Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TODO Before each flight

In this post I'll enumerate the things I have to do before I seat in the airplane. Some of the things can be done on the day before, to save some time on the flight day.
Here they are:
  • Airplane documentation
When I arrive the first thing to check is the airplane that I'll fly and respective folder that contains all the airplane documentation (Property register, Airworthiness License, Radio License, Weight&Balance) and are valid. Check any past problems unresolved and resolved. How many hours until next inspection.   
  • Fuel
Then I'll check if the airplane has the fuel needed for the flight. Normally, we depart with the tanks full.

  • NOTAMs (NOtice To AirMen)
This is like the newspaper of the pilots :D (updated daily). We check it to see if any airspace reservation is active, if any airport is closed, if any navigational system is inoperative,  if there are gliders or parachutes on our route, basically anything out of normal that can affect the flight.
  • Meteorology
Check the wind forecast (direction and speed) for the altitude that I plan to fly, any significant weather on the region (turbulence, ice, cumulonimbus). The altitude of 0ºC is important too because in case there is clouds at a temperature below 0ºC there is the likelihood of ice formation which our airplanes are not certificate to operate in this conditions.

  • FlightStar or manual planning
This can take some time to do, especially if done by hand (a flight of 1h30 can take about 1h to plan). We calculate the groundspeed, heading to the waypoint, estimated time to the waypoint and the fuel needed, using the wind forecast at that altitude. At this time I check also if the charts that I have of the airports are updated.
  • Submit the flight plan
If it's a local flight we have to submit the flight plan 30min before the departure, if it's a IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight we have to submit 1h before.
  • School flight process and Weight & Balance
Here I make the the school flight process (type of flight, time, instructor name, airplane,...) and check if the center of gravity is within the limits and not overweight.

  • 360º Walkaround
This involves the airplane inspection (tires, control surfaces, oil quantity,...)

  • Flight Plan acknowledged 
Confirmation that the flight plan was processed without problems.
  • Weather update
One last check on the weather. Typically, only done if the initial weather report is poor. We want to have the most recent weather before departure to make sure that not worsened.  
  • Briefing
I brief the instructor with the information that I have about the flight (airplane airworthiness, route, weather forecast, NOTAMs,...) and discuss what we are going to do.
  • Let's go fly....
The fun part :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Trip to Vigo and Santiago de Compostela - Part 3

Last leg from this flight: Vigo -> Porto (Sá Carneiro)

As the other legs, this one also included an ILS approach, to runway 17 at Sá Carneiro airport.    

Calm morning...
Contrail shadow

Lima river
Viana do Castelo
Turning to final on ILS RWY17 approach
The place with more greenhouses per m2 that I have seen so far!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Trip to Vigo and Santiago de Compostela - Part 2

Second leg of this trip: Santiago de Compostela -> Vigo

We followed an ILS Z RWY20 approach with PIVON as the Initial Approach Fix (IAF). We hold a few minutes over the Vigo VOR (VGO) doing some laps, to give the passenger (me) a little time to enjoy the landscape (kidding :)).
After some holding we continue the ILS approach and we were cleared to make a low pass.

Here are some photos:


Cies islands

Rande bridge and Enseada San Simón
Ria de Pontevedra



Pretty close to the mountain...better stay on course!

Vigo airport terminal
Leaving Vigo airport behind
Next stop: Porto :)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

From 0h to PPL - Best moments

It makes one year today since I took off for the first time at the commands of an airplane. Actually this was my second flight, the first time was about 2 years ago, just a month before starting the pilot course, but it was a totally different experience. It was as passenger in a B737. In a C152 the sensations are more intense. I still have in my memory the first seconds after I lift off from the ground. The small plane with a little engine and a wing wandering around in the air, shaking a little with the turbulence, and being able to look out the front window and see a different view of the world.      

To mark this date, I chose to make a movie that shows some of the best moments, from my course starts until I had a Private Pilot License (PPL).

I planned to show a little of some of the places that I flew by under a 15min max time. But soon I realize that if I had chosen not to pass this limit I had have to let out a lot of places. So I chose to let go the limit because my primary goal was to be a "memories" video.

Moments included in the video:
  • Starts with some footage from the theory phase;
  • Pre-Flight;
  • First-solo flight;
  • Simulated engine failures;
  • Area solo flight (Famalicão);
  • 300nm solo flight (Bragança and Coimbra)
  • Shoreline flights;
  • Finish with a landing from my area solo flight.
In the image below you can see the movie's route that I followed. Its like a small tour in Portugal :).

Here is the video: