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Blackpool illuminations at night!!

202055It’s been a short while since I flew at night so I arranged to do a trip with some pals and my other arf at night to include a trip up the Fylde coast to see the Blackpool illuminations.  Continue reading

Night Flight to Reading (not Night boat to Cairo!)

I had an early morning flight from Heathrow on Sunday but I wasn’t able to organise any sensibly timed connecting flights from\ to Manchester. This isn’t too much of a problem when you own a Jet Ranger so I decided that I would fly down south myself. My only slight concern was whether I would encounter early morning fog or some other poor weather on the morning of my transatlantic flight. Travelling down the day before and staying over night was to be the safest solution, but as I had loaned out the JetBox for the day, I was going to have to fly down at night. Continue reading

Continuation training

DSC_5765As most of you know I like to do regular continuation training to keep me on top of my game. I do plenty of hours and I’m a very confident pilot which has been known, in the past, to be the downfall of many an aviator. I’m definitely not intending to become a statistic so I have a determination to ensure I keep on with my learning. In the last 18 months I have actually totted up over 55 hours of such training which is quite a lot for a PPL but I think it’s vital. Continue reading

Night Night!!

Breaking NewsWahay!! It’s over !! My night qualification training is now complete. I have logged over the minimum number of hours (15 hours instrument, 5 hours at night including 5 solo circuits) and all that is left to do is pay the nice friendly people at the CAA and have them remove the night restriction from my license. (Apparently it’s not so much the addition of a rating, it’s the removal of a restriction – go figure!!)

The weather was looking good, but we were hoping for it to be slightly worse than ideal to give me an appreciation of the reality of flying at night in “iffy” conditions. However, unbelieveably, it was  a nice clear night, and the forecast tempos of reduced vis and cloud base didn’t seem to appear. There was the odd bit of cloud at 2000 ft but other than that it wasn’t too bad.

Anyway, it was a last minute dash, but I dived into Barton at the death and refuelled my machine ready for the evening’s detail. As I had previously done my circuits and solo circuits I had to do a navigation exercise, so off we trotted to Blackpool to begin the training.

We began with a demonstration from “JJ” of an autorotation onto the runway (with a power recovery at 10ft). Although I practised engine failures last week, we recovered at about 200ft – but this time the plan was to carry ondown much further. The technique here is to begin the flare at approximately 150ft agl and then bring the nose level at 50 ft agl. From there, hopefully we have time to identify what if anything we might be hitting if it all went pear shaped, at night, for real. Continue reading

Night Qualification (Part 1)

I’ve recently been undergoing continuation training towards my night qualification (it’s a qualification NOT a rating!). As I have a CAA license I am required to log 15 hours instrument flying (instead of 10 if you have a JAR license) and 5 hours training at night to include 5 solo circuits amongst other things.  The full licensing requirements can be found here. Steve H kindly flew me and JJ down to Wolverhampton to collect my machine after having the Garmin 695 installed (it looks fantastic!) and we then sat down for a two hour briefing.

The wx was looking excellent, possibly too good, and we set off by day to relocate up to Blackpool for the start of the training detail. En route we checked out a couple of landing sites that we were planning to utilise at the end of the detail as Barton would be closed. Both sites had challenges but would be perfectly feasible and so we moved on to Blackpool for the start of the detail. This mainly consisted of night circuits which are the same as day circuits but flown strictly by the numbers. I would say the main difference is the rquirement on finals to be higher and slower than normal. During the course of the circuits, we practised hydraulics failures (including a landing), loss of aircraft lighting and loss of runway lighting. Also, whilst being held on the downwind leg for a 737 on finals, we carried out 2 Engine Off Landings. I can tell you that autorotating into a black hole that you are hoping is an empty field is a very interesting excercise. But if the engine does go quiet you don’t have a choice so you just have to get on with it.!

After 7 or 8 circuits, JJ was happy for me to go solo and exited the machine. He gave me a thorough briefing and was very explicit about the procedure if the engine did go quiet. Interestingly I spent the majority of each circuit identyfying places to go if it did happen!!!! Thankfully it didn’t and after completeing 5, refuelling we returned to Steve’s house where we parked the JetBox and drove home.

I logged 4 hours flying last night and I’m exhausted today, but it was absoluteley brilliant. A big thanks to Steve for taking us to collect the machine, allowing us to use his house as a helipad and for loaning us a car to get home. Another thanks to Blackpool who were extremeley accomodating and remained open after there official closing time to make sure we let down safe at Steve’s and finally to JJ who didn’t get home until midnight after working a full day (as well as for his excellent tuition).

Another couple of hours to go and that will be it!