A busy few months of Hour Building for former Bristol Groundschool student
Reflections from a Summer of flying
Another late post, sorry! Since the last post, the past 3 months have been extremely busy at work thanks to the scorcher of a Summer. I’ve managed to rack up more hour building and I also got married to my beautiful wife! This post is another short one in the way of words, instead more pictures to illustrate a Summer aloft. Enjoy!
No flying on this day!
The forecast was correct!
A quick trip to Sandown, Isle of Wight on a lunch break
A morning of flying circuits after the low cloud stopped a planned Nav flight to Rochester, Kent
Another trip to Sandown thanks to the free landing vouchers in Flyer Magazine! The view from the tower.
A hazy morning perfect for a local flight to practice PFLs (Practice Forced Landings).
Summer of hour building of former Bristol Groundschool student Richard Gale
The plotted route showing the westbound transit through Southampton towards the New Forest.
Since my last post I’ve managed to get airborne on quite a few occasions thanks to the superb hot weather we’ve been experiencing lately. My hour building has been a mix of short navigation exercises coupled with plenty of circuits and some general handling for good measure! I also completed a Class D airspace zone transit through Southampton Airport’s overhead which was great to practice the RT (radio telephony) skills and fly a heading under radar control, I will certainly make zone transits a regular occurrence in the upcoming hour-building. Above is a snapshot from my VFR chart showing my westbound routing through the zone.
Crossing the 20 numbers whilst transiting Southampton’s overhead.
Keeping a keen weather eye on that fog bank drifting off the Solent, just west of Beaulieu, New Forest.
On another short navigation exercise I planned to fly a straight line between two points – Thorney Island and Four Marks, which was a very straight forward route, however I wanted to practice a drift correction method so I was purposefully slack in holding an accurate heading, allowing the aircraft to drift with the wind at 2,000ft. As I reached the half way point on the leg shown on the picture of my chart below I could determine how far in degrees I was off track, by which I then corrected for the drift by doubling the track error. The purpose of this being to arrive back on the intended track at my destination, correcting the heading to offset the drift caused by the wind initially.
A Spring of Aviating for Bristol Groundschool Pilot Richard Gale
After a wet March and April, May proved to be a lot drier, bringing some much settled weather suitable to ‘commit aviation’ in!
Since my last post, (which I appreciate was a long time ago) I have been checked out and have logged some flying hours in one of the flying school’s Cessna 172 aircraft which is having its engine ‘run in’. This procedure occurs after an engine overhaul or cylinder replacement; the purpose being to house the piston rings inside the cylinder walls effectively – created by expansion through high pressures by operating the engine at high power settings.
Flying this aeroplane for some hour building has been ideal for navigation flights of at least an hour airborne because the running in procedure avoids any activities using low power settings like stalling, circuits, or flights of less than 45 minutes airborne. However, an engine which is running in is absolutely fine for navigation exercises flown at 2450 rpm – and believe me, you get to your destination pretty quickly, covering some decent distance!
Over the South Downs, dodging a few snow showers, this was my first ‘engine running in’ trip in GNXOE
Whilst I’ve been getting back into the swing of hour building I’ve been able to cover exercises like diversions, VOR tracking, navigation using a chart and stopwatch and creating CPL style PLOGs for each flight. I try to fly accurately to CPL standards – +/- 100ft for altitude and keeping within 5 degrees of desired heading on the DI. If I can try and fly to these standards and cover exercises from the CPL course now, it hopefully should make the transition to this next stage a little easier!
A FlightRadar24 track of one of my navigation/ diversion exercises!
My navigation trips have included the following;
Goodwood – Washington Int VRP- Swanborough airstrip-Uckfield – various diversions – Plumpton- Goodwood ( It helped sharpen the navigation skills by choosing small villages or private farm strips which can be difficult to find!)
Goodwood-Dorking- Goodwood – tracking both the MID (Midhurst) and GWC (Goodwood) VORs.
Goodwood-Uckfield – Tunbridge Wells VRP – Bough Beech Resr- M25/M23 Junc VRP – Guildford- MID VOR- Goodwood ( an anticlockwise nav around the Gatwick zone).
As well as a few local flights and a few sessions of circuits thrown in! More trips to follow, thanks for reading!
Amongst the hour building, I’ve had a few trips in the Super Cub too, great to get some tailwheel exposure again, I plan to do more flying in the Cub as part of the hour building.
Crosswind check-out for Richard Gale former Bristol Groundschool student
Pre-flight checks before heading off from Lee to Goodwood
Passing north abeam Portsmouth en-route to Goodwood- picture credit to flying instructor Charlotte Dadswell
Not so much a ‘dry January’….
Another day of ‘no flying’ for former Bristol Groundschool student Richard …
Well what can I say? I know I’m not alone when I say I miss flying! It’s certainly the talk and frustration shared amongst the flying types I rub shoulders with everyday….the weather! But it was January after all and any flying this time of year is a bonus! It has meant that I can spend time thinking about how to structure the hour building and get inspiration on new airfields to visit. It’s been a while since I last flew so it’s going to take a few refreshers to shake the rust off and get current again, so I plan on getting current on one of Goodwood Flying School’s Cessna 172S’s an aeroplane I learnt to fly in some eight years previous! A steady mix of genberal handling, PFLs and a stack of circuits should certainly help, I hope to cover some crosswind circuits too as you can never practice them enough!
Anyway that’s about it for now, I (and everyone else) is hoping for a drier and more settled February so hopefully I can get airborne again, once the flying gets going again the posts should be more frequent crammed with more content so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading.
This sight greeted me upon arrival at work one morning. It shows a very shallow layer of radiation fog blanketing the airfield. It forms when the land cools overnight and subsequently cools the air immediately above its surface. As this air cools it condenses and looses its ability to hold moisture so it forms condensation and fog occurs. It normally burns off once the sun gets to work on it, but it was particularly slow to clear in some places on this day in early January!
Hour building – Local area navigation
Bristol GS student resumes his hour building
Since completing the Bristol Groundschool ATPLs earlier this summer it meant I had the ‘fun’ bit left to do…jump into an aeroplane and finish off the hour building!! After speaking to friends at the flying school, reading various books and advise from the Wings Alliance, I had a rough idea/plan of how I am going to build the hours constructively- and not just burn holes in the sky (and my wallet) flying in the local area…
ATPLs at Bristol Groundschool …… The Final
Since I last wrote, a lot has happened. It was the last 4 weeks before undertaking the Module 3 ATPL exams – principles of flight, performance, operational procedures, mass and balance and VFR/IFR communications, and the revision was ramping up. Since then, I’ve attended the revision brush up week at Bristol Groundschool in Clevedon and sat the final exams the following week.
Final ATPL exams at Bristol Groundschool – 1 month to go…
It’s exactly one month today until I sit the first of the final six exams for Module 3 at Bristol Groundschool. My lack of posting recently is a sure sign of the level of revision I’m undertaking! Lots of early mornings, late nights and revision crammed lunch breaks at work and many more to come!
Bristol Groundschool training continues….
BGS Graphs and Diagrams
The Final Push – Module 3 with Bristol Groundschool
Firstly happy new year! 26 days in, not sure I can still get away with saying that! Anyway first post of 2017 so here goes…
2016 – An airborne review by Bristol Groundschool student Richard Gale
As 2016 ends, I thought I’d share a few moments from the year relating to all things aviation, in no particular relevant order!
DC3 appearing at the Goodwood Revival
A frosty start to the day at the flying school, two Cessna 172s at rest before a busy day
Preparing for the revision week
One week to go!
Once again, apologies for the lack of posts recently, a week tomorrow I pack up my car and head to my accommodation in Bristol prior to the revision/brush up week and following Module 2 exams at Bristol Groundschool.
Bristol Groundschool – Module 2 progress
29th September 2016
August and September were busy months mixed with flying, work, study and birthdays, so I found time to study more during the evenings. The pace of study and revision is building by the week as I work towards my revision and exam weeks at Bristol Groundschool in December, I’ve got a strange feeling two and quarter months are going to whizz by, so preparing myself now!!
Bristol Groundschool student – newly qualified tail-dragger pilot!
23rd August 2016
The seated position of concentration, holding height in downwind leg!
Downwind for runway 24 at Goodwood.
(All photos thanks to instructor Charlotte Dadswell).
Tail wheel conversion… the start
Last Sunday I began the first step towards the training required to gain a tail wheel conversion on my license, flying in the Piper Super Cub (150hp) G-DRGL belonging to Goodwood Flying School, where I work.
But how did I get to be in this position? The answer is, a very grateful one, as I was granted a flying bursary from a generous sponsor through the Air League in April 2016 which I will use to cover my tailwheel tuition. After completing Module 1 of the ATPLs with Bristol Groundschool, I couldn’t wait to get started on the Cub.
In order to gain the conversion, the training covers aircraft taxying ( appreciation on the position of the centre of gravity and wind direction) general handling and plenty of circuits to master the take-off and landing.
I found taxying the aircraft a challenge, because I’m not the first pilot to admit that I haven’t used my feet much during taxi and sometimes flying! Taxying a tailwheel aircraft opens up many new challenges that must be overcome, like having a constant appreciation of the wind direction and how best to move the control surfaces to stop the wind playing havoc and turning the aircraft on its nose! Something I never wish to see!! Secondly due to the high nose attitude, myself and the instructor behind me have a limited view ahead, so it’s important to gently weave the aircraft to clear the path ahead.
My next lesson is on Saturday so it’ll likely be in the circuit learning how to take off and land in a tail dragger! Can’t wait!
ATPL study is still going well alongside work and flying. I’ve decided to focus more on one subject at a time and currently working through the more challenging topics of aircraft electrics in AGK!
Module 1 ATPL Results!
So after a short wait, I received my results for the four Module 1 ATPL subjects last week,and I was relieved to find I had passed them all! I came away from the General Navigation exam unsure if I had passed, as I struggled to finish it in time, the two hours allocated for the exam is by far the quickest two hours I have ever known!!
Bristol Groundschool revision week and exams – Module 1
Sunday 5 June 2016
ATPL Revision at the ready…
Just a quick update from my world amongst the ATPL study folders! I’ve now read and completed all progress tests for the four module 1 subjects after 5.5 months of study! But the work is by no means coming to an end, I’m now into the revision stage, preparing myself for the four exams in early June!
Together with the revision, the progress tests have been extremely beneficial to indicate my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to focus on areas which need more work alongside hitting the question bank daily.
A little over a month from now, I will pack my bags for Bristol and attend the brush up revision week before the exams. I’m looking forward to this as it will help fine tune my revision and understanding as well as meeting other BGS students!
Until next time…thanks for reading
Progress so far…
So, nearly two months into Module 1 now and the work pace and content is really picking up, with constant flow of lessons and progress tests. I feel like I am learning more facts, acronyms, diagrams than anything ever before, my poor little brain is beginning to fry! But as I’ve heard from many other ATPL ‘graduates’ it’s to be expected and to be honest I’m finding it all very interesting and enlightening even if I grumble when attempting to read through ‘Polar Stereo chart projections’ in a Friday night after a day of work!
As a very basic list, I have touched on 3 of the Mod 1 subjects-Met, GNav, Instrumentation and studied aspects like;
Moisture and convection
Distance calculations-rhumb lines, great circle tracks
…To name but a few. The learning curve is steep but I’m determined to achieve first time passes in the exams so I am throwing in the hard work and effort!
I am working to a loose schedule, so I plan to attend the revision/brush up week in lovely Somerset around the end of May and immerse myself into the first batch of exams in early June…gulp!!
As you have probably seen in the opening picture, I bought myself some revision essentials. I have been recommended using a whiteboard to scribble down various diagrams, facts etc- basically any way to drum it into my head! And ofcourse plenty of high lighters and post it notes to litter the walls of my room in revision goodness!
Till next time…
In the beginning…
In March 2015, I was fortunate enough to win The Air League / Bristol Ground School ATPL (A) scholarship. These are the 14 ground exams I need to pass in order to reach my goal of becoming a commercial pilot.
The EASA ATPL (A) includes the study of the following;
- Aircraft General Knowledge- Instrumentation
- General navigation
- Human Performance
- Radio Navigation
- Aircraft General Knowledge-airframes,systems,powerplants
- Air Law
- Flight planning and Monitoring
- Operational Procedures
- Principles of flight
- Mass and Balance
Alongside the hefty study folders below, I plan to undertake the online lessons and progress tests (through ATPdigital) on my iPad mini. The advantage of this being I can study away from home, on the move, or even at work! (During those glorious washout days the airfield!!) The huge advantage being that the software and content can be automatically synched over an Internet connection. Whilst studying alongside my full time job, as an estimate I should complete my ATPL studies by spring 2017.
So, before I tackle the first subject (AGK-Instrumentation), first job is to complete the maths and physics module.Since being out of education since only this summer I think refreshing my amateur maths skills can only be a bonus!! This introductory module is extremely beneficial as it will allow me to form a solid foundation before tackling the more technical elements of the studies.
That’s it for now, I shall be keeping this blog updated during my ATPL studies , when time and brain power allows!! Once again I am extremely grateful to The Air League and Bristol Ground School for this scholarship and opportunity to reach one step closer to my aim of gaining a commercial license.
Thanks for reading.
About Richard Gale
Richard Gale is a student pilot, studying with Bristol Groundschool as part of his commercial pilot training, towards his EASA Commercial Pilot’s Licence. He is planning to write a blog throughout his training to provide aspiring pilots with an insider’s point of view. Richard completed his PPL in 2012 and has since gained his night rating in 2014. Richard was lucky enough to win a scholarship through The Air League and Bristol Groundschool to start his ATPL theory training in March 2015. He is continuing his flight training in parallel with his studies. Follow Richard as he continues his training towards his goal of becoming an airline pilot.