Month: April 2008

First wave of mocks

So far so good! We’ve done the mock exams for: Flight Planning, Aircraft General Knowledge – Instruments and Operational Procedures. The Flight Planning paper was 3 hours long, which I managed to finish in under 2 hours giving me plenty of time to check through my work. This is one of the exams where you’re typically pushed for time, so we’ll see how it goes in the real exam! The other two papers are no problem as far as time goes. The next set of papers to sit will be Aircraft Performance, Air Law, IFR & VFR Communications and Human Performance & Limitations. Then the real JAA exams a week after!

I’ve already booked my flight to go home for 3 days – taking the Ryanair from Jerez to Stansted and on the way back flying back via two flights, a domestic to Stansted and then back to Jerez. I wish Monarch would resume their Summer flights Manchester – Jerez! They were so much more convenient and their service is good.

Groundschool over..!

No more groundschool classes from now on..! This means the mock exams begin next week and the JAA exams are only around the corner and soon we’ll be in phase 3 of training! However, before all of that there’s a lot of information to consolidate and digest and memorise as well (especially when it comes to Air Law & Operational Procedures).

This space might be quiet for the next few weeks!

Threshold

It’s been a while since I’ve actually been to the threshold, and in fact previously I never did actually go all the way there! This time we walked around the perimeter and to the threshold of Runway 20. I enjoy going out to the airport to take a few photos during my study breaks, to get out of my room and refresh myself! We went out after dinner and caught 3 commercial take-offs and one light aircraft landing. I also wanted to get my camera out to take a few photos anyway – I’ve not taken many in a while.

And MD-80 climbing away like a rocket, from runway 20! You can see the approach lights below.

The Jerez VOR is located on that hill:

This is the last week of groundschool, after which we’ll enter phase 3 of training, which is full-time flying! Mock exams are only a couple of weeks away now!

Sunset from the threshold:

Goodbye FRASCA!

I can finally say goodbye to the FRASCA – it’s a Synthetic Training Device (STD), a.k.a. a simulator for the warrior. They’ve been used as an aid to get familiar with and practice instrument flying before doing it for real. The last lesson was following an actual VOR approach plate for Jerez, which involved various procedures. We’re taught several different techniques such as following a DME arc (basically following the circumference of an imaginery circle extending from a radio beacon), holding in the air and procedure turns and then everything comes together in following instrument plates. I’m finding my computer flight simulator quite helpful in practicing some instrument procedures by myself and preparing for my lessons. The positive thing about a simulator is that a lesson with it can go ahead whatever the weather outside (unless of course a lightening bolt kicks the power out – it has happened before).

We’ll be in full-time groundschool from next week since the mock exams are only a few weeks away not. They start on April 24..! The sheer volume of information that needs to be digested is astounding, and it’s not a case of learn and memory dump, much of it has to be retained, as it is applied on the flying side and will be required later on, so things need to be constantly refreshed. On top of that we’re told that the legal document which we use for reference in Europe, JAR-OPS1 will be replaced by EU-OPS1 in July, so there’ll be plenty more reading yet!

Time to switch the air conditioning on!

It’s become considerably warm in the last week.. and I’ve not even turned the heating on once – and that’s saying something! I’m glad the Summer’s here, I hate the Winter! We’ve been taking advantage of the good weather and playing Tennis regularly in the courts outside. Unfortunately my car has broken down so I’ve not been able to make any spontaneous trips to the beach! The water reservoir is leaking, which means I can’t drive very far at all, so will have to get that checked at the garage. This comes at a very busy time for me! I’ve started to study hard for the next set of JAA exams, and that coupled with flying leaves me with very little time to do anything else!

Unfortunately, though it’s warm, the weather’s taken a down-turn lately with a low pressure system forming around us – so there won’t be much flying done anyway.  This leaves me extra time to study for the groundschool side of things.

Trips to the Tower

I’ve been making a few trips to the tower recently – it’s always fun to watch the controllers at work and the view from the tower is great! They’ve got a terrace, from which I can take photos and walk all around, so I’ve got a 360 degrees view! The controllers are just a level up from there. It’s always good to see things from the other side – how things work, what they have to deal with, and at the same time we can also share our experiences with them, as pilots.

I went up to the tower at night for the first time a few days ago, on the Sunday. It wasn’t very busy, just a departure and a couple of arrivals – Ryanair, Iberia and a cessna aircraft, but it gave me a chance to spend some time talking with the controller. I only intended on spending half an hour up there but ended up there till the controller’s shift ended, which was 2 hours! He was showing me all the gizmos and gadgets in the tower – their radar screens, how strips work, how they control airport lighting and was told about the new equipment that will be installed soon. They have a fancy touch screen to control every aspect of the airport lighting – taxiways, runway lights, etc. A screen shows them a radar picture of the area around the airport and another screen gives them information on arrivals and departures. Then they have screens giving them a visual representation of the airport lighting and one for weather. Other parts of the setup is quite outdated, however they’re going to install new equipment soon, I was told.

I also shared some of my experiences of interacting with the controllers over the radio and sought out his point of view, from his perspective. A visit to the tower is always an interesting trip. We usually go on a course trip to Seville control centre, but unfortunately that’s not been recently happening for some unknown reason, possibly because they’re very busy (I’m just speculating).