Sunday, January 4, 2009

Changing of the plans

...LFMT tour, le oskaaar foxtrot india est en final pour le trente et une droite...

Many things have changed since the last post:

new instructor, new plane, more engines..(2:p ) but above all, new country (or even new continent)

To make a long story short: our multi-engine training on the Diamond 42 didn't continue as planned in the US, but in Montpellier in France. The planes in the US were more in maintenance than flying, so the decision was made to fly the 2 planes stationed at at Antwerp. To have some better weather conditions, we would go to the South of France to do most of our multi engine missions. And so it went...

1 week after receiving this news, we were on the plane back to Belgium, and 3 days later, monday morning, we were in Antwerp to fly our 2 diamond 42's to Montpellier.It started well, my first landing with the DA42 was in Clermont Ferrand, where we were visual with the approach lights 100 ft above the minima. We (Dan, Hannes, Kevin and me with our 2 instructors: Paul Huyghe and Dany Creeten) were in France for only 9 days, but flew every day. It was an intens training with lots of preparations and a new environment to fly in. Quite a bit different. It's while flying in Europe you start to see what a paradise Arizona is for General Aviation. 100% of our flights in France was in controlled airspace. You don't just get into the plane as you do in Arizona. For local IFR approach training, you need to file a flight plan, for VFR manoeuvre training, you need to request an area somewhere over the sea between 3500 and 4500... You get used to it, but in a way you also miss the freedom you had in the states. We made some nice IFR flights to Perpignan, Carcassonne and Nimes. Most of the patterns and also some IFR training was done in Beziers, close to Montpellier. It was a nice experience, although the atmosphere was less relaxed as it is in the States. After 9 days, we flew the planes back home. From then on, we continue the rest of our multi training in Belgium. Up to now I have 3 flights in Belgium, to Ostend and to Chaleroi. Impressive how small our country is if you're used to flying in the States.

Pictures of Montpellier below

Last pictures of Arizona and of the trip back home will follow soon!

Grts Huts

Montpellier 15 - 23 december 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Week 22 and counting...

Hi all

Can't believe it myself we just started week 22 already, it goes so quickly...
Last week, we finally saw some rain, the first rain in 2 months.

We were on the scedule on wednesday for an IFR cross country to Yuma (near the Californian border). But just as we closed the doors of the van to drive to school, it started to rain like hell. You couldn't see 100 meters ahead. Really painful for the 2 guys who had to wait for the next van, as this one was full ;). We knew immediately we were going to school to fill out a nice cancellation form, and take the next van back home. Reason for cancellation: Belgian Weather (bad actual, bad forecast).

Next day, thursday, was Thanksgiving Day. School was closed, nobody was flying. Our instructor Curtis invited all his students to celebrate thanksgiving with his family. It was a very nice and first time thanksgiving experience. And of course there was Turkey, lots of turkey! Everybody was really nice, and very interested in what we are doing, where we come from, and if we had something like thanksgiving in Belgium. We were invited by our instructors' father in law, to fly once in his own aircraft. In the end, he 'pushed' curtis (our instructor) to fly with us even the same day. And so, on thanksgiving: me Alex and Kevin were the only SATC students to fly a plane at falcon Field, and not just a plane, but a shiny new Cessna 206 (300hp). Really nice machine, and lots of power if you're used to only 180hp. As the clouds base was quite low and decreasing rapidly we flew for only 20 min, but it was really nice upthere, with a lot of clouds, something you don't see here every month.

On Friday we were resceduled for our flight to Yuma. This was going to be our first IFR Cross Country. Basically, this is the kind of flights most of us will do everyday once we enter an airliner. The complete flight is controled by an air traffic controler, who separates you from other traffic, and guides you through your route. No more looking outside (at least, its not needed anymore), all the flight can be done on instruments and radios only. Only the final part just before landing, you should be visual with the runway in order to land. What made todays flight even more interesting, is that the weather was for part of our route IMC (Instruments meteorogical conditions), meaning that only IFR flights can fly, no Visual flights. Weather was looking really nice from up there, and the closer we came to our destination, the more interesting it was. Yuma was covered by a layer of brume, thick clouds just over the ground. The airport itself was clear of these clouds, but was only open for IFR traffic! We were put in the hold before we were cleared for the VOR approach runway 17. Great flight, short stop on the ground, and Kevin took off for the flight back to Falcon. Once in the Phoenix area, nice cumulus clouds were on our route, and we managed to fly trough some, just great!
enjoy the pics (click on pics below for the albums)

Rain in Arizona

Thanksgiving flight Cessna 206

IFR Cross Country To Yuma

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Apache Trail (Nov 10th)

Last Sunday, it was time for some action. So 2 brave men decided to go 'snake hunting' on the Apache Trail. Me and Orlando left around noon, the time the snakes come out to warm up in the sunlight (the are cold-blooded animals). Of course, there was Murphy, never seen so many clouds in the last 2 months. Anyway, nothing else to do, so it was a GO!

First stop was at Gold City (also called 'Ghost town'), a former Cowboy village, now mainly a tourist attraction, with cowboy shows, museums, bars and shops.

After passing another small village, the road became unpaved. From there on, we were right in the habitat of a lot of wild animals including: rattlesnakes, tarantulas, eagles... Realy promising! Aim of the game was of course spotting the snakes from inside the car (being more clear: we sitting inside, the snakes outside :p ), I find those animals very nice and fascinating, but behind glass! Orlando made the trip once before, with his family, and they spotted 6-7 snakes on the road. We made a first stop at a 'vista' point with a nice view on the canyons. Thats where we spotted the first Tarantula of the day. No snakes so far...

Continued driving, suddenly, small black snake, dead on the road, very sad but at least we saw our first one. It wasn't even a rattler... After about 10 miles unpaved road, we drove down to a lake, to have a burger at the local restaurant. There we spotted the masterpiece of the day. A snake, at least 10 meters long, green, and lying down waiting for food to pass by. Pictures below will releave you from your curiosity.

After dinner, we drove back to be home before dark. Clouds were becoming denser, no more sun coming through, no more snakes to spot. And of course, there was Murphy again. Just today, when we were driving our old Toyota (called Jimmy) on an unpaved road in the middle of the desert, it started to rain like hell (for a moment). First Cb I saw in 2 months! Why not, at least some adventure!

We survived without a snakebite, the car survived, great success!

Next time, some snakes would be nice!

Apache Trail (Nov 10th)

Instrument Flying (Oct 31th)

Another day, another flight!
Took my camera along for some shots.

31th October Flight

Halloween Party

On Saturday, 1th of November, SATC (our flight school) organized a Halloween Party in one of the Hangars. Of course, suitable outfit was required. In the afternoon, we all went looking for something, we even got a discount as halloween was the day before :)!

As we understood there would be pizza as well, and last year, the pizza was finished after 30 minutes, we had to be on time! So meaning: doors 7pm, we arrive 7pm! at 6, the dressing began, of course pictures here and there (for the grandchildren), and at 7, we were in the van heading to school! Guess who were the first to arrive in an empty hangar... But there still was a LOT of pizza! First we had to pass by 2 cops, checking identity. Those being 21 or older got a nice paper-band, the key to the beer! And for the others, 100LL :p

It took some time for other people to arrive, but in the end the place was nearly full. First mostly hip hop, but all of a sudden, the DJ changed into mr Boedha himself, and all Indian students went crazy shaking on the Indian party Mix. Of course there was the revenge of the Dutch, luckily without Frans...

Nice suprise was meating Tim and Ruth again, 2 teachers at SFA, and both flying for Brussels Airlines. The were spending the last day of their holidays in the US. Quite difficult to recognize Tim though, until he started speaking (ghijnts).

Nice Party, great show!
Party pictures are copyrighted by Brent!
Halloween Party 1th November

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spotting KPHX

Some of us had the crazy idea to climb a mountain near Tempe downtown (located next to an american football-stage, where the stones used to play), with a great view on the final approach of the planes coming into Phoenix Sky Harbour. Westerly wind was all we need to get the planes coming from the good direction! Last saturday, TAF's (weather forecasts) were promising, so around 4 pm Bomans, Dan , Orlando, Kristof (last day in Arizona), and me headed for tempe! Though it was a very calm day (think we saw not more than 15 jets coming in in 2 hours), the views were great and it was worth the effort of climbing the mountain (read hill). No doubt about the wining team of the spottersday: the 747 of British Airways: 12 points!

Spotting KPHX

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week 15-16: Night Flying

Last weeks, no need to wake up early. We only took off after sunset, meaning as from about 18:30 local time, for night flight training. The views at night are very impressive, but the flying becomes a little more chalanging. It took me some time to adapt to the night environment. In the beginning I was so impressed and looking outside constantly that I forgot half of the stuff I had to do, so step 1: keep focussed on flying! Next tricky point: landing! The runway looks different when you only see lights. In the beginning it's hard to estimate your true distance from the runway, and also your height above it. We had 4 flights with an instructor and 1 solo flight at night (only local patterns). One flight with my instructor was a flight over the mountains to Sedona, where we had dinner! And on my solo I was stuck on the runway because of a tire burst after my first landing... New tire, and I was off for 4 more :) Pretty stressful being stuck on a runway at night.

Next week: back to IFR flying, mostly during the day! It will be hard waking up at 5am again...

Grts Huts