Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Hi all!

Well, it's been a while. I should probably start by saying Happy New Year!

So, my last blog post was just when I got back from my hour building trip in South Africa. A lot has changed since then. First of all I received my A-level results.. which weren't so bad, I'm happy with them :-)

I also started my first full time job working as a Customer Service Representative for a large orange courier company who have their UK head office based just down the road from me. This helped me fund for some hour building in the UK.. and that's what I did!

I was also fortunate enough to be offered a position as a glider tow pilot (starting in April) at a gliding club based in the Midlands as long as I logged a few hours in gliders, which is the next objective on my list, as well as finishing my night rating in the Grob 115 in the image above. The fun never stops!

So for the foreseeable future, this is where I am at, and it doesn't look too bad.

I'll keep you updated :-)


Friday, 26 July 2013

South Africa

So, earlier this year I did mention that I would be travelling to South Africa to build 50 hours flying time as part of my pre-CPL hour building and that is what I did.

I received a message from Jake Price of Get Into Flying, asking whether I would write a post regarding the venture to Africa for the site, so I won't cover much here and I'll put more in to the GiF post, but all I can say is that it was..


Fore mostly I learnt a lot from flying in South Africa that I wouldn't have done in the UK otherwise and it's changed me as a pilot for the better. Flying an underpowered aircraft in high density altitude conditions really gets the brain working and unlike in the UK where you can fill a Cessna 152 up with fuel and know pretty much you're going to takeoff here it was different. You had to think for every flight about how much fuel you'd need, endurance, the takeoff distances, climb and approach speeds, ground effect to build up climb speed, conditions on the origin airfield and destination airfield, will there be people or dogs, or in one case, cattle on the runway?

It was also a chance to learn about the management of the business's operation and the running of the aircraft that they (SkyAfrica) operate from opening the hangar doors to closing them at the end of the day.

Anyway, I'll cover more in detail on the GiF post and I'll put a link here: when it's ready.

Also, today I passed my Class 1 medical which will enable me to complete commercial flight training and hopefully eventually work in commercial air transport operations.

In the meantime, I'll leave you this video that I made from the venture.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

It's been a while..

Sorry, I haven't been on here in nearly two months.
I've spent the majority of my time with my head in books for my final A-level exams (I'm finally free!). I studied A-levels in Geography, Biology and Computer Science, with an AS in Applied ICT. 

So this is a major milestone for my life. I've finished full time education and now I can really focus on the flying side of things. You'd think I'd just be sitting around now but unfortunately not. I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I'd be commencing hour building in South Africa for 50 hours in a Cessna 152 and this has actually come to reality under my own organisation (win!). My foreign pilot validation is being completed by the South African Civil Aviation Authority as I write.

I'm flying out on July 5th from London Heathrow to Johannesburg, arriving on the 6th. The two weeks encompasses flying out of Benoni Brakpan airfield, just south east of Joburg, in a recently refurbished Cessna 152 II - ZS-PUT.

Photo credited to Brian Spurr.

There's only one problem. It's a morbid subject but unfortunately it's not looking good for the former South African president, Nelson Mandela. He's in a critical state right now (26/06) and if he does die before we fly out, in just over a week, then it could alter our plans significantly. We're travelling on British Airways staff travel (standby) as my dad worked for them for over 20 years. The problem is, if he does die, then the flights to South Africa will fill up and we won't be able to get on a flight until after his funeral - unless we're lucky.

If so, then we'll postpone until later in the month. No biggie.

Other things that are happening in my life - possibly a full time job! (aviation related too!)
This will help me to gradually build hours in the UK, and also start to fund my ATPL theory with ProPilot ATPL Ground School later this year.

Oh, and I also have a driving test next week! 

I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Air League Youth in Aviation Day 2013, Bicester Airfield

Bicester Airfield is a sleepy ex-RAF airfield in Oxfordshire. Flight operations on the airfield began 102 years ago, where it was then inhabited by the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force. At one point it was home to RAF Bomber Command and most of the buildings on the airfield are found as they were left from WW2. Today only gliding operations take place with the resident Windrushers Gliding Club on site.

Annually, the Air League  run a Youth in Aviation flying day for members and members of the public to congregate on the site for the opportunity to meet FTOs such as CTC and CAE Oxford as well as the RAF. Not only were there opportunities to meet companies, but also flying  and gliding! Throughout the whole of the day gliders were launching via the winch or the several aerotows.

I spent the most of the day walking around the site, exploring the hangars, control tower and meeting people.

There were also a few flying displays, including Lauren Richardson's excellent display in her Pitts S1S Special G-BKDR. You can see her website at

After the general public left, members of organisations were invited  to stay for a BBQ and live bands.. and of course, the bar.

Myself and a few of my friends that I've met through the world of aviation retreated to the top of the control tower to enjoy the GliderFX display with a few beers and a good discussion whilst the sun dipped below the horizon.

Before becoming too intoxicated, I remember thinking how surreal the situation at that point in time was. Right then, I was sitting on top of an abandoned WW2 RAF control tower, in the middle of Oxfordshire, beer in hand with some quality people I would have never met anywhere else. Only because of our shared interest in aviation have I made some great friendships with people I may never have met otherwise.

It really shows that life is about the journey and not the destination. It's essential to enjoy the things you do and the people you meet along the way, and I think these friendships will continue for many years to come.

I imagine when you do get to the destination, you'll be able to look back at what you did and who you met, the moments you had with great fondness and I hope I won't forget that moment I enjoyed with my friends on top of that control tower that evening.

Following that, let's just say the rest of the night was very messy and I'm now feeling the effects the day afterwards ;-)


Friday, 19 April 2013

PPL Skills Test 19-04-13

07:00am wakeup.. Just how I like it.

First thing I do is pick up my iPad.. Hop on to aeroweather and check the TAFs in bed. Not looking too bad and outside seems a bit 50/50.

I spend the morning being quite pessimistic, but plan my flight just I case and check the NOTAMs.. Nothing to effect.

We drove to the airfield and I settle down before my examiner has even arrived. Make some weight and balance calculations and eat a bacon sandwich in the cafe. The weather is looking decent! Decent enough for me to overheat in the cafe's conservatory anyway!

I can't help myself but to check and check again my route, who I'm going to contact and where, what I'm going to say, how I'm going to prepare.. Starting to get a bit worried now..

He arrives and I give him an brief of the route over a cup of tea. He seems pretty relaxed but we can't go anywhere as G-TALA is being used by someone on a qualifying cross country at the moment.

G-LA arrives and I do the walk-around and fuel her up. We hop in and off we go, except for theres a problem.. my examiner's intercom doesnt work. We both agree it'll be fine and continue.First we complete the circuit work - a normal circuit, followed by an EFATO, followed by a flapless. Next, to Blithfield Reservoir as the first point on our nav down to Ludlow near Shobdon airfield. I tune in to Shawbury zone and receive a sterling service from the controller working us. The route goes well and we overfly Ludlow right on time.

Our next route was to Bala - with a diversion. Heading north we fly past the Long Mynd. I complete the rate one turn with foggles on and then I get my diversion. Welshpool O/H - Sleap O/H - again, another nonevent and it goes well, albeit a bit bumpy. We transited above the Shawbury/Ternhill CMATZ to begin some airwork over the Eccleshall area. This included steep turns, stalls, spiral dive and the infamous PFL (Precautionary Forced Landing). All goes well, though some of the steep turns were rusty but my PFL made up for it.

This concluded it and we made our way back to Tatenhill, gave our thanks to Shawbury for being cooperative and switch to Tatenhill on 124.075.

Interestingly, we were greeted on frequency by someone constantly saying on the radio "Tatenhill radio...Tatenhill radio..." several times. This seemed to be annoying all others on the radio and by this point, both me and my examiner were in tears of laughter as my CFI came over the radio "WHAT DO YOU WANT!?" - that shut him up for a while.

I make a standard overhead join over the 26 threshold, descend on the deadside to downwind. Examiner: "If you can land without the landing gear falling off, you've passed." - a challenge I welcomed! I turn the little Cessna on to final, a bit high but nothing that couldn't be fixed by bringing full stage of flaps and slide slipping the aircraft down on to the numbers. The aircraft touches the ground and we slow for a backtrack quick before we make another aircraft go-around.

Vacate the runway, landing light off and nicely slow to stop. Shutdown checks before the Hobbs runs over.. Just about saved it.

"Did I pass?" Examiner: "Of course you did! There's still wheels!!" He steps out of the aircraft and that moment of sheer relief filled the whole of my body. What an experience, enough so that I even admit I shed a tear. This is what 4 years of training, fighting against closing airports, several schools and several instructors, on top of the great British weather has come to. This is the culmination of all the effort, worry, frustration and endless amounts of money spent on chasing this dream and now it's here.

I get out and walk with the examiner in to the office to fill out the next several hours of paperwork..

Wow, what a day. I'm currently writing this, slumped over in a chair in my living room and I am cream crackered! I still can't get over it.

Maybe I'll believe it when I wake up.

Until the next time,


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Skills test and the British weather..

Hello all!

Well, I had an attempt at my skills test on Sunday.. Gusting 40 knots directly across the runway - brilliant. Luckily I managed to rebook it for Friday (tomorrow) and Saturday.

Also, other big news! I GOT A CAR!!! I got my first car today - a 2005 Mini One Diesel 1.4 and I'm very proud of her..yet to think of a name though.

Any way, it's now midnight and I'm sure I'll be up at 7am checking the TAFs over a cuppa.

Catch you again!


Sunday, 31 March 2013

PPL Skills Test Revision

Hello again!

So, yesterday I got a call from my flying instructor to ask if I wanted to go flying because he had a free slot. Of course I obliged!  This was to be my last lesson with my FI before my skills test!

We practiced PFLs (Precautionary Forced Landings, for those not in the know!) and position fixing by using two VORs, TNT (Trent) and SHB (Shawbury).  Weather was marginal in places, but overall quite good with excellent visibility.

G-TALA was our steed for today! I fueled her up to the brim, gave her the once over and then hopped in with my FI. Engine started and then requesting airfield information - Tatenhill only has an A/G radio service.

"Tatenhill Radio, G-TALA request radio check and airfield information please"

Details noted, we taxi to the runway threshold to backtrack to 08 and complete our power checks. One in the overhead so landing light on, transponder on and we taxi between the patches of snow/ice to make a quick turn on the 08 numbers, throttle forward.

As standard the Cessna 152 lifts at 60-65kts (narrowly missing a bird) and we leave the circuit to the west on downwind leg. Climbing ahead I can see a big blue stretch of sky, with towering cumulus to the left and right of us.

We climb up to 3500ft to start the first half of our revision flight - PFLs. My instructor refreshes my memory of the procedure and it all comes flooding back. The last time I flew a  PFL was probably 2011!
We get down to 500ft and it looks like I'll get in the chosen field, carb heat in, throttle forwards and flaps to 10o. 

Again, up to 3500ft and we repeat this another two times until I'm happy that I'll be able to land the aircraft in a safe manner. Next - Position fixing (by the use of VORs).

We cruise along, straight and level two miles to the east of Rugeley. Now to find two VORs on the map. My FI suggests Shawbury and Trent, I find the frequencies and dial them in to the NAV panel of the radio stack. Initially I accidentally identify by flicking up the DME switch - wrong! This even had my FI confused for a while! Ah, NAV identify switch, that'll do the trick. Suddenly morse fills our headsets and I make sure that we are tuned in to the right frequencies.

Next we align the VOR receiver to give a bearing FROM the VOR. 100 degrees. I plot the 100 radial from SHB. Following this I repeat the procedure with TNT. 200 degrees FROM the VOR.
The two lines plotted intersect just south of Rugeley. Bingo!

Happy with this, we return to Tatenhill, join the circuit and land as a snow shower passes overhead.

Not a bad end to the day. Now just to book the skills test!

Keep safe,