Diverse Skies: Embracing the Cessna 150 Experience

Today I took a Cessna 150 out for a solo spin! Now, I’ve got some experience under my belt with a Cessna 172, around 15 hours or so, and I’ve dipped my toes into the world of the 150 for about 2 hours. One of those hours was basically just to show that I’ve got the hang of things and can handle the Cessna 150. Having passed the handling assessment, the kind folks at The Light Aircraft Company (TLAC) over at Little Snoring airfield are allowing me to rent their 150.

You might be wondering why I’m renting the 150. Well, our trusty Europa is temporarily out of commission, waiting for some TLC. And while I love flying around and teaching in the C42, every now and then, it’s nice to fly something different.

Cessna C150 G-GFLY

TLAC’s 150 is affordable and conveniently located for me. So, it’s a win-win.

Now, let’s talk about the flying experience. Flying the 150 is a different ball game compared to the C42 or our speedy Europa. The 150 takes its time getting off the ground and climbing, kind of like driving a minibus, whereas the C42 feels more like a sports car. And then there’s our Europa XS Tri-gear, which falls somewhere in between during the climb. The Europa might take a bit more time to climb than the C42, but once it’s cruising, it leaves both the C42 and the 150 for dust cruising at 120-130kt.

But honestly, flying is flying, no matter how you slice it. Whether it’s a Microlight, a GA plane, or something else.

Occasionally we do get some Cessna pilots dropping in for training on a C42, and they sometimes find it a bit tricky to master the landing in the lighter C42. Well, I guess I now understand why, Landing the Cessna 150 almost feels like it’s doing the job itself!

So, my adventure today lasted about an hour. I headed out to explore the breathtaking coastline of North Norfolk before returning to Little Snoring.

Stunning coastline

After a smooth landing and a bit of taxiing, I ended up having a chat with David, who works at TLAC. He was busy with an Ikarus C42, setting up a transponder and testing it with a laptop. And here’s a cool twist—I found out they were using software that I’d actually created and shared on this very website! It’s pretty humbling, I won’t lie, as are those emails that pop up every now and then, saying thanks for the software. They really make the time and effort that I put into writing and testing the transponder report program worthwhile.

Transponder testing with Transponder report application written by getyourwings.

Changing from Neuform to Kiev Propeller on an Ikarus C42A 912UL (80hp)

This is a reflection of how I went about changing the propeller, it is not meant as a “how to” and no liability will be taken for any issue others may have by following this post!

We made the decision to change the original Neuform Propeller after noticing some hairline cracks across the back of the prop. This together with an accumulation of small chips meant it was highly unlikely to pass a factory inspection, thus the prudent thing to do was to change the prop. 

Neuform Props are very good, but expensive props, so we chose to replace them with a Kiev which at the time of writing was around £1,000 less.

The first stage is to remove the top cowling, we also later removed the bottom one too, to allow us to have a good look around at the same time. This proved to be a prudent thing to do as we found our radiator bracket was broken too!

Next, remove the spinner, a tip here which some may not know, is to hold the allen key bolt and undo the nyloc nut with the spanner, else you may start to round the allen key head.

NB: I found out the hard way, that you should mark the back of the spinner plate and the flange to ensure the spinner goes back on in the correct position!

Remove top cowling
Flange Bolt

Now we need to remove the old prop by undoing the six M8 retaining bolts. These are the long ones which screw through into the flange.

After these are removed the propeller will come off still clamped in the hub.

The prop with its adaptor plate is now removed.

Removing the lugs

Now for the  “fun” part, removing the lugs from the flange.

The lugs are used by both Neuform and Warp drive props, but not by Kiev props.

These lugs are press-fit and difficult to remove. First, spray them with AC50 and then have a cup of tea while this goes to work!

The best way we found to remove them safely is to use an M8 bolt through a 17mm socket, this acts as a puller and pulls the lugs back through the flange plate without damaging or shocking the gearbox.

Once they are almost through they will easily tap out.,

Fitting the new prop

First, lay the prop out and loosely clamp the prop blades in the hub. Ensure the key marks are aligned (see image) this is just tight enough to hold it all together, while we loosely bolt the prop onto the flange using the new adaptor. Note the new adaptor plate can only be purchased from TLAC  and was around £120.00 inc VAT.

The bolts to hold the prop on are 110mm long if you purchase the correct ones. However, using these bolts means they have 25mm of thread and about 12mm of this thread is within the flange plate holes. This is not good engineering practice and after checking with the BMAA they agreed. The solution is to buy the next size up (120mm) and cut them down by 10mm thus giving 15mm of thread which means you will have about 3 threads out of the Nyloc and much less thread within the flange.

The bolts we used are M8 grade 8.8, DIN 931 120mm, cut to 110mm.

Once the prop is mounted and all the bolts are in, but not tight, they should be loose enough to allow the blades to be turned within the hub, but tight enough to stop them moving to easily.

Now the pitch can be set. We have found mounting the pitch tool 48.5cm in from the tip on the inside of the mark and setting a pitch of 25 degrees gives the correct revs, 4,800 rpm on the ground. This TLAC confirmed to be the correct test that the prop is pitched correctly. 

Work your way around all the blades in turn setting the pitch.

Carefully do the bolts up working your way around the opposite bolts that clamp the blades first.  These should be done up to a torque of 15Nm. Now before doing up the main bolts recheck, loosen and adjust and tighten as needed the pitch for each blade. 

Lastly, do up the mounting bolts that go through the flange, do this progressively working across the opposites, these are torqued up to 25Nm,  then once again check the pitch and adjust the pitch if needed.

All that is left is to ground-run the aircraft. Check your static full power rpm is 4,800 rpm +/- 50 rpm, our brakes don’t hold at this power so we check that we get this during the takeoff.

The torque of all the bolts needs to be checked at 1hr, 25hrs and 50hrs after fitting the new prop.

I hope this will help others, even if it doesn’t it will serve as a reminder to myself if I have to do a third prop conversion!

Lastly, you will need a BMAA inspector to sign your change of information form.


A flight from the wrong seat!

A friend of mine is nearing his solo cross country exercises and we thought it would be a good idea for him to get some practice in with me in the passenger seat. The main reason for this is the cost saving over taking lessons, I would still be P1 or “pilot in command” and as such I’m responsible. We discussed the Idea with our CFI Mike who strongly suggested I have a lesson with him in the pilot seat first, as this sounded sensible I booked up a lesson for the 23rd of Jan.

The day came and although wet and cold the wind was light and it was looking good to go flying. I arrived at the airfield and got the aircraft ready, warming it up while Mike and Katie walked runway 23 to check its condition as it is not often used.  Mike joined me in the aeroplane and we restarted and went through the normal checks and I taxied out to the runway. The taxiing was not too much of a problem, I lined up on 23, but as I was used to the view from the other side Mike pointed out that I was pointing to the right, I repositioned and we were ready to go. Full power and we were soon airborne, my normal markers for the climb attitude and the horizon were both missing, the horizon was missing due to cloud, I found myself chasing the needle, but not too badly and this was easily corrected.

We climbed to 3,000ft and trimmed out, next Mike wanted me to do a standard stall recovery, I had not anticipated this! I carried out a HASELL check and stalled the aircraft and recovered ok, but not as good as it could or should have been so I tried again, this time it was much better. Next Mike said OK dangerous and unusual attitudes and took control. He put it in to a nose high situation followed by a spiral dive and had me recover from both which I did.

The hour was fast coming to an end when Mike uttered the words I always hated while training, “OK where are we and how do we get back to Chatteris?” I recognised where I was, there was an old RAF airfield in sight and some lakes, but I could not remember the names so I asked for the map and soon found our location and selected the heading to take us back. This to me is the beauty of always having Skydemon with me and on, even on local flights, instead of the 2 or 3 minutes pondering over the map and looking down, it would have taken a few seconds and my peripheral vision would have been out of the window, to me a much safer option, but I know not everyone will agree! throughout the flight occasionally I would go for the throttle when I wanted the stick and vice versa, I guess it’s all down to muscle memory.

I joined the circuit downwind for 23 and the approach was ok until I turned final, I was not lined up and spent so long getting on to the centre line I decided to go around. Mike took the controls and said he would show me the perspective so he flew the circuit and did a touch and go. My turn again, this time the circuit was much better and I was lined up on final full flaps and all was going well until the round out, I got my hands confused and messed up the touchdown causing us to bounce, Mike quickly took the controls and with a squirt of power we landed and I taxied us back in.

Approach runway 23
Approach runway 23
Touching down Runway 23

It appears to be much more difficult to fly from the other side than I thought, back in the clubhouse Katie said it took her many hours to get comfortable flying from the righthand seat and mentioned several people doing so without undergoing instruction die each year due to getting their hands mixed up at the critical point in the approach, I’m very glad I had the lesson.

Exercise 16b – Operation at minimum level

Its been a while since I have blogged due to having completed my training and gaining my NPPL(M) in June,’ I’m flying a lot, but don’t think it will be of great interest to those who read this blog! Thus I have asked my friend and fellow C42 share holder to write a guess blog for you.

Today I left early (about 09.30) for the airfield in the hope that I would be able to go flying with my good friend and fellow airplane shareholder Adrian. It took me a little longer than usual to get to the airfield as I got stuck behind multiple agricultural vehicles en-route, which is normal for this time of year in these parts as they are harvesting sugar beat.

Upon arrival at the airfield I could see that Adrian was already there and some others had just arrived also; walking into the clubhouse I was greeted with a cup tea that had already been made for me, which is always greatly appreciated.

I had about 3 hours before my scheduled lesson so Adrian and I talked about where we could go in the meantime. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t that great, the cloud base was quite low and rain looked likely although it was not forecast until much later in the day. We ruled out going over to Cromer as the weather looked worse that way; a northerly wind was bringing unpredictable weather in off the North Sea. So we thought we might try a trip up to Skegness as we have never been and it wasn’t too far away, but in a northerly direction also.

Pat and Colin said they were going to Skegness but they have a lot more experience than us, so we said we might but would get the airplane up and see what the conditions were like; we had thought that if it wasn’t too good up there we would just pop over to Fenland for brunch, they are only 16nm away and have a really good restaurant; well worth a visit if you are in the area, they also have a great ground radio service.

The aeroplane had its 100 hour service the day before and we were the first to fly it so we wanted to do a couple of circuits and just make sure the aeroplane was okay before we went anywhere too far afield. Everything with the aeroplane was fine and was actually improved as we had a new oil pressure sensor fitted so the readout on the gauge in the cockpit was showing as it should now.

We took off and did a circuit with a touch-and-go and then climbed out to the east towards Ely as the parachute aeroplane had taken off as we turned onto finals for our touch-and-go. We only got to about 1500ft as the cloud-base was really low, it didn’t look good for going anywhere really so we stayed out to the south-east of the airfield waiting for the parachute aeroplane to come back in and then waited for the “all canopies down” call to indicate that all of the parachutists were safely down on the ground and it was safe for us to return to the circuit.

We descended to 700ft and joined the circuit on right base to land.

Above you can see our course, see we didn’t go very far at all. This data is captured on my iPhone using an application called CloudAhoy (www.cloudahoy.com) It captures your GPS position data and overlays it over Google Earth for you to study later on from a desktop computer.

Disappointed that we were not able to go anywhere we cheered ourselves up with a bacon and egg sandwich and a coffee from the parachute centre.

2 o’clock came around quickly and it was time for my lesson with Katie. Today we were going to do an exercise that I had been waiting to do for a while, waiting because not that the weather had been too bad but because it had been too good!


Exercise 16b – Operation at minimum level

My usual instructor Mike is away at the moment so I am flying with Katie instead; it is interesting how instructors differ from each other in both the way they teach. I like the way Katie looks at things slightly differently, but saying that I appreciate the experience that Mike has, using them both has certainly helped me learn to fly.

Anyway the lesson started with a pre-flight check of the aircraft and a walk around to make sure that everything was as it should be. Fuel wasn’t a problem as Adrian had put several litres in earlier for our trip that didn’t happen so I had about 6 litres more than I would have had usually; we tend to fly with 30 litres unless we are flying further afield. I have always used the physical check-list when starting up and going through the pre-flight checks, but more recently I have doing it from memory; this time I did it from memory and didn’t need to relate to the check-list at all; but maybe I should have because during taxi to the runway I realised that I hadn’t switched on the strobe or the fuel-pump! Although I would have noticed these before take-off having the physical check-list in front of me could have avoided this.

During the warm up Katie said she wanted me to do some navigation at minimal operating level of 600ft. She wanted me to find and follow the disused railway from Chatteris to Somersham and then to Ramsey and then find my way back to the airfield.

So I took off on runway 01 and climbed out to 600ft, 100ft below the normal circuit height we use. Flew downwind and then left the circuit to the south with a precise and clear radio call “Chatteris Golf Charlie Echo Golf Lima, leaving the circuit to the south”. With the map on my lap I could see that the disused railway started south of Chatteris town so I flew down the east side of the town and I soon picked up the disused railway scar in the landscape, got on the right side of it and followed it down to the next village, where I was expecting to clearly see a branch in the disused railway to the west towards Ramsey. However I forgot with the wind on our tail I reached Somersham much sooner than I thought, so soon that I thought that the settlement I was about to fly over was no way Somersham, but my map didn’t reveal any other settlement on route. By the time I realised what was going on I had passed Somersham to the east and was heading towards RAF Wyton, it’s difficult to miss the enormously wide runway and the dispersal pans where the Vulcan’s used to sit on QRA during The Cold War

I made a course correction and started flying north-west hoping to see the disused railway branch I was after, I still couldn’t see it, I could see a golf course and then identified Ramsey on my left; I knew the disused railway was there but I just couldn’t see it. Anyway we continued on to Ramsey, past Warboys on our left and then Katie advised me to turn right as I was getting close to Upwood airfield which is used for gliding and the last thing we wanted was to get tangled up with that lot; I could see gliders on the ground but there didn’t appear to be any flying, no wonder really as the cloud base was so low but honestly I had forgotten it was even there. We followed a road leading out of Ramsey to the north which I verified against my compass so I knew we would be shortly intersecting the Forty Foot Bank which I could follow to end up being south of the airfield, and safe far enough outside the circuit. I could see Chatteris town in the distance so I knew we were on track. Coming up to a small lake Katie asked me to keep at 600ft and do an orbit around it without loosing or gaining altitude, I performed the manoeuvre as requested and was happy with it. We continued towards the airfield were I performed my airfield approach checks and made a radio call to make clear my intentions “Chatteris Golf Charlie Echo Golf Lima, joining the circuit extended finals” I forgot however to tell them I was going to be using Runway 01, oops. I lined up, avoiding the farm house to the south on our approach by doing a dog leg around it, back on the centre line, power-off 60kts stage one flap and nose down attitude, quickly followed by the second stage of flap, all was looking good on the approach but my speed was a bit erratic due to the blustery conditions and the fact that I wasn’t nose-down attitude enough.

I touched down and immediately returned to one-stage flap for take off, full power and climbed out. This time to perform a 500ft circuit, and a bit closer to the airfield than we usually perform a 700ft circuit. Another touch-and-go and round again, the next touch-and-go was a bounce and put power on to catch it and climbed out to just 300ft this time quickly retracting the flaps fully. This time at 300ft we performed an even tighter circuit closer to the airfield and avoiding flying over the RSPCA centre, a farm and a couple of tractors which were out in the fields ploughing. We did a couple of circuits like this and then went down to 200ft for more of the same. At such low level things look completely different, things happen really fast and you feel your airspeed is higher than you are used to, of course it is not it just feels like it because you are closer to the ground. At this point a bit of light rain started so on the next circuit we landed and taxied back to the hard standing. Generally, Katie was pleased with my flying but she was worried about my slow airspeed on approach, I was sometimes getting under the orange triangle which should be your minimum approach speed, but also keeping it under the maximum full flap speed. It takes a lot of concentration to make sure your approach speed is correct and at such low altitude to begin with there is a lot to think about and do.

I learnt in this exercise that when flying at lower than normal altitudes your work load is increased because you have to do things a lot quicker than you are used to. Also things look different at this altitude, and keeping an eye on where you are on the map is a lot harder than it is at say 3000ft. Smaller A and B roads are sometime invisible, as are disused railway lines!

Hoping that the weather improves for next time were I can do some practice on on my approaches and hope to overcome my approach speed problems very soon.


Happy and safe flying!




First flight as a qualified pilot!

Almost 3 weeks beforehand I had taken my GST and passed yesterday (Friday 10th July) my licence dropped through my letter box. In eager anticipation I ripped the envelope open, there was a nice looking blue book, which I assumed would be like a passport, I opened it and it was just a plastic wallet, I don’t know what I was expecting, but the black and white piece of paper that purports to be my licence was not it! oh well, the main thing is I can now fly and as it has been less than 30 days, I can fly without needing a check flight too. The 30 day rule is not a legal requirement is just written into our aeroplane’s syndicate rules.

I arrived at the Chatteris airfield and could not believe on such a fine day there were not more people flying, what a waste of a great day, I thought to myself, I was also quite pleased as it was not busy for my first fight. It’s a very odd almost unnerving feeling, not needing to ask if it was OK to fly and OK to fly to wherever! I checked the aeroplane out and got her out of the hangar. I went back into the clubhouse and said I was off and where I was planning to go and off I went!

I climbed up to 3,000ft and I had my trusty Skydemon and Garmin Glo set with the route and I had loaded it onto my iPhone too as a backup. After about 10mins Skydemon reported a loss of GPS signal, WHAT NO, I thought, lucky I loaded it on my iPhone too!  I knew where I was going so it was not a big problem, however, it was a little upsetting, I switched off the Bluetooth on my phone and the iPad reconnected to the Glo and started to work, the problem did not reoccur! The Glo should be able to handle 10 concurrent connections, so I don’t know what went wrong, I will look into this later…

The trip was up to the Wash and then along the coast to Hunstanton around Hunstanton and back over Grimston on to south King’s Lynn and back to Chatteris this took 80 minutes from taxing to parking up on my return. The landing was good it floated longer than normal, possibly due to the crosswind, but alas no one saw it, funny how everyone sees a bad landing but no one sees a good one!

To sum up, it’s an incredible feeling of freedom and responsibility to decide, plan and fly your own route without needing anyone to endorse it!

I’m planning on another couple of solos and then maybe taking some friends up with me!

Some pictures from my flight are below:

Old Hunstanton and Hunstanton

GST day so possibly my last blog as a student pilot!

Sunday the 21st June saw me turn up at the airfield for another double lesson, well it would have been if it were not for the weather. Mike and I set off for the first hour and with a strong wind from the West the runway choice was the seldom used 29. With the possibility of my GST the next day we flew a few circuits on Runway 29. We don’t often use this runway as it is shorter than the others and not as wide (well on paper it is as wide!) as there are cables and trees a little bit before the threshold and some bushes at the other end!

After my first take off we left the circuit and went to look at the stall speed VS0 and VS1 the book for our aircraft says VS1 (flaps up at full weight) is 41kts I stalled the C42 a few times and we noted the speed, which was a lot lower then what the book said, it was actually stalling at around 34kts so next we tried it at VS0 (full flaps) here the book has the stall speed at 32kts and the actual stall speed was around 28kts, it may be due to the aeroplane not being at full weight, but it’s nice to know we have a little extra wiggle room if needed in our aeroplane (it may not be the same in yours!).

I was then asked to fly us back to the airfield and to join the circuit for 29.

My landings weren’t great but were getting progressively better on each circuit. I was landing too far to the left on the runway, as Mike pointed out. On 29 the circuit is climb out and turn just before the road (A141), turn onto downwind at the second field before the drain, turn on to Base leg after you clear the 16 foot drain and turn on to final at the kink in the drain and just before the farm house.

I still don’t like 29 by at least I now feel I can use it when needed.

Back on the ground and in the clubhouse I was watching the wind speed increase, it started gusting to 24kts which is outside of limits and Mike confirmed it was now to windy for solo.


Monday and its GST Day

There are four mile stones in learning to fly a microlight

  1. First solo
  2. First solo navigation
  3. Completing all the exams
  4. Passing your GST (General Skills Test) and Aircraft technical part 2 the oral exam

I had completed the first 3 so only had number 4 to go. On Friday my GST for Monday had been cancelled due to the weather forecast, however come Sunday it was back on again and Sunday evening and night my nerves were getting to me, I did not sleep much, which is not good as I wanted to be alert! I got to the airfield in what I thought was good time, arriving at 08:30 my GST was due for 09:30. I unlocked the hanger and got the Keys for the club house that Katie had kindly left for me, I unlocked the clubhouse turned on the PC and radio, I went to walk back to the hanger to check out the aeroplane and noticed a C42 had just landed on runway 24. It was not one of ours as they were all in the hanger, it was the examiner Chris, I waited for him to taxi over and shunt down. While he was doing so I made him a cup of tea (well it couldn’t hurt!), I said I will just get our C42 out and do the walk around so it was ready for the test, but her said to wait as he will watch me do the check out, I was not expecting this but at the same time it was not a problem.

We finished our tea and went to the hanger, I burped the aeroplane and checked the oil, it was a little low so I put 100ml in, I checked all the cowling housing screws as it had been of the night before to allow us to fix an issue with a drip tray! I was around half way round when Mike my instructor arrived and he started to chat to Chris while I carried on. I pull the aeroplane out of the hanger and clear of runway 29. Next Chris briefed me on what to expect and checked we were using the same terminology e.g. if he asked for a standard stall recovery what would I do…

He said not to worry and treat it like I was flying with Mike, easily said not so easily done! It was time to take my test.

I started the aircraft up and checked the oil pressure, all was good, I ran through the remaining checks and I forgot to check the flaps while checking the controls (damn nerves), I realised my mistake and checked them a little late in the sequence, I pointed this out to Chris, no point in hiding it! He said you realised your mistake and put it right thus it’s not a problem! during the check list T is for trim and this “somehow” had been put up to the top, so I corrected it. Chris asked where I wanted to fly to take my test, over the drains was my reply, ok he said take-off and fly me out to the drains and we will do some flying at different speeds on the way.

Off we went with no issue, 200ft flaps up, 500ft fuel pump off, I turned to the left before the A141 and continued to climb, I turned onto downwind talking him through what I was doing all the time as he had asked in the briefing, I’m performing a lookout before executing a climbing turn to the left and will continue to climb and I asked him to look also. I levelled out at 2,000ft and called to say I was leaving the circuit, all good so far commented Chris, who could tell I was nervous! Now show me flying at 60 straight and level, I got us to 60 and he commented we appear to descending I powered on and climbed back up to 2,000ft and ask if it was ok to try again, it was, this time all was good, ok show me flying at 80kts, again all was ok and he said to return to our normal cruise speed, I took it back to 70kts and continued out to the drains. We were heading towards Ely and the start of RAF Lakenheath’s MATZ, so I said this to Chris and that I would like to turn 90° to my left and follow the drain, he said good, it’s your responsibility to keep us clear of airspace, was this part of the test too, I guess so! I remembered what Mike had said and made a point of checking the gauges and make sure he knew I had checked them I did this during the climb out also and every 5-10 mins during the test too. Ok show me a steep turn in either direction up to you, I made a small turn to the right and asked him to check for traffic, all was clear so I turned to the left adding power glancing at the VSI and ASI but mainly watching the horizon, I rolled the wings level and took the power back down, a quick check on the altimeter showed I was at almost the exact same height, good I’m happy with that said Chris. We were coming up on the start of RAF Marham’s MATZ so I said to Chris I’m going to do a descending turn to left as we are approaching a MATZ and there is cloud as well, he seemed pleased with this so a quick lookout and I commenced the turn.   Ok he said show me a normal stall and recovery, OK before I do I will just perform a HASELL check, Height 1,500ft, I’m going to climbing back to 2,000ft now we are clear of cloud before I stall and without waiting for confirmation I climbed back to 2,000ft, Airframe I checked the flaps were up and all looked OK, Safety Hatch was still locked on both sides, harnesses both done up, I asked him to check his, all good he said, engine gauges all read ok, Location ABC (clear of Active Airfields, Built up areas, Clouds, crowds and Controlled airspace), Lookout, again I asked for him to look too as I performed a clearing turn both to the right and left, ok into the stall and power on nose down and recover to a climb, good, ok now show me a stall in a turn. A quick HELL check and I stalled it in the turn and recovered and then levelled the wings, good, ok now stall it in a glide descent with pitch only recovery. Another HELL check and into a glide descent we went, I pulled the nose up and stalled, nose down and back into the descent. OK climb back up and we will look at some dangerous and unusual attitudes! First he put it nose high and said recover power on and nose down, ok next was a spiral dive, stop the spin with the rudder ease the nose up and on with the power as the nose comes to the horizon. OK how did that go, he asked, I thought it had gone well, but from his tone I could tell it hadn’t. I was not sure, I said I was a little late on with the power, in fact he was referring to the nose high recovery and apparently I didn’t put any power on!!! (Shit, I have failed I thought, oh well) let’s try that again said Chris and this time he said very good. OK you have an engine failure and he closed the throttle, trim for 60kts, selecting a field, I have chosen that one it has some crop, but we will walk away ok I said, fuel pump on, check fuel tap is open, check mags are on, try restart, it has failed. Check we are still on track for the field, change radio to London Centre make a mayday call, turn on to final, leaving flaps off for now due to strong headwind, Ok I’m going to make the field first stage of flaps, all looking good and Chris says good go around. At around 1,700ft the engine failed again as before I went through the same procedure this time I was little higher so I had second stage of flap on, I was about to say committal checks when he said good go around, we were at about 200ft with a farm house coming up in front So I said I making a climbing turn so as to not over fly the farm house, good said Chris and at 2,000ft he says we only have fuel for 15mins! make a precautionary landing, oh shit what do I do, I can’t remember, then he said use that field over there, OK I said, I’m descending to 1,000ft to over fly it and check the terrain and for wires etc, I’m going to follow a circuit as if it was a normal runway, but will overfly it again at 200ft, good said Chris take me back to the airfield and land. OK I’m climbing back to 1,000ft and will fly us passed the drain so I can turn on to base leg and join, I could have joined on long final, but Mike teaches us a downwind or base leg join is safer and Chris agreed. I heard a radio call from another Microlight taking off on 29 and said although we won’t rely on it, it’s a good indication that the wind is still favouring 29, another good from Chris, I called 2 miles out. A little later and at circuit height I called joining base 29 and I asked him to confirm his harness was done up and his hatch was secured, fuel pump on, I turned on to final and landed on 29, again over to the left, I commented that I was to the left and corrected it. I back tracked 29 and cleaned up the aeroplane, strobe, fuel pump & transponder off, flaps up… I made a call that we were back tracking 29 and asked him to keep a joint look out for any inbound aircraft.

I parked up and he Chris said I had flown well, at this point I’m thinking as he didn’t say I had passed it was going to be a partial pass. Back in the clubhouse Mike said cup of tea here for you both, adding is a celebratory cup and Chris said it was and then started to ask me question about the aircraft. Explain the fuel system, its elements and the order they come in, I did so after nearly missing out the fuel tap! What would do if you had flames coming out of the engine, was another and what would I do if you smelt an electrical burning type of smell another, I answered these correctly. What is the service interval? That had me, 100hrs, I said, what would be check / changed, oil and filter I guessed adding, luckily for us Katie takes care of that, but I know the details are in the manual. He suggested I read up on the servicing. What could I have done to make my pre flight check safer? I thought about this, but could not come up with anything! after some prompting it transpired I burped the airplane without applying the handbrake. Chris then  congratulated me on passing my GST, I had done it! I was totally shattered from the lack of sleep, nervous energy and metal energy, I stayed for a few cups of tea while Mike completed the paper work and to give my self-time to recover.

While Mike was doing the paperwork Alan arrived for his GST and I’m very pleased to say he passed too, it would have been awful if only one of us had passed.

I cannot fly other than under instruction until I have my license back and it’s all signed, the part I find odd is you can’t even fly under supervised solo until it comes back it’s instructed or nothing!

I guess I will need to change the blog title now too!

I will continue to blog about my continued learning and flying experiences and keep my journey to become a pilot on the internet in case it helps anyone else.

I would just like to say a public thank you to Mike & Katie of AAA Microlights for the help and support on the journey and to Chris the examiner for putting me at my ease and passing me!

Myself and Chris the Examiner








It’s been a busy couple of days

Sunday I went flying and had a double lesson and then on Monday I got to go again for some additional solo (sssh don’t tell the bank manager!)

With my GST moving ever closer I’m trying to get as much flying in as I can, well as money will allow!

In my previous lesson I had not done a good job of side slipping allowing my speed to drop to low, so today we would revisit side slipping and do some GST revision.

It was not a great day for flying as it was very turbulent with a lot of lift and sink going on, this made it difficult to keep to an exact height and speed. Looking at my side slipping I had somehow reverted to trying to keep the nose of the aeroplane pointing in the direction we wanted to go instead of us tracking in the correct direction and while doing so I pull the nose up causing the loss of speed. So this was easily corrected and now seems a lot better.

We also practice recovery from stalls, dangerous and unusual attitudes, steep turns and some PFLs too!  All seemed to go OK and the hour was soon over. After a short break I had an hour solo to practice all of the above once more.

Monday morning things were looking a bit wind and today’s solo was in doubt, however about 16:30 Katie message me to say things had improved and I should be ok for solo practice.

On arrival it was still gusting around 20 kts so I had a cup of tea and chatted for a while with Katie and Alan. About 40 mins or so later the wind had dropped a little to around 18 kts and Katie and I went up and flew a couple of circuits, so Katie could see how I handled the windy conditions. All was Ok so I dropped Katie off and went and practice the things I had been doing the day before.

A lot of flying, but not much to blog about!

Latter in the evening Katie posted the video below of me landing on Facebook, which I have duly stolen and posted below!!!

Video by Katie

Fenland airfield gets Déjà vu!

Low cloud 80% chance of rain and no cake at the club things were looking very bleak at the club for my dual and solo to Fenland!

To make things even worse Katie and Tom had just decided to land as rain was moving overhead Chatteris airfield, oh well no solo and possible no dual for me today, I thought to myself.

With that Mike turned to me and said do you want to go flying? Do you think the weather is OK for your cross country? Well I said, it is supposed to start improving from 12:00 and clear by 14:00 if you are OK with it I’m OK!

So I checked the aeroplane over and found it was a little low on oil, Katie duly added a 100ml and this put it back to where it normally sits.

I pulled GL out of the hanger and then phoned Fenland airfield, they were open and the weather was reported as light rain.

As I warmed our C42 up, light rain began to come down, but by the time we taxied out it had all but stopped. Off we went towards Chatteris town, over the Forty Foot (or Vermuden’s) drain and turned towards the wind farm to intercept the course, we were at about 1,300ft, but some passing cloud forced us down to around 1,000ft. Whittlesey was our waypoint and not even I can miss Whittlesey with the brickworks chimneys of Whittlesey towering into the sky! The Railway station was my turning point and flying the heading took us directly over it, an almost 90° turn to the right and we were heading to Fenland airfield, at Thorney we were a little left of track, I always seem to end up left of track and I think this is due to a tendency to fly slightly left wing down, I must work on that!  With Spalding in the distance and the river Welland in the distance on my left as markers I altered course to the right and I could see fenland airfield in the distance. The cloud base was too low for an overhead join as we had planned to do, so Mike asked how I planned to join now.  Remembering the discussion we had earlier that day I knew the joining turn has to be in the direction of the circuit, so my plan as it was a left hand circuit was to fly towards the Base leg downwind meeting point and join there, this got Mike’s approval and as we approached he pointed out reference points for the circuit. The join and the landing all went to plan and we parked up and had a cup of tea!

Parked at Fenland

The flight back all went to plan, the rain had gone and the cloud base had lifted to around 1,300ft all the way back and the conditions continued to slowly improved.

Back on the ground Mike asked if I was going to add fuel before my solo back to Fenland! My solo was on!!!

I refuelled and had a quick bit to eat before setting off. For once I hit all my marks and did not go off to the left. I called Fenland radio and was told to watch out for another aeroplane on long final and asked for my position, I gave it and saw the other plane in the distance, I watched him come in, timing my base leg join so he was on the ground as I joined. Again the landing was good and I taxied over, parked up and paid my landing fee. I had forgotten to take a cross country form to be signed, but luckily the flight school at Fenland let me have one of theirs and signed it for me, a second guy in the school comment it’s déjà vu I saw you here earlier didn’t I!

Time to head back, this like the flight over all went to plan too!

So now with both solo cross countries completed my GST is getting nervously close…




Short field Takeoff and Landings

Short field Takeoff and landings were the order of the day as it was a UK bank holiday weekend thus it was too wet, too windy and too low a cloud base for a cross country!

Mike decided to demonstrate short field approaches and take offs, but first we would take off and fly out to the south and check what the cloud base was and also I wanted to switch headsets and try Mike’s out to see if it was much better than mine or not.

We were using runway 19 so after take-off we just continued out in the same direction we got to 1,100ft  with the clouds just above us. Mike offered to swap headsets, he is a great David Clark fan and has a H10-13XL I have an HX20-10XL, but the ENC  never seems that great to me, there is a difference, but it’s not massive. My headset being second hand and old also has the older larger battery pack. Mike’s headset did seem a lot quieter than mine without the ENC switched on and the noise reduction was more dramatic when switched on; so I guess either I have a problem or the H10-13XL is a better headset, on the plus side for the H20-10XL it is more comfortable!

I then flew us back to the circuit and landed we turned down the peri-track to clear the runway for Tom and Katie who were inbound behind us and taxied to runway 21 as the wind had moved around a little. Here Mike demonstrated a short field take-off; with the normal single stage of flap he increased to full power while holding the aircraft on the brakes, with the stick full back he released the brakes and as soon as we were airborne he lowered the nose allowing the aeroplane to accelerate in ground effect until we reached 60 knots and then we climbed away as normal. I then flow the circuit and Mike took over for the short field landing; we were to come in lower and with power, the normal 2 stages of flaps deployed, as we take the power off the aircraft decelerates rapidly, as the main wheels touch we apply full braking, while keeping the nose wheel off the ground as long as possible.

The remainder of the lesson was me trying to emulate what Mike had shown with me having various levels of success. The take offs where mainly fine, putting the nose down early enough was an issue the first time! The my first landing was OK and we stopped nice and short my next two were go arounds, where the approaches were ok but the round outs were not great, my penultimate landing was good and final landing was fine too, however the right wheel locked up under the heavy braking, I instinctively released the break and corrected with the rudder, which I was told after was the correct thing to do, however I just allowed it to rollout as normal after, forgetting this was short field practice!


This was fun lesson that I really enjoyed, the take-off and landing performance of the C42 is quite remarkable I don’t know the exact distanced and I was helped by the head wind but I would guess we were up in less than 60m and landing in 50m!

During the week I have been playing with an SDR (Software Defined Radio) a cheap USB TV tuner with the RTL chipset from eBay (about £4.00 + P&P), with the right software you can receive ADS-B messages and I wanted to see if we could see the C42 with it and we could! The strange thing is that while on the ground the code (normally 7,000 for VFR) is not seen, but once airborne it is, after discussing this we think it’s due the difference between Squitter messages and Squawking, squitter being the unsolicited broadcast of information every second or so from a mode S transponder and Squawking being the reply transmitted by the transponder in response to an interrogation message, I will try to confirm this and update the blog.

Lastly I have Skydemon (which I think is great) loaded on my iPad mini WIFI model and it uses an external Bluetooth Garmin Glo GPS. Following the update by Apple to iOS 8.3 this and many other GPS units have stopped working. This is a major issue if you intend to navigate using and external GPS, however I found that upgrading the firmware in the Glo to 2.7 and then “forgetting” the connection on the iPad and reconnecting it (this is an important step) it was working once more!

To upgrade simply follow the instruction found on the Garmin site


A shameless plug as a closing thought!  with the looming domain and hosting cost upcoming, I would ask you to consider clicking on one or more of the ads on the site to help me offset the site costs!






No Flaps!

The weather forecast for today all week had been low winds with broken cloud at 3,000ft with good visibility, so as I have had a few lessons cancelled I thought I would take advantage of the nice Easter bank holiday Sunday weather and book a lesson followed by an hour solo. On arriving at Chatteris it was a gloomy day, this has its benefits in that the parachutists would be grounded! But Mike was also concerned that the weather may not be suitable for a solo, however we would wait and see what it was like following my lesson.

My lesson today would be PFLs and Flapless landings; we took off on 01 and for the first time in this direction Mike closed the throttle and declared an engine failure! I put the nose down, but there was nowhere to go, well other than a young oilseed rape field, not ideal, but we would walk from it, if this was a real engine failure. We powered up and went around and flew a couple of normal circuits to start with, but we were to come in on the orange triangle (52 kt – Recommended Minimum Approach Speed) we normally come in at 60kt. Then on the third circuit we did a touch and go without flaps, I needed to sideslip to get down as I had left the power on far too long,  it is surprising how far you float and how slowly you come down on a still day without flaps!

G-NT Landing

Flex Wing Microlight

G-NT Landing






We then left the circuit as the sky had cleared enough for the parachutists to be up and to call “Clear-Drop”. We left to the south as we knew Katie and Julie were to the East; as it turned out they aborted the drop and returned to the airfield as the visibility was not great.
Out to the south we did a few PFLs and I was again not great, but a little better with each one.
Time was up and I flew us back to the airfield and did another flapless landing. Once we were parked up Mike debriefed me as normal, but his words hit home, “I must fly the PFLs as if my life depended on them, I need to do all that I can to get into a field and not simply say that “I didn’t make it and power up and go around!”, Chilling words of wisdom.

The weather had cleared up sufficiently for me to go solo which I did under Katie’s supervision as Mike was off flying with his son. I flew out to the East and practiced trimming and did 3 PFLs, all went well, even my PFLs, I need to sideslip, but at 600ft they were looking good, we don’t go any lower when solo to ensure we don’t fall foul of the 500ft rule and for safety.

I flew back to Chatteris and could see the parachute plane on the ground so I joined base leg and landed normally, it was a very soft landing, which I thought felt good. I taxied back and went in where Katie was waiting for me and asked how it had gone and also comment on my landing looking good!

I gave the aeroplane a quick wash and put it away with Katie’s help before heading home from an enjoyable days flying.