Month: June 2008

Morocco!

We were at the “Moroccan tea-house” on Friday and randomly decided to visit Morocco for a quick day-trip in Tangiers!  As soon as we got back that evening, we booked a trip on the ferry from Tarifa.  Setting off in the morning, the drive to Tarifa took around an hour and 30 minutes and we were soon on our way to Tangiers.  The ferry ride took just over 30 minutes, giving us enough time to freshen up and get breakfast.

Leaving Tarifa:

Arriving at Tangiers:

The passport control in Morocco was a pain.. and I found that the personnel were not trained to ask the right questions!  “Where is your father from?”, to which I answered “UK” and they just sat there nodding their heads “you don’t look English”.  It would have been better to ask what my ethnicity was.  This happened to me twice – entering and leaving Morocco!

We had to get our passports stamped on the ferry and then checked again just outside the ferry before we were allowed to go any further, which is why there was crowding just off the ferry.  Once beyond the crowd and passport control, the first thing I noticed was the language – signs were in Arabic and French.  I was expecting to dig out and recall some of the French I had learnt at school, however, we came across many Spanish speaking people in Tangiers.  This made it easier.  I spent years studying GCSE French at school, so I was hoping it would come back to me quickly, however I’ve not spoken or read French in a while, so it was difficult to communicate in French.  Even though I have never studied Spanish, and I had never spoken any before coming to Spain, it came much more easily than my French, as it was current and I have been speaking some whilst I’ve been here.

As we were walking out of the port, towards the city we were greeted by many taxi drivers that even chased and followed us down a few metres, asking us if we needed a lift.  I noticed they called out “car” in a few languages in an attempt to get our attention.  We also came across many asking us if we needed a tour guide.  I politely declined and kept walking, as we had a handy guidebook and preferred exploring the city on our own anyway.  We were intending to check out the old city, which is known as the “Medina”, so we exchanged our Euros to Dirhams and then walked as directed. We came across many bazaars and saw live chicken being sold in the market!

Moroccan dress sense – Tangiers has a mixture of western and middle-eastern dress:

Flags of Morocco – going into the new part of the city, near the French embassy:

We inadvertently walked around the Medina and into the new part of the city. We went past the French embassy and explored a pet market on the way out.  Apart from the many stray cats, there were chameleons, lizards, tortoises, little coloured chicks, dogs.. a wide diversity of pets!  We came across some souvenir shops and passed some bakeries show-casing fresh biscuits, pastries and bread.  Finally we made our way back to the Medina to shop in the busy narrow streets filled with bazaars that sold rugs, perfumes, clothes, souvenirs and many other items.  Haggling was something we had to do, as prices were highly marked up for tourists.  As soon as eye contact was made, the shop-keepers would do their best to invite you in and sell you their items… and even chase you half-way down the street if they had to!

Shop with all kinds of trinkets:

Narrow streets in the Medina lined with Bazars:

After lunch, we strolled over to the beach.  It was incredibly windy with a strong sea-breeze creating streams of sand a few centimetres above the ground.

Crowded beach:

We still had a lot of the Medina to explore and wanted to also find our way to the museum, which is at the highest point of the Medina.  It’s very easy to get lost in the old city with the maze of narrow and crowded streets.  So, we made our way back and eventually located the museum and kasbah, however it was too late – they close early on the weekend!  It was a shame, but a friendly local showed us around.

An old mosque at the center of the Medina:

The day went by fast and soon it was time to board the ferry again.  Although not the cleanest city (lots of litter everywhere!) I’ve been to, I found Tangiers to be a vibrant city with lots of interesting bazaars and the Medina fun to explore.  It’s only 35 minutes away by ferry from Tarifa and it’s a world apart, which hits you immediately as you enter Morocco – the culture, dress, language, even the air smells different!  I was quite tired by the end of the day, we had done a lot of walking and exploring, so it was nice to finally get off my feet and relax on the ferry.

Seneca Circuits

Did my first circuits flight in the Seneca in 40C today, despite it being reported as 36C!  I’m happy (and relieved) to say that my landings have transformed from controlled crashes to smoother landings that leave the gear in a happier mood!  Once I was up in the air, the temperature didn’t bother me too much, as I was too busy to think about it!  We started off with two normal touch and gos, then a flap-less and then an asymmetric (i.e. on one engine only) go-around followed by an asymmetric landing.  I’ve now got 4 more flights before my CPL skills test!

Seneca – Twin Engine Flying

My flight to Faro was my last on the single engine aircraft.  All my flights now involve dual instruction on the multi-engine Seneca with another instructor.  I remember taking a look at the study guide, checklist and syllabus a couple of weeks ago before I started on the Seneca and felt so overwhelmed with all the new speeds, checks, procedures and power settings that I had to memorise and learn!  The warrior, in comparison, seems so simple and basic – there’s only one engine to worry about, no propeller levers and relatively less instruments to look at.  I began preparing myself by first taking a quick look through the checklist to get an idea of the figures and checks I’m going to be working with and then delved into the multi-engine study guide which supported the computer-based training presentations I had been going through.  What I found really helpful was to just sit in a Seneca cockpit on the ground and go through the checks on my own.  This really helped me learn some of the checks that required to be memorised and also allowed me to familiarise myself with the cockpit, which gave me a nice start for my first few simulator sessions.

The first simulator session was just a familiarisation, which necessitated going through the checklist and doing the checks, from start up to landing, which incorporated one circuit.  The next two simulator sessions involved a bit more flying – steep turns, stall recovery, climbing/descending, etc.  After 3 simulator sessions, I had my first flight in the Seneca!  The first thing I noticed when sitting inside the Seneca was how much more roomy it is compared to the warrior, which means I have more space to organise and place items such as my kneeboard or map, and it’s generally more comfortable.  By now all the speeds and power settings were sinking in, so things didn’t seem as scary as when I first opened my Seneca manuals!  Unlike the Warrior, I could feel the acceleration as I was speeding down the runway for take-off, in the Seneca!

Once in the air, I could immediately see how different this aircraft felt – the controls were much heavier, things moved at a much faster pace due to the aircraft speed and the aircraft itself is much more stable than the warrior, which makes it nicer to fly.  The increased inertia of the Seneca was also demonstrated, as it took much longer to slow down and took a while longer for speeds to settle than the Warrior.   Turbulence that would throw the warrior around won’t have its way as easily with the Seneca! There are many more things going on, but since the aircraft is more stable, it gives me the capacity to handle the more complex systems.  The Seneca rotates at 79kt, and the warrior at 55kt, and the initial take-off climb is at 100kt, and we usually climb at 80kt in the warrior.  Whilst the warrior cruises at around 105kt, the Seneca cruises at 150kt, so the speed is immediately apparent and as a result everything happens at a faster pace.  However, I’ve found the Seneca much more pleasant to fly – it’s easier to trim and once trimmed it will stay.. and I love the electric trim button on the yoke, leaves one hand free for multi-tasking!

I’ve now had 4 flights in the Seneca and 5 simulator sessions.  The last two flights dealt with asymmetric flying – so engine failures, shut-downs, restarts, etc.   These were practiced in the simulator first and then in flight. One of the flights involved a full engine shut-down, which is a requirement for the multi-engine rating.  It was slightly unsettling to see one of the engines dead!  However, the Seneca was able to fly, albeit, at lower performance, on a single engine.   On a single engine, the Seneca cruises at around 120kt and can climb at around 200 – 300 feet per minute.  So having only one engine is a huge performance hit, as it can climb at over a 1000 feet per minute and cruise at 150kt with both engines.  Nonetheless, a forced landing is not required, as would be with a single engine aircraft upon complete engine failure!

My next flight is a one hour circuit session, giving me the chance to practice and perfect my landings in various configurations – normal, flapless and asymmetric.  I’m finding the Seneca much more difficult to land than the Warrior at the moment, and can see that it’s quite nose-heavy… so this lesson will be a great opportunity to polish that off!  Unfortunately I didn’t get to fly today due to ATC not allowing circuits and the temperature being too hot to fly – it was 37C!

Faro – Night Landaway

After checking the notams, weather, and getting the relevant information from the AIP, I started planning my route.  This was an instrument flight to Faro, followed by a visual dual instruction flight of circuits and a solo flight doing circuits at night.  My route started out by heading North, climbing to at least 6000 feet before I turned west, since there was a restricted area to clear below us.  Once heading West, I headed directly to a reporting point and joined an airway, coming off it at another reporting point.  From there, we were vectored and given descent instructions for a VOR approach to runway 28.  The flight was a pleasant, smooth one with beautiful views!

South-west coast of Spain – heading towards Portugal:

Over the Atlantic and some cloud (land on the other side)!

Once we arrived in Faro, we had around half an hour to stretch our legs, waiting for the sun to set, before we could start with circuits.

Me taxying to the Apron:

Parked up, waiting for the sun to go down and re-fueling in the meantime:

Portugese, not surprisingly, has some similarities to Spanish, airport terminal:

Once the sun set, we went up for a dual flight for about 40 minutes and then I went up on my own to do some night circuits to practice my night landings.

Quick shot of the runway at night whilst I was waiting for clearance:

Everything looks so pretty at night!  However, it’s quite difficult to judge when to flare above the runway at night.  You can suffer from the “black hole” effect, where you feel higher than you actually are and end up flaring late or not at all, or if you don’t have the correct picture in mind for the flare when using the runway lights as a reference, you can flare too early.  For me, the problem was the black hole effect, so as you can imagine, the first landing wasn’t so smooth!  However, I managed to adapt from the first one and the rest of them were much more easier on the landing gear!  It’s even more important to look towards the end of the runway to judge when to flare, at night and it’s much easier to look in the immediate vicinity since the landing light attracts your eyes.

Once we were done flying for the day, we passed through security, took a taxi to the hotel, quickly freshened up and then walked to an indian restaurant for a curry.  I was really tired by then, so despite being hungry, my appetite wasn’t great, nonetheless, I still enjoyed the food!  And everything is paid for by the school!

The next morning, we flew back to Jerez, and this was my last flight in the PA28 warrior, and with my single engine instructor, and so I thought going to Faro was a nice way to finish off my SEP flying.  On our way back I managed to catch a photo of the FIR and international boundary between Spain and Portugal – the river.

PT 2 Passed!

Passed my progress test 2.. which concludes my single engine flying – for the most part! I just have a night flight to Faro left now, which has been delayed and pushed back a few times due to various reasons.  PT2 is different from PT1 in the sense that it is treated as a commercial flight and that must be kept in mind during planning, pre-flight and the flight itself.  For example, a passenger brief must be given, the flight must be expeditious and on time, passenger comfort must be thought of – so no steep turns during the navigation leg!

The navigation route took me to a town just north east of Seville, however I was diverted from a check-point just before the end of the route to a town called Algondales. We passed directly over Moron airbase at 7500 feet, which made a fantastic check-point, and then reached the town, which is just behind a peak, which makes it difficult to see till you get there. Once the navigation part of the test was done, we did some general handling, just east of Jerez. This involved more instrument flying than PT1 – such as limited panel flying and unusual attitudes. Limited panel flying being when the attitude indicator, RMI and the directional gyro being covered, which simulates a suction failure and failure of the main references for heading/direction.

I’m looking forward to flying the Seneca – we got the notes a while ago and noticed how many more checks, speeds and power settings and flap combinations we’re expected to remember and use as appropriately, compared to the warrior! I’ve also heard from other students that it’s much nicer to fly and more stable than the warrior. I’ve got a few days off now between my first Seneca sim, so I’ll be memorising the checks and reading the POH! CPL inbound now!

CPL Cross Country Qualifying Flight!

This is the flight where you fly 300 miles between 3 airports.  I set off from Jerez to Granada, to Sevilla, and then back to Jerez.  This was one of the most enjoyable flights I had done!  The weather was perfect, started out with no cloud and great visibility, and hardly any wind, which made things much easier.

I set off from Jerez and navigated to the north-east, avoiding the mountain range and then south east.  On my way, I passed the Moron military base and turned south east just before Cordoba, which was clearly visible in the distance.

Moron – the runway is clearly visible:

Just west of Granada:

It took about an hour and 20 minutes to get to Granada, which is pretty fast!  It took us just over 3 hours to drive there by car when I went there with my family!  ATC were great – initially I was in contact with Seville, then with Malaga Approach, who then handed me over to Granada Tower once I was cleared to the visual reporting point – town just north of the airport.  More photos as I was closing in on Granada airport:

As you can see the views were breath-taking!  Unfortunately, as much as I would have liked to, I didn’t take many more photos, as my workload in the cockpit soon got too high to safely take even quick snaps as I was doing.

I was soon cleared to proceed to join the circuit pattern, and since I requested “direct base”, I was given clearance to go directly to the base leg and then onto final to land.  One thing that I had to keep in mind was that the elevation of Granada was quite high compared to Jerez, so to maintain 1000 feet clearance above ground level, I had to be at 2860 feet above sea level (which was indicated on my altimeter).  I landed with 45 minutes to spare, so I reported to the AIS office to gain a security pass and check the latest weather at Sevilla and enroute.  After lunch, I made my way back to the aircraft, eager to depart before the two commercials, so I didn’t have to wait around for them.  They were still boarding, so I had plenty of time.

Since there was no wind, I was given the choice of direction for take off, I chose to take off in a westerly direction – runway 27, since that was the direction my route was taking me.  I hit a bit of turbulence on the way up, but soon reached smoother air at 6500 feet, and away from the mountains.  As I got nearer to Sevilla, I could see cloud had began to form just below me, I was still 1000 feet clear, but decided it was best to be 1000 feet below it, in case it built up.  So I decended to 4500 feet, into a more turbulent layer of air.  This didn’t bother me since I was close to my destination and would soon be descending anyway.  Once I was in Sevilla, I refueled and started up again to depart.  I managed to take a quick snap of the runway whilst I was waiting to avoid wake turbulence.

Refueling the PA28:

Lined up on runway 27:

The trip back to Jerez seemed very short compared to the large legs I had done to go to Granada and Sevilla.  At the end of the trip, as expected, I was quite tired, but it was a very successful cross country flight!