Have you ever had a situation in the air or on the ground that you suddenly wished didn't happen? This is the place to read about how other pilots have handled those events and come out the other side.

A Flight Stopped By Weather

A Flight Stopped By Weather

For the last few weeks I’ve had the frustration of being involuntarily grounded by both the weather and work. When it’s a great day to fly the in-tray is stuffed full and when I finally manage to clear that out lo and behold the weather has cascading thumping thunderstorms and buckets or rain. The last of which is not a good combination for a VFR pilot trying to get his hours up in an Arrow.

So the other day I checked both the weather and my desk and discovered that there was what looked like blue skies in both. Hooray! I planned on flying from Moorabbin to Tocumwal just over the Victorian border into NSW and grab a car to visit a business colleague in Cobram who was competing in a radio controlled model aircraft competition. Yes, it was tempting to consider buzzing the smaller model planes but I reconsidered that idea after imagining the impact a model aeroplane would have on the Arrow’s windshield at about 130 knots.

I started my planning the night before and decided on flying from Moorabbin via Sugarloaf reservoir, through the Kilmore Gap and almost a direct flight to Tocumwal. I’ve done this flight a few times before, the last one with my son Timothy when we headed north for gliding lessons so I was pretty comfortable with the flight plan.

Nevertheless, I’m pretty paranoid about flying safely and I still checked out all of my charts, changes in the ERSA and finally on Downwind.com.au to see if any helpful pilots had left any hints in the airport comments area. There’s nothing quite like actual pilots to keep you up-to-date with the state of an airfield.

One of the last things I like to do before a flight is to check the weather charts on the BOM and then look at the aviation weather on the morning of a flight. Other than a bit of wind everything was looking in the green but it always does look fine until it isn’t.

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The Magic Third Light!

The Magic Third Light!

The other day I was sitting at my desk working away and I couldn’t help but glance outside at an absolutely perfect clear blue sky. About every few minutes I could hear the buzz of a plane doing circuits out a Moorabbin and it drove me crazy just wanting to get up in the air!

At about 11am I looked across at Roselyn and said, “I’m done for the day, let’s go for a fly.” It didn’t take her long to agree to an orbit around Melbourne CBD followed by a flight around Port Phillip Bay.

I called up the aero club, booked HAB (an Arrow) in about one hours time while Roselyn called a friend up to ask if she would like to come with us. We all met at the club and after pre-flight checks climbed aboard and it wasn’t long before we were winging our way towards the CBD.

One of the reasons why I wanted to do an orbit around the CBD was that we would be entering controlled airspace. I actually love being in controlled airspace as I find that it’s like having someone really look after you the whole way. It’s also nice to get some regular practice in dealing with the air traffic controllers so you can continue to make their life easier on future navigations.

 

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Jump Starting A Plane

Jump Starting A Plane

A few days ago Roselyn and I decided to make a snap decision to fly from Moorabbin down to Phillip Island just south-east of Melbourne to visit some friends.  Since it was at the last minute the place I normally higher my aircraft from didn’t have any available so I ended up sourcing an old Piper Archer elsewhere.

We arrived to pick up the plane and found that the daily inspection hadn’t been signed off despite the plane being taken up earlier in the morning. After sorting this out I did my normal checks and discovered that one of the fuel tanks was almost bone dry while the other was half full. So much for fuel management by the previous pilot!

We had the plane refueled, drained the tanks and all was OK so in we jumped to head down to Phillip Island. Being an old plane I soon discovered that there were things in it that were, well, old! For example, other than turning the second radio off I couldn’t work out how to actually stop listening to it. This was highly annoying while listening to take-off clearances etc.

Since the plane was so old you could no longer read what half the switches were marked as and the controls felt incredibly loose compared to the 2003 models I was used to flying.  Not to mention the fact that our son Timothy jumped in the back and had his headphones ready to plug in only to discover there was nothing to plug into. Oh well, it was only a 30 minute flight.

After run-ups we followed another plane to the holding point and sat and sat and sat waiting for the pilot in front to do his read call. It got to the point where I was wondering if I should turn off my engine while I waited for him to get read! Finally he made his call was given take-off clearance and the tower asked me to immediately follow him (I think that they were a bit frustrated with the pilot’s delay as well).

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