Flight to La Palma

Recently I’ve made a flight with 2 friends spotters on the Piper from Tenerife North to La Palma and back.

As this was the first time for them on a small plane like this one, they were really enjoying the views from the cockpit and also from the co-pilot seat.

The weather was actually pretty good, almost no wind, no turbulence. Only some cloud layers between 3.000 – 8.000 feet. We were able to climb to get about them and wnjoy the views of the sea of clouds. It feels like to fly a big airliner…

The basic instrument training I´ve done was a great help to maintain the plane on the desired track when descending through the cloud layer. The basic thing is to look inside the cockpit on the instruments and trust your instruments and don’t look outside.

We did one touch and go at La Palma Mazo Airport (GCLA) and returned back to Tenerife North (GCXO). It was a great trip with great views  in a great company!

Here I share with you some of the views and of course a short video as well.

Safe landings!

Above the sea of clouds cockpit view

Above the sea of clouds cockpit view

Above the sea of clouds

Above the sea of clouds

North of La Palma

North of La Palma

Los Llanos

Los Llanos

About to touch and go at La Palma airport (GCLA)

About to touch and go at La Palma airport (GCLA)

Over the sea of clouds at 8.500 feet

Over the sea of clouds at 8.500 feet

About to land at my home airport GCXO (Tenerife North)

About to land at my home airport GCXO (Tenerife North)

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Inflight Entertainment

Yesterday I have absolved the second mission of my basic instrument flying module (BIFM).

Holding short of RWY 03L while Jetair's 737 is landing

Holding short of RWY 03L while Jetair’s 737 is landing

I am already starting to feel the difference between the first and second flight. I know what to expect from the plane which I wasn’t flying for almost 6 years and start to get more familiar with the airport as well. On the first time it was a combination of too many new things, which made it a bit more complicated. The manouvers helped me to learn to look inside the cockpit when flying into the clouds.

I feel I did some improvements since the first flight. It is easier to watch more than one instrument on time, to maintain a certain heading (however sometimes the plane still goes its own way, but we are working on it…), and to get orientated in the space without any visual references.

In the first mission I´ve basicaly stopped thinking about the Murphy’s law, that there is always a mountain hidden behind the cloud. I started to concentrate more on the instruments inside the cabin, without looking outside. Don’t want to get to confident, but I am simply feeling safer. 

Today we have practiced some new manouvers; and the weather was just as perfect as during my first session! Clounds, clouds, clouds… Shortly after take off, my instructor covered the windshield, to not to get disctracted by looking outside.

My "inflight entertainment"

My “inflight entertainment” 🙂

I would say, actually I can´t believe that I am paying for having these kind of views from the plane, haha. I always wanted to fly to enjoy the views of the countryside and now I see this (lol). A good pilot is always learning, so it is definitely worth it! So this is my inflight entertainment, to look on a piece of a chart and a binder 🙂

Finaly we took the cover off from the windshield and we have continued the flight in real IMC conditions looking on the instruments inside the plane. It was “real”, as it should be. You can’t ask more than this, to have real IMC conditions on a place, where the sun is shinig more than 360 days a year…

Perfect IMC conditions

Perfect IMC conditions

Actually the whole week I was hoping to have this kind of weather; with clouds and poor visibility (on normal occassions when I fly I pray for CAVOK and good VFR weather).

In todays missions we have practiced descent and climb at 500ft/minute maintaining certain heading and speed and rate of descent/climb. It requires quite a lot of work and concentration. But once you discover how to do it right, it goes easier.

The important thing is to get used to scan/crosscheck all instruments at once and keep an eye on every instrument simultanously. Try to not to focus (stare) on one instrument only, otherwise the plane starts to go its own way.

We have made coordinated turns as well: take your current speed, divide it by 10 and add 7 degrees. This formula will give you the angle of bank to be maintained during the standard turn. 

After today´s flight I was not exhausted like during my first mission, but there is still a lot of work to be done. 
Actually somehow it makes fun. I know, that I am improving my skills and doing something for the safety of the flight.
The only strange thing is, that I haven´t seen anything at all during this 105 minute flight, as I was not able (allowed) to look outside. 🙂

I´ll have to work more on the interceptations of the radiala and I look forward to the next mission. 

Turning on final RWY 03L

Turning on final RWY 03L

On final RWY 03L at Al Gando airport

On final RWY 03L at Al Gando airport

Today's route

Today’s route

I like quite a lot the debriefing. TO hear what went good, what went wrong, I can ask any doubt I have to a person who knows how it works. It is good to go back to the basics and refresh the knowledges.

A good thing is also to take notes from the debriefing; or record the flight. When you watch it at home, you detect things you could have done different way, and improve your skills before your next flight.

On the image of my today’s flight I can see that I haven’t applied correctly the wind correction when flying a certain radial, now I clearly see that I have to have it on my mind next time.

I would really recommend this course to every PPL pilot, actually it should be a part of the basic PPL training. I am quite sure it makes me a safer pilot. I would even love to make the whole IFR training, who knows, maybe in the future?

Safe landings!

 

Basic Instrument Flight Module (BIFM)

My initial intention was to make a Night VFR rating, because of these 2 reasons:

1. To gain experience flying without visual references and to improve the safety of the flight in the case of flying into not ‘best VFR flying conditions’

2. To land at night and enjoy the landing strip iluminated as a Christmas tree 🙂 🙂

So I think enough reasons to decide to go ahead with the training!

I was already so far to start with the night VFR training, when I spoke to the training center again and discovered even a better option: ‘Basic Instrument Flight Module (BIFM)’.

The BIFM forms a part of the instrumental flight rating course and you basically learn to fly without external visual references. During the course you practice horizontal flights, climbing, descending, turns in level flight, climbing, descending, recovery from unusual attitudes, stalls, etc.

It takes 10 flight hours to acomplish this course after which a certificate will be isued. If you decide to finish the IR course, you have already done the first 10 hours, and you just continue with the missing 45 hours.

I am doing the training at Canavia, and as the school is situated on the other island, to reduce the costs for moving around I try to do 2 missions at once (of total 10 missions).

As I am only VFR rated, I always look out the window for nice weather conditions. On the Canary Islands, you can basically fly 360 days in a year and just today, on the first training day, the weather was really not the best one ç(IMC conditions); a lot of fog and low clouds.

I phoned the FI to ask how he sees the situation and his answer was: “Perfect, as we are going to fly IR!” Wow, under normal circumstances we would have to cancel the flight.

As I knew the training should be done on a VFR rated aircraft (Tecnam Sierra), it sounded a bit strange to me to be flying without any references. However, I have done my PPL on this plane and it is equipped with a artificial horizon (very very helpfull) and a Garmin 430 as well (which we won’t be using during the flight), and VOR/ILS.

After I arrived at the Gran Canaria airport, where the school is situated (very recommendable, as they have very sharp prices and a good fleet), I’ve learned my FI Yeray, and after finishing necessary paperwork, we went down to the general aviation parking and started the preflight check of our Tecnam. Last time I flew on this ‘light aircraft’ was about 6 years ago and it is a bit different to fly a light plane like this in comparation to the Piper or Cessna I am normally used to fly.

We took off, and I literaly do not know where we have been during this 1:40 minutes long flight… Somewhere in fog, without looking outside (as I normally do)…

Flying in IMC conditions

Flying in IMC conditions

The first big difference after we left the airport was, that I had to start focus on the instruments inside without looking outside at all! Checking the horizon, heading (on the compass turns to the opposite direction than the gyro) and follow the outgoing radial of the VOR.

It was not necessary to wear the hood; there was nothing outside you could see! Fantastic weather to practice the flight!

Flying with no visual references

Flying with no visual references

We were practicing turns (10, 25, 30 degrees), descent and climb and leveled flight. You need to monitor several instruments at once and to be concentrated, otherwise the plane starts to go its own way…

The flight instructor used the conditions to skip a couple of lessons and to practice a stall and recovery from unusual situations. I had to look outside and he putted the plane in a turn and descent; my task was to recover it by looking on the artificial horizon.

Stalling the plane in normal conditions looking outside feels different than with no visual conditions. You actually do not realize that the plane is stalled, the stall horn warns you and you see it on the instruments.

Flying with no references requires pretty much concentration than flying around in a nice VFR weather, and I was actually pretty exhausted after this ‘short’ (1:40 min) flight. I am sure that the autopilot is a big help in this conditions. Besides this, I had to pay more attention to fly a plane I was not used to fly normally, and the turn coordinator was not working, so it added an additional work load to me. In the next missions we will train fault of some instruments as well, so it was not bad to fly like that. But maybe to many things together at the beginning.

The good think is that I have recorded the flight as well, so I can reproduce some of the manouvers in order to improve myself before the next mission starts. And this will be soon as well, so I look forward to the next training flight!

Flying makes fun!