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Friday, 30 August 2013

$100 mussels

The $ 100 burger is a phenomenon well known in the U.S. General Aviation . It has its origins in the search for a destination to fly to. Lacking a "real" reason to go anywhere , a trip to a distant restaurant obviously is a good excuse to have some air flow under the wings.
As a variant of this , I found the mussel fly-in on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Aeroclub Zeeland a good reason to book the Aquila. This time with Piet de Hondt as an instructor and thus my first flying lesson in "my own" air plane was booked :)
For me, so no $ 100 Hamburger, but mussels , this time !

And : this time the bad weather came only a day later , so I've actually flown my first flying lesson in the Aquila!

My idea had also inspired the KLM Aeroclub event committee to nominate the mussel fly-in as a club flight. Thus, two planes of the club flew to MiddenZeeland, with a total of five men : Rene Bins , Nard Sonneberg and Sergio Moya Boom in the Cessna 172 PH-KBA, and of course, Piet and myself in the Aquila A210 PH -KLQ .

Lesson 1 is about flying straight and level. Sounds so simple, but it is actually quite difficult to do for a longer period of time. The 100nm to Midden Zeeland ( EHMZ ) airport is a good stretch to practice.

Of course, it all starts off with a briefing. What is flying? Where do we go? How do we get there? What's important to watch for? After all that, the walk-around . This time from the heart (Piet's), but next time I'll do it all myself, with the use of the walk-around checklist to make sure that I 'm going to miss anything. See if all bolts are still in place, if moving parts are moving, general condition of the aircraft, things like that. Also very important: how much of which fuel is in which tank, and is there any water in the fuel? Plus of course gauge the oil (turn prop until gargle, then turn until second gargle, and then read the dipstick).

In the cockpit I get information about which gauges do what, and which ones are the most imposrtant to keep an eye on in flight. At first glance, it all seems very complicated, but it isn't, really :)
Piet read the checklists out loud, and I execute them. There is still quite a lot to do before you may turn the key to start the engine. I did the taxiing, after a brake test on both sides, and a check that all direction indicators move in the correct direction when we make a turn. After Piet obtained the latest aerodrome information, we taxied to rwy23 . The take-off and leaving the pattern was done by Piet, because that may not yet be expected of a first lesson student. Then it was my turn to "take the helm".
We both had mapped out a route independently, but as both were exactly the same, that was quickly decided upon. We'd use the VOR beacon PAM ( Pampus ), then along the east side of the Rotterdam CTR (area around the airport where special rules apply becuse of local traffic) and then South-West to our destination . I had added another waypoint too: the home of a friend / colleague Dennis in Almere . That was very close to the route, so the only deviation from the syllabus was that had to make some turns! I started out with a right-hand curve, but Peter suggested to turn left, because then would have better visibility myself.

Dennis even managed to take a photograph of us! :)

The rest of the route went quite as planned . I have yet to develop a workflow in the cockpit where I check my altitude more often, because that varied a little bit to much . If the trim is not quite perfect, or if circumstances change, a very slow climb or descend will result, and I noticed that too late. Of course I can say that there was good 20 knots of wind and there was a strong varying cloud cover, but the bottom line is that I just had to notice the altitude changes earlier.
Point of attention!

At Midden Zeeland the almost 20 knots of wind was almost perpendicular to the runway. At least 10 knots X-wind component, so Piet landed the plane. I had my hands and feet on the controls to gouge his inputs, because X-wind landing requires quite a special technique. Also, Midden Zeeland has a grass runway only, which requires a bit of extra attention not to damage the nodsewheel. I will eventually get to master all those techniques, but not yet today .
Then, of course, it was Mussels Time! I am not even that big a fan of mussels, but these were great! I have eaten a full dish, some 20 odd pieces, where my personal best is about 10 :)
A nice chat under a tent with fellow aviation enthusiasts, while sipping a coke - this is the life :)

After a chat with someone who was interested in the Aquila (of course :) ), it was about time to go back to Lelystad. Lesson 2! Time for another walk-around !

During the return leg, we would have those 20 knots of wind in the back, so the journey would be somewhat shorter. Well, Piet found a solution for that: medium turns,  and slow flight.

Above the province of Zeeland already, he made me do some 90 and 180 degree turns. Watch that nose position very carefully! I tend to "over pull" the nose. More in a right-hand turn than in a left-hand turn. That latter is what most people do. So there's another point of attention for me.
When flying slowly, the plane  reacts differently. This is because, obviously, the airflow around the wing is slower . Also, the noseneeds to be a little more up, to continue to fly at the same altitude. That is not very convenient. That's why flaps were invented. In the first picture of this article, you see them fully extended at the back of the wings. Flaps in that position provide a much larger "curvature" of the wing, which means more lift. So the nose can be lowered a bit during the approach. They also provide significantly more resistance, so a little extra throttle is needed if you want to maintain altitude. Pushing the nose down also increases speed, so it's a matter of doing it a lot, and developing a "feel" for how the plane responds is all configurations.

We landed safely back at Lelystad . After a total of 2 1/2 hours flown, lessons 1 and 2 are now in my logbook, along with the introduction two flights that I did before. This now totals to 4.5 hours. It is starting to look like something . :)
I've decided that I'm going to take lessons on a regular basis (about once a week) from the beginning of the new year. Meanwhile I have also signed up for a theory course , already about to start in September.
More about that in next reports. Until then !

PS It was not a $ 100 , = Hamburger, but a € 400 , = serving of mussels; that's pretty expensive feed at € 20 , = per piece. Haha! ;)

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