PPL lesson 29: Solo Circuits

Another weekend, therefore another lesson at the flying school. I had PPL lesson 29: Solo Circuits.

G-bmvb tied down

We were supposed to do a navigation however being a bank holiday the M1 decided to put an end to that, as it took around an hour just to go 3 junctions on the motorway due to an accident.
Being a bank holiday, the planes were fully booked so the only thing I had enough time to do was to do some solo circuits.
I was in G-BMVB which is a plane I have a love and hate relationship with.
The circuit was pretty full also being a bank holiday with most of the planes in my school were in use as well as a few visitors also.
I only did 4 touch and goes today and to be honest there isn’t really much to report.
We had a slight crosswind on landing which was good as I got some time to practice my crosswind landing technique.
My lesson was back with one of my two normal instructors due to time changes etc but I am now over the 30 hour mark which is pretty good. The minimum you need to do your test is 45 hours.
In fact my instructor says that all we need to work on now is the navigation consolidation which is good to hear.
Unfortunately I discovered that I won’t be able to fly two weekends in April. One is because the airport will be closed for works and then the next I have to work. This is pretty disappointing considering what a vital part of training we are at now.
I have lessons booked all over the bank holiday weekend however the weather forecast says that it might get pretty bad from tomorrow afternoon, we shall see.

PPL lesson 28: PFL’s (Practice Forced Landings)

I was back up at Cranfield Airport again today for PPL lesson 28: PFL’s (Practice Forced Landings).
After yesterday’s lesson my instructor told me to study the restart procedure for PFL’S. He gave me a great bit of advice though, he told me to visualize the issue and what you are trying to do, rather than try to remember the list.
This worked for me very well as on a forced landing you are trying to do one of two things. You are either trying to restart the plane or shut it down.
When you think of it like this you know what you have to do.

  1. Restart – Fuel on, mixture rich, throttle 1 inch, carb heat out, magnetos on both, primer locked. At this point you then try to restart the plane and get the engine started again.
  2. Shut down – Field chosen, Fuel off, mixture ICO, throttle out, doors unlatched, passengers (if any) briefed, mayday call, altimeter set, flaps set, master switch off, key out.

As you can see, there is quite a lot to think about and chances are you have to run through both sets of lists.
We did not do the PFL’s near Cranfield, instead we went to a nearby airfield called Little Staunton. I did the navigation to and from the airport and it was only a 10 minute flight each way.
When we was practicing we did two PFL’s from three thousand feet and two lower at around 1000ft.
It was just us and one other instructor from our school using the airfield. I also realised the difference between an unused airfield and a ATC controlled one.
To say the runway was rough would be an understatement! I guess I have been spoiled using the runway at Cranfield.
I also learned that you need to use orbits, slide slipping (opposite aileron and rudder), s turns and flaps to make sure you get the plane down.
When you know you are making the runway you also bring your aim point forward to give you as much landing distance as possible.
After the lesson we headed back to Cranfield and I did the join of the circuit and landed on runway 03.
We were in G-BLAC and on landing I heard another aircraft using the abbreviation G-AC so I made sure that I gave my full call sign to avoid any confusion.
I have a lot of flying booked over the easter bank holiday and my next lesson is with the chief flying instructor which should be interesting to say the least.

PPL lesson 27: Solo Circuits

After a cancellation yesterday and one again this morning, I got up the airfield this afternoon for PPL lesson 27: Solo Circuits.
Unusually most of my circuit time has been on runway 03 which is used only around 10% of the time, the normal runway is 21.
Today runway 03 was again in use and we had winds of around 12-14kts but they were right down the runway which is fine.
As you can see from the picture, the weather wasn’t great, but it was good enough as the clouds were at 1800ft and circuit height is 1000ft.
The workload in the circuit is finally becoming a bit easier for me, the most important thing you have to remember is your speeds.
Speed, or more importantly the lack of speed can put you in serious trouble.
As a rule of thumb, take of speed is 55kts, climb is 70kts, 70kts for the base and then 65kts when you are coming into land. These speeds can move around considering your configuration.
The most important thing is to not get slow, lack of speed means a stall. A stall means a loss of power, and a lost of power means a forced landing might be in your immediate future.
I did 6 touch and goes today and the total time in the circuit was an hour. The circuit was pretty empty, there was one student from Oxford on a twin when I first started, and a guy from another club towards the end.
I had no additional maneuvers to do today such as an orbit, or extend downwind. In fact, there was only 1 time that I was number 2 in the circuit.
On landing I was asked where I wanted to park, to which I requested I wanted to go back to Echo.
I taxied at Charlie and did my after landing checklist. I then went via delta entered the runway and back of at echo to park.
Anyways back up at the school for some practice force landings if the weather decides it wants to play ball.

A FlyDubai Boeing 737-800 jet crashed in Russia today, RIP to all who lost their lives ūüôĀ

UK Radio Telephony License

Now that I have finished my PPL exams and I am progressing through my PPL I need to invest some time into being ready for the UK radio telephony license.
This license is a practical test that is designed to test your knowledge and that you are proficient in using the radio.
I am quite lucky in the fact that the airport where I train has ATC so I am picking up a lot of what I need to know naturally.
I have been scouring the internet for resources to learn from and during my search I have come across the following documents.

  1. Cap 413 – This is the UK CAA’s document that covers the use of radio in the UK. If you can’t find what you are looking for in this document then chances are you will never find it.
    On the downside it is HUGE! 374 pages, so it will take a long time to read through.
  2. Eurocontrol Phrasology Guide – I found this guide by Eurocontrol which seems to be a handy, straight to the point and most importantly free reference guide in regards to radio calls.
    This looks really good and is the document I am going to study first before moving on top the CAP 413 to fill in the gaps.
  3. Radiotelephony Saftey Sense Leaflet – I discovered this which I found very useful as it’s a CAA document with an example RT exam! Priceless for study.
  4. Radiotelephony study manual РThe last thing I came across was the radio telephony study manual. There are quite a few versions of this and the newest version seems to retail around £17.

Between these 3 things and practice while flying I would think it would be enough to pass the UK radio telephony exam.
I will not be taking my test for at least a few weeks so in the meantime I will get cracking on with the guides and will update this post with any other material I find in the meantime.

Edit – I have passed my radio telephony and have written this post on how to pass your radio telephony exam.

PPL lesson 26: Solo Navigation

A big day in my training as today I had PPL lesson 26: Solo Navigation.
Today I was told that I am ready to do my first solo navigation which was very exciting for me.
My instructor gave me a route and told me to plan it, planning takes quite a few tools as you can see below.
On top of this you also have to correct for wind to make sure you end up where you expect.
Navigation planning
I have my map, pens, CRP-5, protractor, scale ruler, weather and paper and plog.
My instructor wanted to do a bit of flying with me before he sent me of on my own so we did the first 2 points on my nav before he showed me some low navigation (700ft above the ground) then we headed back to Cranfield and parked, where he got out and told me “go do it”.
I got my taxi clearance, take of clearance and then started to climb. I had planned 2200ft however due to cloud that was not possible so I leveled out at 1600ft instead.
I made my first three points on time (Woburn, Little Horward and Silversone) however I then made an error.
The heading I Should have taken was 010. The heading I did take was 100.
As you can see there is  a big difference there and rather than heading to Northampton I actually headed to Milton Keynes.
The good thing is I realised my error very quickly as nothing made sense compared to what I was expecting to see from looking at my map.
I quickly realised that the town I was approaching was Milton Keynes rather than Northampton and worked out a route to get back on track.
Due to the land clear rule (have to be able to land in a field at any time) I climbed and headed away from Milton Keynes and used landmarks (like the m1) to get back to Northampton.
I then turned around and headed back to Olney and requested the join, reported right base, reported final and landed back on runway 21 at Cranfield.
I learnt a few things today.

  1. Pay Attention – Read your heading carefully!
  2. Don’t Panic – Even if I was “lost” I could have requested a QDM or turned in the emergency frequency who would have found me. However I wanted to correct my error myself.
  3. Orientation – Look outside, look at your map, do you see what you expect to see? If not, ask yourself why not!
  4. Trust yourself – You have been taught how to do this, trust your training.

Another great weekend at the airfield, the dodgy landing from yesterday was defiantly a one off as I was back on the ball today.
Getting closer to my cross country qualifier now!
Another thing I need to stop doing is putting my instructors name when I am P1 :).
Anyways, the log book stands at 27.2 hours.

PPL lesson 25: PFL (Practice Forced Landings)

I was Back up at the school today for PPL lesson 25: PFL (Practice Forced Landings).
We took of an navigated away from the airfield to a quiet area where we could practice without being disturbed.
PFL’s (practice forced landings) are what you would do should your engine die on you and you are not able to restart it.
To be honest the process is not really much difficult than you would think.

  1. Try to restart – Of course you would attempt to restart the engine of your plane should it stop working. If it starts again, great! If it doesn’t then you….
  2. Shut it down – If the engine is dead and despite your best tries will not restart then you turn it off.
  3. Pick a field – Give your mayday call, pick a field, configure your plane, brief your passengers (Don’t worry, I got this) and make a forced landing.

You also need to make sure you pitch for 65kts which is the best glide speed in a Cessna 152. Another important consideration is your altitude, there are times when you will want to keep it and other times when you will want to lose it fast.
The methods for losing altitude are s turns which are just flying in S shapes to lose height. You can also slip stream which is the process using opposite rudder and aileron to get down quicker.
The weather when we were doing this was not the best then it came in really quickly. We ended up just about beating the weather when we came in to land. Surprisingly after doing endless landings last week this one was not great but I am going to put that down as a one off.
I have another lesson planned tomorrow depending on the weather as at the moment it is not ideal but maybe some flying will be managed.

How to pass your PPL (Private Pilot Licence) theory exams

Above the clouds c152
Now that I have passed all my exams I am writing this to teach you how to pass your PPL (Private Pilot Licence) theory exams.
First things first you will need some study material. There are three sets of books that you can use.
The first are the AFE or Pooleys books that are sold in most starter kits and by flying schools. I however went another way, I found a PDF called EASA Private Pilot Studies by a guy called Phil Croucher who runs his own school and also writes questions for EASA. It is a fraction of the price at just £20.05. You can buy that here.
Next of all you will need some practice questions, the two I came across were PPL Cruiser and Airquiz. I can only tell you about PPL Cruiser as this is the one I used and for 7 our of 9 exams it was pretty good.
The two exams I didn’t find it to great for were Flight Planning and Navigation, which in my opinion (and my instructors) are by far the most difficult exams.
For these two exams I got tuition from an instructor which was so much better than what I learned from the book / practice questions.
You will see some people who say they just went through the practice questions and / or an app and passed their exams. In fact, I met someone who passed 2-3 years ago who told me this is what he did.
While this approach may have been successful then it wouldn’t be fully effective now. On top of that you are doing yourself a disservice as you will have massive knowledge gaps.
New question papers have been added since then and they can pop up at ANY time. They are not going to notify you that the questions you know have now changed which is why it is essential in my opinion to learn the theory behind it.
While it is possible to still pass some exams by doing that, I wouldn’t recommend it.
I hear that the exams will be going online system soon which to be fair is long overdue.

For some reason you have to pass all exams in 6 sittings, each of which lasts 10 days. In this time you cannot sit the same exam again.
I honestly don’t really see the point in this and in all my time of doing exams (last professional exams done just 2 years ago) I have never come across such a rule.
The only reason I can think of is to make it more difficult, however I like many others work better focusing on one exam at a time, which is not possible with the PPL exams.
If you want to make an exam harder than that’s what they should do rather than this sittings idea.

The exams are split into two different types of exams.

Theory / Fact Learning Exams

  1. Air Law
  2. Operational Performance
  3. Human Performance and Limitations
  4. Aircraft General Knowledge
  5. Principles of Flight
  6. Communications

Practical / Fact Learning Exams

  1. Meteorology
  2. Navigation
  3. Flight Performance & Planning

In the last 3 exams you will need to know how to read maps / charts / CRP / Calculator (and know the formula) read weather (Metar’s and Taf’s), measure and know how DME, VOR’s etc work.
You will also need to know about airfield plates and flight plans.

For the Navigation and Flight Performance and Planning exams make sure you have a CRP-1 (PPL) or CRP-5 (ATPL) Scale Ruler, Calculator & Protractor.

Sitting order
Now every school has their prefered sitting order, I didn’t use my schools order, instead I made my own and sat the exams in this order.
Air law should be sat early on as you need it to go solo.
Flight planning and Navigation I say leave to the end as it’s one of the last things you do.
Each link will also take you to notes I made at the time of taking the exam.

  1. Air Law, Human Performance and Operational Procedures.
  2. Principles of Flight and Aircraft General Knowledge.
  3. Communications and Meteorology
  4. Flight Planning and Performance and Navigation.

All I can say is best of luck, I am sure with hard work and preparation you will all pass!

PPL Theory – Flight Planning and Performance & Navigation

Easa Private Pilot Studies
So it was time to start cracking on with my final two exams, PPL Theory – Flight Planning and Performance & Navigation.
I must admit I found flight planning and performance and the navigation  to be by far the hardest ones of the bunch.
The PPL Cruiser was very ineffective for learning due to the amount of graphs etc used in the exam. The schools practice papers were a lot more help.
I failed my first shot at flight planning and performance with 60%. While that is only one mark I found it really hard. I then asked an instructor for help and got ground school tuition. This was a major help for me and I passed the next shot with 93%. I should have got 100% but I dropped a mark by putting down an answer wrong, why? I have no idea because I said the right answer in my head.
I don’t like this exam, I feel it is not designed to test your knowledge but rather designed to just catch you out at every turn!
While I can’t list the questions here, there were a few that I don’t agree with at all!
Navigation was also a difficult exam, due to the struggles with flight planning I also got some ground tuition with the same instructor.
You will come across the CDMVT formula which you need to learn and understand.
On top of this there are a lot of practical questions and also “trick” questions so you need to make sure you read all the questions fully (read them twice).
Examples of the questions would be to work something out but then give the answer in a different measurement, if you don’t read the question fully you will not get the answer correct.
Make sure you know how to use your CRP 1 / 5 before you sit this exam!
I passed navigation with 75% but to be honest I am just glad that these two exams are out of the way now!
I know some people like to just learn the answers however if you are not given the test you are expecting you will have no chance of passing these two tests (especially navigation) without knowing the theory behind it. Make sure you learn how to work out the answers rather than just remembering the answers!


PPL lesson 24: Solo Circuits

Following on from yesterdays lesson I was back up at the school for PPL lesson 24: Solo Circuits.
My instructor wanted to get me up to 3 hours of solo time so I had to do 1.3 hours of circuit time today which was quite long and just like yesterday I learnt a lot today.
After doing my A check and starting the plane I then did all my other checks, taxied and lined up on the runway.
I had take off clearance so I turned the landing light on and set max power for take off however around 40kts the passenger side door opened!
I tried to close it to no avail and was forced to slow down and stop on the runway.
ATC obviously noticed something was amiss and contact me to ask if everything was ok.
The good thing is if you don’t know what the correct radio call is you can just say what is going on.
So I advised them that the door had come open so I had to stop. He asked me if I wanted to taxi to park or backtrack to take of again.
I told him that I believe the door was now secure so I would like to backtrack and line up back on 03 to take of again, to which he advised me to report ready for departure.
So back at 03 I got take off clearance and thankfully there were no further issues.
My friend happened to be filming on their phone so you can actually see me stopping and the following take off in the below video.

I did around 8 touch and go’s which were all pretty uneventful. There were a few aircraft in the area so I had orbits to do for spacing issues and two times I was number two so I had to spot traffic.
Another pilot in the local area had issues with receiving ATC communication so another pilot had to relay messages to him.
After this mammoth session I landed and parked at customs which is right next to the school.
Next lesson I have been told is PFL (practice forced landings) so I will have to do a bit of reading up about them during the week.

PPL lesson 23: Solo circuits

Coming into land
Today I came up to the school for PPL lesson 23: Solo circuits.
Out of all the lessons I have had so far,  lesson 23 is most defiantly the one that has thrown me the most challenges.
I went out to the plane and did the A check as I was the first one the fly today.
I finished the checks, obtained the ATIS then called approach.
First challenge,¬† we are using runway 03, I’ve only ever flown this runway 3 times (touch and go) and that was the week before.
The next challenge, they gave me a taxi clearance to runway 03 via taxiway Foxtrot. Taxi way what? Uh oh.
This is why I learnt how important it is to be prepared and organised, I had the airfield plate for Cranfield.
I flicked to my knee board and located it pretty fast.  Preparation is so important in this game!
I then did some circuits which apart from the first one where I over shot the turn for final and had to correct they were all pretty good, apart from the last one.
On the final circuit there was some major radio interference and I couldn’t hear anything! They asked me to switch to another frequency but when I made my radio calls I got no reply! Uh oh I’m ready to turn final now!
Should I indicate radio failure and set 7600 on the transponder?
It was an issue with someone flooding the frequency rather than an issue with the radio in my aircraft.
I switched back between the two,  Cranfield approach,  G-BOYB,  do you read me? Nothing!
I’m now on final one last try before I go around,¬† as I have no clearance!
Cranfield Approach G-BOYB,  on final, runway 03 to land.
A reply! Cleared to land runway 03.
Phew! Crises averted!
When I got back down after a quick chat with my instructor about what happened.
I then got some tutoring and took and passed my final exam Navigation with 75%.
To say I am glad the PPL exams are now over would be an understatement.
I will do a write-up on the last two exams like the others. These were without a doubt the most dificult two.