After a short-lived bout of sunshine we are certainly feeling the chill of winter settling in and the adverse weather it brings. So although not as exciting as flying itself, this time of year can be made quite productive if flight training is combined with the equally important component of ground theory that we all seem to put off. Then come Spring, you can put all your focus back into being airborne.
Student and Staff Congratulations
Emily Raleigh and Brett McGrane both did their first solo flights last week. We are so chuffed for them, what an incredible achievement!
Massive congratulations to our flight instructors Wing and Gray for gaining their Grade 2 Instructor rating under Alex Poole's guidance. Such a great effort, well done team. And we certainly owe a big thanks to David Adamson for undertaking these examinations for us.
(Pictured L to R: Emily and Brett doing solo circuits and signing the rotor blade to mark their entry into Melbourne Heli's Solo Club; Alex all smiles with Wing and Gray post their flight test)
Coffee with Stuart Beard
Stuart Beard aka 'Stuey' recently got his wings (PPL) so we thought we'd take the opportunity to learn more about his pilot journey and share his story. Think I'll personally always associate him for very cleverly linking the age-old Aussie-ism, 'sparrow's fart' with 'first light'.
MH: What was the main motivation behind you learning to fly helicopters?
SB: I have always enjoyed driving and riding machines. I used to race motor bikes as a kid
and was amazed by how a helicopter operated and how cool it looked to fly. So I had it on my list to learn to fly one some day.
My company does electrical work at the international airshow and I got chatting to some army guys there a few years back. That was the day I decided to pursue flying. I also have a few friends who have a PPL so that was added motivation.
MH: How would you summarise the journey of getting your PPL, from start to finish? What have been some of the key highlights and challenges along the way?
SB: My journey was a bit disrupted due to COVID last year. I had originally planned to complete my PPL within a year but it ended up taking about 18 months. I did my introductory flight lesson with Alex Poole in April 2019 which was a birthday present from my kids, and before I knew it I was taking my flight test in December 2020. My highlights along the way were when I was first able to hover, learning to do autos, my first solo and then the first solo flight in and out of Essendon. I initially found navigation quite challenging but Glenn sorted me out.
MH: Would you like to share any learnings or experiences that you think might be of benefit to current and/or prospective students?
SB: I did most of my study at home, however towards the end I needed some guidance to make sure I was on track. So I booked in for a few one on one theory sessions with Chris which got me over the line. If I had my time again I would do the 2 week PPL theory course with Chris and get it out of the way. Also I tried to do 2 flight lessons a week which suited me best and seemed to work out well.
MH: Now that you've got your licence, what have you been up to and what are your plans for the future?
SB: I've been taking friends and family out for some local flights once or twice a week.
A few weeks ago, I flew my family out to Clyde Park winery for lunch; it's a great venue with a nice easy landing spot. Over Easter, I was up in Echuca where I have some friends with an R44. We were flying in and out of their farm and landing at a lot of local places which was quite a unique experience. Going forward I plan to keep flying at least once a week if possible and keep building my skills. My mates and I are planning a trip from Echuca up to Queensland in the winter which will be an incredible experience. In the meantime, I'm just planning on flying for fun and opening up a new world of experiences.
Our PPL Theory Course will run from 19 April through to 30 April (Mon - Fri: 09:00 - 16:00). For anyone keen to join, please feel free to contact us for more details.
Winter timings (0700 - 1730) for flight lessons are now in place. Bookings are therefore available as per the new 2-hour slots: 07:00 - 09:00, 09:00 - 11:00, 11:00 - 13:00, 13:30 - 15:30, 15:30 - 17:30.
With daylight savings ending earlier this month, a friendly reminder that the local time is now UTC + 10 hours.
Weather to Fly
CASA have safety advisors travel around the country giving talks to pilots and engineers about different aspects of aviation that we may take for granted. AvSafety Seminars are a great way to meet new people in the industry and learn a thing or two that you may not have thought of before. These seminars are free and accessible to everyone.
When I arrived at Bendigo Flying Club the buzzing atmosphere certainly took me by surprise. Tim Penney (the speaker) and Linda Beilharz (CFI) welcomed me with open arms. Tim began with some jokes and a relaxed air about him which seemed to make everyone feel at ease. His extensive and varied aviation background make him the ideal person to give such seminars as he can relate so well to his audience.
The seminar was titled “Weather to Fly”, touching on the importance of gaining a bigger picture of the weather for your flight (including origin, journey & destination) and the pilot’s decision making. The main topic of conversation was inadvertent IMC where VFR pilots enter into cloud. Now we've all watched (or should watch) the video of the Brazilian pilot who entered into cloud resulting in the death of all onboard. It was a tragedy that should never have occurred. This is why people like Tim travel around the country discussing these matters; to give pilots the tools in order to be better prepared.
We are taught how to read and predict weather during our training, but how many of us look at a GPWT, GAF, or the Mean Sea-Level Pressure Analysis on the BOM after completing flight school? Being out on your own can lead to complacency and anyone can succumb to it. What’s important is to be aware of it, pause and do our homework. If you can't remember how to properly read a forecast/chart, or if you'd like to get more training on how to read the weather, just make some time to come and see us.
Do you remember the VFR rules? Do you remember what the alternate requirements are? You don't have to remember everything, but those are the things to consider if the weather at your destination isn't looking great. The other day I flew into Camden and the clouds were on the deck north-west of us, right on our flightpath. We had to come up with alternate plans; plan B - head East (where we had local knowledge), plan C - turn around, plan D - land at Goulburn. Making a decision to turn around is easy when you're about 10% into your journey, however it’s extremely challenging when you're 10% from your destination. That decision making is critical. The last thing you want to do is give in to ‘get-there-itis’. Remember, if you do get into trouble, ATC is there to help you, but you shouldn't put yourself in that position in the first place.
- Alex T
Instructor's tip of the month
Our safety tip this month is in relation to the Robinson ground trolley. Occasionally, especially when you raise the trolley's arm in several steps, the locking collar does not move to the open (unlocked) position. This means that the ball on the aircraft does not fully sit inside the recess and is therefore not securely locked in place.
You’ll be able to manoeuvre the aircraft around the hangar with ease, but as soon as you go over a bump the ball will jump out and the ground trolley arm will score the underside of the aircraft. Sometimes this can even punch a hole in the aircraft skin.
Please watch carefully to ensure that the locking arm OPENS as it raises, and make sure it latches CLOSED around the ball before moving the aircraft.
Also please note that students must not move an aircraft in and out of the hangar or across the apron unless supervised by an instructor.