Monday, 28 October 2013

Copper State Fly-in

All my solo navigation flights to date - it's fair to
say we are quite familiar with the local area now.
On Friday I flew and passed progress test three, which went really well. It is a visual navigation test based on "dead reckoning", meaning that you plan the route before hand on the chart, figuring out all the timings and headings in advance.

If you do your maths right, fly carefully and have an accurate wind forecast you should find yourself at each planned point at exactly the planned time. This rarely happens. But on Friday it all came together, I don't think I was ever more than a minute or a mile out even on the diversion leg, which is planned in the air.

After this, we did a practice forced landing from a simulated engine fire onto a little dirt strip, and a couple of "touch and go" landings at a different airport before returning to base. Everything went smoothly, and the few small errors I did make must have gone unnoticed as I was given top marks for the test. What a contrast to progress test two!

This week is looking very slow on the training front while I wait for the others in the group to pass their tests (I am keeping everything crossed hoping we will be home for Christmas). But I should be able to fly my cross country qualifier. This is a minimum 300 mile solo flight with full landings at two other airports. It will be a long day but I think a lot of fun as well. It will be pretty much the last solo flying I will do, as we don't get to fly solo in the twin engine aircraft sadly.

In other news, British Airways have just re-opened their Future Pilot Program for round three. If you or anyone you know would like to apply, don't hang around as they generally only give you a few weeks to apply. It's good news for us as well, it seems the demand for pilots to fly the new A320 fleet out of Gatwick is greater than expected and the jobs are there waiting for us next year.

Copper State Fly In

Four planes line up for a formation takeoff, while the
Stearman and its baby replica (below) show off
Last week, on pain of torture, we students were strictly forbidden to fly anywhere near one of our neighbouring airports, Casa Grande. The reason? Something called the Copper State Fly In was being held there, one of the largest in the US. What is a fly-in exactly? I wasn't sure really, but I was willing to find out so a friend and I decided to drive down and see what was happening.

What we found was basically organised chaos. The entire apron, and several dirt lots, were completely full of parked aircraft of all types. Some of them were clustered in groups, such as the ultralights and the kit-built planes, while others seemed random. If there was a pattern, it seemed to be the more interesting your plane, the nearer you could get to the middle where the action was.

Milling around the area were hundreds of people admiring the machinery and chatting to the owners. Planes were constantly arriving and departing from the single, uncontrolled runway. Some just flew circuits but others showed off their formation flying or did low passes over the runway. Planes constantly taxiied in and out of the busy apron, and how no body got minced by a prop I do not know. This sort of thing would never be allowed in the UK!

The awesome Lightning kit-build two seater. I want one!
There was a strong show from the experimental and home-built categories, a popular and affordable option for private ownership, if you have the time and skills. These are certainly not the shonky box-like death traps you might imagine, but often very modern, high performance composite aircraft with advanced avionics. Take a look at the Lighting for example - it can cruise at 140 mph while burning 5 gallons per hour and is fully aerobatic. Not bad for something you can knock up in your garage in a few hundred hours.

The Commemorative Air Force museum also put on a good show with an impressive number of still-flying and very highly polished WWII era planes including a B25 twin-engine bomber that was so shiny you could see your face in it.

Another kit aircraft, the Cozy has the engine and prop at the back, the
elevator at the front and the fins and rudders on the wing tips.
Either a genius design or plain contrary I'm not sure...
Little and large!

Someone has got far too much time on their hand for polishing.

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