PPL Check Ride & Conclusion to My American Adventure

Having not had much sleep, I woke up as early as I could, got ready and my Dad took me to Midwest, arriving at 9:15am.

My examiner, Van Wormer was due to arrive at 10am but he arrived soon after me at 9:30. I realised quickly that the destinations which Van chose for me to plan the check ride flight for were carefully chosen as when getting my weather and information briefing, it took half an hour on the phone because of so many taxi way closures and notices on the airports he wanted me to plan to land at!

Nevertheless, Van sat with me whilst I did my flight planning – I wanted to have it all done by the time he arrived but he knew the briefing was going to be long so he was very relaxed with me.

So I finished the flight plan and then the oral part of the exam began. I studied quiet hard for that part of the exam, going through everything in the syllabus with Brandon which took about 4 hours the previous day. Van was very relaxed about it and it was pretty easy and even when I wasn’t sure I openly said I don’t know but made an educated guess and every time I was right! He would perhaps elaborate and build a bigger picture of the theory he was asking about but I had a grasp of everything that was asked.

Van is a Boeing 757 test pilot. He has a several of his own aircraft, including gyrocopters and gliders. He has his own private runway at his house, so not only is he extremely experienced, but he is living the dream! His daughter is an airline pilot too, so aviation runs in his family. My check ride was the first time that anyone from Career Pilot School was using Van as an examiner and so I was the first student of CPS to receive an exam from him. We usually have our examinations from Mike Garrison but he went to Mongolia so we were all quite nervous using a new examiner!

Moving on, I preflighted the aircraft, talking through every check. Van had no questions and was happy with my checks.

We set off for the cross country.

When I was given the winds aloft from the weather brief, they were very strong. So throughout my flight plan the appropriate calculations for which heading to fly on were calculated. Unfortunately, we left earlier and it was almost completely still, so all my calculations were “wrong”. This means that instantly, I was going the wrong way and even though I knew I wasn’t flying on the right heading and I corrected as much as I could, I had gone really gone off course. I made my way back on course and during this, Van asked me to manually calculate my ground speed. Unfortunately, because I was off course, that meant that I wasn’t near any of the checkpoints which I had made. Additionally, because I was so focused on flying, I wasn’t timing my legs, so my timing was off too, which is another thing needed to calculate ground speed (essentially speed = distance/time). So whilst flying, I had to start drawing new checkpoints and figure out a new strategy for working out my ground speed. It took me quite a while and I was a little worried that I may be failed for this. But when I eventually got it, I was 1kt off (it’s shown on the gps – Van just turned it off whilst I was calculating it). So I think he was impressed by my calculations that he let me off for taking a while to calculate it.

Next, I was asked to tune into a local VOR and after I did that, I was asked some question on it regarding navigation and how I could use VOR with the DME to find my way if I got lost.

We moved on to unusual attitudes and Van was extremely abrupt with the aircraft so it was a tad scary having to recover from a spiralling dive, but I did good! :)

We did slow flight but without the flaps which was interesting because I have never done that before. But it’s essentially the same thing as with flaps but just a tad faster. Slow flight is where you fly the aircraft at the safest slowest speed just before stall. With the flaps, you can fly slower because you’re generating more lift, so with the flaps up, the minimum speed achievable is higher.

After being examined on steep turns which were perfect, I flew for a while under the hood. It was quite a while actually, not that it was a problem since this is one of my strongest abilities because of the hours I’ve spent on home flight simulators, however I knew why I was made to go under the hood for such a long time – so Van could take me into the middle of no where so I didn’t have a clue where we were!

Then came all the emergencies. So Van brought the engine back to a low rpm – not fully idle, just to a low rpm, to simulate a scenario where the engine is spluttering and struggling to run smoothly. After showing Van what I would do to troubleshoot that, we simulated a full engine failure. Both the emergencies went well. For the full engine failure, Van took us into the middle of nowhere in a forest so I would find it very difficult to find a place to land (ie. the place I’d choose to land for the emergency), but I still managed to find a field and lined up really well for it – he was like WHAT!!!!

So after that, he asked me to take us back to Midwest National. So by this time, I had about 10/15 minutes of under the hood time, unusual attitudes, steep turns, slow flight and emergencies. So I had absolutely no idea where we were and I was only a couple of hundred feet above the ground so I couldn’t really see that far into the distance either. No GPS either – Van turned it off!

Nevertheless, as I climbed and circled, I could see Kansas City downtown in the distance and the Sibley Stack too and I so I knew which direction to head in. He said good that’s what he wanted to hear – that sense of direction then figure out the details after.

Using VOR and DME, I worked out exactly where I was and headed back for Midwest.

We did a few landings – normal, soft, short and then an emergency landing. We also did a go around, which I was expecting because Brandon asked me to do one the previous day to make sure I knew what I was doing.

For the emergency landing, because there was an aircraft in front of us, unfortunately, I had to extend my downwind leg and so I was further away from the runway that Van expected. Once I got to a short final, I told Van that I knew we weren’t going to make the runway. And he said okay, I trust you would have landed safely on the grass just before the runway but you can apply power so we can land on the runway just now.

All the other landings went well, landing on the centre line at the right speed and generally soon after the threshold.

After the emergency landing, we went around once more for one last normal landing. After I landed and was taxing off the runway, Van said, “All right! We’ll do your paper work quickly and then you can take your dad out for a flight!”

YAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!! This is how I was given the great news!!!

So after we parked up, we sat in the aircraft for 15-20 minutes and Van gave me some advice on the check ride, kind of like a debrief of the check ride. He has tens of thousands of hours of experience and so I took notes of everything the shared with me. Ultimately, I flew in a way such that Van felt safe, although as a 50 hour pilot, I would never be as experienced as Van would be if we were to encounter an emergency. Hence, it was important for me to listen to his advice and comments.

We did the paperwork which took a while. This was for Van to put in the online FAA database that he’s passed me and for my pilots licence to be sent to me.

Rahul was there to greet me and gave me a big hug to congratulate me. I didn’t even need to tell him that I passed – I just had a massive grin on my face!

I got a picture with Van. After that, Rahul and I headed for a quick lunch with my Dad who also gave me a hug and congratulated me as we met.

After lunch, we went back to Midwest together with my new shiny wings in a lovely box and waited for Brandon and Onon who were flying together in the 172.

We took photographs of Brandon putting the wings on me. Then, I took my Dad up for my first flight as a private pilot! I took him for two circuits – one of them my Dad filmed a video of and the other, he took still photographs. See below! I dropped my Dad off and then took Rahul up for two circuits since he hadn’t been flying for a while!

After landing, I filled the tanks up with fuel and taxied the Cherokee to our hanger. Since we wouldn’t be flying the aircraft, we were storing it away and it was important to have the tanks filled with fuel otherwise moisture can develop inside the tanks meaning that when fuel was put in, there would be water in there too. We took a final video (see below) and then headed back to the school.

We went out pretty soon after that to celebrate, although we didn’t stay out late because I had to get organised and pack, ready to leave back to Scotland the next day!
Didn’t half leave my flight training till the last minute, eh?!

My feelings? Relief I guess – but again like the solo, almost a non event…

I was feeling extremely nervous in the morning as anyone would but we all knew it’d take a lot for me to screw up since Brandon, Rachel and everyone around me was confident for me.

So I got packed but because I was so happy and relieved, I stayed up the whole night, watched a film and stayed on Skype and just chilled for my last night in the USA.

I got up at 7 and got ready for my flight. I was connecting through Philadelphia. On the flight there, I slept the whole way so the flight felt like 5 minutes, which was amazing. I was flying on a CRJ-200 which is the same aircraft that we have a simulator for, which was pretty cool!

When I got to Philadelphia, it took me an hour and a half to walk from one side of the airport to the other to the gate I needed to be at. I slept at the airport for a while, uncomfortable and cold as it was.

Nevertheless, I managed to pass the time and I hopped on my flight to Glasgow! I also sat beside someone friendly so I talked to them on the whole way home, which passed the time really quickly! It’s kinda funny looking back on the flight – I took out my mac and made them look at all my pictures and videos of my whole flight training experience hehe! …and before I knew it I was back in Glasgow!

Thus ending my American Adventure.

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The Day Before the Check Ride

This day was about completing the flying I needed to do before the check ride so I’m actually eligible for a private pilots licence. It was also about tying up loose ends and making sure I’m confident with every manoeuvre and procedure.

I had ground school at 10am for a few hours reviewing all the material that could possibly be asked in the oral exam.

Brandon and I flew to OJC and stopped off at the flying school there (Air Associates). I had to buy a current FAR (Regulations books) and an AFD (Aircraft Facility Directory) because it’s a requirement to have them on person for the check ride.

We also chose OJC because I needed to do three solo towered landings, so Brandon stayed back and I went out alone to do two landings since I had already done one at Columbia when on my solo cross country. My headset was playing up just as I was about to set off which really put me off but I got it sorted and I got out there. It was REALLY bumpy in the whole pattern, probably because of the location of the airport, also with the fact that it was quite windy and maybe because there was a helicopter in the area which was probably disrupting the air too.

Nevertheless, I did the two landings, picked Brandon up and we headed back towards Midwest. On the way back, we practise unusual attitudes, where the student pilot shuts their eyes, the instructor puts the airplane in any kind of crazy flight path/speed. ie. a 60 degree rolling bank, speeding towards the ground, and on the instructor’s command, you have to recover quickly and safely.

After that, in the practise area, I carried out all the manoeuvres and emergencies then headed back to Midwest to do a few landings and practise a go around. A ‘go around’ is where you set up for a landing and just before landing, you apply fully power, release flaps and turn the carb off and abort the landing. This to practise so that you quickly know how to abort a landing, say if there was something on the runway, or if the approach to the runway didn’t feel right. We practised this because it will be examined in the check ride so Brandon just wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing.

Returning to the school, all my logbook hours were added up and checked. The appropriate paperwork was filled out and my next task was to relax and get a good night’s rest.

It was going to a bit a hit or a miss with the check ride. I had an examiner which Career Pilot School hadn’t ever used because the one we have for our school was away. This meant that we didn’t know what to expect and how his test will be. I was feeling confident for the check ride but it’s been a very short amount of time that I’ve done my training in and it would be very easy for me to make a small mistake in the exam. The check ride is the day before I leave back for Scotland, so if the weather plays up, I may be going home without a pilot’s licence. Having said that, I was looking forward to the challenge of a new examiner, possibly being more stringent and not knowing me or the school, I knew he wouldn’t be forgiving. I wanted to prove to myself that I had earn the pilot’s licence and hadn’t just sailed through because my Dad owned the school or because I had any extra help, and having an examiner we don’t personally know was something which I was quite excited for that if I was to pass, then I would be satisfied that I had earned my wings fair and square.

I’ve done all I can, working my hardest, flying all the hours needed, passing my written exam and Brandon has signed me off for my check ride and is confident for me. Unlike driving tests and other common exams, perhaps the ones at university or high school, the decision of whether a student pilot passes their check ride is at the examiners discretion. No 50 hour pilot could ever be perfect and it’s simply because pilot’s are defined by the amount of hours they have and a 50 hour pilot is to simply put it, a child, when it comes to flying. The task is to demonstrate that I am safe in the air, I know my procedures and if there is an emergency, I know what to do. The examiner is looking for a proficiency that the student pilot is in fact in command and could command this machine on their own and deserves to. So, in a sense, with the confidence I have and no one can fake that, whether or not I make a mistake or two, I knew I was in good shape for the check ride, because I knew I was in command and know how to fly, for a 50 hour pilot anyway.

Nevertheless, it’s up to tomorrow and whatever happens in the moment!
Wish me the best of luck!


Ground Ground Ground & Double Instruction!

This day being less eventful than yesterday where I had over 5 hours of flying and over 300 nautical miles of ground covered, I had a 1030am start and had ground school for most the afternoon.

In the evening I flew with Rachel, with Brandon back seating. The flight was meant to be a mock check ride.

The flight kinda sucked. We left it a bit late and because a lot of the taxiways were closed at downtown airport making it very difficult to navigate around there, and with the fact that it was too late to go to the next nearest towered airport, OJC, because it’d be too dark by the time we got back, we just did half the flight and went home, which was really frustrating.

We practised VOR navigation which I’ve only done once very briefly so I got quite flustered with that because I didn’t know what to do and it was all just very confusing. Perhaps there was some pressure having two best friends instructors sitting in on the flight with me but in hindsight it was very helpful to have two eyes looking at my technique and it’s not every student pilot who gets the opportunity to have that. They were both very professional and gave great feedback afterwards, but I certainly did feel the pressure. Despite sucking at VORs and not getting to go to another airport, for the first part of my flight, all my procedures and manoeuvres were good. :)

After the flight, I was given a pat on the back and encouraged not to get flustered when I don’t get stuff in flight when I haven’t even learnt it properly on the ground!

After getting back to the school, having a bit of a breather, I had another 2 hours of ground school, totalling up to 4.5 hrs of ground school in preparation for my check ride in two days.

I learnt about VORs more in depth and the penny dropped for me on a few other topics too.

Overall, a day which I remember being quite frustrating and didn’t really enjoy, I made a lot of progress with preparation for the oral part of my check ride and having been given a lot of feedback from the flight I had, I was determined to have a perfect flight the following day.

The Solo Cross Country! [Midwest > Columbia > Miami County > Midwest]

Meeting up at Midwest National Air Centre early, Peter was ready for his first introductory flight with Rachel and I was preparing for my cross country flight.

Whilst Rachel took Peter and Mark for a flight in the Cessna 172, I completed my flight planning and waited for them to come back so I could get an endorsement in my logbook from Rachel before leaving.

The fog had cleared but it was still a little cloudy here and there. It was cool and there was a nice breeze, making a change from the hot weather at the start of my adventure. Being the weekend, it was nice to be a little more relaxed out of uniform too.

I got in the aircraft and reached for my camera to make a quick blog for what was going to be my big cross country solo flight. The lens cover was jammed and also a little bent into the lens and I got this shiver up my spine thinking, “oh my goodness what have I done”. I think the pressure during previous flights or possibly a temperature change or something caused the lens cover to break into the actual lens, because the camera is very well looked after, always kept in a bag and in my flight case. Nevertheless, I eventually got the cover off with a lot of force to find that the filter had completely smashed and glass went everywhere onto me and on the floor of the aircraft!
I thought I had completely broken the lens and camera because of how bad it looked and how shocked I was from the smashing glass in my hands! I just cleaned up the best I could, put the camera back and that was it. It turns out I could have just unscrewed the lens cover and the actual lens and the camera were perfectly fine – the lens cover did what it was supposed to do, protect the lens! I didn’t know this until like a day after when I told my dad panicking he was gonna kill me for breaking his expensive SLR hehe. He just unscrewed the cover and gave me the look that said,”silly wabbit!”

So, point of that story is – no pictures or videos, regretfully. Apart from a self portrait from my phone – BORING!

To remind readers – the trip, which was going to be about a 300 nautical miles all round trip was from Midwest to Columbia, a touch and go there (counting for my landing at a towered airport), then to Miami County, then back to Midwest, meaning that I’d complete my cross country hours for the PPL program, because it would be a three leg journey exceeding 50 nautical miles. The journey was 3.2 hours, which also completed the hours needed to make up for the cross country hours needed for part of the PPL program.

The journey was quite tiring but I was well organised and confident. It was almost a little boring because after I was up in the air and going towards my destination, I literally just needed to keep the airplane flying in a straight line. Although, now that I’m writing this during the time I’m doing research for a design project, I would do anything to be flying in a straight line to anywhere!!!

I couldn’t fly at the VFR cruising altitude that I had chosen (3500ft) because of clouds but I was at 2600ft and I had flight following the whole way so it wasn’t a problem.

I got to columbia, had no problems getting there, did a touch and go, had no problems communicating with the tower, then departed to the south west towards Miami County. This was the leg I hadn’t done before – I’d previously been to Columbia and I’ve been from Miami County to Midwest before with Brandon and also alone – however my checkpoints were well chosen and I knew where I was going.

I was heading straight over a big military air base, my course route just to fly to the south of it, but the air traffic controller instructed me to fly north of the air base so I had to take a little detour but nothing major. I asked if I could continue on my heading and it was granted so I continued on course as planned.

I found Miami County no problem. I did a touch and go and headed back to Midwest. I got flight following again from a different approach centre and flew the final part of my leg back to Midwest. I could see Midwest from 15 miles out so I was set for a very long final for landing.

I was happy with my radio communications, I landed and that was that!

A successful, happy and satisfying day, having planned this journey three times now and completing it. It was important to get it done because I was getting closer to my check ride so I needed to start having review flights in preparation for that.

I went back to the school, got some food then went flying with Rachel for another two hours!!

We went through some stuff I haven’t done for a while: slow flight, stalls etc, which I’m not a fan of but I did well in. We did ground reference manoeuvres and then headed back to practise landings, which were all great! :)

A long long day, but probably one of the most important days of my training, having completed a lot of hours, gaining solo experience, pilotage experience and flying with a different instructor having a different take on my flying, preparing for my check ride.

Patterns & Smithville Lake

I woke up super early again and finished my flight plan. I spoke with Rachel after learning that there were thunderstorms developing enroute. I decided to cancel.

Mark, Peter, my Dad and I went to Midwest anyway to show them the airport, the FBO and our aircraft. The weather was fine at the airport, so I went out for a 30 minute flight in the pattern to practise landings and just to get up in the air because it’d been a while!

I let Peter sit in the aircraft whilst I started the engine up and he absolutely LOVED that hehe. I would have absolutely loved that too if at 14, someone allowed me to sit in an airplane and I got to watch them start it up.

After my flight, we played pool for a bit then my Dad took us to Smithville Lake which I’ve never been to but my Dad had gone quite a few times. It was a nice outing and we had some good banter.

On the way home, the heavens opened with a thunderstorm. So glad I didn’t do my cross country – pretty sure I wouldn’t have came home. =/

Dad made us an amazing meal when we got home (pepper, potato and tofu curry, with popadoms, rice and a salad).

We all enjoyed each other’s company over dinner and then had an early night for our early start, with Mark & Peter’s 8am flight with Rachel(introductory flight for Peter) and hopefully my cross country.

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The almost cross country solo flight

I woke up really early to plan for my cross country. I completed my flight plan and set off to Downtown Kansas Airport with Rahul. I had to go to downtown so that Rachel could endorse me for my cross country solo. Brandon had really hurt his back the previous night at a soccer match so he was at home.

After getting endorsed, Rahul took us to Midwest but we could see this very dark clouds coming in and so I called a weather briefer in the car and loads of thunderstorms and bad weather had just developed. So I cancelled my flight and went back to the school. I stayed there for a little while then went home and went back to sleep for a few hours, since if I can’t fly, then what’s the point in staying awake?! hehe. In hindsight, I probably should have wrote my blog! Anyone reading this thinking of blogging an experience – two pieces of advice. 1. write your blog the same day otherwise you WILL fall behind. 2. if you don’t write your blog, write notes every day because you WILL forget!

I woke up and got ready for Mark and Peter coming. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned Mark and Peter. Mark went to secondary school with my Dad and they haven’t seen each other since they left 6th form, which was like thirty something years ago. This was their first time reuniting in all that time. Mark lives in the states permanently. Peter is his son, who is 14. Mark and my Dad were best friends at school and hung out together all the time. My Dad compared them to how Josh and I are now, who’s my best friend at university.

My Dad picked them up and when they returned, we had dinner together then we went to the school to show them around and chill there. I planned for my same cross country again for Saturday. I also spent a while on some coding and website stuff to do something else for a while.

First Solo Cross Country (to Miami County)

I had planned for my flight to Miami County, to continue on to Columbia then back to Midwest, but because I set of quite late on, I only ended up going to and from Miami County.

I really enjoyed the flight despite feeling quite nervous. I didn’t get lost and my communication with air traffic control was fine. Brandon was listening the whole time when he was in another aircraft and he was happy with my communication. He said I was too talkative and friendly and I should be more concise! Oh well – I didn’t know he was there on the same frequency but it was nice to know afterwards he was there to give me some feedback.

I got to Miami County no problem. I thought the airport was in front of me when I arrived but I was literally JUST passing it as it was to my left, so thank the GPS for that although I just spotted it in the corner of my eye so good job I was on the ball!

My approach was SOOOO bumpy it was mad, I have never experienced anything like it. I was tempted to go around but I thought well it’ll just be the same again, my altitude and velocity are good so I committed to landing and endured the turbulence. I did another there landings then stopped to close my flight plan, have something to eat and have a rest.

I headed back to Midwest and Brandon was listening then too. I got back no problem. I could see the airport from 10 miles out and I am familiar with the area now so it was pleasant to feel confident.

Brandon was just coming back from his flight as I landed so I did a couple more landings and then stopped when Brandon was coming in.

As I said, it was getting too late by the time I got back to finish planning for Columbia and go because by the time I got there, planned for the way back, it would be night time on the way back and I wouldn’t really be ready for a night flight alone at the moment. So it kinda sucks I didn’t get to do the full cross country since I was prepared for it but it wasn’t mean to be.

I chilled at Midwest for a while, had something to eat and wrote a few notes for my blog then I went flying again! I stayed in the pattern at Midwest to build up some solo hours. I did 6 landings which took about an hour. I was a bit tired but I really enjoyed it. It was very quiet in the pattern so I had the whole airport to myself. I practised normal, short/soft field take off and landings and when I landed, I refuelled so I was ready for my next flight.

I wrote some more notes for my blog at the airport whilst waiting for Rahul so I didn’t forget (good thing since I’m actually writing this like a month later!). My Dad, Rahul, Rachel (who instructed one of my first lessons) and I ate together when – it was good banter. I got home for about 9. I planned again for my three leg cross country which I was meant to do today then went to sleep.

[In the second picture - that's Downtown Kansas City in the distance. You can just make out Downtown Airport too which I've share pictures and videos of before. :)
There are a few pics of Johnson County Airport too.
More of Downtown on the way back.
The last two pictures are landing back at Midwest.
The last pic is to show that there's a lot of planning that goes on in the background before flying - it's rewarding when you're flying and every calculation you make is correct and everything is timed perfectly!]

Click HERE for Fullscreen! :)

East Kansas City (Dropping off Brandon & Chinzo and returning alone) | Flight in evening

Late morning, Brandon, Chinzo and I set off in the Cherokee to East Kansas City Airport. I dropped Brandon and Chinzo off and they took the Cessna 152 that was there for maintenance for a lesson and headed towards Midwest. I took the Cherokee back to Midwest back towards Midwest, practising my manoeuvres on the way in the practise area.

I practised stalls and slow flight. I didn’t’ enjoy it at all. It was the first time I was doing the manoeuvres alone and I felt very uncomfortable and a little scared. I didn’t feel happy at all, so I stopped practising and just headed back to Midwest. Practising stalls and slow flight aren’t the most comfortable generally – for slow flight, the pilot has to fly the aircraft at the slowest possible speed, with the stall horn blasting in your ears, your nose pointing up in the sky and the speed at like maybe 45/50knots. The aircraft feels vulnerable and light and when it’s a little windy, it can get a little bumpy. Generally, I hear that most student pilots don’t like practising slow flight or the stalls, because it isn’t normal! But it’s VERY important to know how it feels and how to recover if it ever occurs. My stalls just didn’t feel right – I’m not sure what I was doing wrong – it’s REALLY difficult to stall an aircraft, especially the Piper Cherkokee, which is a GOOD thing, but obviously a confusing thing for a student pilot trying to stall! Nevertheless, I felt nervous although I wasn’t unsafe and absolutely nothing happened – I was at 3,000ft and I was making sure the aircraft was a coordinated and I was good for fuel – this was just in my head. This happens to newly soloed pilots. This was the first time I didn’t really enjoy a flight.

I headed back to Midwest and landed safely – I never have had a problem with this. I waited for Brandon to return and then told him my experience and he suggested I should fly again in the evening just in the pattern where I’m comfortable to keep my confidence up and we can discuss the solo cross country afterwards which I was meant to do the following day.

So I did 7 landings, flying for about an hour. I really enjoyed that flight. After that, Rahul came to the airport, he dropped Onon and his friend to the airport for their flight to downtown and around the area and back.

I relaxed with Rahul at the airport with three other guys who had came to play some pool. One of them was the son of the guy who works at the FBO on the weekend (Phillip, his Dad John). His two friends were school mates. We played cut throat pool which I’ve never played before but it was really awesome!

I went home, exhausted from my full day of flying and my little fright, even though it was nothing. I still had to flight plan for my solo cross country the next day – I had dinner with Rahul and my Dad, planned as much as I could (the majority of it is done before the flight as to consider weather), then went to sleep.

I took quite a few videos on this day, with the intention of joining them together for a video blog. I’ll get on to this at some point. For now, enjoy the pics of our fleet and my evening flight. :)

Click HERE for Fullscreen! :)

Tuesday | Written | Cross Country to Ottawa & East Kansas City | Downtown – Night Flying

I woke up quite tired in the morning, having gone to sleep late, but I got on with it.

I went straight to downtown airport to sit my written exam. I scored 82% so I was happy that I got it out the way. The test crashed at the end so I thought I might have to sit it again because it wasn’t printing my scores but it was sorted! I went back to the school and got some lunch then started planning for my cross country flight straight away.

I didn’t get to finish planning because I had to rush to the airport. I continued planning for the flight at Midwest. I was was planning from Midwest to Ottawa (the airport I chose-see previous post), then to East Kansas City (to get the landing gear fixed), then back to Midwest.

The planning took a while. Brandon drew on the whiteboard whilst I was planning. Check his artwork out! Pretty sweet, huh?!

We set off around 4:30pm. Ottawa was cool! It was quiet, well actually it was desolate. There were some cool planes just sitting there that were abandoned or something. See pics! Oh on my flight, I did most of it under the hood to add more hours of instrument flying time needed for the private pilot training program.

We departed quickly, heading towards east kansas city. Brandon simulated a deviation in the flight plan (something that’ll happen in the check ride), so he drew a box around where we were on the map and said everywhere around you there are tornados, thunderstorm, dust devils – basically bad weather you can’t fly through….lots of other things like monsters, ghosts, dinosaurs and stuff… – find somewhere to land safety. So I saw this small private runway on the map and I figure out how to navigate to it. I didn’t do too well at it but we did eventually find it. It was the first time I’d had to to do something like this – it was a good learning experience and I had learnt the technique and would be able to do it if we simulated it again, or if it happened for real I guess.

So, we carried on to east kansas city airport (3GK), flying up until finals under the hood, to add to my instrument flying hours, in fact completing them. Raul was already there working on our other aircraft. He fitted a new landing light into our aircraft (remember it failed during flight when I went to Columbia?), and he also noticed several flat-spots from one of the tyres from locking the brakes when landing, so he put a new tyre on too. We chilled at the airport, had some snacks and waited a while until the sun went down a little more. I took some pictures inside where we were chilling. Also, a few around the ramp and also in the hanger where Raul was working from. There were some cool planes being restored! It was awesome to see the frames and structures of the aircraft being restored/built.

We flew to downtown, (which I’d already been to in the morning for my written!) to practise landings at night at a towered airport. When we got there, the sun was still setting, so we went into the flying school there and sat about for a while until it got properly dark.

When it was dark, we did three touch and goes and then headed to Johnson County (KOJC), a towered airport near by, but as we got there the air traffic controller told us the tower was closing so we just did one touch and go there and headed back for downtown so I could practise landing at an airport where it’s controlled (with a tower), which I needed to do to add up the hours for that. At one point there was a jet coming in so whilst we were on the downwind(parallel with the runway flying towards the beginning of the runway), I had to do a 360 turn to let the jet land before I could and I also had to be aware of wake turbulence – it was just a small jet so it was fine. It was good experience to be given an instruction in the pattern which I’m not used to, since it will DEFINITELY happen in the future as a commercial pilot.

I was having a bit of a problem with my landings. I was using the rudder too much to correct for the nose not pointing straight down the runway, but I was just getting a bit disorientated and being too dramatic with the controls and that was kinda making my landings quite poor. After a couple more we headed back to Midwest and did three landings there, to add to my night landings. Two of them were emergency landings – the first I didn’t manage and had to go around but the last one to a full stop was good. :)

So in one day, I had passed my written exam, which usually takes a few weeks for someone to study for, but only took me three days because I worked REALLY hard and also I had some knowledge from my degree, I did all the dual cross country hours I needed, all the instrument flying time needed and all the night hours needed!

So now I just have to do 2.7 hours solo at Midwest, in the practise area or in the circuit – just pottering about! I also need 5 hours solo cross country time, which we’re planning to do in one go. So I have to do 5 hours, with 150nm minimum for the trip, three separate legs and also landing at a towered airport on the way. We have a specific cross country planned out for that so I need to do that, then I’m done in terms of my requirements for the program. Then it’s just flight reviews to perfect everything then my check ride!

It’s been a veryyyyyy long day.

I’m flying to east kansas city again tomorrow, but taking Chinzo with me too. Brandon and Chinzo will take the other aircraft which is having some maintenance done to it and Chinzo will have a lesson and I will fly back to Midwest by myself, practising all the manoeuvres on the way in the practise area.

The plan is to fly 1.5 in the morning, followed by another 1.5 in the afternoon then maybe even a flight review in the evening.

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Studying, Studying…More Studying…

Studying, Studying…More Studying…


The plan was to go on a cross country in the afternoon to a new place even Brandon hasn’t been to before. I got to put my finger on the map around a 50nm radius of Midwest!

I had a lie in because the weather was too bad to do my cross country so I literally sat in the study room at the school and studied all day. I had the school all to myself. It was a nice day to myself.

I went home and watched some of my fave tv shows and went to sleep quite early.


I was meant to fly solo in the pattern or in the practise area and it was such nice weather, like how it is in Scotland on a nice day – breezy and cool and not humid. It was perfect weather, but just a little too breezy for flying. It’s nothing that the aircraft can’t handle – just that I haven’t been in weather like that before so it would have been unsafe for me to fly in gusting winds.

I tried three times getting a weather brief that day because the winds tend to calm down in the evening but it was still too gusty.

So, again I stayed at the school all day and studied.

I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to because the section I was studying, weight and balance – every question requires all these calculations so it was SO time consuming and tiring…I managed to get through it and I studied another section. I still had another 3/4 of the course to get through. Once I go through all the questions and course sections, I will go through practise exams and when I consistently get over 85% (pass rate is 70%), then I can sit the exam.

I met Jackie, the mother of a Mongolian student coming to train at Career Pilot School. She is SO funny. We had a great time in the evening talking with her at our flat with my Dad, Rahul & Chinzo. Her stories were SO funny. She’s VERY quick and sarcy! [Reminder for myself - the "shape" story!]

Even though I didn’t fly, I was tired from studying, so after Jacky went to bed(she was staying with us), we went to sleep straight away too.


I stayed at home in the morning to study. After lunch, I stayed at the school and studied all afternoon. Would you like to guess what I did in the evening? – You got it! I went home and studied all evening.
I took a nap and then studied in the night until about 1/2am.

My written exam was in the following morning so it was important I felt confident otherwise there was no point sitting it. I felt good about it – I was consistently scoring over 85% in the test exams. I watched a film to switch off and relax then went to sleep.