It has already been a year since my first day of school. Also, SIO22 arrived in Pori last week and were greeted with the traditional welcome party. That means we are no longer the juniors. It feels like WE just arrived! I have also already managed to refer to the autopilot as “What the hell is it doing now?!” Time flies!
The past weeks have been busy on the training front. The synthetic IR training is advancing well. We’ve flown about a third of the FNPT II flights. The total required hours are 35. Then minimum 15 hours on the Bonanza to complete the IR training requirements. It looks like we will start the Bonanza flights in late March.
Some of us have already started the PIC flights in a Cessna. Although weather has been quite bad the last week or so. Very low ceilings and freezing fog and drizzle don’t make a very good flying weather with nonexistent de-icing systems. But fortunately we’re going towards Spring and better weather. Plenty of time to gather all the required hours, which for me are about 70 hours PIC time.
These past weeks we’ve already had our first progress check on the FNPT. The next one is already next week. On the training flights we have started using the autopilot quite a lot while doing the radio navigation exercises. It helps to reduce the workload while trying to figure out how to intercept VOR radials or QDM/QDR from NDB. The latter especially can sometimes get confusing. What makes it difficult is the RMI needle and the way it moves, which seems like not very logical at first. The mnemonic “push the head, pull the tail” helps a lot with figuring things out. Here’s a short video and an explanation on how it works:
At first the airplane is flying towards the NDB station (the red circle) to the West, heading 270. You can see this on the upper instrument (RMI). The one on the bottom can be ignored now since we are only looking at the NDB station. The heading is indicated on top. The needle points to the station. Since the airplane is heading towards the station on QDM 270 (magnetic heading to a station), the needle and the heading indicate the same. Then the airplane is moved, still heading towards West on heading 270, but the station is not directly in front of us anymore. The RMI needle now points to right of the airplane, roughly 295, to the station. Now to get back on the QDM 270, to push the needle head back to 270 and pull the tail, we need to fly a heading that is on the right side of the needle head to be able to push it left towards 270. We choose an interception angle of 30 degrees and fly heading 325. The compass card moves so that our heading 325 is on the top. The needle now points to the left as the station is on our left. As we get closer to the blue line which indicates the QDM 270 you notice that the needle head moves towards 270. Once the needle head is close to 270 we can turn the airplane to the left and fly towards West, heading 270, to fly directly towards the station. Now the heading on top is 270 and the needle head is also pointing to 270. We are back on course. If we fly over the station and continue like this, the needle will turn 180 degrees, the needle head will point to the station and we will be flying QDR 270 (magnetic heading from the station).
The situation above is with zero wind. We’ve practised intercepting radials and QDM’s also with strong winds. The autopilot corrects for the wind when following a radial in navigation mode but when flying manually or with autopilot’s heading mode, the correction for the wind has to be made. There are a few calculation rules for the wind correction depending on the angle it blows. A couple more rules apply when for example joining and flying a holding pattern. A bit of simple Math every now and then keeps the brain fresh? We’ve been practising joining the holding pattern with different entries. Depending on your direction of entry you need to do either a direct, parallel or offset (also called teardrop) entry. These are quite fun to fly, but also require some brainwork to correct for the wind and figure out the interception angles and also time corrections for the head/tailwind.
We’ve practised flying the DME arc once so far and done a few different approaches, VOR, ILS or NDB usually, once a visual. We’ve flown them with autopilot, with flight director or just manually with raw data. So far these have been done with some guidance from the teacher since the emphasis of the training hasn’t been on the approaches yet. But it’s good practise for the more specific approach training to come and good fun. It’s great to notice how a more clear idea of the whole approach and what happens when is forming little by little. Same goes with everything though. It’s great to see how quickly learning happens!
A week ago my Dad was visiting Pori and I got to show him the airplane hangars and the aircraft up close. I also took him flying on the Bonanza trainer. I sat in the right seat and gave him directions and helped with the landing gear and flaps. He took off and we circled a bit over Pori after which he joined the downwind with my directions and landed nicely. He enjoyed the flight very much and it was a fun ride for me too!