Hearts, Hydraulics and Humidity

Well, my first week of ATPL theory ground school is over. It’s been a lot of work, trying to get everything read and viewing all of the digital material. In the mean while I have been flying some more, getting closer and closer to my first solo.

The ATPL theory we have to do this phase is Meteorology (MET), Airframes, Systems & Power plants (ASP) and Human Performance and Limitations (HPL). So by the end of the next 2 months, I’ll be a meteorologist, an engineer and a doctor/psychologist. Not bad… But then again, I probably won’t. But I will get a better understanding of weather, airplanes and the human body/psyche.

For example, I now know that the earth’s atmosphere is divided into the Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere and the Exosphere. I also know how the brakes on an aircraft work and what brake fade is (it is bad!) and I have learned that the worst case scenario for everything having to do with your  circulatory and your respiratory system is that’s you’ll end up “dead” (yes, “dead”!).

It’s actually pretty interesting to learn all this stuff, some of which falls in to the “duh”-category and other stuff being pretty hard to grasp. Try getting the influence of pressure and temperature on the working of your altimeter right, every question you get about it. Is a lot harder than it seems… I have also found a lot of benefit in my former job, being a camera man for LectureNet at the Utrecht University. All the hours I’ve spend recording medical lectures, have paid off. I have a better understanding of the heart and lungs because of it, than a pilot needs. So thank you Martin, for all those hours in the UMC!

This week I only had 2 hours of flight. I did my basic instrument flying and I practiced emergencies some more. The basic instrument flying consists of flying solely on your instruments. You get a giant plastic cap, called a “hood” on, and you have to maintain or acquire a certain altitude and heading. It’s pretty fun, but hard when you have to communicate with ATC, while climbing an turning at the same time. Women pilots are definitely at an advantage there! Flying back to Gillespie, my instructor pulled the throttle to idle (like releasing the gas pedal in a car) and told me to make the landing with power. Planes apparently glide further than I thought, because half way through the runway, I was still way above and had to do a go-around. 5 extra minutes in the air!

Tomorrow I have one more flight doing traffic patterns (cross wind landings, if there is any) and then later this week I’ll be having my pre-solo review flight. That fly I’ll have to prove to my instructor that I’m ready to fly the plane by myself. After that, on my stage check flight, I’ll have to prove it again, but to another instructor. If all goes well, I should be flying solo by the end of this week or the beginning of next 😀


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