Month: September 2007

Portugal!

The mock exams and the JAAs are drawing closer and closer, so we decided we’d have one last trip out before we settle into working towards these exams! We’ve been talking about going to Portugal for a few weeks and so thought we’d just go for a long day-trip. Hayden and a friend of his from Australia, Tait, joined me at 7am on Saturday when we set off. Our first stop was Seville, where we stayed briefly to eat Breakfast and then headed off for a 2 hour drive into Portugal. The first town we stopped at was Tavira. We saw it on the travel brochure – had a quick walk around. Didn’t seem too interesting – just a river and boats, and we quickly stopped to buy a postcard.

Tavira

We then drove further west, to Faro. We explored Faro, and watched the planes swoop down over the water and then headed off to eat lunch and walk around the shops.

Marina at Faro:

Faro

Difficult to see, but the airport is straight ahead in the distance. We enjoyed watching the aircraft come in!

Shopping – all pedestrianized:

It was getting quite warm…so we head straight to Lagos, which is about an hour west of Faro. We accidentaly stumbled upon some beautiful beaches separated by rocks and caves.

View similar to the post card we picked up in Tavira:

Beautiful clear water!

On our way out we came across a strip, and being keen aviators we parked up to watch a Piper come into land and a Cessna take off!

We then continued onto Alvor. The water was cold, but the Atlantic Ocean was just too tempting, so we went in for a swim! Your body gets used to the temperature once you’re in anyway. There weren’t many people on the beach, so we had a huge stretch of beach almost to ourselves!

Our next stop was Portimão:

…and then to Carvoeiro!  We found some fantastic views here, and the GPS took us to some amazing spots – something I didn’t think my GPS would do!  We stayed here till sunset and managed to find a Portuguese fisherman!  Unfortunately none of us speak Portuguese, so the language barrier was quite high – almost felt like the first time I came to Spain and I spoke no Spanish at all.

We found another beach, viewing from the cliff edge:

The cliff and the vast Atlantic Ocean:

Sunset at Carvoeiro:

After sunset we headed to Albufeira for dinner.  We found a well lit parade of restaurant – a very lively atmosphere.  After dinner it was a journey back to Jerez!  We were back around 2:30am.. a long, but excellent day!

Lightning!

There was a lightning show last night – went on for hours! Not seen it go on for so long before. Here’s a photo a mate of mine took that night.

Walk Around

It’s been quite a busy week – I’ve been preparing for a few tests in Mass & Balance, Principles of Flight (PoF), Radio Navigation and a possible one in Meteorology. Mass & Balance seems easy enough, however PoF and Met. have a lot of details that need to be understood and need to be recalled! This is especially true with meteorology – things like wind speeds, conditions for certain weather effects to take place, etc really need to be kept at hand and remembered! Radio Navigation also involves a lot of memory recall – especially with things like frequency spectrums, radio frequencies for different communications, navigation aids, etc.

Got full marks in the Mass & Balance progress test, so I’m very happy with that! The others are just relatively minor class tests – just there to monitor progress as we cover material and to indicate to the instructor which parts the class needs extra help in, or where things may not have been clarified during class, previously, and need to be.

I took a few more photos of the campus today as I went on a walk around during a study-break.

Cessna parked on the stand.  I think it belongs to a German flight school that’s also based here.

There were quite a few business jets parked out here today.

Jerez control tower:

Festival del Otoño

Festival del Oto̱o Рor the Autumn Festival is on this weekend celebrating the grape harvest. We went into town in the evening to check out the medieval themed market Рwhich also included puppet shows, a Moroccan tea tent, and plenty of delicious food!

A little train in the main square:

The puppet show:

Many types of herbal tea being sold, including those for certain medical ailments:

Arabic calligraphy:

I got my name and some for my sisters and parents:

It took pretty long for the ink to dry so I ended up waiting around the stall, but I didn’t mind so much!

Busy markets went on till late:

There were stalls in the main central square of the city and then they lined one of the streets branching up to another open area around what looked like a fort or castle. Not sure what it is – I still need to explore that part of the city!

The Moroccan tea tent:

The tea here was just amazing – mint tea! It was served in an ornate cup, which we’re allowed to take back with us.

Ramadan Mubarak, and more rain, thunder and lightning!

Today’s the first day of Ramadhan, the month where Muslim’s fast and devote to prayer, and is the month in which the Quran was revealed. I woke up around 5am and joined my Lebanese friends in the crew room for something to eat before the fast commenced.

The day was quite eventful! Roads here at FTE turned into mini-rivers or streams in a matter of minutes as the thunderstorm raged above. A lightning bolt managed to hit the building and take out the lights and air conditioning. It also took out the phone lines and the internet. Below are a few photos my friends took.

Almost looks like an island.. it’s in fact a roundabout!

Dan standing in the middle of a lake.. in front of the canteen?

Rain!

Rained almost all day today and it changed from a flood of people in white shirts to those with blue jumpers and jackets! From what I’ve heard, it’s a little early for this kind of weather, and this Summer hasn’t been as hot as it usually is – though, to us, it’s been toasty at 30 – 40C. Everyone seems to get really excited and jolly when it rains here – quite a contrast to the mood when it’s raining back home in England!

Spotting & Birthday Dinner

We went out for a bit of spotting – both aircraft and bird! Hayden managed to take a photo of an MD-80 taking off, whilst I was quizzed by the Guardia Civil.. by the time I had explained to him that I was just taking a photo and showed him my security pass, I had missed the opportunity! Security are fine provided you carry your security pass, and wear a high-visibility jacket if you’re inside the airport perimeter. He seemed satisfied and let us continue on.

Jerez airport tower and you can just about see the aircraft that has just taken off:

We decided to pay the falcons a visit since Hayden hadn’t seen them yet. I’ve been teaching myself some Spanish and trying to improve it at every opportunity, so this time I managed to ask a few questions to learn a bit more about these birds. I was told that the falcons are a mixture of Spanish, Central European, American and Mexican, and there were some that were bred at the site here in Jerez.

Later on, we caught the bus into Jerez town centre to have a birthday dinner at Churchills – for Keenan’s 22nd birthday.

We were stunned when a lady came out to take our orders, with perfect English, in an English accent – as we were expected to be greeted in Spanish! The owners had moved from England to Spain a few years ago, and had moved to Jerez about a year ago and opened up Churchill’s. A group of tourists from Holland, Belgium and Germany strolled over for a chat at the end of the evening – they had flown to Malaga and were touring Andalucia by car.

Came back to FTE around 2am and went straight to bed, as there was groundschool the next day!

Zahara, Grazalema and Arcos – Weekend out with the instructors.

Two of our instructors – one of them, our course mentor, took us out on a scenic drive around Southern Spain – to Zahara, Grazalema and Arcos. The day started with an hour’s drive to Zahara. The town’s built hill, so it was quite a walk up to a cafe where we had something to drink.

The views from the top were amazing:

We then headed off to Grazalema for lunch at a restaurant.  I ordered grilled swordfish, since I’ve not had it before and thought I’d try it out – and I was very pleased with my choice!  The next stop was Arcos; we routed through roads on the slopes of mountains and stopped on the way take a look at the view.

Arcos is a small town just east of Jerez – photo taken from Arcos:

We got back around 7pm and on the way back we passed a bridge and section of the road crowded with people – for some kind of tractor race!  Later that evening we drove back to the area to see what it was all about.  Unfortunately there wasn’t any parking.. and instead we managed to get lost in the maze of roads near the runway threshold! However it did give us the opportunity to meet: