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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Aquila means "Eagle"

I bet you didn't know that, did you? Neither did I, until I looked it op :) It is actually the statue on a stick that the Romans carried with them when they went to battle. At the time, it was considered a greater defeat when the legion would return without Aquila, then when only the Aquila bearer would return...
What's that all got to do with my flying adventures, you may ask yourselves. Not so much in itself, except that Aquila is the brand of the aircraft in which I had my second PPL lesson today (Wednesday, the 14th of December 2011). The A210 was recently delivered to KLM Aeroclub to train the Flight Instructors so that they can "check out" current pilots, and train new pilots (like yours truely) on the plane. And all that within the framework of the setup of a shared ownership construction within the KLM Aeroclub.

Despite the lousy weather the past week or so, and the impossible TAF of yesterday morning, this morning it started to look like at least marginal VMC. So, on our way to Lelystad!

Flight Instructor Ferry called me when I was just driving in my car past Schiphol airport. I could clearly see the landing lights of all traffic capturing the localiser for rwy 18C and 18R. That means I had at least 10km visibility, and the 18C approach is at 3000ft, so no significant cloud base below that. Well above VMC minima. Now all we needed was daylight... And, oh yes, the rain. We could do without that!

For lack of the usual traffic jams, we were at the highway gas station near Lelystad before 8 o'clock already. So we (my was went along :) ). So we stopped for a cup of coffee first. Nevertheless we were even a touch early at KLM Aeroclub. It was still raining, even harder than an hour earlier near Schiphol. Some 10 minutes later, Ferry arrived too. On his motorcycle, no less. Hero!

After a cup of coffee and a getting-to-know each other talk, we went over to the plane. I climbed in, together with my wife to see how we would fit. Comfy, spacious, ..., a beautiful plane!

We did the pre-flight inspection (walk-around) indoors, to save a couple of drops. Meteo  still said it was a "go". Visibility, and cloud base were VMC, wind was within limits, a little rain would not hurt us, so we would go fly. After checking NOTAMs we rolled out one of the Cessna's to make room for rolling out the Aquila. In the mean time, it stopped raining! Things just couldn't be timed better :)

Because I had indicated I wanted to do as much as possible myself, I got to do the checklists, start up, and after the first turn taxi out to the runway. Nosewheel steering is such a luxury! On our way to rwy23 we passed a Fokker F50 of Mongolian, that I saw being towed out of QAPS hangar with all new colours half an hour earlier :). Nice. After I did the Pre-take-off checklist (carb heat and magnetos check), a good lookout, and a radio call by Ferry before lining up. Ferry also switched on the transponder at that point, I believe (I know he switched it off after landing)
As I opened up the throttle , I was a little surprised by the amount of footwork needed to keep her in the direction of the runway. So Ferry kicked in somewhere along the way. At 50 knots,  a slight back pressure to the stick, and hop goes the front wheel off the tarmac. It took a little searching to find the right angle for a climbing flight. The Aquila is very responsive. Much like the AT-3. That lead to a little bit nerveous behaviour, both by the plane, and yours truely ;) Soon, we approached the 700 ft circuit height. So point the nose down a bit, level off and try out the electric trim. Having left the circuit, another little climb  to 1400ft, and a righthand turn to stay East of the A6 highway. There's two limits to obey here: a 1500 ft ceiling, dictated by Schiphol TMA (class A) where VFR flight is forbidden, and the A6 highway, because West of that Highway there is a nature reserve that contains rangers that are not too fond of those pruttling props upstairs, despite the 65 dB quiet A210. It appeared that I did not have my trim well enough under control, because at one moment I found myself very close to the 1500 ft limit.
Anyway, a little to the North, there was 6500 ft of airspace available to play with, so we first tried climbing, trimming, descending, trimming, etc. And, of cause, enjoying the view, because it was surprisingly clear air, with beautiful clouds to our East, against the backdrop of an early morning sun. Then, I tried out some turns. Some slow flight, working towards a landing configuration (70 knots, full flaps, fully trimmed, descending). In fact , I experienced all normal procedures at least once. Also a rudder only turn, to get a little feel for how a rudder kick will also roll the plane.
Ferry had, by then, punched in a direct course to Teuge airport into the GPS, which would take us just south of the Oldebroek firing range. So also on this flight we would pass by the camping, again. Just North of Apeldoorn, there was a patch of sunshine, although it was obvious from the pools of water that it had rained seriously, only minutes before. Again, a backdrop of dark rain clouds to complete a beautiful picture. Sorry, no camera along. I had to fly ;-P

In order not to fly directly overhead Teuge (there might be para activity), we took a course stright overhead the A50 highway, followed by a left turn overhead A1 highway towards the Ijssel river. Following the Ijssel river North, we decided to head back west, again south of the firing range. This time I tried to find the camping using visual navigtion, following the road Emst-Gortel-Vierhouten. A well known road, for everyone that comes there on a semi-regular basis, because of the icecream truck near Gortel. If you ever find yourself in that area ...
After Vierhouten, the Gobi is well visible from the sky: a patch of sand with two distinct trees in it. The camping lays right next to that :)

(Foto made in August, from the C172; Gobi top left)
Time to prepare for reporing point Bravo. Ferry handled the radio, so he announced us to Lelystad radio. At he circuit altitude of 700ft, there were some puffy clouds. Nothing serious, but it does make other traffic wanting to join at Bravo at that altitude more difficult to spot. So we took a minute to scan the area for traffic. As there was none, we proceded through those puffs, They caused minor turbulence, I think from the difference in density with the surrounding air. There also was stil a well noticable wind (some 10 to 15 knots) coming in from our left, so we had to compensate for that. We decided to do one touch-and-go before a full stop landing. During the first landing, Ferry had to correct a lot. Pfew, you've got a lot to pay attention to, during a landing! Again, with the acceleration of taking otf again, I let the torque effect surprise me. Once back at circuit altitude, I paid a little more attention to trimming the plane. That took away one point of attention anyway. The second attempt went markedly better, although I ended up a little to the left of the centreline. Correcting that, I got the glidepath a little off (I was a little
high, luckily). So also this landing would not have been a very nice one without some corrective action by Ferry. So no "unassisted" landing for me yet, but there's progress. And that's the way to learn, I gues: do, observe, evaluate, and try again.

GPS track

All in all an enriching experience. Of cause to confirm what I secretly already knew: the Aquila A210 is a wonderful plane! But also in the sense of: it takes some effort to fly properly, and: flying in real life is something different than sitting behind your PC, flying the simulator.

Rabbit teeth ;-)


  1. Gaat de goede kant uit met je vliegkunsten. Mooi vliegtuig die Aguila.
    Groeten Timo

  2. De transponder gaat automatisch naar ALT bij airborn, vandaar. Ben benieuwd naar het vervolg. Succes!