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Real Life Experience

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Revision as of 16:56, 1 June 2006 by Hellosimon (Talk | contribs) (David Megginson - Instrument Flight Test : Passed)

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This is a collection of stories of FlightGear pilots doing it for real. Feel free to add your own experience.

Martin Spott - Maiden Flight

(Martin Spott, Wed Jul 16 09:03:57 2003)

Inspired by others on this list I had my first flight with controls in my hands on a C172. This was the first flight I ever had on such a small plane.

I once sat in a BN2 as a passanger but I must admit that sitting in a 10 seater, even though it was a great excitement sitting behind the co's seat (no co present on this flight), wathing everything that's going on, was far not that much a great experience as the flight yesterday.

The Instructor took of from EDLN runway 13 and handed the controls over to me after reaching 1500 feet. I had about 10 minutes time to head south and get the feeling how to fly at a constant altitude - I didn't really 'manage' it but it worked quite well for the first time ("watch the horizon" !).

After reaching the 'playground' over an open mining of brown coal we had time for a little 'programme'. Standard turn right (I overshot by about 15 seconds), standard turn left, another standard turn (much better than the first one). The next excercises were shown by the instructor before I had the chance to do them myself - I had to handle carb heating and throttle, the instructor dealt with the mixture.

So I had a few narrow curves with 60 degree bank (how would you call this in English ?) and two stall recoveries ("hey, you lost only 100 feet !"). _This_ was really a pretty nice experience after all. During our programme a pair of Tornados came by way below us, VFR at about 150 feet.

After 25 minutes I headed for the airport the instructor took over for approach. EDLN is an airfield with (small) airline traffic, so you have to follow certain procedures that are quite new to me. But I think I'll be able to learn that stuff.

Hey guys (and gals), do that yourself, it is really worth it ! And don't forget to watch out, especially remember the position of the horizon anytime,


-- Unix _IS_ user friendly - it's just selective about who its friends are !

Matt Fienberg - First Solo

Please excuse the off-topic post... But I'm too proud to hold back. Completed my first solo flight as PIC tonight at 13.9 hours.

Before dropping off the instructor at the parking area, I did seven touch and goes dual. I was supposed to do three, but I needed a little more confidence in my landings... After five, I was confident enough, and just kept radio-ing in without announcing full stop... Oh, well, one more time around..... And yet one more....

The last touch and go prior to solo was a little interesting on the take-off.... As I'm approaching rotation speed (~55 KIAS on a C152) I notice there's something in front of me making it's way across runway 29 from right to left, about 5 feet from the centerline. I think I got us in the air about 20 feet prior to a turkey dinner.  ;)

So, I dropped off the instructor, taxi-ed back to hold short of taxiway Bravo, and called Worcester ground (KORH) with a somewhat awkward, I-forget-what-I'm-supposed-to-say-and-in-what-order call. There was no other traffic in the pattern except for a 172 who just taxied out ahead of me. Hopefully they were tuned to tower, and not ground, but I doubt it... I'm sure the student and instructor in the 172 got a chuckle.... Anyway, I got my clearance to taxi, held short of 29-er, and called to tower for take of for left closed traffic. Got all the words in cleanly this time... Cleared for takeoff, and lights, camera, action, as my instructor says. (Landing light, transponder to ALT, and slowly open up the throttle to full.) Next thing I know, I'm at about 55 KIAS, and I'm airborne. And nobody nagging me to hold 67 KIAS! (Best rate of climb.) I kept looking over at the empty seat, as my grin grew from ear to ear! This is GREAT!

Winds were 230@8 which is not a big deal, but I did fall victim to it every time. (With and without the instructor.) Every turn from downwind to base ended past the point where I needed to start the turn to final. Every turn to final overshot, and I needed to correct quite a bit.

First landing was pretty uneventful, aside from the pilot giving a "wahoo!" that could probably be heard from miles away. Upwind wheel first, then downwind, then nose. Pretty smooth. Probably my best landing yet. (Who needs that extra baggage in the right seat?)

Second landing.... well, I made it work. I got extended on downwind, since the radio was tied up by an incoming Bonanza. I've been in this position before, but it still makes me nervous... Had I been more confident, I'd have slowed my flight to not extend downwind too far outside the normal pattern. By the time the Bonanza conversation with ATC was done, tower contacted me, and said I was cleared number 2, behind the Bonanza. "Report traffic in sight." Well, I knew where it had to be. Straight in approach to runway 29er. Could not find it for the life of me. Finally I find him almost abeam me, and about 200 feet below on long final. After radio-ing that I had traffic in sight, I thought that the tower was going to joke that he was already on the ground... The Bonanza pilot was probably waving his arms at me for 30 seconds... In any case, with him past me, and clearance from the tower, I made my turn, and tried to adjust for the long extended downwind. I kept power in at about 2000 RPM to hold altitude until the picture looked right to be on final. Next thing I know, I'm descending at about 85-90 KIAS, and I'm *high*. I pulled power out completely, and did my best to slowly pitch up to slow myself, such that I could get the first stage of flaps in. Long story short, I went from too high to too low, and pushed power back in. Moderate side-slip got me lined up pretty well, and pulled power once again when I knew I'd made the threshold. Thud-ed the landing... Not too bad, I guess. (Yes, I've had worse, and I'm sure, will again...)

Third time around was uneventful, except that I misjudged the flare a bit. I was unpowered at that point, and flared with too much speed. Ballooned up a bit, then had too little speed to really flare properly the second time around. I should have added power to get it under control, and re-approach at 65 KIAS again. But I didn't, and tried to glide it back down. Thud. Okay, bring back the right seat baggage... I apparently need some more work.

My instructor was just glowing when I got back. I think he was more excited than I was. He made some comment about seeing his kid taking his first steps. I now call him "Dad." He was very impressed with my progress, and we both attribute much of it to Flight Gear. It's certainly paying off. He's now thinking about getting Flight Gear in the office, partly to play with, and partly to teach/demonstrate. They've got a real old machine there, and I'm sure the graphics card isn't up to par, but I think he may see the benefit in upgrading... Does anybody know if there's a way to generate an mpeg of a flight? I'd love to show him the graphics. I mentioned that in flying in Flightgear, I thought to myself, what's that? There's no water south of the tower. Well, sure enough, as I'm turning downwind today, I notice that that water really is there... I mentioned it, and he was floored. And following the powerlines out to the Qaban reservior to Orange (KORE), too. He was really getting excited about it. One of the guys there took a look at flightgear after hearing me at a prior lesson, and I think they were put off by the installation procedure... Maybe I'll have to do it for him....

In any case, I'm so glad I got started, and I can't wait to get up in the air again. Flightgear is fun, but there's just no substitute for the real thing. So all you guys flying the simulator--- get your seat in a 152 seat, and put Flightgear to real use! Trust me, you'll all love it. (No, I won't finance it....  ;)

Regards, Matt Fienberg PIC 0.6..... Hmmm... not so impressive....yet.  ;)

David Megginson - Instrument Flight Test : Passed

by (David Megginson, Thu Jul 24 19:11:43 2003)

I passed my instrument flight test this morning -- thank you all for the positive karma you sent my way. We did the test in the real thing, hard-core IFR with a 400 ft ceiling and rain. My visual contact with the ground during the entire test was probably less than two minutes. A narrative follows for people who like that kind of thing (everyone else can stop reading now).

The ground work went fine, but I wasn't worried about it. After startup and clearance copying, we taxied to 04, and I double-checked the ceiling with ground before switching to tower (when the DFTE asked earlier, I told him that 400 ft would be my personal limit). At that point the DFTE took the foggles from me, said that I obviously wouldn't be needing them, and put them away for the rest of the flight.

We took off, and in a few moments, the world vanished into white all around us. We were cleared up to 6000, then direct to the Ottawa VOR to start a simulated cross-country to North Bay. At the VOR, I turned onto V316, intercepted it promptly, and was stabilized on course and groundspeed by 2 DME (not bad, since we were 1 mile above the VOR to start with). I then hauled out my E6B, calculated a revised ETA and fuel burn based on my current DME groundspeed, and then just sat back and relaxed the rest of the way out to 9 DME.

Ottawa Terminal then cleared us back to the VOR for a hold north on the 360 radial. I flew back the 270 radial (90 TO), then turned sharply to intercept my inbound radial outbound with reverse sensing for a parallel entry (I like doing it that way, so that I get DME groundspeed readouts to plan the rest of the hold). We did a couple of laps in the hold, then I asked terminal for a couple of vectored approaches (no full procedures in hard-core IFR, since I'd mess up their very busy airspace). They vectored me around for a while, then set me up to intercept the NDB 07 (at which point the examiner failed my DME, just to keep me honest on the stopwatch work). The approach went fairly well -- I did bust MDA by 20 ft, but caught it and recovered in less than a second, and the DFTE didn't mention it in the debrief. My compass precessed a few degrees during the descent, so I ended up a bit away from the runway when we got a glimpse of the ground straight down through the mist just before going missed, but there's nothing to do about that.

Tower handed me back to terminal, who vectored me south to bring me around for the ILS 07 to a full stop. I asked for a bit of time to prepare, but they had a boatload of arrivals about to hit (all airliners), so I agreed to go straight to the approach and just asked not to be vectored too close into the NDB on final. They brought me around for an intercept 8 miles out and then asked for maximum approach speed, so I opened the throttle, pushed the nose down, and shot on in at 110 kias. The needles stayed nicely centred all the way, but I did feel my first unease in IMC when I thought of how fast I was flying and how close to the (invisible) ground I was as I got closer to DH. The runway came into view less than a mile back, just as I was calling out advisory visibility, and 50 feet above DH the DFTE said "OK, you're visual, go ahead and land".

Fortunately, 07 is an 8000 ft runway, since I was at 110 kias and 250 ft almost over the threshold and the runway was wet and slick. I brought up the nose and dropped flaps, but I didn't want to do any serious braking on the wet surface, so I let the plane roll on past the intersection with 14/32, ending two or three miles on the far side of the airport from our destination on the North Field. We had a long taxi back, but the DFTE didn't say anything about whether I'd passed or failed, and the 20 ft MDA bust started to loom larger in my mind. When I came inside (wet) for the debrief, he chewed me out for not putting on carb heat every 15 minutes or so in IMC (not part of the test, fortunately), then filled out the examination form in front of me from memory. The NDB approach was one of the last items, and it was only when I saw him give me a 3/5 for that that I was fairly certain I'd passed. He then shook my hand, told me that I was a good, safe, competent IFR pilot, and endorsed my license.

Well, that's it for now. We have to retake the IFR flight test every two years in Canada, so I'll be back up in Summer 2005.

All the best,


David Megginson, david at megginson . com,