NZ Weeks 2 - 3: Time to go flying 2017-04-07 02:42:00 2018-06-17 16:01:34
Pilot George
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NZ Weeks 2 - 3: Time to go flying

07 April 2017

Mass briefs...

Having edged that little bit closer to flying with the completion of our NZ exams, Tuesday and Wednesday brought with them some additional classroom time. Whilst this was a little bit irritating -  as you can probably imagine how much we were itching to get in the planes and go flying - we understood that some mandatory training / awareness sessions still needed to be delivered. Both days were broken up into smaller sessions called mass briefs which covered a different topic area. The initial mass briefs included, among others:

  • Apron Safety
  • Aircraft Specific Training - including a quick walk-around.
  • EASA Mass & Balance Training
  • CTC Aviation Safety Culture

Once those were out of the way we were then briefed on exactly what to expect in our first four flying lessons. A little description of them is below:

  • Effects of Controls Lesson 1 & 2
    These lessons teach the essential walk-around checks, how to taxi, the primary and secondary effects of flight controls and how to fly visually in reference to the horizon. We're also taught how to recover the aircraft to said reference from an unusual attitude, i.e. rolled to the left with the nose pitched down. Going further we're then introduced to trimming which makes life easier by reducing the amount of force required on the control column to maintain straight flight. 

  • Straight & Level Flight 1 & 2
    Building on the first two lessons we're then taught how to recognise when the aircraft is flying straight and level with reference to both the outside and inside of the aircraft (instruments). This exercise is done at differing speeds, attitudes and configurations (i.e. descending, climbing or with just flaps on their own). A few mnemonics are also introduced to aid with procedures. One of these is 'ALAP' standing for Attitude, Lookout, Attitude, Performance which we repeat throughout the flight when making any changes to the aircraft. ALAP, we're told, is to form the basis of nearly all flights we complete in our careers.

Time off...


During our mass briefings we all received emails informing us whom our instructor was and after meeting her I was told she had a few days of training herself, followed by leave, followed by her standard days off. This meant that I wouldn't be able to fly for almost a week. Initially disappointed, it later transpired that a number of my coursemates' instructors were involved in the same training sessions thus giving us a few days off together. We therefore took advantage of the lovely weather and went on a few road trips to places such as Karangahake Gorge and the Hot Water Beach. We also came across some brilliant Hot Water Springs (as pictured).

Poor weather cancellations...


Despite having lovely sunshine from the moment we arrived in the country, Cyclone Debbie responsible for much of the devastation across Australia decided her next target would be New Zealand, wreaking havoc on the flying schedule. Lots of flight cancellations followed and you can see from the photo above - which was taken during a short break in the rain - that things didn't look too pretty. As you can imagine, lots of twiddling of thumbs ensued and we became quite familiar with the colour grey!

In review: Finally Flying...

Lesson One - Effects of Controls 1 - 03/04/2017 

ctc f1

I was relieved to have been able to squeeze my first flight in just before the Hamilton area felt Debbie's wrath. Even so, the clouds were incredibly low which certainly made for an interesting lesson and it was rather bumpy up there as we made many turns away from rainy clouds. Thankfully though the cloudbase remained within legal limits for dual instruction which meant we could continue. The lesson was incredibly exciting but I can already appreciate - at this very early stage - where mental exhaustion comes in. There was so much going on and even the slightest hiccup could put a pilot in a tricky situation! Having wanted it for so long it's only natural I left the lesson beaming, but I certainly have work cut out for me in terms of remembering radio calls, aircraft speeds and checklists.

Lesson Two - Effects of Controls 2 - 04/04/2017 - CANCELLED (Weather)

The cloud was very overcast and Cyclone Debbie certainly knew how to rain!

Lesson Two - Effects of Controls 2 - 05/04/2017 - CANCELLED (Weather)

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Whilst Debbie didn't cause any major rain today, the photo above shows you just how horrid the day was. The clouds were far too low for the contents of the lesson and it was therefore cancelled. Whilst a shame, my instructor and I took the decision to make use of the ground time to practice the many radio calls required in addition to learning when to say them. This was followed by my coursemate and I sitting in an aircraft to familiarise ourselves with the whereabouts of various controls and switches as well as dummy running through some of the emergency checklists which have to be committed to memory. The latter activity helped greatly as I much prefer seeing something and linking that to a checklist than simply trying to memorise it back at Clearways.

Lesson Two - Effects of Controls 2 - 06/04/2017

After a couple of days on the ground I was pleased to wake up to a lovely and blue sky. What's more, the clear sky has meant that the vast majority of my CP have now enjoyed their first flights too, which is nice. As the day progressed the weather started to worsen as the outer edges of the South Island's low pressure system threw it's cloud in our general direction. Heavy but intermittent showers followed and it wasn't looking likely that'd i'd get up in the air at all. However, CTC procedures still require cadets turn up just in case the weather clears enough and on this occasion, although relatively turbulent with a 15kt crosswind, my instructor decided we'd go flying. We recapped everything I'd covered in the previous lesson - with my radio calls still as patchy as ever - before progressing on to the effects of power and flaps on flight. Having taken the aircraft up for its' last flight of the day I got to witness a really nice sunset although sadly I'm not allowed to take photos this early on - if at all. I'm really enjoying flight so far but as there's so much to take in it's ridiculously overwhelming. I was relieved when my instructor said that everybody feels like a rabbit in headlights to start with and that she was no exception. Here's to hoping that tomorrow brings even nicer weather so that my training can continue.

Lesson Three - Straight & Level 1 - 06/04/2017

The weather today was great and visibility out of cloud was about 25 km meaning I got to truly appreciate the awesome views from 2000 feet up. Taking off in a southerly direction and heading east I'd be lying if I said I found this lesson easy. As well as simply flying I now had to monitor various instruments to ensure the aircraft flew completely straight, level and in balance all whilst introducing a pattern of lookouts around the aircraft for any threats. My brain hurt by the end of it that's for sure but at least my radio calls are getting better! My instructor also introduced some basic navigation by asking me to return us to the airport using my map for reference. This was fairly tricky considering I wasn't overly familiar with the area and if you add to that the fact you need to report your location to Air Traffic Control with place names such as "Maungatautari" and "Ngahinapouri" it can certainly become entertaining for those on the other end hearing my failed pronunciation. With all that said, my instructor told me I'd passed the lesson with a few minor points for me to work on.  

What's next...

Training continues of course. :-)

Tomorrow is supposed to be my rostered day off although my whole group has been booked in for additional mass briefs on Saturday and Sunday afternoon in preparation for the next few blocks of flights which are "Climbing / Descending" and "Turning". I've also been booked to have the second of the straight and level lessons at 8.30am on Sunday so i'm looking forward to going back over what we covered today as I wasn't too happy with my performance.

I'll be back with another blog / vlog post soon, as I can tell things are starting to get quite busy now as we get up to speed with things.

All the best,


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