G1000 Conversion

One of the club’s aircraft (G-MEGS) has a G1000 glass cockpit – this means that instead of the ‘analogue’ instruments that most aircraft have, which look a bit like this:

Analogue instruments

It has two big LCD screens on which the information is shown (together with a few standby instruments in case they fail), like this:



While I’ve flown G-MEGS a few times during training, so it’s not entirely new to me, as I didn’t do my skills test in it, officially I need to get differences training and a signature in my logbook from an instructor, before I can fly it solo. I decided to get this done because more often than not G-MEGS is the only aircraft available for solo hire (as most students prefer to fly on one of the traditional aircraft as they’re more used to it).

I’d been given some information to read up beforehand, covering how to work the system (to the level I’ll need anyway). When it came to the first lesson slot I had booked the weather wasn’t good enough to fly, so instead we did a ground lesson where we both sat in the aircraft with the engine idling and went through all the functionality we could on the ground. This did result in one amusing moment whereby the driver of a fuel truck started trying to get our attention and pointing madly at the tiedowns (which we had deliberately left on), thinking we were about to try and move off with them still attached!

The first actual flight was planned to go into the local area, and look at some of the key differences such as the instrument scan if flying solely by instruments (while I should only ever do this if something has gone wrong and I’ve accidentally ended up in cloud, that’s obviously not the time to be thinking about it for the first time!), use of the navigation features (both traditional radio navigation using VOR / ADF and also the GPS). I was a bit all over the place on this flight – I think due to concentrating on the ‘TVs’ too much, rather than focusing on the actual flying (a good lesson in the importance of Aviate, Navigate, Communicate!). We did a couple of circuits, which I was really unhappy with (while both safe, the first was well off the centreline, and the second one I flared quite high on).

On the second flight I focused much more on the core visual flying, and it was much better, which built my confidence back up. This flight was covering some of the emergency situations (such as a failure of one or both of the two LCD screens, and how to identify failure of some of the instruments etc), together with some circuits for practise. After this the instructor was happy to sign me off.

I decided to do a number of solo circuits before offering to take up any passengers, just to make sure I was happy. I ballooned slightly on my first approach, and while I could have rescued it, I decided I hadn’t done a go around in a little while so it would be good practise. Due to instrument traffic backtracking on the main runway I had to do one of the touch and goes on the grass, again something I’d not done in a while, so good practise (the touchdown on this one ended up very nice which was good). After a couple more circuits I decided I was happy enough and so called it a day.




Visit ATC day at Swanwick

NATS (National Air Traffic Services), who essentially run the UK airspace, along with the towers at the big commercial airports, and several other ATC providers organise “Visit ATC days” to let pilots see things ‘from the other side’ as it were.

I signed up to one at the NATS centre at Swanwick – this is where the vast majority of the airspace is controlled from, both the upper sectors (known as Area Control), and the lower areas around the airports (known as Terminal Control). When you land at somewhere like Heathrow/Gatwick/Luton/Stansted, you’re only actually handed off to people at the airport at about 6 – 8 miles from touchdown to get the final landing clearance, everything else is handled from Swanwick.

Unfortunately for security reasons they have a no photography policy, so I don’t have any photos to go along with the below.

The day started with a couple of talks, outlining what the day would involve etc, in a room known as the ‘Viewing Gallery’. The name became self explanatory when at the end of the talks they raised the blinds at the back of the room and we were looking out into the area control (AC) part of the ops room (the name for the areas where ‘live’ controlling is going on).

Next up was a presentation about infringements, together with some radar replays (and RT recordings) of some previous incidents – what was enlightening was how much disruption even just ‘clipping’ the edge of controlled airspace by say a quater of a mile – because of the separation standards they have to maintain from unknown traffic (because they don’t know its intentions etc), they end up having to peel aircraft off of approaches, causing disruption and extra costs etc.

We were then split into groups and taken into various parts of the ops room (we had to sign some paperwork beforehand agreeing to various rules etc!). My group started off in area control, focusing mainly on the London Information desk which is squeezed into a corner of the room. The controllers here provide a flight information service across most of the UK (as you get further North towards Scotland then Scottish Information from Prestwick takes over) – this basically just means they will take down details, activate flight plans, and give information on known active danger areas and parachuting / gliding sites etc. I’ve spoken to London Information before via RT, so it’s nice to see what it looks like from the other side. They weren’t too busy (it wasn’t a particularly good day, and thus not much VFR flying was going on), so as well as the person showing us round the actual controller was able to talk to us a bit. While we there an amusing incident occurred where he had a call from an airfield asking him to relay to a pilot he was talking to who’d just departed that the pilot had left his moneybag behind!

The next visit was to the distress & diversion (D&D) service – this is a service run by the military that provides assitance to civil and military aircraft should you have an emergency or get lost etc. They have some impressive radio equipment that can triangulate the location of a radio transmission very quickly, onto a map that the operators can then zoom into down to ordinance survey level of detail. Coupled with the radar access they have, this basically lets them locate almost any aircraft anywhere in the UK.

After this it was time for lunch, which we had in their canteen – I had a very nice fish and chips, which with a can of diet coke was only £3.65, so very good value (I assume it’s subsidised).

First up after lunch was a presentation from one of the controllers who provides Farnborough LARS (Lower Airspace Rader Services). He explained the difficulties they have at Farnborough, and the services they can provide to help GA pilots avoid infringing any London airspace. There were a few interesting bits of information – I hadn’t realised quite how much commercial traffic they have, and the difficulties they have due to the surrounding airfields etc.

It was then time for the final ops room visit, in my case to terminal control. This is where aircraft are handled immediately after takeoff, and prior to landing, being put onto final approaches etc. Unlike area control (which is very modern with everything computerised), in terminal control they still use (printed) paper strips – apparently this is because the controllers prefer it, and with a computerised system they’d probably end up with RSI the amount of clicking they’d have to do. They do obviously have very modern radar consoles though!

What was impressive (not surprising when you think about it, but still) is that despite the number of aircraft being controlled, everyone was very calm and happy – there was no apparent stress etc. If you’ve ever seen the film ‘Pushing Tin’, it’s very much the opposite of that!

The final thing was a quick video of a situation where a GA pilot with a transit and the controller had a misunderstanding, leading to the pilot overflying the threshold at Luton or Stansted (can’t remember which), as a Ryanair aircraft was landing – while nothing happened, had the Ryanair had to go around it would have climbed straight into the path of the light aircraft. The pilot had thought they were cleared to cross behind a departing aircraft, not the landing one). This was shown mainly to gauge our reactions as to what we would have thought we were cleared for based on the RT exchange. The NATS conclusion is it was a genuine misunderstanding, and they aren’t blaming the pilot, but using it as a training scenario in the future for the controllers to make sure they’re more clear.

All in all a very good day – something I would recommend to any pilot or student pilot to do…

Night lesson

It’s the right time of year to do a night rating (as we hit ‘official’ night (which is defined as sunset + 30 minutes) during normal club opening times), so I’ve decided to get this done.

I don’t intend to fly at night regularly (in a single engine aircraft if an engine failure occurs at night out of range of an airfield then it’s entirely down to chance as to what happens, as you just have to aim for a dark area, you can’t pick a field etc as you do during the daylight), but I’d like to be able to fly at night so should I get caught out at any stage with needing a diversion (or if I get my planning wrong!) then it’s a) legal, and b) I know what I’m doing.

The first lesson was basically an introduction, so we went up, did a little loop round Newmarket (which has a very obvious well lit astroturf pitch in the middle so nice and easy to recognise!) and then transited overhead the airfield (where the instructor pointed out the beacon that’s on the airfield, and highlighted how directional the runway lights are).

Next up we headed out along the A14, where I noticed that Bar Hill Tesco is quite recognisable as the Tesco logo colours stand out from quite a distance, and then turned round and headed back to do a couple of circuits.

The bits that surprised me were quite how far you can see some things (for example the mast at Sandy Heath) – apparently that can be disorientating for navigation, as you think you’re closer to something than you really are. Despite being warned about it, I was also surprised quite how strong the wind was at altitude, given it was quite calm on the surface.

We did a couple of circuits – the difficult parts are knowing where the runway is when on downwind (because of how directional the lights are the airfield while downwind basically looks like a black hole), and maintaining the correct approach path. The PAPIs help here as they indicate visually if you’re on the right approach path (although later in the course I’ll practise some landings with them turned off), but it’s still very different than during the day. The disconcerting part is that while approaching the runway you’re essentially aiming for a black strip between the two lines of lights, and while it’s totally black underneath you. It reminded me a bit of when I first started working on circuits, and had to get over the fact that you essentially aim straight at the ground until the last moment when you flare – that took a bit of getting used to (I kept inadvertently trying to pull the nose up!).

The first landing was very flat (judging the flare is much harder as you have to do it by the lights), but the second one wasn’t too bad.

The next couple of lessons will be entirely circuits (first just getting normal ones right, then practising without the various aids like the landing light, the PAPIs, and with the runway lighting at different levels), following that we do a (dual) navigation exercise, and then some solo circuits. It should be a good course, and I’m looking forward to getting it done.

First post-test flight

While I’m waiting for the CAA to issue my license, I can still fly solo with an instructors authorisation – I did this for the first time today, on a little local flight.

The wind was a little bit of a concern, as just as I was about to head out and start checking out the aircraft etc, it picked up a bit (such that it was still within limits, but only just, and I didn’t want to push myself too hard on this first post test flight!), however the rise was temporary, and it went back to a more reasonable level so I satisfied myself I was OK to go.

Once up I didn’t do too much as the visibility wasn’t brilliant, just went out to a major landmark (Grafham Water), and back, and then did a couple of circuits. On my second circuit (to land) there was a bit of confusion, with another aircraft ahead intending to do a touch and go, but ATC then instructing them to vacate at Charlie before they had a chance to get going (I’m fairly sure they had been cleared for a touch and go). I then had to make a rather late call ‘G-RC short final to land’ to remind the controller he hadn’t cleared me yet as he started asking the one ahead if they wanted to taxi back etc – fortunately the clearance came in time, otherwise I’d have had to go around, which would have been a little tedious.

During the flight I took the opportunity to try out Skydemon, a piece of planning / navigation software that runs on my iPad – so far I’m impressed, it gives a very clear representation of where I am and what my track etc is – I just need to be careful not to become over reliant on it. One of the handy things it does though is log my track, such that I can then view it later, either on the iPad or on the PC version. Today’s flight looked like this:

Local flight 29-09-2013(For those who understand these things – I would say the reason my first circuit ended up going outside the ATZ is due to the one in front doing a rather long circuit, at which point I then had to go even further as I’m not supposed to overfly Addenbrookes Hospital, so I had to go past it prior to turning onto base leg. The second circuit was also quite a long downwind leg for a similar reason!)

Skills Test

Today I took (and passed) my skills test!

The week started with days of very low visibility and low cloud, so I wasn’t hopeful, but yesterday the forecast was looking very positive, and thankfully it proved correct.

I’d been given the route the evening before so I was able to do my planning etc, and put the winds in and grab NOTAMs etc in the morning before heading in. I got to the airfield nice and early, and as I had a bit of time before the examiner arrived I checked out the aircraft so any issues could be dealt with early, and got it fully fuelled. I then did the necessary weight and balance and performance calculations (we don’t normally do these as with two people it’s essentially impossible to go outside of limits, and if the Cambridge runway were to be a limiting factor something is going very wrong, but it is a test requirement to demonstrate I can do them).

When the examiner arrived, we had a briefing where he went through the various sections of the test explaining what he would be asking me to do, outlined who was responsible for what in each stage (broadly speaking I was responsible for everything, except navigation while doing the general handling etc, and lookout while we did the simulated instrument flight), explained the possible outcomes of the test (pass, partial or fail), explained that in general I was to treat him as if he were a passenger, except in the event of a real emergency when he would most likely take control.

After that he had a quick glance at my weight and balance etc, and we then went through the club out brief prior to heading out to the aircraft. I offered to give a passenger briefing but this wasn’t needed, which avoided me having to feel very stupid telling someone who clearly knows it all already etc!

At that point, it was just a normal departure – due to the wind runway 05 was in use (we normally use 23 as that’s favoured by the prevailing wind), so it meant a long taxy along the grass to the holding point for the other end of the runway – at least it gave the engine a chance to warm up so avoided a long wait.

The takeoff was normal, so then it was just a case of heading to Point Alpha (a name the club has given to a road junction as it looks from above a bit like the symbol for alpha). Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but I’m not used to doing it to from 05, and so started to get a bit concerned as I couldn’t locate it at first. I’d deliberately avoided turning towards where it should be until I was beyond the city, and then when I did I’d hidden it under the nose of the aircraft – once I’d found it, it was a case of turning onto heading, and informing the examiner the heading, speed and altitude I intended to fly the leg at, and once I’d calculated it an ETA at the first waypoint (I’m deliberately not giving the route as there are other people taking tests soon and the examiner might use the same one).

The first leg went well, I had to nominate a new altitude a couple of times so I could climb / descend to avoid a few clouds, but everything appeared when and where I expected it. Also along the way I changed from talking to Cambridge Approach to London Information, as we would be heading outside of Cambridge’s coverage.

I arrived at the first waypoint about 30 seconds ahead of my ETA, at which point I turned onto my next heading. This leg would take me very close to another aerodrome’s ATZ (Aerodrome Traffic Zone) – while I was at an altitude such that I would have been above it, from an airmanship point of view I gave them a call to inform them, and find out if there was any other known traffic.

Once clear, I switched back to London Information (in the debrief afterwards the examiner suggested that I might have been better to go to another aerodome’s approach frequency instead). The examiner asked me to identify a small town/village out to our side, which I (eventually – there weren’t many unique features!) did, and he then asked me to plan a diversion from this location to another.

I drew a line on my chart, and estimated a heading and distance. I then turned onto it, informed the examiner of the heading, and once I’d estimated it gave him an ETA. I chose a point about half way to check how I was doing – I was a little bit off track once it came into view, so I adjusted my heading to compensate and informed the examiner of the change.

The destination (which as a small airfield) came into view a little to my right, and after verifying it was the correct location, I headed for it, arriving almost exactly on my ETA, which was nice.

At this stage the examiner became responsible for navigation, and we started the air work. We went through the various exercises, which in general all went very well. The ones I was most worried about were the steep turns and the PFL – the level steep turns were fine, though my descending turn I did end up with the speed starting to get away from me a bit, but the examiner was happy enough with it. The PFL was made quite easy as we started it from around 4000′ (giving more glide time to make decisions etc), and there was a field perfectly shaped and oriented into wind that I could see. I ended up a little high as I approached (something I have a tendency to do, though this is better than too low!) and had to do some S turns, but the examiner was happy we would have got into it safely.

On the climbout we then did a simulated EFATO (Engine Failure At TakeOff), which was fine. At this point it was time to head back to Cambridge for the circuits.

The field came into sight nice and early, and I requested and was given a left base join, which saved some time. The circuits went very well, with two of the landings being some of my best ever. On the glide circuit (which was to land) I ended up a little high (as I mentioned, I have a tendency to do this!), but nothing that a couple of S turns couldn’t sort out. It was then just a case of taxying back in, and going in to get the good news and fill out all the paperwork.

I was a little dehydrated by the end, but overall I was very happy with the flight – the only part I knew I could do significantly better was the descending steep turn. Once the CFI gets back into the club (which should be on Monday) I need to get various bits of paperwork sorted out and signed, and then send it all off to the CAA in order to get my license. In the meantime I can fly solo with an instructors authorisation, but I can’t take any passengers until the license comes through and I have it in my hand.

As you would expect I’m very happy at the moment (in a similar way to my first solo I’ve not been able to remove the grin from my face yet) – I’ve booked my first solo slot for Sunday morning, so weather permitting I’ll have a bit of a bimble in the local area etc.

Darwin Flights

My trip to Amsterdam ended up a little more eventful than expected. As mentioned in my last post I’d been told I was the only passenger, and all was looking good – I boarded the aircraft on schedule, doors were closed, I heard the APU start up and then the switchover to it from ground power, but then as I was waiting to see the engines start up, the plane was shut down (the APU was stopped causing all the lights to go out etc).

This was clearly not normal – the flight attendant went up to the cockpit and had a brief discussion, and then came back and explained they were having some sort of technical issue. As I was sitting at the front, I then got to hear the discussion between the pilots and their maintenance team via mobile phone – apparently when they’d switched from ground power to the APU they had a whole host of warnings come up regarding autopilot systems failures. After a couple of attempts at restarting the whole aircraft (a solution seemingly inspired by ‘The IT Crowd’) didn’t solve the problem, I was sent back in to the lounge while they continued to investigate. From what I heard it sounded like a relay that was supposed to switch over some systems was perhaps having some issues relating to the humidity (there was some mist about that morning).

A little while later I was then told they had cancelled the flight, and I had a few options as to what to do:

  1. Transfer to the evening flight (heading home to wait there in the meantime)
  2. Change to a flight by another operator from either Luton or Stansted
  3. Get the next flight from Cambridge to Paris, and connect through there to Amsterdam (involving a fairly long wait at Paris unfortunately)

Option 2 turned out to be a non starter, as by the time I’d got to either location, it wouldn’t have got me there any earlier than 1 or 3. I decided on option 3, as it would get me there that little bit earlier, such that I wouldn’t have to wait ages for a train to the hotel etc.

The flight out to Paris had some other people on it (I estimate around 15), and departed and arrived on schedule. I didn’t need to retrieve my checked bag in Paris as it had been marked through, but I did have to change terminals and then check in for the next flight. Having done that, I assumed that beyond security there would be a restaurant, and so went through thinking I’d get some lunch – unfortunately I discovered as it was a terminal for departures to the Schengen zone, there wasn’t much beyond security, only a few sandwich shops, so that had to suffice.

Fortunately there was WiFi, so while waiting for the flight I got out my laptop and dealt with a few e-mails etc, and even got a little bit of my work backlog out the way. Eventually my (Air France) flight started boarding, and it was then off to Amsterdam. Upon arrival, it was simply a case of reclaiming my luggage, and then getting the train to the hotel and checking in.

The hotel was nice, and the holiday proved relaxing (I spent quite a lot of it asleep, which was no bad thing as I appeared to have built up quite a sleep deficit). On the last day (the Monday), although I’d already checked out, I came back to the hotel for dinner, as I’d left my bag there during the day and so needed to pick it up anyway. I decided to aim to be at the airport around 2 hours before the flight left, despite only really needing to be there 1 – this came in very handy due to what happened next…

I got to the station near the hotel, and found a ticket machine in order to buy a ticket to the airport. After selecting what I wanted, I realised the option to pay by a credit card was disabled – ‘No Problem’ I thought, I’ll just use my debit card. Unfortunately, it rejected my UK debit card, it presumably would only accept a Dutch one.

After checking the other machines at the station and finding the same problem, I did a quick Google search and discovered that for some braindead reason, the Dutch train company decided to make it so only the ticket machines at Schiphol airport, and the central station would accept credit cards (charging €0.50 commission), despite the fact that this is presumably a revenue stream for them as I doubt it costs them €0.50 with their processor. Card was my only option as having assumed the machine at the station would be the same as the one at the airport and hence not a problem, I’d used up the last of my euros as a tip back at the hotel restaurant!

My first thought was to take the tram (which I still had a pass for) to the central station, and get a train from there – unfortunately it appeared the trams were a bit messed up, as there was a large crowd of people on the platform and no sign of any trams coming. I decided therefore to go and find a cashpoint, which I eventually managed, and then a shop where I could buy something cheap to get change (the machines didn’t take notes). This accomplished, I got back to the station (in the process somehow breaking the handle on my bag, resulting in difficulty manoeuvring it for the rest of the evening), bought a ticket, and fortunately a train appeared a few minutes later. All this meant I eventually arrived at the airport around 50 minutes before the flight was meant to leave, which was fortunately fine.

The flight back was then slightly delayed – all looked OK at first as we (6 of us this time) were put onto a bus at around the boarding time mentioned on my boarding pass, and headed out to the aircraft. Unfortunately however, it turned out that our crew weren’t actually there, and the one that was on board was the previous crew who were going off duty – our crew were coming in on another Darwin flight that was running late (it was supposed to leave for its destination at the same time as ours). We therefore were left sitting on the bus, until eventually we saw another Darwin aircraft taxy in and park up two stands over. Shortly afterwards we were let onto the plane, about 10-15 minutes after the scheduled departure time.

We then had a further ~20 minute delay as the ground handling team (who are supposed to deal with disconnecting the ground power unit and moving the cones which are put in front of the engines etc) had vanished (presumably as we’d missed our departure slot). In the end the captain got fed up and (presumably after getting permission from ATC) just went out and started to do it himself, at which point someone did actually turn up and sorted it. We then started up, taxyed out and departed. Landing in Cambridge was uneventful, and it was nice and quick getting through immigration. A local executive car firm has set up a desk in the terminal to provide taxis, and as I could pay by a card (I didn’t quite have enough cash on me), and the fare was roughly what I expected the normal taxi firm I use would charge, I went for it, so had a nice comfortable ride home.

I’m undecided as to whether I’d use Darwin again – the technical issue on the way out is one of those things, apparently it was the first issue they’d had since the flights have started, and they were very helpful in sorting it out, even if the options were quite limited. On the way back it wasn’t a massive delay overall, it was just a bit frustrating as we spent most of it sitting on a bus on the tarmac. I think if I do need to go anywhere they’re flying to, I’ll carefully check the record of their departure / arrival times to see how its going before deciding…


With regards my own flying, I’ve now got my skills test booked – weather permitting it will be on the 26th September (next Thursday). I had a short lesson today just to refresh things (as I hadn’t flown for 2 weeks), during which I took the opportunity to practise the areas I know are my weaker ones – it all went pretty well, the only point that came out in the debrief is I need to anticipate the roll out more on a steep turn, as I consistently ended up slightly beyond my target heading (though still within test standards) – I noticed this happen every time, but seemingly failed to do anything about it the next time!

Practice Skills Test (2)

After a couple of attempts that were cancelled due to the weather, I was finally able to complete my practice skills test today.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

First up was doing the three stalls – the first (a full stall with no flaps, recovering when instructed) was fine – a slight peep from the stall warner as I brought the nose back up (should have left it a second or so longer to build up some more speed), but not a major issue.

The second was a stall in the landing configuration (full flaps), recovering at the first sign (which in the 172 is the stall warner peeping, as this tends to happen well before any buffet etc) – this was generally OK, though again I should have left it a tiny bit longer before bringing the nose up.

The final one was a stall doing the base to final turn – I don’t really like these ones as I find it quite hard to actually make the aircraft stall, and indeed my first attempt we ended up doing a 360 degree turn without stalling. When I actually did make it stall, I then did something I’m not supposed to, which was (almost instinctively) start to try to level the wings at the same time as breaking the stall – in less ‘stable’ aircraft this can lead to a spin, so needs to be avoided. We then did another one, which was much better.

Next up were some steep turns – while I could do one to the right with no problem, I kept struggling with the one to the left, tending to end up descending and having to roll back to correct that. Some more practice is going to be required here.

We then did a PFL – I would have ended up missing my first field as I had underestimated the surface wind, and so ended up too high, fortunately there was another one that I could change to. On the go around, the instructor then pulled the throttle to simulate an engine failure at takeoff (EFATO) – I’m used to these being done much lower, so I was looking for a field too close to the aircraft at first, leading to me inadvertently pushing the nose down and picking up more speed than was ideal. After realising this was what I was doing I looked further ahead and picked a good field which we would probably have made.

The wind was essentially straight across the runway, which I knew was going to make the landing interesting – the approach following a right base join went OK, though as we got close to the runway the rate of descent started to increase noticeably – ideally I should have put a touch of power in to cushion it, but I was concentrating on getting my crosswind technique right, leading to a rather ‘firm’ touchdown.

I’m going to have to do at least one more lesson practising the steep turns (and probably a PFL+EFATO for good measure), so hopefully the weather gods will smile and I’ll manage to get this done soon, and then onto the real test…

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Today’s lesson was aiming to cover the things I was less confident on, we got through most of them, with the exception of cross wind practise, as there was very little wind at all today.

First up was a PFL – while in general I got the procedure correct, there were a couple of things I didn’t do so well at – one was I forgot to warm the engine until quite late (then did a pathetic attempt at warming it!), and the other was that I forgot that there was very little wind, and so should have taken my flaps nice and early but didn’t, such that my first attempt I would have missed the field.

We did another, which went a lot better, so that was good.

Next up was a practise diversion from Bar Hill to Littleport – I came up with the heading and turned onto it, my initial ETA was too long, but this was fixed at the half way point as I got there nice and early. I had to call Lakenheath to get permission for MATZ penetration – I always dread doing this as they can be quite hard to understand at times, though today the controller was nice and clear which was good.

During the diversion my altitude holding was a little all over the place, so this is something I’m going to need to watch (I’ve always found it a bit tricky). The instructor also noticed that when checking position etc, I was trying to go map to ground, when actually with good visibility it’s best to go ground to map, and also look further ahead for obvious landmarks (in this case Ely Cathedral was a nice reference).

Then back to Cambridge – after a bit of fluffing up the RT when changing back to Cambridge (passing info to approach that I should have given to tower, and vice versa), we did a PFL from the overhead, which went OK, then finished off with a low level circuit.

The low level circuit went better than the last lesson, my altitude / speed holding was still a bit all over the place, but generally better, and I think I should be OK with this.Watch Full Movie Streaming Online and Download

In general I was very happy with the lesson, while I made some silly mistakes, I think I got a lot of useful tips and practise.

Next up in terms of actual flying, assuming the weather cooperates, is my practise test – after that it’ll just be anything I need to do more practise on as a result of the practise, and then the skills test proper. I’ve also got my practical RT exam on Monday, which should be interesting – need to practise making the various calls over the weekend…

More flying at last

After a nearly 2 month gap due to work committments and my general stress levels not being conducive to flying, I had two lessons this week.

Both lessons involved circuits, as the cloud base wasn’t suitable for going out in to the local area. My first circuit was (as you might expect) a little all over the place – getting the right attitudes back into my head etc, though the landing was actually one of my better ones, which I was quite glad about. The other circuits went fairly well, including a couple of flapless ones. The main issues I had were that I was not kicking it totally straight before touchdown, and was often a little flat as well, which is not ideal as you want to try and keep the weight off the nose wheel for as long as possible.

Today’s looked like it might not happen at all at first, as the cloudbase was reported as broken at 700 feet when I arrived, but fortunately it rose sufficiently to let me get some flying in. We did a couple of precision landings – the first I ended up turning on to base a little too early, and so nearly the entire approach was done at idle, and I ended up a little fast by the point I reached the numbers, thus touched down beyond them. The second was better in terms of aim point, but I did have a small bounce on touchdown, I think because I effectively ended up trying to drop it onto the numbers (my target) rather than smoothly taking the power out and allowing it to land on them – i.e. I didn’t anticipate taking the power out early enough.

After the precision we were able to avoid the clouds sufficiently to do a couple of high glide approaches. The first one ended up quite long (I should have taken my 3rd stage of flap, but by the time I realised this it was a little late to do so) – unfortunately I then over-corrected for this on the second, and ended up having to sneak a bit of power in to avoid landing short, the actual touchdown was then a little all over the place (it was sufficiently bad that if I’d been solo I’d have gone around, but the instructor helped me control it).

All in all, I was quite happy – despite two months not flying I seem to be at pretty much the same point I was at (in fact the glide / precision landings I did today were much better than my last attempt at them) – if the good weather continues I’m hopeful of being at test standard in the relatively near future!

Open Letter to the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC)

I intend to send the below letter to the PCI SSC outlining some (hopefully constructive) criticism of the PCI Data Security Standards. For those not familiar with them, in simple terms they are a set of rules that anybody dealing with credit card data has to follow and comply with (there’s a lot more detail to it with different tiers depending on how many transactions you process etc etc).

As a disclaimer, the contents are purely my personal views, and do not represent the views of any company I operate or have done work for.

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