Just checking!

Ok, so so far (4.5hrs logged) I’ve learnt that I’m not at all relaxed while in the aircraft as I still feel overwhelmed by everything -controls, looking out for other aircraft, navigate, learning to interpret all my gauges, flying straight and at the correct altitude, flying at the correct speeds are to name a few.

My handy (mandatory) checklist for the Cessna

From my last post I’ve also learnt that I’ve got to get that sinking feeling under control every time I have to point the aircraft downwards.  I just help it, all those years of propaganda films brain washing me.  Just because the nose of the plane is pointing downwards it doesn’t mean we’re going to crash, OK….  Get it together Izzy.  I will repeat this to myself many times!

Even in such a small aircraft, which only has 2 seats and perhaps enough room for a small piece of hand luggage each behind the seats, the Cessna 152 is a popular choice in the aviation world when it comes to using it to train new pilots.  Why, I have no idea as that’s clearly outwith my knowledge at this time, so I guess it’s TBC….   But like every other aircraft no matter the size, there is always a plethora of checklists that a pilot must go through in each stage of their flying. Before I even start the engine I have to check the aircraft externally, which includes a walk around, the fuel, tires, the fuselage is in tact etc.  After it I climb into the aircraft and then do my checks from inside.  Then I start the engine and go through another checklist.  After that I taxi (move the aircraft along the ground) from the apron and then stop at a holding position to do final checks.  This holding position is a straight yellow line and a broken yellow line parallel to each other.  Here I do my pre take off checks.  Once completed these tests I then have to radio control for clearance to enter the runway.  Once I make my way to the far end of the runway I can then let the plane rip, and I’m zooming along the runway, up, up up, into the sky…..  Confused by the terminology yet, I was but believe me I’m just getting started.

Once I get clearance to enter the runway I then do what’s called breaking the holding lines which basically means I go over it and enter the runway.  As I do that I turn and make my way towards one end of the runway where I’m to take off.  Remember here I am controlling the aircraft with the foot pedals, so that a couple of lessons to get used to as I’m used to steering with my hands in a car.   At first I kept turning the steering column just out of habit.  Luckily then that if you were to turn the steering column while the aircraft is on the ground it basically does nothing to the direction of the aircraft.

Inside the cockpit

As I move to the end of the runway I’m lining up the aircraft with the white broken line running along the middle of the runway, and making sure that the wind is now head on.  The reason for why the wind must be head on when taking off and landing is because then the pilot is better able to control the aircraft and it’s speed rather than suddenly have a gust of wind blow the aircraft faster and/or off the runway.  As yet I have not had my first take off, which I’m actually quite thankful for at the moment!
After you get to 1,000 feet/cleared all ground obstructions you then start to do other checks etc to get to where your going.  Every 500ft I’m suppose to do some checks, which ones depends on what I’m doing/planning to do at the time.  I was also taught that every 10-15mins I have to do a FREDA check, which is basically checking that your engine and instruments are still working properly.  Here you maybe confused as to why I have to do this, surely you would hear or feel something failing?  To this I would say not necessarily, for example it could be a really cold day, so the longer I spend in the air the more risk there is of icing on the wings and engine, so I would do checks at intervals to make sure everything is still functioning properly.  See!  Safety checks, many of them!

Then as I come back in for landing I have check speed, communicate with tower, make sure I’m flying level and on course so that I will actually going to land on the runway!  After landing I have to taxi the aircraft back to the apron and park, making sure that the aircraft’s nose is pointing into wind before switching off the engine.  Even before I can switch off the engine there is a switching off the engine procedure so unlike the car again, I can’t just turn it off and pull the key out of the ignition, which I’ve done a handful of times before just out of habit to the horror of my instructor….  Some damage can be done he said, though I forget what it was he said as I didn’t understand, ooops….  Then as we  climb back out of the cockpit, if it’s windy, we then have to secure the aircraft down before leaving.  Phew ~~  I’m exhausted…

Luckily though, as a student I have a prompt (the instructor), and of course the trusty help of my checklist.  The small handful of pages booklet cost me £5, but for the size of the thing, soooooooooo  much checking needs to be actioned upon.  So I guess £5 in the scheme of things really isn’t that much in the end!


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