Tuesday, 22 March 2016

IR phase at Oxford Airport

(I need to finish this blog for my own personal closure; I've even finished the course now and I'm sorry it’s so far in between updates, guess that just shows how busy this course has been!)

Shout out to the new ground school class who asked to meet me on their first day, you guys made my day :D

We had a week of FOF again when we came back covering similar topics as before and had a few Bucks assignments to prepare. One was an accident report and presentation which actually felt a bit more applied and relevant than essay writing and the accident we covered was just unbelievable. (Watch below and you’ll see what I'm talking about!). I did this with Josh and Oskar who although I wasn't living with any more I still enjoy working with them and I think we nailed this presentation.

I enjoyed being back in Oxford, I stayed in the same house as I did before Phoenix and one of my house mates was the same as before so it felt really familiar and I didn't have to worry about sorting out accommodation again. We also had our wings ceremony (down to a class size of 6 now!) and gained two gold bars instead of our one silver, distinguished from the ground school kids and feeling very important, we were ready to start the dreaded IR phase.

Things I'm afraid of:

  • Everything! Everyone told me this phase would be the hardest flying test you ever do and there’s so much pressure for a first time pass, I was nervous before I even started flying.

There’s also all the differences between American and English operations, the map is different, radio is different, airspaces, planning and the fact that we’re now going to be flying IFR only not VFR. I had help with the planning side from people in the courses ahead of me though so that was great J I always feel good passing my knowledge down and it’s nice to know other people will take care of you as well.

The IR phase is mostly sim time, I think there’s about 30 sims and 12 flying lessons which really doesn't feel like that much time in which to learn everything. We have a new plane to learn how to fly, it’s a Piper Seneca V (PA34) and they’re brand new to Oxford and fitted with the G1000 as before, this time with 3 screens instead of 2 (there's just 2 PFDs). It’s bigger than the Seminole, with 6 seats inside though it still only has 2 engines. I'm still partnered with Josh and we met our instructor for the first sim which was an introduction to IFR procedures and also cockpit familiarisation. 

The Seneca is brilliant! Where everything in the cockpit seemed to be in the wrong place in the Seminole, it’s all back in Archer configuration for the Seneca! I really enjoyed it from day one, I'm still not great at landing the sim though :/

We started off fast having 3 sims a day between the pair of us (if you weren't flying you were monitoring in the right hand seat, you did learn a lot from just watching and listening), this went on for about 2 weeks before we had to ask our instructor to slow down, which helped. We were also eager to try our hand in the actual plane as opposed to the sim.

The first 2 flights in the Seneca were general handling and to get used to the departure procedures at Oxford. I'm always struck with the sense of not believing that they’re giving me control of an aircraft that I've never flown before. Strangely I only get this feeling during the taxi and after I've done it once I feel much happier with the plane. Parking is better here, you drive it into the space for tie-down as opposed to getting out and pushing it back into place. Phew, I won’t get too muscular on this course.
The first flight was incredible, seeing greenery on the ground, having a lot of traffic to contend with and seeing clouds! We picked a pretty good day to go flying but we never had to deal with clouds in Phoenix. I loved this aircraft.