ILS approach into Tenerife North Airport

A short clip of the ILS approach on RWY 30 into Tenerife North (GCXO/TFN) airport during my basic instrument flying module course back in 2014 at Canavia.

You are invited to subscribe to my Youtube Channel as well for more video from my flights.

Safe landings! 🙂

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Views that I am missing during hood flying

As I have already mentioned in my previous posts, I have started with a basic instrument traning. This means, that I am flying with no visual references.
I’m doing my course on the neigbour island Gran Canaria, and I’ve realized that after 6,5 hours in the air I haven’t seen anything from the island but the airport… 🙂

Luckily I am recording my flights on a camera, so after each flight I can review how I flew, what can be improved and also see, what I could have seen if I would have been flying without the hood… 🙂 I enjoy the training a lot and here is a short time lapsed video of one of my training flight with a Diamond DA20 Katana.

So these are the views that I am missing during hood flying:

What are your experiences with hood flying?

Fly safe!

 

Night VFR training

While some sleep, the others are messing with night landings… But why??? 🙂

Actually it was a quite long day and somehow I was thinking it would be better to have a bed on board of the Piper… So I took my first coffee this year (yes, this year, as I don´t drink coffee 🙂 ) and we have started to go through all the preparations with my instructor.

Back to basics - flight preparations...

Back to basics – flight preparations…

Due to some bad weather at Tenerife North aiport (GCXO) we had to change our initial plan and we have decided to go to Lanzarote (GCRR). I was actually quite happy about the fact to land there for the first time in my life, but I was concerned as well, as this would be my first flight to this destination without having seen this airport during the day. Nevermind, the instructor is sitted next to me and he knows the airport (and we have Garmin430 and AirnavPro as well 🙂

Checking all the lights during the outside check

Checking all the lights during the outside check

We have checked MET, TAF and NOTAMs and went down to the the apron. After the preflight check we were ready to go. I like to record my flights and to see them later, to learn from my own mistakes, but unfortunately I haven’t noticed until the way back that I left the lens cap on my Gopro… Grrrrr! My landing at Lanzarote was not the best one (we all love bounced landings!!! 🙂 ), so I don´t need to have this recorded :-).

We have departed as usual on Runway 03L and after departure we have turned right to the NE point. Under normal circumstances we should fly bellow 1.000 feet, but to be honest in the night I didn´t like the idea, so we have requested to climb to FL 095 immediately after the departure. As there was no traffic, we were authorized by the ATC able to climb at our discretion. We had some nice tailwinds as well which gave us some nice groundspeeds of around 117kts… Lucky!!! 🙂

I mix this course a bit with my basic instrument flight module, therefore my departure was not visual and I was practically flying until reaching our cruising altitude without looking outside the window… At this altitude I have discovered, that even between the islands over the Atlantic Ocean, there are some visual references, which can help to guide me to the destination.

The view from up there is simply beautiful, and I am starting to love the flying at night!

Getting closer to our destination, we have started our descent at 500ft/minute, which made us even faster. Reaching Sierra point at Lanzarote should be at 1.000 feet, but I didn’t like the idea to fly so low over the sea without having some good references nor to have the runway in sight. Therefore we have requested to proceed to the long final, which was authorized by the ATC prior holding over Sierra point at 3.000 feet. This was great, and I used the opportunity to open the window and make some pictures of Playa Blanca at night. The traffic in front of us showed me as well where the airport was, another great help at night! 🙂

Playa Blanca at night

Playa Blanca at night

If I wouldn’t have forgotten to take off the lens cap, I would have some nice pictures of the runway at Lanzarote as well, but unfortunately I only have this one made by my phone:

Final RWY 03 at Lanzarote

Final RWY 03 at Lanzarote

The approach was very good, but it is still difficult for me to guess the right height of the plane above the runway to start the flare; nevermind, I´ll find it out! After the touch and go we have returned back to Gran Canaria at 6,500 feet to avoid the wind which we had on the way to our destination.

Arriving at our destination I have requested to proceed to long final again, to not to fly at 1.000 feet above the sea. The ATC was nice and maintained our altirude of 5.000 feet until the LPC VOR, where we should hold until cleared of traffic. We were holding there for 4-5 minutes, in the meantime they were vectoring some 737´s bellow us to the airport. Awesome to be hanging over them in the air! 🙂

I have no idea about IFR holding patterns, so we did it together with my instructor. Basically, he was telling how to fly and I had no idea what I was doing… But anyway, it looks nice on the map:

 

Holding over LPC VOR

Holding over LPC VOR

I always like to practice something new. After a couple of minutes we were cleared to land on RWY 03L, the wind was 030/14kts, so very good flying conditions at the end.

Final RWY 03L at GCLP

Final RWY 03L at GCLP

And finaly you can see the only video recorded that night; landing at Gran Canaria´s El Gando airport. Safe flights!

 

 

Night VFR experience

In addition to my basic instrument flying module I have decided to add a night VFR rating. Basically it is complicated to fly night vfr in Spain, you need to request some 10-14 days in advance a permission, which has to be granted and than you are allowed to fly during the night. So basically even if you have the rating, you are not allowed to land after sundown, only if you have a special permission by the authorities… Spain is simply different. Even our first training flight had to be cancelled because the ATC told us that the permission issued by the authorities was not complete… So the FI had one week to clear all the necessary paperwork and it seemed our permission was ok, only there was some misunderstanding… Finally we got to the plane, which was after a regular check, so everything was in perfect state, except the landing light seemed to not be working… It seemed we had to cancel our flight again. But luckily we had the maintenance guy with us, so he was able to fix the problem and we were ready to go.

Getting our landing light fixed

Getting our landing light fixed

The taxiing was quite easy, there was sufficient light outside.

Taxi via Juliet to the holding point of the RWY 03L

Taxi via Juliet to the holding point of the RWY 03L

In the cockpit there was of course less light than during the day, so this was already the first difference. Engine run-up, all the checks following the checklist we were cleared to line up and wait on the runway 03L.

Line up and wait 03L, Canavia 71

Line up and wait 03L, Canavia 71

The things started to get more serious, haha. The big question was: how is going to be once in the air? The clearance for takeoff came from the tower, so the answer on my question was not far away… Full throttle, paramaters in green, speed alive, rotate into the night. Looking more inside on the instruments than outside; for correct speed, climb, altitude… 500 feet, flap 0, fuel pump off, landing light off and following right turn into the dark. Strange thing is, you don’t realize how deep the darkness bellow the plane is… On the top of that, we had to hold over the bay during the first circuit, so I had to watch the instruments to make a couple of 360 degree turns without seeing any light. I thought always, that from the circuit the runway light could be seen, but they are not! The first 2 circuits were a bit more complicated, but after that I started to get to used to it… When turning on base, lights of some villages could be seen which was really a nice feeling to get again some visual references…

Final Rwy 03L

Final Rwy 03L (night VFR)

There was a wind from the north between 20-25 knots, which gave us 11 knots crosswind component during the approach and the landing on the RWY 03L. It complicates the practicing of the landings in the night a little bit. Or better said quite complicated… I was hoping to have winds calm as it should be in the night, but it was not the case this time :-). There was also a turbulence bellow 300 feet on final so it was tough work to keep the plane leveled. Crosschecking the instruments, ILS, speed, horizon getting safe on the ground. Hovewer the landings were not so great as I would have expected. Still have 3,5 hours to fly, and I already look forward to it! Finaly I made 12 landings (without counting the bounced ones, lol), and made these with the plane this beautiful drawings on the screen of my ipad:

Today’s flight…

Today’s flight… 🙂

 

After my first successful night flight

After my first successful night flight

 

Safe landings!

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!