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.

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.

Skills refresh

So after passing the PPL skills test yesterday, I went back up the to the flying school today for a skills refresh. This will be a quick post as there isn’t really that much to say and it is just a way to closing out the PPL section of my training.
piper pa 28

There wasn’t much to do today we were just going to go over the stalls and forced landings. It was pretty hazy which meant the visibility was pretty poor, maybe just 3km. We took of on runway 03 and climbed to 3500ft. Once we got up here we went through the steep turns before doing all the stalls which are final, base configuration and the standard stall.
After this we did a few practice forced landings before heading back to the airfield for a high glide which again was perfectly fine. We then had to land as the visibility was getting worse and the ATC was closing the circuit.
That’s it, the PPL has come to an end and next week I should be able to send of for my licence and when I get that back I will be able to sign up to an ATPL distance learning course.

PPL Skills Test

Wow, the day that I have been building up to for so long arrived, the PPL skills test.
Coming into land

To say I was a bag of nerves was an understatement and that reared its head in my flying.
I only found out the test was defiantly on around 1.5 hours before I was due to take it. I arrived at the school and was given the route to plan and to also do the mass and balance calculations, so far so good.
The route was Olney -> Oakington -> Oundle. I took of and departed on runway 03 and climbed to Olney where I levelled off at my cruising altitude of 2500ft and started my stopwatch. I then flew the route and ticked off the points I should see, Bedford, St Neots, Oakington. En route I changed from Cranfield to Cambridge before reaching my destination of Oakington.
I then headed north-west towards Oundle and also changed to Conington radio. I realised I was slightly off  track at Alconbury and did the standard closing angle however I went back to my original track rather than correcting, however I made it to my destination on time.
When I arrived here I was asked to divert to Podington. Diversions are one of the things I have no issue with, so I did the diversion worked out my time and headed in the direction of Podington. Luckily I had been here before so I knew what I was looking out for and we arrived pretty much on time.
Once we got here I was asked to fly for a bit then I had “entered cloud”, my examiner forgot the foggles so he blocked my windscreen with the map. I did a rate 1 turn and did a 180 and got out of there, phew.
Next I was asked to locate where we were. I used the DTY and BPK VOR’s to work out that I was just by Bedford disused, which he seemed happy with. To be fair this part is pretty easy, just make sure you know how to use the VOR’s. My plane did not have a DME but if you did it would be even easier as that would also tell you how far you was.
I then was asked to do some steep turns, this is where things started to get interesting. I didn’t do an excellent job, at all, “damn” I thought to myself, but anyway more of the test to go. They were not terrible, I had just done better ones in training.
I was then asked to do a normal stall which I did and a base configuration stall which I also did. I was then asked to do a final stall which for some reason I pulled the nose up a little bit to high on.
Next it was PFL’s, the engine was cut, I trimmed for 65 kts and identified a field and tried to head for it. I made it but looking back, I could have done a better job and picked a better field.
After this he took control and we headed back to the airfield. We approached the VRP (Visual Reporting Point) and I was handed control again. I then headed back to Cranfield and just my luck I couldn’t see the runway! By the time I saw it I was rushed to set myself back up for the join, eventually I went on and did a standard landing.
Straight back up for a flapless and BAM, the examiner cut the power. Time to pick a field and go for it, I identified one and pitched for it when he said it’s time to go around. .
Next we set up for a flapless landing, I came in a bit too high and this affected the picture I was expecting to see and my speed was not as constant as it could be. However I adjusted and made it down onto the runway in good time.
Next up was a high glide, I cut the engine myself but I landed around a third down the runway, not ideal but perfectly valid.
Lastly was a low level circuit, I had only done one of these but I gave it my best. I was told to stay at 500ft which I did however on approach I was a bit too high, but I made it down to land.
It was getting late so my examiner taxied us back. As we both sat there before he got out I thought, I am not sure which way this is going to go. The navigation was good but some of the manoeuvres were not my finest.
I was told what I knew, some of the manoeuvres need practice, but I can get a pass.
I will do one more hour with my instructor to master these. I must admit flying with an examiner was a bit nerve racking compared to flying with my instructor but this is something I will have to get used to.
We went back inside for a debreif and really, I knew the areas I had to work on before he even started talking, it was basically everything I thought.
This is the longest flight I have done at two hours long and I must admit I was getting a bit tired by the end.
I am back up at the school tomorrow  to work on what he told me I need to with my instructor(s).
Anyways, it could be a lot worse! Now to start thinking about which ground school to choose!

PPL Lesson 41: Pre test bush up

Just a quick post from me today as I had PPL Lesson 41: Pre test bush up. I just went over a few things today that I wanted to go through before going for my test.
G-BOYB and instructors
I had a list of things that I wanted to work through one last time before going for my test which were as follows.

  1. Base configuration stalling
  2. Practice forced landings
  3. Low level circuits (for the first time)
  4. Steep turns.
  5. Mass and Balance calculation

We headed into the local area and went through each item on the list before coming back and doing a low level circuit.
Then back in the school we looked at when I can take my test, it may be as early as tomorrow! They are going to speak to the examiner (who is also the chief flying instructor of the school) and let me know. If not we have a weekend examiner who will most likely do it!
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, I am. However this is what I have been building up for the last 7 or so months so I also am keen to take it.
Positive mental attitude from here on out!

PPL Lesson 40: Circuits, Stalls & PFL’s

My third lesson this week was PPL Lesson 40: Circuits, Stalls & PFL’s.
Looking out G-BLAC
I had done all of these things before but we are just fine tuning everything until I am ready to take my test. I was with the instructor from yesterday again today as my normal instructor doesn’t work Tuesday or Wednesday.
We took off and I did a standard circuit, not much to report here. Next time round there was an engine failure on take off, so I had to pick a field and pitch for 65, put the flaps in and make my decent into it. Once happy you then climb away and drag the flaps away.
I then did a flapless landing which is a little more work but not a huge amount. You add 5 knts to your normal speeds and manage the speed by keeping the nose up.
After this I did a precision landing which is where you are told what part of the runway to land in. This wasn’t a huge issue for me either.
We then headed away from Cranfield and climbed to around 3000ft so we could practice some stalls.
We did the base configuration turn which is where you configure as if you was on base, so flaps down, turning and then you bring the nose up. You MUST remember to put the nose down and power on before you roll the wings level. If you roll the wings level you fail the test!After this we did some VOR tracking, you set the frequency on the navigation radio and then listen to ident it (listen to the morse code).
You then use the control in the plane to tune either from or to the VOR depending if you are trying to fly to it or work out where you are away from it. If you are trying to locate your position you tune from the VOR and the fly the heading you get. You then tune another one and get a heading from that, at that point you can work out where they intersect so you can find out where you are.
We then headed back to Cranfield where I was hit with a PFL, I made the runway you will be glad to know!
I am back up at the school tomorrow for a bit more polishing up before I go for my test.

PPL Lesson 39: Profiles

Today I went up the airfield and had PPL Lesson 39: Profiles. I am not sure why they are called profiles as it was really just a mock of the navigation part of the test. I was with another new instructor today as my regular one does not work Tuesdays or Wednesdays. I have seen her around the school and spoken to her before and like all the other instructors she was great.
G-BMVB 030516
My flight today took me from Cranfield to the Visual Reference Point that is Woburn Town. We then headed west towards Saffron Walden. En route I changed to Oxford Approach as we was going to be near their airspace and it is always best to talk to them. We then headed north but I knew that we would never reach our destination as I would be diverted like you will be on a test.
The wind was forecast to be 280/20 but I think it was a lot less, we had to use the closing drift angle twice to correct for this.
Around 10 minutes in I was asked to divert to Olney, so I got out my wind protractor and plotted a route to Olney which was basically due east. The timings were spot on and reach Olney exactly when I said we would. From here it was just a case of speaking to Cranfield, reporting that I was at Olney and negotiating my join back to airfield.
I am up to 44.3 hours now so after tomorrows lesson I will be able to be put forward for test, it all seems to be coming around very fast now! I am next with my main instructor on Thursday so we will see what he has to say.
Tomorrow we will be doing general handling as a brush up.
Also I learned that a further instructor also has gotten a new job, so if you are a instructor looking for a job, you might want to fire a CV of to Cranfield 🙂

PPL lesson 38: Forced landings with power and Diversions

Today I went to the airfield and had PPL lesson 38: Forced landings with power and Diversions.

USAF Alconbury

First of all it was really windy with winds of 230 / 30 at 2000ft! This made for a very bumpy ride and lots of manual handling!
On my check some orange stuff was sitting at the bottom of the fuel so of course I showed my instructor as I had no idea what it was. He seemed to be as confused as I was but after my instructor and operations talked between themselves and the chief flying instructor (CFI) came we discovered that it was actually water.
After that my instructor went to the plane to get rid of it all and then told me that we was good to go, so off we went!
We headed to Olney where he told me to divert to Alconbuy which is an USAF base (pictured). I use a tool call Wind Protractor by Olof Bakker. Trust me, these make diversion so unbelievably easy that I really do suggest you all look into it. It is actually VERY accurate and I will be doing a post soon showing you how to use them.
Once at Alconbury we diverted again to Little Staunton where another plane from the school was in the local area.
We did the practice force landing with power which is basically 2 passes to check the runway condition before you land. We didn’t actually land but climbed to head back to Cranfield and the other aircraft came and joined us for some formation flying!
After this we headed back to Cranfield and got approved for a straight in approach which when you are in a 90kt plane in high wind takes a long time! I used the ILS for the first time to be aligned with the runway and we did a flapless approach (challenging work).
I finally landed and headed back into the school and tomorrow we are going to be doing profiles, which are mini tests.

PPL Lesson 37: Slow flight and IMC

Hot on the heels of yesterdays lesson I had PPL Lesson 37: Slow Flight and IMC. As I am approaching my test I asked my instructor if we can go back over these maneuvers as it had been literally months since I had done any of them. We didn’t do a brief as I could remember what I had to do on the whole and we figured we would just sort it out in the air (that and time was starting to become against us).
Out the window

The airport has a shortage of air traffic controllers this weekend so we would have to be quick if we was to be back before the airport closed. We took off from Cranfield and headed to Little Staunton.
From here I climbed to 3500 and did a mixture of stall recovery at the first sign, full developed stalls, base configuration stalls and steep turns. It felt good to be doing this after so long and with the test approaching it was nice to get some practice in. On the way too and from the area where we did stalls I had the foggles on (foggy glasses) and had to fly on instruments which was a nice challenge. It’s not super hard, you just have to pay attention really.
We then headed back to the airfield by flying over Bedford before requesting the join for Cranfield where I then landed with just a few minutes to spare before the airport closed!
I am flying all next week so with a bit of luck I will also be taking my test towards the later part of the week.

How to pass your Radio Telephony Exam

I wanted to write this post on how to pass your radio telephony exam as it was an exam I was worried about before I took it, but it really wasn’t that bad.
climbing G-BLAC
I wrote this post on what to use to study for your radio telephony exam.
The information in that post is still very useful and valid for your exam and to be honest it really is all you need. I was so worried about the exam that I had looked at RT courses online as I felt that the exam will be a lot harder. I would say unless you are really awful on the radio then these courses are just not needed.
My advice is wait until you have at least done your cross country qualifier before taking this exam. The reason for this is that this is the first time you experience flying where you change frequencies a lot and do position reports etc. These are the things that you need to do on your RT.

On my test I had to know how to do the following things.

  1. Start up
  2. Request Taxi
  3. Take off
  4. Hand off to approach
  5. MATZ penetration
  6. Change to radar
  7. Position report
  8. Request a true bearing
  9. Change to radar
  10. PAN PAN PAN call
  11. Request zone transit
  12. Enter the circuit and attempt to land
  13. MAYDAY call

When you look at the list, if you are later in your training you have most likely done a lot of that. I had done everything bar the MATZ penetration, request a true bearing and do a zone transfer.
On top of this your examiner will give you a briefing before you start and give you examples of how to do these things. However you can also find examples in both the CAP 413, the safety sense leaflet and the other document I have linked above.
You will also then get time with the route to plan what you have to do etc. You also get instructions on what you have to do on the test.
The setup is very basic, it is two machines connected to each other by a cable which you can plug a headset in. You sit in one room and the examiner sits in the other one.
You have a transmit button and the ability to change the frequencies. On top of this there is a light which signifies an emergency. I wish I had taken a picture but to tell the truth, I forgot (shame on me).
The examiner is really good, he plays the part of all the controllers as well as the part of additional traffic on frequency.

Some advice for you.

  1. Read everything carefully.
  2. If you make a mistake just say “standby” and compose yourself.
  3. You dictate how fast or how slow the test goes, take your time it is not a race.
  4. When somebody announces a mayday you be quiet.
  5. If you do a mayday call and nobody answers you simply say you got no response from your mayday so you are going to 121.5.
  6. Know how to relay a mayday call.
  7. Don’t stress, this is when you are more likely to make errors.
  8. When the examiner gives you examples of a call WRITE THEM DOWN.
  9. Practice the calls, driving is a great time, people must have thought I was crazy doing mayday calls at red lights 🙂
  10. Make sure the controller is talking to you before replying.

Put simply, it isn’t as bad as you are thinking and I am sure if you prepare properly you will pass without much difficulty.