100 dollar hamburger run – sort of

100 dollar hamburger run – sort of

Visibility: OKAY
Temperature: 9°C
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDAZ (Finow)
Equipment: D-EITI (PA28)

The days are getting longer, the sun is coming back from its winter break – time to shake off the frost and get into the air! My destination for today is the island of Rügen. It is just under one flight hour away but a different world. I love coming here in the summer for the beautiful beaches and the fresh fish.

Todays trip will be in the spirit of pickled Hering. It is a great tradition in general aviation to go places for the purpose of having a meal. It does not always have to be a hamburger, and it is almost never limited to 100 dollars any more. But the „100 dollar hamburger“ still has a nice ring to it.

Flying to the beach with the family is one of my plans for the coming summer. Todays objective is training, scouting, and just having a good time in the air!

The visibility is okay and the clouds are few and high. I file a flight plan, because when I think about it, I realized how long I have not done that. The waypoint is the Friedland VOR (FLD) and the CDI needle is glued to the center in the smooth air.

The island airport is not big and there is no easy-to-spot landmark close bye. I remember the smirk on my flight instructors face on my first visit here. I did not spot the runway until I was almost in the pattern. This time I know what to look for.

It is early in the season and there is not much going on. A tired Cessna is flying the first tourists over their vacation homes. The Restaurant will be buzzing in the summer, but now only one other table is occupied. We quickly start chatting, a flight instructor and his student.

The fish is excellent and all the way home I am looking forward to my next visit here in the summer.

To be continued…

 

Geeks united!

Geeks united!

Visibility: OK
Temperature: 6°C
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDDT (Tegel)
Equipment: PH-BGO, KLM Boeing 737 („Paradijsvogel“)

It is about two hours before dawn and I am waiting in line at the airport security checkpoint. It’s moments like this when I hear the small voice with the nagging doubts in my head. The voice gets louder in the wee hours of the morning or when the subject of funding for the hobby comes up. But so far the view out of an airliner window or the rush of excitement during the takeoff run in the Piper has been enough to send the little voice back to its corner, pouting.

I’m on my way to Amsterdam. It’s going to be a long day full of good company and airplanes. There is a vivid international community around several aviation podcasts with the Airline Pilot Guy Show at its center.
Community member Sjoert from the Netherlands has extended an open invitation for a meet up and organized a day at the Aviodrome aviation museum at Lelystad (EHLE). Most of us are in touch online on a regular basis. But we don’t see each other in person very often. It will be fun!

Nine arrive in Lelystad. What began as a foggy morning in the Netherlands turns into a sunny late winter day by the time we are ready for the outdoor part of the Aviodrome – perfect!

Sjoert has a bunch of recordings planned for the various shows. It proves to be a challenge to get us all focuses on something else than the airplanes in the museum, but it all works out in the end. The results are featured in these shows:

Here are some of the pictures of the day!

My ride to Amsterdam started in a clear winter night in Berlin

We arrived to a foggy morning in Amsterdam. Just in time before the morning rush hour.

Looking familiar, Jeff? Hanging out with Sjoert while we are waiting for Nev.

Gathering at the Aviodrome museum

Greeted by airplanes

Cpt. Jeffs MD88 on display!

No, this is not an MD88 (too many engines). Its a Lockheed L-749 Constellation.

Inside the Constellation. it is being kept in flying conditions – more or less

Lunch with (plane)nuts

Aviodrome

When „style“ and „air travel“ could not be separated

Old terminal building. A work of art.

Douglas DC2, next of kin to the MD88

End of a great day
 

Bianual check ride

Bianual check ride

Visibility: Ok
Temperature: -5°C
QNH: 1030hPa (high pressure)
Location: EDAY (Strausberg)
Equipment: Cessna 172 (D-EKKS)

Private pilots have to take check rides with a flight instructor every other year. This is to make sure that they do not take on funny habits – or that they stick to the ones their instructors taught them.

The day at the office is light, the weather is good and so I decide to fly a Cessna instead of my desk today.

When I leaf through my logbook, I realize that it has been over a year since I last flew „Kilo Sierra“. I read up on the most important check lists and speeds. I also familiarize myself with the cockpit again. I have made it a habit to take pictures of the instrument panels of all the aircraft that I fly. Studying the photos helps me to remember the differences between the planes.

Flying with a passenger 

When I arrive at the flight school, a new student is finishing a theory lesson. The flight instructor asks me if he can come with us. Of course he can! 

I remember how much I appreciated being a passenger on numerous occasions during my own training. It is motivating and great fun. The experienced instructor knows this.

Flight planning 

Our trip today will be a triangle. EDAY-EDAV-EDON and back to EDAY. We will do touch-and-go’s in EDAV, air work on the way to EDON and navigation training on the way back. EDON will be a waypoint for is today, not a stop.

Easy does it

We are in a weather inversion. The visibility is not great but gets much better above about 2.200 feet. „Kilo Sierra“ and I are still friends. On final approach into EDAV, I’m a bit too fast for the instructors taste. Other than that we are both happy.

Approach into EDAY (I’m the photographer in this one, not the pilot)

The sun is shining. By the time we start making our way over to EDON, it is pretty much in our face. Combined with the climbing inversion, this makes for very limited visibility forward.

The flight instructor is keeping the eyes outside, I’m concentrating on the navigation and using the occasion to practice some instrument skills. An unexpected extra on this trip.

When we are done, I have a little more than one hour for my log book. I am familiar with „Kilo Sierra“ again and I think my passenger had a good time, too. That’s a successful day!

To be continued…

Sun & Plane

A long day of flying

A long day of flying

Visibility: More than 10 miles
Temperature: 5°C
Wind: 150°, 10kts
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDAV
Equipment: Piper 28 (D-EITI)

We are on the way to the airport. My flying friend and I are full of excitement. Our passenger is eying the sky with suspicion. It has been gray and drewry for days and the sun has a difficult time to break through the clouds now. Neither one of the pilots is worried though. We have the been studying the weather for days and today is going to be gorgeous!

Our schedule is tight. We are planning a nice and relaxed summer day all crambed into the few precious sun hours of this short winter morning has to offer. The trip is about flying and about scouting the destination for future reference. The pilots are looking forward to the trip – the passengers have yet to understand the extend of our craziness.

On the way there we practice old fashioned visual navigation. My flying friend has made a detailed flight plan. GPS and auto pilot stay off and we are consulting over the map and try to identify the landmarks. We reach our destination within two minutes of the flight planned time. Not too bad!

Our trip today takes us to Moritzburg Castle. The sunlit beauty holds what the view from the sky promised. We have time for a harty lunch and a strol around the grounds before we need to think about the way back. The tour through the inside of the historic place will have to wait until the summer.

Schloss Moritzburg

 

Schloss Moritzburg

We will turn into a pumpkin at sun set + 30 minutes. This is when the airport will close. No time to waist, he takes care of the paper work while I preflight „Tango India“.

„Tango India“ patiently waiting for us

The return trip is my leg as pilot flying. We do a radio navigation excercise. EDAK to KLF VOR, then on to the FEW VOR before we make our way home on its radial 326. We have a strong tail wind which lets our ground speed peak at 139 knots. Not bad for the little Piper!

The sun is low already and we are past enjoying the last evening rays before we touch down – right at sun set. We even would have had a few minutes to spare. But you never make a plan that includes the last drop of fuel or the last minute of daylight.

To be continued…

Almost home

Farnborough International Airshow 2016

Farnborough International Airshow 2016

I’m on my way to the UK to spend a weekend with airplanes, airplane noise and Airplane Geeks. A lot of English beer (if I as a German can call it that…) will lead to quite a bit of Plane Talking. I’m sure that Plane Safety will also be a topic although all the Airline Pilot Guys there will have good Flight Fear Solutions. It’ll be a weekend just like in the old days, at the ω τ fraternity…

The meet-up

The whole trip was the idea of APG listener Stuart from Farnborough. He got in contact with the APG crew and suggested a meet-up during the Farnborough International Air Show.

What started as a nice idea soon developed a life of its own. The UK Podcasters loved the idea, Nevil Bounds spent days and weeks on the organization, the Airplane Geeks sent Micah and Brian, Marcus came for Omega Tau and listeners and viewers from all over the world started to fly in.

I first met everyone on Friday night for a beer. I was afraid that the evening might be a bit awkward but found myself quickly in the most relaxed conversations.

Hand delivered T-Shirt
Hand delivered T-Shirt

 

Welcome drinks
Welcome drinks

The air show

The following Saturday and Sunday were the main air show days. The air show area on the airport in Farnborough is so vast that it never felt crowded. The amazing flying displays included the A380, B727, A350, Catalina, A35B, A400M and many more. I only realised just how much I had gazed into the sky when my neck started hurting. The view from the media centre was first class and so was the catering on the flight line.

When I left, I felt a sadness in my heart that FIA is only every other year.

Great view from the media centre
Great view from the media centre

 

Podcasters
Podcasters

 

What was the question again?
What was the question again?

 

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Live Recording

The air show was great and could only be surpassed by the live recording of the Airline Pilot Guy show with guests from several other podcasts as well as a live audience.

We had a lot of fun at The Hog’s Back hotel. The beer was cold and plenty but not a requirement for the good time that was had by all! The show went on for hours (as usual) but the time just flew by!

Listen to (or watch) APG episode 229 here.

FIA 2016 - 27

The ball room of the Hog’s Back Hotel was a great stage for the show. And Matt, Carlos, Nevil and crew converted it into a professional recording studio, including satellite uplink as a backup. Amazing!

FIA 2016 - 28
Last preparations

 

FIA 2016 - 29
Getting ready (it took forever…)

 

FIA 2016 - 31
Group picture

 

FIA 2016 - 37
Cpt. Jeff and yours truly

 

FIA 2016 - 32

Meeting Micah was a great pleasure. So many memories of great stories are commented to the remarkable radio voice of his!

I had an amazing weekend and I am very glad that I had the privilege to meet so many fellow airplane geeks as well as many great podcasters. They are collectively responsible for many hours of my lifetime that are gone forever and will never come back.

To be continued…

 

Too expensive, to inefficient: Government ends controversial chemtrail program

Too expensive, to inefficient: Government ends controversial chemtrail program

I knew it! All of my conspiracy fears were true! Read this breaking news by news outlet “Der Postillon”. I did a rough translation, as the original was published in German.

Berlin (dpo) – The federal government has announced today that after 19 years, it would end the controversial chemtrail program for poisoning the general population.

According to spokesperson Steffen Seibert, the reasons are rising costs and low efficiency of the stripes of chemicals that are often visible for hours in the sky.
“The government would not go as far as to call the program a failure, but the desired results could not be achieved to the expected degree”, Seibert explained. After years of chemtrail-output, the German population is still largely fertile. Soils are not contaminated with devastating levels of Barium, as was hoped for, and the average temperature in Germany did not drop.

All together, poisonous chemicals valued at approximately 310 billion Euros have been sprayed. With ending the program, the federal government is following the long standing recommendation of the German Federal court of Auditors, which has criticised the program as inefficient.

At its introduction in 1996 under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the plan to use commercial airliners to spray chemicals over a large area, was trend setting. Over the last years however, the efficient use of taxpayer money for this program had been questioned more and more. The Illuminati as well as the US government have in the meantime confirmed the ending of the agreements about chemtrails in Germany.

The German federal government has announced that it would concentrate on more traditional and more cost efficient ways to poison the population in the future, such as vaccinations and contaminated food.

It will take until the end of the month until the rest of the poison stored in the basement of the Department of the Environment is used up. After that, jets flying over Germany will leave nothing but exhaust contrails in the sky for the first time in almost 20 years.

www.der-postillon.com/zu-teuer-und-ineffizient/

Winter flying

Winter flying

Visibility: More than 10 miles
Temperature: -2°C
Wind: 150°, 4kts
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDAV
Equipment: Piper 28 (D-EITI)

Clear winter days are great for flying. Dense air, glassy smooth and great visibility. Alas, they are few and far apart!

To be continued…

 

IMG_0372 IMG_0373 IMG_0375 IMG_0388

Believe GAFOR

Believe GAFOR

location: EDAV

Equipment: Mark I eyeball 

Wind: 170°, 6kts

The evening is sunny, visibility is great and the clouds are high. I’m getting ready for a night VFR training flight. Two days ago we had a full moon. So I don’t expect the night to be pitch black. Good training conditions.

When I do my flight planning in the afternoon, I check the METeorological Aerodrome Report (METAR) for the near by international airport. Low winds, great visibility, few clouds. When I check the less detailed General Aviation FORecast (GAFOR), I am surprised to see marginal conditions in my area.

GAFOR has the country split up in regions. My local area is number 18 and stretches from the Big City to the north and the east. Weather can be a very local thing and I always try to combine different sources to get a better picture.

When I call the airport, conditions over there are okay. A cold front is not expected to get to our area until tomorrow. So I decide to go. 

I catch a bit of the evening rush hour out of the city. When I finally make it to the outskirts and onto the highway, most of the other traffic slowly disappears. And so does the visibility. I’m driving into fog which seems to be coming out of nowhere. When I finally arrive at the airport, I can not see the end of the runway from the tower. Taking off is out of the question.

   
 Back home I see the bright moon and the glittering stars from my balcony. I toast them with my beer and go to bed. 

To be continued…

  

Over the river and trough the wood

Over the river and trough the wood

I am back at the office building in the woods behind the airport. Easily one of the more odd location my flying has taken me to.

I have been here before. The last time I was excited and lost. This time I know what to expect. Like in the air, preparation is everything.

The local branch of the federal agency for telecommunication is holding the tests for the radio licenses. I was here a while ago to get „BZF“, the radio license required for private pilots. Recently I took a training class for the professional radio license. It’s a requirement for instrument flying. The „Allgemeines Sprechfunkzeugnis für den Flugfunkdienst“ is shortened to „AZF“. I know for a fact that their tests are better than their abilities to do acronyms.

The test begins with a written part. 40 multiple choice questions in 30 minutes. I have 37 correct answers, the worst result of the four pilots taking the test. Jan Brill once wrote in an article about this kind of test that every correct answer more than the minimum was a waste of time.

After the first part, our group has time to prepare for the practical test. We each get a „trip kit“ with departure and arrival charts as well as enroute maps and weather information. We fill in our flight plan forms and use the rest of the time to get familiar with the charts.

Delta Kilo Sierra enter holding

Time to „fly“. We each get to choose our call signs and aircraft type. In the preparation course it was recommended to us to take a call sign that we know, so that we would recognize it without thinking.
The first prospect starts his initial exchange with the controller. He gets his start-up clearance, then it’s the next pilots turn.

The examiner is an experienced air traffic controller. He is calm and collected, demanding but fair. Each of us has some little specialty in the clearance. Mine is „patches of ice“ on the taxi way.

During my enroute part, I arrive at my navigation point without further clearance. I don’t really know what to do so I announce entering the standard holding. In the de-briefing the controller asks me about this. He claims to have given me the clearance. But I don’t have it on my sheet and I’ll be damned if he did.

Go around

The last task of the day is the missed approach. My runway is blocked and I have to go around. There is a change of course given in the missed approach procedure and I almost did not catch that when the controller asks me for altitude and heading.

I don’t actually get to land. My „flight“ ends with the missed approach and the controller is happy with the group. We all passed and are ready for new adventures!

To be continued…

Language proficiency

Language proficiency

„Tell us a bit about yourself. Why are you here? How did you start flying?“

I am at the corporate headquarters of Air Berlin this morning. I have waited for my appointment on a couche in an extended hallway. My water came in an airline plastic cup on a napkin. Nice touch.

The actual test is in a large office with a meeting room table. One examiner is guiding me in, the second one is already waiting. There is a second candidate in the room with us as well. He is more nervous than me. After all I am here just for fun. When the test starts, however, I feel a tingle of pleasant excitement in my stomach.

I am taking a language test in English today. If I pass, it will be the last one that I have to take for flying. The International Civil Aviation Organization has defined six levels of language proficiency for aviators.

Level 4 or more is needed to take part in in radio communication. And the proficiency has to be re-certifyed every four years. This is what I have now and what most pilots with an international radio license have.

Level 6 is valid for life. A re-certification is not necessary. Of course this is a good reason to do the test. But honestly, I was just tickled by the challenge and wanted to see if I could do it.

The definition for level 6 includes „able to speak at length with effortless flow“. They must be thinking of me!

Listening comprehension

The fist part of the test is listening comprehension. We are listening to 15 recordigs and mark the true statement from three options for each text. The examples are mainly news reports and business articles. I wouldn’t say easy, but doable for sure. The catch is that we can only make one mistake.

After the listening comprehension, there is a short break. The other candidate is a 737 driver for Air Berlin. We exchange a few plesantries before I am called in for the second round.

Since I have nothing to loose, I am exceptionally relaxed. My conversation partners realize that and after a few moments, the conversation drifts in the direction of hangar talk.

My first task is to give an improvised presentation on the topic of aviation and the environment. I talk for a bit and answer a few questions. The focus is the use of language, not primarily the content of what I say. So I improvise and try to make it sound nice.

For the second part I hear three statements and am asked to agee or disagree with each of them and say why. I have to turn my chair as this exercise is supposed to happen without eye contact.

We talk about how far I think low cost airlines will go and if I agree that being an airline pilot is a dream job. Then the two examiners have heard enough. Both congratulate me and I have passed – just like that.

The experience was pleasant and I am glad that all of the years of watching Matlock without subtitles have finally paid off!

To be continued…

© Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
© Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence