must have been the correct answers.
I got one graph I hadn’t seen before.
After knowing that I got a 3 point question wrong after I came out and looked it up I was worried about this but I am glad that I passed.
I didn’t really get any “matter of fact” questions in fact I only recall getting one.

VFR Communications – 79%
I am a little frustrated as I tried to sit these communications exams ages ago well before quadrant and was told that I couldn’t until after the revision week. On the revision week we spent a grand total of 0 minutes on communications but that meant that I now had to sit them on Quadrant.
I am not sure if this is a CAA rule or a Bristol rule however.
There was a lot of new questions I would say 60% or more and at least 2-3 questions that I thought were more suited to the Radio Navigation exam rather than VFR communications.

Mass and Balance – 75%
Borderline pass here! But to be honest I am just glad that I don’t have a resist in this subject because I have to work very hard at maths.
The test was similar question styles to what we have seen before with different numbers.
I had next to no theory questions in my exam and it was basically a pure maths tests. To be honest, I thought I did better than this but it is what it is.

Principles of Flight – 70%
My first fail! I walked out of this with a bad feeling and that proved to be correct. I found doing 4 exams in a week quite difficult and that coupled with the shorter study time probably led to this.
I am not going to rush into a resist on this, I am going to leave it till my 5th sitting as I still have 3 left.

In my next sitting I am going to sit General Navigation, Flight planning and monitoring, Operational procedures and IFR communications. I have a lot of things coming up and I know I struggle with Gnav so it is going to require a lot of practice. I am going to aim to sit this next set in December.
I do still have till July next year to finish the remaining exams so there is no rush.
Also I predict that maps will be banned from Gnav at some point as they are now being printed in the workbook.

9 down 5 to go.