Week 3



This week on Monday I received my student pilot license, fittingly for my birthday. It is a very nice thing to look at. Having also gotten the pilot’s operating handbook for the Cessna 152, it’s starting to look like flying is about to happen soon!

It was week 3 of PPL theories and we have reached the halfway. We had another exam this week, on Aircraft General Knowledge. Everyone passed with flying colors. Next week coming up exams on General Safety as well as the technical part of Communications. The Communications exam will cover the workings of a radio. Radio is actually quite fascinating if you think about it. Firstly, sound waves (e.g. speech) only move at a speed of sound 340 m/s, but radio waves move at the speed of light 300 000 000 m/s. When someone speaks into a microphone the sound wave (speech) is superimposed on a radio wave, allowing it to be transmitted at a speed of light to a radio receiver. Hence we can listen to a radio broadcast practically the same time it is happening. Rarely do you think about these everyday things and gadgets, but hats off to those people who make these kind of discoveries.

This picture from a NASA study on wingtip vort...

This picture from a NASA study on wingtip vortices qualitatively illustrates the wake turbulence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In General Safety this week we talked about potential dangers when flying, like windshear, aquaplaning and wake turbulence. Wake turbulence is the more dangerous to an aircraft the smaller it is compared to the source aircraft. Flying a small aircraft like a Cessna, wake turbulence caused by a commercial jet can become a serious hazard. The size difference between a Cessna and for example an Airbus A380 is so huge that flying into A380’s wake turbulence with a Cessna would just flip the plane over. Also when flying VFR (Visual Flight Rules), the air traffic control does not separate VFR traffic from the commercial jets that are flying IFR (Instrument Flight Rules), you have to keep an eye on the separation yourself when for instance landing after a large aircraft.

The new subjects this week were Meteorology, and since the planned two full days of  it got cut short by a day, because our teacher, an Embraer co-pilot, had to take a job and fly to Frankfurt, we started with Navigation already this week. It’s going to get really interesting once we start plotting our routes on a map. I am also looking forward to learning the secrets of the circular computer we got on the first day. I enjoy meteorology. It is a very interesting subject, because it is encountered daily, but obviously also because of its’ effects on flying. Understanding different weather phenomenon helps you to avoid possibly dangerous weather, like windshear, low visibility and icing. I am also looking forward to learning to interpret the weather reports.

We’re having a three-day weekend, which gives me an opportunity to stay up and watch the Oscars. Because of the long weekend, we have only four days of school next week, but with the two exams on Tuesday and Wednesday, I think it will be enough.

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