Hi everyone, as I’m sure all the regular readers have been aware I haven’t posted in some time. I was told by the school that all of their multi-engine airplanes were gone tech (three of them). So that left me counting my fingers for four days.
Today was Interesting to say the least. It started out meeting my instructor at the Airport for 2 pm. We had already arranged what we would do. We would do a long cross country to Madrid so I could get some experience flying in the airways and also get some serious flying done in the Beechcraft Duchess.
This wasn’t the start, we had to get to a small airfield outside Malaga where the maintenance provider is. The company gave us a loan of their 15-year-old Volkswagen Polo. We got on our way, only to soon figure out that the only gear that worked was second. It was a long and loud drive. We went over a viaduct in the road, and the radio fell out. We went through a tunnel and the lights didnt work.
So, we got to “LEAX”, I cant pronounce or even spell the name of the airfield, but it was a very professional maintenance organisation. When we got there at 2:30, the cowlings were all off, the gear was retracted and the plane was up on a jack. I thought to myself we would be here all day!
It wasn’t that long though: there was 8 guys working on the plane and in about 10 minutes it was all complete! What appeared to be the owner (or the guy who was doing the most talking and least work) spoke very good English and came over to me to tell me that there was a brand new left engine. I had to have a smell! I like the smell of new engines and it looked nice too!
It started up, the nice new smell of an engine firing up and the oil burning off! All temperatures and pressures looked fine, but we let it warm up for a while and taxied down to the holding point to complete our powerchecks.
Once ready, we took off and contacted Malaga very quickly to change to IFR so we could get climb clearance. My Instructor was very eager that I did the radio, but felt a little uncomfortable. I later found out that if he used the radio, the controller would always reply in Spanish, but if I used it, they would reply in English therefore I had to adapt pretty quick.
We changed to IFR and climbed up through the layer of cloud. It was a very good feeling for once, knowing that we dont have to look out the window for the church on the map, or the car thats burnt out 3 miles west of the airport! We were cruising along in the “Bravo 11” airway. It went without an event and later landed in Cuatro Ventis – Madrid.
We spent some time there and when it was dark we took off. We were instructed to climb in a circle over the airfield to 5000 ft, which was the Minimum Safe Altitude for the area. The airport itself is almost 2500 ft above sea level!
You may think it’s nicer flying at night! But its the opposite, you don’t have any light in the cockpit that you can comfortably see your kneeboard, and also control the airplane. Once we entered IMC (or cloud for the novice readers), I soon realised the important of turning off the strobes, I was like someone having a seizure! They are blinding!
The other danger of flying at night in IMC is the disadvantage of not seeing the type of clouds you’re flying through. Usually the instructor is keeping an eye out, from time to time giving vectors, but we didn’t need a hood or screens as we were in cloud. We came through some pretty rough stuff, and there was four hands and four feet on the controls!
We were also at FL130 (13000 feet), and your night vision is one of the first things to be effected by hypoxia above 5000 ft.
The next danger is ICE. At this altitude, we were about 3 degrees above zero, this is usualy okay. The airplane is not approved for flight into “known” icing conditions, and there are no lights on the wings to check if you have any ice. Ice is dangerous, it adds weight and alters the profile of your wing. So better not have it.
We were in and out of cloud for the most part of the trip and eventually getting in contact with Malaga Approach, they told us we would get the “Vulpe 1 A” Standard Terminal Arrival Route, which they quickly took us off again as we were too slow for the 737 doing 250 kts up our behind!
They gave us vectors for a 5 mile final approach at 3000 ft and asked us to keep 140 knots on the approach. She also thanked us for our “co-operation”, which was nice!
It was all very well timed, there was a 737 becoming airborne when we were on a 2 mile final, and as we were taxing down there was a 757 landed behind us!
So a good day, followed by a nice ILS into Malaga. My eyes hurt like mad now, and I can see an attitude indicator everywhere I look! Up at 7 in the morning to get the bus to the airport to fly at 8:30. Route planned to Granada.
Talk to you soon,