Intermediate pilot licence

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Here in New Zealand when you start learning to fly a microlight, you first get yourself a medical certificate from your family doctor that states that you are fit to fly microlight’s. Basically if you can drive a car then you should be able to fly a microlight. This means you got yourself a “Novice pilot licence
Next you find an instructor and of you go, training for your “Intermediate pilot licence”  🙂

The requirements for this licence are:

  • At least 25 hours flight time.
  • Pass exam on Law, Nav., Met., Human factors and Technical Knowledge.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and ability and perform a flight test.

First lesson 🙂

The local flying club here in Rangiora has two microlight’s for club members to hire and have lessons in. The more modern one is a “Tecnam P92 Echo”, apparently very easy to fly. The other one is a “Rans S6-ES Coyote II”, a plane where you really need to use all controls continuously to fly it properly.

It’s the last one I am having my lessons is, as my instructor Dave thinks that flies more like the Bleriot.
Never really thought about different aircraft, but yes they all behave different, so will be interesting and I can’t wait to find out what my own Bleriot feels like to fly.

Anyway today my first lesson was all about the “Effect of Controls”, in other words, what happens when you change the individual four basic controls:

  • ailerons
  • rudder
  • elevator
  • engine power

And to make things a bit easier to explain, a nice picture here:


The ailerons (yellow flaps in the wings) make you the Roll or Bank over the Longitudinal Axis (also in yellow)
The rudder (purple flap in the tail) make you Yaw over the Normal or Vertical Axis.
And the elevator (red flap in the tail) make you change Pitch over the Lateral Axis.Now that all looks simple and easy, but there is some very interesting and sometimes (for a beginner) confusing side effects.

The simplest one and easiest to understand is the elevator.
If the elevator is moved down, by pushing the control stick forward, you start descending, with a side effect that you will go faster. So first reduce the engine power, then you push the stick forward.
But as with other things below, I think they can be done at the same time, as you always hold the stick with one hand and have the other hand on the throttle.


The opposite is also true. when you pull the stick, the elevator goes up which makes you climb, and as side effect you slow down. So first you must increase the engine power, then pull the stick.

Now the next controls are a bit harder, as the ailerons and the rudder need to be used together, but I will describe them individually first.

First the ailerons.
They are flaps on the wings controlled by the stick going side ways. When you move the stick to the right, the left aileron goes down (see picture) and the right aileron goes up. This makes the plane roll to the right. This is normally done before making a right turn.But because the left aileron is creating more drag, that wing will be wanting to go slower than the right wing , making the plane want to turn left, the wrong way!


If the rudder is used on its own, the plane will just Jaw, but will continue going straight, not as what you would expect.
And as a side effect, the wings produce less lift and the angled fuselage will produce more drag, so you slow down and lose altitude.


To make a turn, both controls need to be used. To make a right turn, the stick needs to be pushed right to create bit of a roll to the right and at the same time right rudder needs to be applied, this will start the correct turn.But
The ailerons need to go back to neutral now (stick central), otherwise the plane keeps on rolling if it could.To finish the turn, get the rudder back in the central position and give a bit of left stick, to roll the plane back in the horizontal position.To aid the use of the rudder, in the plane I am flying is a slip indicator, showing you if you need more or less rudder.
When the ball of this indicator is in the middle the amount of rudder is correct.

Now when you do this for the first time there are so many things happening that its sometimes confusing. Almost feels like you sit in this box suspended on a string and you try to keep it aimed at the point you are going to but it keeps drifting away, or goes the wrong way around.

And to make things a bit more confusing, this plane turns left ( I think it was ) a lot faster then right. That’s to do with the direction of the propeller and the swirl of wind coming from the prop hitting the side of the rudder.

I was in the plane for 1.4 hrs, initially warming up the engine and taxing a bit and crossing two other runways, so must have been in the air for more then an hour. I must have enjoyed myself because it was over before I realized!

Lesson 2

Wow second lesson already, have been looking forward to this  !!

It was a nice frosty calm winters day again today. I started the plane inspection before Dave (my instructor) came. When he got here, he just followed me to keep an eye on me. Separately he re-checked the engine.
All was good and we went back to the club house for some more theory. He was telling me about wing profile’s….. Looking at modern ones and the one that Louis Bleriot used. All interesting  🙂

Then at 11:15 it was time for my flight. We went through the check list etc etc and took off.

Today more of what I was doing last week, controlling the controls, to fly straight, and going through turns.
Have been thinking about this all week and yes it felt a bit easier I think.

Other things we did was about using the flaps. These are normally only used for landing I think. So we went up to 2500 ft, slowed down the engine quite a bit, pushed the elevator forward and started “gliding” down. Then we started pulling out the flaps. With more flap, the plane was going slower, so to keep flying fast enough, the elevator had to be pushed forward more.
Also some climbing and descending !!  🙂

I should make a few photo’s to “brighten up” this page  !!   Do that next time.

Also I have this “Fly is Fun” Android app on my phone now. Like it so far and it also logs trips, so next flight I will log the flight and show the result.

Lesson 3

Had another great lesson today. I will first show you what I did below. You can also open the file here, just below and zoom in:



After taking of from Rangiora airport, we fly NNW to our test fly area, where I start with two full 360 deg turns, clock wise and anti clock wise.
Then fly back and a turn back North.
Then I start a series of descends and climbs, with turns at the same time.
And finally after 1hr 15min back home 🙂

Just a few comments. Below is the elevation profile, but because I didn’t calibrate the barometer build into my phone it starts at -215m……



Great to see what we did here, well I think it is, you probably think its boring !  🙂

So yes today it started with a long warming up, as we had a nice 5 deg frost.
During the first 2 lessons, I was only controlling the rudder and Dave (my instructor) did everything else. But today I almost did everything during takeoff, with a few adjustments and directions from Dave. So all good.
Later I did a whole lot of descends and climbs with turns. All of these I had to try to keep my speed constant at 60 m/hr. Sounds easier than what it es, but I managed and will get better soon  🙂
And finally the landing. Also here I did most myself but with a bit more help from Dave.
So yes very successful day.

I have done most I need to do now, so in the coming lessons, its all about improving my skills….
All these different “sensations” you feel, going up during takeoff, descending going down just before landing, etc etc.
Plus all the things you need to check inside the cockpit.
And on top of that you need to continuously scan the outside world, for the other planes…..

So lots to do. Needs all your attention.

All going very well. One happy pilot to be 🙂

Lesson 4

The day started with lots of cloud, with a big storm coming, so my instructor told me to come early.

Did more on the take-off today:
Basically after all pre flight checks are done and lined up on the runway, I applied full power, kept straight with rudder, and pulled stick to lift up nose a bit when Dave gave me the command.Then within a second, we had lift-off.
Watching the speed and trying to keep it at 60mph.
When reaching 500ft AGL (Above Ground Level) starting a 90deg right turn and continue to climb.
And at the same time trying to fly straight with rudder and level wings with ailerons.
Lots happening during take-off!!!!

One thing I would like to show in image below, or in the link, just here:


There you can see us making continues turns and being pushed away by the wind 🙂


Apart from more keeping at straight flight, this time with some wind from the West which adds another dimension it was all good.

But then it got a bit “scary”.  We started practising Recovery from Unusual Attitudes.
Basically Dave pushes or pulls the stick and left or right at the same time. I then need to raise or lower the nose, to recover from that “unusual attitude”, and immediately afterwards, level the wings.
Feels a bit like ooooh or whhhhh. But I can see this is an important thing to get used to, as the air is never perfectly calm!!!!!

And then it got a bit worse….
Dave started to show what a stall feels like and how he recovers from it.
When in level flight, engine throttle is closed, engine slows down to minimum, and stick is pulled more and more to keep the plane level. While this is happening, the plane slows down, more and more, until is “falls” out of the sky 🙁
What happens next if I remember well is apply power, lower nose, gain speed, and when speed at is 60 mph, level flight.
In the second stall, one wing dropped before the other one. This is worse, as you fall sideways. Here you apply full rudder to swing the stalled wing back into the wind, and do all things listed above.
After a third one, it got a bit to much for me so we went back to the airstrip……..

Below is the plane ZK-JOR that I am doing the lessons in. It is a Rans S6, an American single-engined, tractor configuration, two-seat, high-wing monoplane designed by Randy Schlitter and manufactured by Rans Inc.


Lesson 5

Today started like a brilliant day when I woke up, no wind, blue skies, frost on the lawn. But I knew there were going to be nor-westers today. They are not nice here, very gusty.
Anyway, this morning I had a class first on human factors and the weather at 10 in the clubhouse, and that was all good and very interesting. But while the class was going I was keeping my eye open for the weather. I noticed the wind coming from the East and shifting all the time so was a bit nervous.
At lunch time I had my peanut butter sandwich outside watching the various planes take off and land, using a lot of aileron adjustments to keep level……..

And then not long after lunch Dave told me to hop in the plane. As he had just flown the plane with another student we didn’t check the plane, just the fuel tanks.
3.5 gallon on one side 4.5 gallon on the other side = 8 gallon, = about 24 litre. Engine uses about 18 per hour, so enough for our 1 hr lesson.


If you click on the button above you see what we did  🙂
Same story for take off, me on pedals for rudder and hand on the stick. Dave gave me the command to pull the stick, so I started pulling harder and harder. Next time I need to do that a bit “swifter” as it took a bit to long before the nose came of the ground. But when it did, we were off, into the air.
A lot of corrections with aileron to keep level, stick adjustments keeping the airspeed at 60 m/h, making a left turn when at 500ft AGL towards our “play area”.
So yes take off was a little bumpy and I thought Oooooh hhhhhhhw, but all calmed down a lot as soon as we got a bit higher.
Did a lot of turning left and right, descending and ascending. Occasionally getting into turbulent air so climbing a bit more or further away from those hills.
Feels like turning into the wind is harder. A lot more adjusting with the aileron tho keep the plane banking, or sometimes applying opposite aileron to stop it from going any further, but still banking the right way.
Also with the inconsistent wind speed “outside”, adjusting engine power frequently to stay at about 60 m/h and at the right altitude.
And finally going back to the airport, closing throttle, gliding down at 60 m/h, not to fast, not to slow.
Didn’t want to go back as it was going well, and didn’t like the turbulent weather close to the surface, but wasn’t bad this time. Dave took over for getting “into the circuit” and for landing, because it was not calm enough for me to do that yet.So all happy with today, had plenty of turbulence to get used to and control and adjust the plane, and not to much to feel uncomfortable etc etc. so yes HAPPY !!!

Lesson 6

Another Saturday, another flying lesson  🙂
Always looking into the sky on a Saturday morning, is it going to be calm enough (for me)  🙂 A bit of a Southerly, will be OK I think..
Arriving at the airport there was a bit Nor-Wester, but hardly anything, so not to bad.


The first long missing bit is where we flew slow, then another short bit missing were we did the stalls, and just before the landing another one. This is because the automatic logging feature on my phone, was set at a speed that was a bit to high….  Sorry

The lesson started with 3 high speed taxi’s using the whole runway, the long one, to get a bit of a feeling of how much to pull the stick, trying to keep the front wheel just off the ground. So adjusting all the time. A bit to much and you take off….
The third high speed taxi, ended up in the takeoff to start the flying lesson.
More turns, left and right, keeping speed and altitude under control. During the first few minutes we had some turbulence, so decided to move to an other area, while doing my “exercises”, and yes the air got calmer.
More ascending and descending while doing turns. All going good, although at one stage I had some problems keeping the ball on the slip indicator in the centre. I still sometimes have problems keeping it there, its a combination of aileron and rudder that is changing all the time, especially when the air is not still. But again its all experience !!!Then we did some slow flying. Normally we fly at about 60 m/h, now we slowed down the engine and raised the nose to stay at same altitude and went down to around 50 m/h. All controls are a bit “sloppy-er”.And yes we did two stalls, well Dave did them. Engine idle, pulling stick more and more, trying to stay at level flight, and then around 40 m/h we fell out of the sky  🙂
The first one was a nice gentle stall, and recovered easy. The second one was one of the wing drop ones. Dropped the left wing first, so correct with full rudder to the right, to try to swing the left wing to the right, back into the airstream.
I survived both stalls so happy about that !!And back to the airport, join the circuit by flying at 1500f AGL over the airport, down to 1000f AGL down wind, and final turn down to 500f AGL and descending to the strip. This time we staid a bit higher on purpose to get past some trees, as they were generating turbulence, but finally down to the air strip.
Yes a good lesson  🙂

Lesson 7

Back again ! No lessons the last two weekends because of the weather, rain, rain and rain.
Beautiful today 🙂
After warming up, we lined up for Rangiora Runway 25, facing West. I did a complete take-off, with a little help from Dave with the indication when to full the stick to lift up the nose. And when it came up we had lift-off almost instantly and quickly gained height, making a right turn towards our practice area at Loburn, flying at level flight at 2000ft first and later at 2500ft towards Mt Tomas.
While his was happening, I did a few left and right turns, trying to find a plane we heard on the radio, that we thought would be nearby, but couldn’t spot….

You notice that after not flying for two weekends you need to get into it again, so really need to try to keep up with my lessons, not that anything went wrong, but you just feel that.

Next thing was doing stalls. Here Dave is still doing them, to show me what they are like and how to get out of them.
So engine idle, pulling the stick more and more to keep level flight, and the at around or just below 40 mph it it stalls. We did about 3 I think with no flaps. We had 2 where both wings stall, that’s a nice one and all you do is push the stick 2″ or so forward to assist the “dive” gaining speed, and if I remember well, with that stick position and applied engine power, you climb again to your original altitude, level off and its done.
With a side slip were one wing stalls first, you apply full rudder in opposite direction to get the wind flowing again over that wing, and then the rest is the same….
After that we applied flaps, full flaps I think, and here the plane stalled at a much lower speed, something like 25 mph. The stall was much gentler and not so abrupt.

On our way back to Rangiora, Dave showed me zig zagging. Basically starting a turn, by banking and rudder, and then a few seconds later changing bank to opposite direction, and correction the slip with opposite rudder direction. A good way of practising the rudder and aileron coordination. Pretty sure we will be doing this more.

By now we arrived at the Rangiora circuit again, were we joined by flying at 1500ft above ground level ,then making a right turn, flying over the threshold (end of the runway) down to 1000ft, followed by a down wind leg, and then the last turn with full flaps to land an the same runway 25 again. Not sure anymore, but I think I did most of the landing “work”, basically flying down to a few feet, maybe 10 ft, pulling the stick to go level flight and while still slowing down, you just come down and land  🙂
Turning left as you do to clear the runway, making a 360 turn to check traffic, then across the runway to the other side back to the hangar.

All in all a good flight again !!!!!!

Lesson 8

Got to the airport early and started pulling out my plane, when someone else popped up saying he had the plane booked from 9 – 10. I didn’t know, so I let them and started walking around the hangars, until my instructor Dave came.
We had an theoretical lesson first in the club house.
One of the subjects was about two different ways to land.
First one like normal where you control the plane altitude basically with the engine power.
The second one, new to me, about landing without engine power, well engine idle. This is to practice forced landings after engine failure. Its all about setting perfect glide path, this is with the optimum air speed, at about 1.5 times the stall speed. for this plane that is about 40 * 1.5 = 60 mph.
Dave was showing me this landing at the end of my lesson. Here you gently turn (to minimize height loss) towards the runway, aiming at 1/3 of the runway. So the aim is obviously to get there and land like normal.
If you have a bit to much height, you use the flaps, when you have them, and with this plane we do.
Extending the flaps, creates more lift and drag, allowing you to fly slower, but because you go slower, you can drop the nose a bit more. This plane automatically drops its nose when extending the flaps.
If the plane doesn’t have flaps (in case of my Bleriot), you can easily loose height by side slipping, basically opposite rudder and aileron, but this is for later for more advanced lessons.
So yes that was all interesting.
During my lesson more of the same to increase skills, taking off, start turn at 500ft AGL towards practice area. flying straight and level by controlling power etc, a few turns while climbing at full engine power. Also did two stalls again, Dave did. This is all for me to get used to. Because we had a bit of turbulence he warned me it could be a side slip again and is was but didn’t feel to bad.
Soon I will be doing one or more myself on a nice day (for starters 🙂
I am thinking of taking a day of this week to get a few more lessons as Dave is away on holiday in 1.5 week. This Tuesday is looking promising !!

Lesson 9

Today I had the day off, had two lessons, one before lunch and one after.
First lesson was about flying at different speeds, and staying at the same altitude. Basically flying fast, the plane tends to want to climb so you need to push the stick forward pushing the nose down to stay at the altitude. You see more horizon.
Flying at slow speeds is the opposite, pulling the stick to “stay” in at the altitude, pulling up the nose, and less horizon visible. Very interesting because there is a cruise speed where you stay nicely at altitude and you hardly need to use the stick.

But what really happens, is that the lift vector is moving depending on your speed.
When you go faster, the lift vector moves backwards and is behind the CG of the plane, basically pulling up the back, nose down, so you see more horizon.
When you go slower, the lift vector goes forward and is in front of the CG, pulling the nose up, so you see less horizon.
All of this is true when you try and stay at a certain altitude, keeping the plane in balance using the stick.

Also we did one or two more stalls well Dave did. The way he was talking made me think that today could be the day I was going to do stalls.
I was right !!!
Pulling the throttle, engine idle, you keep pulling the stick more and more till it slows down so much it stalls. The way I did it , slower then what Dave does, made it stall nice every time, no noticeable side slips. I am sure we will be doing more of those. So far so good.  YEAH I am stalling the plane !!!!!

In the afternoon we were doing lots of circuits, lost count, but at least 5 or 6.
Taking off, going down wind and landing, followed by immediate take off (touch and go).
Plus I started to make the down wind radio calls, easy but everything needs to be learned really. And also doing the last “downwind check” : brake, landing gear, choke, fuel valve fuel quantity, flaps, door hatches, safety harness and lookout. And then last turn into runway for descend.
Also applying full flap for landing and a bit of flap for take off.

So lots happening, but all good. Happy with the day, learned lots, every time a bit more !!  🙂

Lesson 10

Another day at the office, beautiful day !
Last lesson I started making the downwind radio call, so I thought, I can do this not to hard is it so I made a list of all the possible calls you make when flying in the circuit. For people that don’t know, this is the pattern you fly, when arriving or flying around a uncontrolled airfield:


Anyway, back to my radio calls, here is the list of calls after a few adjustments I made when talking about it with Dave:



  • The RANGIORA TRAFFIC at the start and RANGIORA at the end is so people hearing this message know its about the traffic around the RANGIORA airfield.
  • BRAVO X-RAY INDIA is my call sign when flying with my Bleriot so they know who I am.


The next bit is about what is happening:

– TAXIING towards the beginning of the runway.
– LINING UP at the runway.
– ROLLING full power and taking off.
– OVERHEAD RE-JOINING getting back to the circuit, in case we left it to go somewhere else.
– DOWNWIND LEFT HAND the last straight leg going down wind before turning left into the wind to land.
– FINAL leg, landing.

  • ZERO SEVEN is the “name” of the runway. Adding a ZERO at the end gives you the heading of the runway, 070 deg.
  • NUMBER ONE/TWO/THREE, indicates the sequence number for landing. I could be the only one (ONE) or second one (TWO) etc etc  to land.
  • FULL STOP you arrived and stay on the ground.
  • TOUCH AND GO for practice, you often land and immediately take off again.


So all very basic and short to keep it simple and understandable, and to free up the frequency so others can use the radio. Sometimes there is a lot happening on the radio.
At a uncontrolled airfield, you basically don’t “communicate” with others, you report so others know where you are, so a lot of listening so you know where you and others are in the circuit.
OK getting back to my lesson. I did maybe ten TOUCH AND GO’s, was in the air for 1.4hrs.

Hardest part is to descend, getting your final leg right, loosing hight, right speed and making a soft landing, basically stalling while just a foot above the ground at the right place on the airstrip.

Also making sure you know where others are “in the circuit”, how many are in front of you before landing, knowing what they do “FULL STOP” or “TOUCH AND GO” so you know what’s behind you.

Making all the radio calls, doing safety checks before landing “brake, landing gear, choke, fuel valve fuel quantity, flaps, door hatches, safety harness and lookout”.

And all that time you are flying the plane as well:
maintaining air speed, making sure you are at the right position in the circuit, flying the right shape as everyone else,making sure you are at the correct heights in the different parts of the circuit:

So the basic “circuit lap” goes like this:
Full power, pull stick at right speed, take-off.
Flaps up at 300ft AGL.
First turn at 500ft into base leg.
Second turn at 1000ft into down wind leg.
Reduce power to maintain 1000ft.
DOWNWIND radio call.
Down wind safety checks.
Reduce power to start descend when begin of runway is “next to you”.
Flaps in position one.
Third turn when begin of runway is 45 deg behind you.
Flaps in position two, aiming to be at 500ft AGL before making,
Fourth turn into final leg.
Flaps in position three.
FINAL radio call.
Adjusting power to get to runway past the markers.
Reducing power when almost there.
Pulling the stick while flying 1ft above the ground, until we stall and “kiss” the ground.

Lots happening including looking out for others all the time and listening for others……………..

Had a really good feel after this lesson.
Dave is going away on holiday for a month so next time I will fly with my other instructor “Iceman” nice guy !

Lesson 11

Yeah today an early lesson at 0730 with my new instructor Easwaran (Iceman) while Dave is on holiday.

Just did circuits, and did learn a few new things. Its all basically about lining up for landing and doing the landing.
I have been looking a lot at my air speed indicator, a bit to much maybe.

Today I learned that if I just concentrate on flying at the right attitude (the orientation of an aircraft with respect to the horizon), then it’s the engine power that determines where I go (down / straight / up).

When landing, all I need to do is using rudder (no aileron) to aim at the runway, use elevator to keep the right attitude, and adjust engine power to aim at the right point of the runway for landing.

All of this makes sense, but only when you practice it, you realize it. So glad I have done this !

Then the last phase is the landing flare.

In the flare, the nose of the plane is raised, slowing the descent rate, and the proper attitude is set for touchdown. In the case of conventional landing gear-equipped aircraft like my Bleriot, the attitude is set to touch down on all three wheels (main landing gear and stick) simultaneously or on just the main landing gear.

In the case of tricycle gear-equipped aircraft, like the plane I have my lessons in, the attitude is set to touchdown on the main landing gear initially, then front wheel.

Also I learned that its a lot nicer to finish a turn by positively changing the banking to 0 deg with ailerons and rudder at the same time.

Also we did a few circuits at lower level which is allowed by micro lights. The difference is you don’t go all the way up to 1000ft AGL and also the down wing leg is halfway between runway and normal 1000ft AGL down wind leg.

The reason was to speed up the landing taking of frequency to get more landings in my lessons. Not sure if I should do this when there is more traffic, in fact I am sure I shouldn’t !

Some photo’s and video made by my son today:



Video of one of my landings. Nothing special for a lot of you guys but for me, wow… So amazing learning all this stuff 🙂

Lesson 12

Today another lesson. This time in the evening, a little bit of an Easterly breeze, but dying away, resulting in a nice calm evening, ideal for practicing my landings. Yes today going around and around practicing takeoffs and more importantly landings.

A few things I need to remember (probably what this website is about, writing it down so I remember) is during take-off as soon as the nose lifts, I need to give left rudder to stop the plane from veering to the right as it does as a result of the rotating propeller. Prop creates a rotating air stream that pushes the plane in one direction, which needs to be compensated for with the rudder.

I might have mixed up my terms a bit last time. I thought the landing flare was when you pull up when you get low enough. That’s not right. There are 3 phases; descending, round out and flare.

  • Descend

To descend, you lower the engine power and keep the plane’s attitude aimed at the airstrip, resulting in the plane loosing altitude. Control the descend with the engine power and to a lesser extent with the elevator.

  • Round out

Then when a few feet above the ground, gently pull the stick, so that you fly horizontal (not descending anymore). Pulling the stick will increase the angle of attack, resulting in a momentarily increase of the lift. This will decrease or even stop the descent. This is the round-out. This phase is a very short one compared to the other two, but essential, before initiating the flare.

  • Flare

The third phase, the flare, is where you pull the stick gently more and more while at the same time slowly reducing power if engine not already at idle as a result of the descend power setting. By pulling the stick more and more in the flare, you create a take-off attitude.

At some stage, the plane will stall and touch down with the main landing gear first. Continue pulling the stick more and more until at the limit, and basically wait for the nose to come down onto the ground.

Descend, round-out and flare:


Round-out and flare:


Really enjoyed this lesson again, and with everything, but especially the landing, you need lots of practice, so that all these three phases, go perfect. Still need more practice, yes. Usually one or two parts of the landing go reasonably well, but one of the will not so good…..

And again to speed up or get more landings, we did most of our circuits at low altitude.

Yes all good fun !!!!   🙂  Oh yes. during one of the down wind lags, Easwaran, pulled the throttle, to simulate a engine failure. This was luckily (obviously well timed) just past the beginning of the runway.

I turned left, but was way to high so continued my base leg (last bit before turning into the final lag) a bit further, so basically made a bit of an s-curve to loose more height. If you have enough height, its just like a normal landing really except there is no engine you can use to slow the descend if you have to….

Lesson 13

More circuits tonight. With the wind direction and the low sun, we, well Easwaran decided, to use runway 22, a short and narrow strip here in Rangiora (NZRT). Because you really need to pinpoint your landing spot , there is no room for error. The first few landings were no landings at all, I was getting in to high. Because I was looking to much at my instruments, he blocked the altimeter and at some stage my speed gauge.

I need to be more aware of my altitude in relation to the strip, and pay more attention to my attitude (horizontal flying), so I don’t have to keep an eye on the air speed all the time. But coming back to height, yes its so important to get the height right during your approach. Its probably better to be a bit to low then to high, as loosing height is not easy (I am not side slipping yet).

And same old thing more getting used to rounding out in time, not to early, and flaring when only a few feet above the ground. All in all a good lesson again !!!!

Lesson 14

Hello, back again. Tonight more circuits, using the same short strip here in Rangiora, runway 22.

This is going to require some practice I feel. Especially today were we had a bit of a Southerly blowing, ah no , just a breeze.  But yes every change in wind creates changes in the glide path.

Had a few, 1 or 2 good nice soft landings, but needs more ……….

Also a few landing attempts failed as I was to high, just didn’t want to drop fast enough. So at some stage you need to decide to abort the landing and power up again:

  • full power (most important thing)
  • raise flaps
  • keep nose down to raise speed
  • and slowly pull stick

Also I need to be very careful with the speed. When dropping engine power, slightly drop the nose so I continue at the same speed which is about 55 mph for ZK-JOR. So yes, I think its good to use this good old little runway, makes you really practice accurate landings !!!!

I noticed a number of people tonight tried to avoid this short runway and want to use the long one, runway 25, even if there is a considerable side wind.

Keep on practicing Gert !!!  It will be good for me  🙂

Lesson 15

Had a lesson from Dave again, he’s back from holiday.

More of what I have been doing with Easwaran, circuits. Did a whole lot of them , including 3 or 4 glide landings, without engine, well engine at idle speed.

For a glide landing, you don’t apply flaps until you are absolutely sure you can glide to the strip at the perfect glide speed, 55 mph for my plane, you If I remember well that’s 1.4 or so times the stall speed.

Then you apply full flap and land normal basically…

Still need to practice the round out a bit more. This is when you pull the stick to stop the drop and fly just a few feet horizontal. I usually do this to early, and then I stall the plane and fall the last bit and land sort of rough. Ideally the plane stalls when you are only just above the ground….

More practice next time

Lesson 16

Finally after a 5 week break because all sort of mainly weather related things, a lesson again.

Went early to avoid the easterlies that we have here especially in summer. Lots of circuit work again today. My biggest problem (well not always, and I am getting better) is “ballooning”.

This happens when you are landing. Just before you “crash” into the ground, you round out, to make you fly horizontal. But if you pull the stick a bit to much, you balloon (go up again). The whole idea is to stay horizontal, just above the ground, with the engine idle, so that the plane stalls, and lands.

Oh well more practice to get that right 🙂

Also lots of radio calls, and observing other planes, making sure you know what they do….

Just a rundown of what happens after take off:

  • Flap position first notch.
  • Full power.
  • Gently pull stick when above 45mph; take off.
  • Flap position back to Zero at 300ft above ground level (AGL).
  • When reaching 500ft AGL turn into cross wind leg.
  • When reaching circuit height, 1000ft AGL, drop nose, reduce power down to 5000rpm, and stay at 1000ft AGL.
  • Turn into down wind leg.
  • When in downwind leg, radio call: “Rangiora traffic, Juliet Oscar Romeo, downwind, left hand, zero seven, touch and go, (nr 2,3,4,etc), Rangiora”.
  • Perform all safety checks as preparation for the landing; Brakes off, Landing Gear in tact, Choke off, Fuel on, Fuel quantity,Flaps at zero, Door hatches closed, Safety harness on, and finally on lookout.
  • When flying past threshold of runway (start of runway) drop power to 4000rpm, starting the decent, first flap position.
  • When threshold is 45 deg behind you, turn into the base leg.
  • I should have descended to 800ft AGL.
  • Second flap position.
  • Make absolutely sure no one else is flying into the final lag without going through the circuit.
  • When time to turn into the final leg, you should be at 500ft AGL.
  • Turn into final leg, third flap position.
  • Make radio call: ” Rangiora traffic, Juliet Oscar Romeo, on final, zero seven, touch and go, Rangiora”.
  • After making the call “on final” no one else is allowed to land until I have.
  • While descending, control power to make a nice descend path while keeping speed at 55 mph, reaching the runway at the second marking boards.
  • Ideally engine is at idle power for the last part of the descend.
  • When just a few feet AGL, pull the stick (round out) to reach a horizontal flight. Don’t pull to hard, as that will make you balloon (go up again).
  • Gently pull the stick more and more, while flying horizontal.
  • The nose will go up, and the plane will stall and land on its main landing gear.
  • Pulling the stick more and more until the noise wheel comes down.
  • Flaps back to first flap position.
  • Full power again.
  • Gently pull stick when above 45mph; take off.
  • Flap position back to Zero.


—- Wow that’s lots !! —-


ALSO while flying level, in the down wind leg, make sure I am at 1000ft AGL all the time. That is were other pilots expect me to be !!!


Lesson 17

After a few months, of busy other stuff, I had my first lesson again for this year with Dave. Planning to have one every Saturday again if the weather allows. Before I went to the airport today, I studied the notes of my last flight from last year just above here. That was really helpful.

I went through the steps as I memorized them with Dave, and spoke about a few things here and there 🙂

Today was like the previous ones, going through the circuit. Basically practicing the landings. All about the timing of when to pull the stick for the “round out”, and how to keep on adjusting it after for the “flare”.

I will get there. Was going quite well even after those 4 or so months not flying, so very happy !!!

The other thing I really need to get better at is maintaining my altitude when flying around in the circuit.

Really important for two things:

  • Other pilots know where you are or know were to expect you.
  • And important when going in to the final, so your landing approach is correct and not too high, because that’s sometimes a bit of an issue….

Lesson 18; First solo flight

Today, another day another lesson, until Dave took over the controls. He basically taxied of the runway to get out.
When he said can I have the controls, I thought ooh, he is probably going to show me something. Then when he taxied of the runway I thought hmmm, I think I am going solo. Yes that’s what it was……

For a second I got a bit nervous, but always said to myself, if Dave thinks I can do it, I can. And recently I did have the feeling that I would be able to fly myself if I had to  🙂

So yes today is the day. The weather was perfect, no other traffic, and last few circuits I did were all good.

He gave me a few tips, like I will climb faster without my instructor and glide further while landing.
Anyway, here I went taxied to the beginning of runway, R25, checked for other traffic and took off.
All went well. All the time I was talking to myself instead to Dave, basically about all the things I am doing.
Went up to circuit height, 1000ft and landed again 🙂
Yes all went well

YEAH I few solo   🙂    🙂


Lesson 19; Norwester

Left home today to go for my lesson thinking, not sure if its going to happen. A horrible Nor West wind here at home.

But when I got to the airport, there was no wind at all, phhhhhh  🙂

Dave mentioned that at low level there was no problem, but up circuit height at 1000ft, it was a different story. So for my first circuit we went all the way up to 1000ft and it was OK, but decided as there was no other traffic that the other loops would be a low level one, only up to 500ft. This all means that I got lots of landings and take-offs today.

As the Nor Wester was hardly noticeable on ground level, I managed to get quite a few really good landings. Ballooned up a few times as I pulled the stick a bit to much, but yes, getting the hang of this now 🙂

Going well, and Dave was happy as well. Still need to work more on getting lined up correctly, especially with a crosswind at higher levels.

Oh yes the last landing, Dave took over and we landed on runway R28, straight into the Nor West that wasn’t really blowing. But good that I have seen it now, also because the circuit goes the other way for that one.


And no solo today as its a bit to risky if the Nor West suddenly picks up etc etc, but definitely will get more of them with calmer more predictable weather 🙂

Lesson 20; more solo

Had a good lesson again.

Started with normal circuits, a couple, then Dave was going to show me an engine failure after takeoff. Basically when we reached 500ft AGL, he took the controls:

  • Closed the throttle,
  • pushed the nose down immediately, to keep flying, maintaining the right speed, 60m/h I think it was,
  • we veered to the left a bit to get over the river bed,
  • searched for a spot without plants and sort of level, and did glide down to very low level,
  • where we applied full power again ( so didn’t land in the river !!! )

Pretty sure I will be doing this next time, I think. Nothing special really as long as the engine is still alive. Would be different if it was real. So hopefully will be practicing this a few times in the near future.

I think, but I will ask again, that he was doing this with no flaps, to get maximum distance. You would be applying flaps, to slow down at the end, and when you think you are going to miss your landing spot.


Then we / I did 2 glide landings, sort of an engine failure exercise:

  • So here you fly at normal circuit height at 1000ft AGL,
  • and when you reach the runway threshold, you close the throttle.
  • Instead of making turns like in the normal circuit, you make a big gentle turn, and try to line up for the runway (without engine), and aim for 1/3 point into it.
  • When you start the turn depends on how high you are, its all about aiming for the right point on the runway.
  • When that all looks good, you apply all flaps, slowing you down,
  • push the stick a bit to maintain speed, and aim for 1/4 of the runway.
  • Then instead of controlling power, you just maintain speed with the stick, and land.

But because we had so much thermal lift we couldn’t get down in time, so we did a “go around”. This happened twice 🙁

Rangiora traffic, Juliet Oscar Romeo, go around, Rangiora


Next landing, normal landing this time, Dave told me to drop him off at the club house, so I could do some solo time !!

I did 3 laps around the circuits 🙂

While I was having my lesson, there was quite a bit of an Nor Easter wind, and the odd thermal, so all challenging for this young pilot student, with not so strong stomach…. Especially during the landings where you are trying to descend with the least amount of power, but really trying to maintain speed, so you don’t drop out of the sky.

All in all a good lesson again.

FRTO exam

Did my first theoretical exam today as part of my pilot license. Exam was about using the radio and everything around that ( FRTO = Flight Radio Telephony Operator).

Pretty sure I did very well, but will have to wait for the result till it’s marked….

Lesson 21

The weather has been perfect for quite a few days. Still buzzing after last Saturday’s first real flight of my Bleriot with Evan behind the controls.

But now back to reality. Dave was coming into Rangiora, so I asked if I could have a lesson. Been quite a few weeks now, since the last one.

A little bit of a North East wind, that means we will be using RW07. Always tricky landing as the hangars and the clubhouse create a turbulence just before landing. So yes today lots of takeoff’s and landings again, including a engine failure test after takeoff.

I knew after Dave showed me one in my last lesson that he was going to surprise me with a few of these, and yes he did surprise me:

After a second I realized what was happening, I pushed the nose down to gain speed, kept the flaps up, and aimed for 60mph. Made a gentle left turn, a gentle right turn to position myself over the dry river bed, and found a flat area, no shrubs, no water.

As it just a simulated engine failure, Dave applied full power when we got close to the river bed, I dropped all flaps and he gave me the throttle control back, as if we were doing a takeoff. So yes all worked well, glad we didn’t really have to land 🙂

Had my video camera with me for the first time. Have a look:


Apart from the engine failure, it was all about keeping an eye on the traffic, knowing how many aircraft are in front of you when you report “down wind” and setting up a good approach for the landing. That went really well every time so yes, happy about that!

Most tricky, well just a bit, was the turbulence just before the landing, created by the wind over the hangar’s and the clubhouse. But if you fly over that and land a bit further on the runway, the affect of that is a bit less.

Just realizing now that this is going to be really important when I am flying my Bleriot (tail dragger). I need to make sure I am going straight when landing, and no sideways movement. Controlling direction with the rudder. If I go sideways in a tail dragger, I think I will have lots of problems keeping it straight !!! So really need to start practicing this !!!!!!! IMPORTANT

And oh yes, there was a Spitfire in the circuit 🙂 Below you see a little dot from the centre of the windscreen going left. Would have been less then 300ft away I would say:

So yes that adds another dimension into things. Making sure he fits in, as he’s going a lot faster then everyone else, plus when he’s on final, according to Dave, his nose is so far up that he can’t see in front of him, so you want to make sure he’s not just behind you 🙂

Lesson 22

Had a lesson with Doug Anderson, the Chief Flying Instructor of our club 🙂

As he didn’t know my flying experience/skills, we left the circuit and did some turns, left and right… They were going a bit to slow, so he showed me some sharp turns….    Hooohohhhoh is what I felt in my head 🙂 Like you are falling out of the plane, or something.

One of the things important when flying sharp turns, is how the elevator behaves:

Because you are banking quite sharp, pulling the stick (lifting the elevator) results in the turn going even sharper. So if you are doing a left turn with the rudder going left, in a sharp turn, lifting the elevator (pulling the stick) will have a horizontal element in it or call it a vector going left as well. So be careful when making sharp turns when using the elevator, as that will make the turn go even sharper.

Its probably safer to apply more power if you want to raise the nose a bit in stead of pulling the stick. In fact before going into a sharp turn, you apply more power, because the vertical element of lift from the wings drops drastically, resulting in loosing height, so you need more power to compensate.


Afterwards we rejoined the circuit again flying at 1500ft AGL over the airstrip, over the end where we will be landing. That is were I make the “overhead” radio call. This is were the descend begins down to 1000 AGL, and a turn going downwind on the non traffic side of the circuit, and another turn, flying over the other end of the runway, the end were we take-off. And finally another turn which gets us in the downwind leg of the circuit. Be really careful here as other traffic will fly here in the circuit. The remainder is like all other circuits.

Oh yes one comment from Doug, about turning into the Base leg, this is the last bit before turning into the Final leg: The stronger the wind, when landing into the wind as you do, the earlier you turn into the Base leg. Makes scene, as you will go slower in that Final leg but still decent with the same rate.

We did half a dozen circuits I think. All my landings were really good 🙂

Below a little video compilation of my lesson.

  • Preparations,
  • Takeoff,
  • Sharp turns, 360 left turn, 360 right turn,
  • Touch and go’s,
  • Full stop.

Went really well !!!  Love it !

Lesson 23; more solo

Another beautiful winters morning, have my lesson booked for 9:30, so I arrived at 9 and did all the checks on the plane, refueled it, topped up the engine oil and checked the plane log book.

When Dave came, I talked about radio calls, the ones you make when coming back into the circuit, so I can write them down.

The plan for today is more circuits and more “landings“, and I assume more solo. And yes at some stage Dave mentioned he was going to sit in the plane for one circuit, but he ended up sitting with me for 3, when he said (after we landed and I was about to apply full power again) : “I will have the controls”.

So he turned of the runway, got out and said, just go and fly circuits !  🙂

I looked at my watch, it was 10:45.

So I crossed the runway, to get to the taxi way and taxied back to the beginning of RW25. Checked for traffic, went across again!!!! and did my final traffic check, my “lining up” radio call, went on the runway, and my “rolling” radio call. Here I go !!!   🙂

In the end I flew solo for more then 45 minutes, around and around. Most of my landings were pretty good, but the last one went a bit wrong:

I suddenly remembered from last week that during the last landing we flew a bit further before landing so you don’t have to taxi that far back to the hangar. So I thought while I was landing, sort of at the later stage of the landing: Oh yes get a bit more power and fly a bit further. Then after 10 seconds or so I put the engine to idle again to land, when I had a quick glance at my air speed. That was VERY low. To low really. I should be falling out of the sky at that speed, so I started pulling the stick.

This all happened, I don’t know, maybe 1 meter above the runway,so no disaster, I landed maybe a bit harder then normal but nothing to be worried about.

BUT what I have learned from this is that this went wrong because I suddenly changed my mind about what I was doing. Especially during landing and when you are not experienced, you DON’t do this. Think of this in advance and prepare !!!!!

And when you see that the airspeed is that low, you don’t pull the stick, BUT apply more power !!!!! That’s probably the biggest lesson for today 🙂

Lesson 24; more solo

Beautiful winters day, blue skies, frost and no wind.

I prepared the plane and was ready at 9 for my lesson. Dave said, “show me a perfect circuit“, then you can fly the rest solo!

So yes we took off, and it must have been good enough, because he wanted to get out at the first landing so I could do more solo. Dave made one comment. My landing speed was a bit to high speed. 60mph And should be 55mph…

So yes I took off again, and flew for 0.8hr !!!!

At some stage I was thinking ooh I don’t hear any radio calls from other planes, including the one in front of me, so I asked him if he could hear me, and asked for a radio check, but nothing… Then I thought Oh maybe my volume is to low, so I changed it and yes suddenly it was working again. I was sure it worked before as I could hear “other planes talking” Maybe something wrong with the volume knob !

Below is the last landing. Veering off to the left as you do after landing. Looking out for traffic and then crossing the runway to taxi back to hangar…..


Next time when I want to fly I just need to get permission from Dave, and I can go solo without him even being there, only when the weather is perfect !!! So yes getting there. Need to get more exams done and then I will get my first real pilot licence !!!!!

Flight 25, just solo

Today Dave told me to get the plane ready and give him a phone call to get permission from him to go on my own. Yes the weather was perfect no wind really so yes I was allowed to go on my own.

He said that instead of doing just circuits I should leave the circuit and do a re-join after wards. Wow that will be good!!

Bellow is a video clip from a landing of one of my circuits, and then a takeoff where I depart to the west. I go up to 1500 ft AGL (Above Ground Level) then drop the engine power to keep cruising at level flight. I fly towards “river junction” and a bit further, then turn around and track back to Rangiora back to the airstrip, where I go through a re-join procedure.

Here you fly at 1500 ft AGL, that is 500 ft above the circuit height, and fly over the threshold were I am going to land, then I drop power and fly into the non traffic side of the circuit and descend down to 1000 ft AGL and turn back towards the circuit to join into the down-wind leg of the circuit followed by a normal descend down to 500 ft AGL and the finals, where I touchdown and take-off again for a few more circuits.

Very pleased to have done all of this on my own !!!!!!

Flight 26, just solo

Beautiful morning, flying early before going to work…

Spoke with Dave last night and told me to do circuits, and away from the airport with a few turns, and then rejoining and a few engine failure simulations landing using a glide approach.

So yes, I did 3 circuits, then left and flew over Loburn Abbey, did two tight turns, went back via River Junction (the confluence of Okuku river and the Ashley river) and joined the circuit again. Did 4 more circuits I think, with the last 3 doing an engine failure simulation landing with a glide approach. Last two went perfect, first one didn’t as I was way to high, so went around again.

In the log below, you can see the 3 last engine failure simulations, as I am gently turning into RW25, instead of flying the circuit that has a rectangular shape !

So , yes very happy !!  🙂

Have a look for the log here: Tue16Aug2016


Flight 27, just solo

Went for a solo flight to Rangiora again, very foggy at home but all clear at NZRT. I was talking with Dave last night and he told me to practice turns. Level turns, climbing turns and descending turns. Then a rejoin and a few more circuits with glide approach landings.

During my rejoin, I got a bit upset as I didn’t see another plane. Thinking about it, I didn’t see him because he was below me and in front coming my way. Anyway, nothing happened, but I just need to structure my off circuit decent a bit more. So learned from this. As you can see in the log below, I turn the downwind a bit earlier, as this other plane I missed was flying beside me. As a result I turned finals to early and was way to high so did a go-around and did the last landing with glide approach and did it perfect 🙂

Today’s log :  Sat20Aug2016



And below the elevation profile :



Just explaining what you see above, well so I remember later on (no one else is probably interested…)

After takeoff, climbing to 2000ft, there I did a couple of turns between 6 and 9 nm were you see a few little ups and downs, trying to fly level. Then at 10 nm I started doing climbing and descending turns. After 3 of each, a few more turns between 20 and 22 nm while trying to stay at 2000ft, followed by the trip back to the airfield.

At 33 nm I am overhead and start descending on the non traffic site, from 1700ft to 1200ft, followed by an attempt to land, but as I was to high I did a go-around. Did 4 more landings afterwards, with the last one a glide approach.  Al good !!!  🙂

Flight 28, just solo

Had a really interesting flight today ! Rang Dave last night to say I was going to fly early this morning, and this is what he told me to do:
Fly to the “Loburn training area”, find a nice paddock and “almostland there !

So yes this morning I took off, in the direction of the Loburn training area, climbed to 2000ft and started searching for a nice paddock with no animals on it and away from houses. Now that’s not so easy, lots of lifestyle blocks everywhere, so in the end I picked a paddock with no animals, flew over it, reduced the engine power to idle speed, and started gliding down at 60mph. Dave told me to fly as if I was in a left hand circuit so I can see it all properly.

Now the trick is to space the circuit out so that when you go into finals (about to land) you have the right altitude aiming at 1/3 into the paddock. The last thing you do there is apply the flaps, to slow down, turn of the two magneto’s to stop the engine, switch of the main power switch  and close the fuel valve to reduce the risk of fire.

Relax 🙂 I didn’t land and turn off the engine, just simulated it by touching every control or switch. When I reached about 200ft (60m) I gently applied power and climbed up to 2000ft again, and did this whole exercise two more times.
Was fun in the end, all about estimating height, speed, distance, so that you can safely reach the spot where you are going to land.

After that I flew back to the home base NZRT and did 2 glide approaches, also simulating a engine failure landing, but this time in the circuit.

So yes all went really well, HAPPY !!

Here is a link where you can see what I did, just in case you are interested 🙂  wed31aug2016



I have known for a while that one day I would loose my good old Rans, the club plane I have been getting lessons in since day one. As the club is modernizing and bought a new Tecnam, the Rans had to go.

Today it was official, it has been sold to a local guy, so might still see it flying around…….

But the timing isn’t to bad. I always wanted to switch to a “Tail Dragger” for lessons, as my Bleriot is a tail dragger.

Some guy’s at the club started talking about organizing a plane for this, half a year ago as there is a shortage of instruction in these tail draggers. Flying is identical but taking off and landing is VERY different.

Just today I have been to the meeting of the new tail dragger club, going to be called “Southern Taildraggers“. I offered to create a website for the group, for at least the booking system so people can see if the plane is available. Working on that website right now…

Looking forward to the next step in the process of flying my Bleriot  🙂

From the RANZ my old club plane: ZK-JOR

My club plane

To a Kitfox of the Southern Taildraggers : ZK-KNZ

First tail dragger for lessons

Lesson 29, First lesson in Kitfox KNZ

Had my first real lesson with Dave in the Kitfox : ZK-KNZ

This is a tail wheel plane a good step forward in my training program towards flying the Bleriot

I did quite a bit of ground handling  with a lot of steering using the brakes, and then after that flying…. Dave called it general handling. A bit of everything.

This plane is a hand full 🙂 Continuously controlling rudder and ailerons. When the plane is out of balance you can hear it, so yes all the time you need to keep the ball in the centre.

Dave says, if you can fly the Kitfox, you can fly any plane so that’s good !!

I had 1.4hrs on the clock today. First half was all about getting used to the plane, but after that it was getting better and better !! So yes feeling good abou this 🙂

Lesson 30, fast taxis

Yeah had another lesson at 9 this morning. Perfect day for it, sunny and no wind.

First I did a few, 4 I think fast taxis. This to start to get  the feeling of the directional control in a tail dragger. You need to adjust the rudder in short burst all the time as long as you are moving, to keep going straight. To much rudder for to long and you over adjust and you go the other way.

I was thinking, it’s like driving backwards in a car with a trailer, continuously correcting, and if you don’t pay attention, the trailer will “disappear” to the side……

Yes that’s what its like !  🙂

After a few taxis, I felt it was getting better, but yes needs lots of practicing.

After that we just went full speed, doing the same rudder stuff and took off, to our practice area, for a few turns, left and right, and back with a overhead join, and landing, followed by one more circuit.

So yes very happy the way its all going.


Above Dave my instructor on the right, with his next student Tosh on the left in front of the Kitfox ZK-KNZ

Lesson 31, Fast taxi and KTO

Hi, today bright and early I was going to have a lesson in the Kitfox at 0900. After the fuel check and the plane inspection I ran the engine for a few minutes to warm it up, while waiting for Dave. All went well.

As soon as Dave arrived, we hopped in and I did a fast taxi on RWY25 all going well, lots of short pedal bursts. But seconds later taxing back the engine started dropping power, up to a point where full throttle was just enough to keep it going. After a good look, we think its the choke that’s not working, and basically priming the engine continually, making it run very rich…… Hopefully its fixed soon 🙁

Dave told me to hop in another plane, a Karatoo, owned by Mike 🙂   KTO

I did one fast taxi, followed by a take-off and flew to the Loburn training area, did a few turns. Also we tried a stall, but the plane didn’t stall. it was the engine that stopped !!!!!!!!!! Scary to see a  prop in front of you that doesn’t spin anymore. But luckily we had a starter motor…. phhhh

A few more tricks and back home with an overhead join and a good landing !  🙂

Lesson 32, fast taxis, circuits

A bit of a Southerly this morning, beautiful day ! KNZ all back operational. The problem we had last week, apparently is not so unusual. With all the fast taxing, the plane bounces a bit and the float in the carburetor drops down at every bump, allowing the fuel level to rise a bit more, every time when this happens. This higher level, makes the mixture richer.

By making a drain at some higher level I think, this is now fixed. But if it ever happens, while on the ground, I just close the fuel valve for a little while to drop the level in the carb 🙂

OK back to today. Did 3 fast taxis. During one “we” were told of by one of these GA guys who think they own the airstrip…. When I started that fast taxi, we couldn’t see any traffic and didn’t hear any radio calls, but by the time we were about at the end of the runway, he was behind us and having to do a “go around”. Its just a matter of sharing the facilities I suppose!!

After that it was time for circuits. The one main thing I learned was raising the tail after landing before taking of:

When landing you flare by pulling the stick more and more to raise the nose, until it stalls and lands. Then for taking off again, you apply power, and go faster and faster. One, for now unnatural thing to do, is pushing the stick forward, to raise the tail. This automatically gives you full vision ahead and because the speed increases, directional control is a bit better. Then when fast enough, you pull the stick and off you go, in the air…

So yes Dave showed me this once, and I did it later, getting better and better. Still more practice required, but I know what to do now and know what it feels like, so yes happy with today’s lesson !!!  🙂

Oh yes during one of my landings, I got a compliment over the radio: “nice landing Gert” so that was nice !

Lesson 33, Circuits, 3 and 2 point landings, and side slipping

Yep was in the air again today. 0800 Bright and early!! Beautiful summers day, blue skies, and Easterly slowly picking up.

Today I did about 8 to 10 circuits. All low level ones meaning that you don’t go up to 1000ft AGL but only 500ft and the down wing “LOW” level is halfway between the run way and the “normal ” downwind leg. That way you can do more landings and take-off’s, which is what I need now I am flying KNZ the tail dragger “kindly” made available by

Overall it went quite well. Made a few good round out’s landing nicely. That also means I made mistakes, like flying to height and stalling to early, basically dropping onto the runway.

One thing to remember with KNZ is to make sure the airspeed is dropped to 50kts, and during the round-out, keep on puling the stick more and more, until there is no more energy left.

Then full attention to the rudder and directional control. Sound easy but its not (yet). You need to pay 150% attention to your directional control straight after touch down, and when thats under control, apply full power again which makes it easier to stay straight. Then stick forward to lift the tail, so you see the whole runway again, and then pull the stick to get airborne !!!!  🙂

Also during the down wind I started experimenting with the initial stages of a side slip. Basically right rudder and left aileron. Or the opposite controls. But when piloting on the left you would do right rudder and left aileron for the best “view”. Oh yes side slipping is a method for loosing lots of height in a short time. Very useful when landing.

That’s it I think, yes was a good morning !!!!


Lesson 34, Circuits with glide approach and side-slipping

As the weather didn’t work out yesterday (Saturday) Dave offered me to have a lesson today, Sunday in the evening.

Got the plane ready and took off at about 1800.

Today we were going to do a few normal circuits, followed by circuits with glide approach and start practicing side slipping when on final (landing).

Overall, the hardest thing is still keeping straight on the runway. Hardest is when landing, as the engine is running idle and you are slowing down, so less and less air to be able to use the rudder. Its a bit easier when taking off, as the engine goes full power, but still I am 150% busy trying to keep it straight. Next time I see Dave, I am going to talk about this lesson. It was almost as it was a lot harder today then in the last lesson.

One thing I realize now is that today Dave told me not to lift the tail during landing and take-off. This limits the view. All I can see is my side of the runway, can’t see forward. Where as last week, as soon as I lift the tail during take-off you have a much better view and feeling of how things go, and when to pull the stick during take-off.

Same during a landing. We were doing a lot of ballooning (bouncing after first touch-down). Also had problems keeping the plane straight. Never did a ground loop, but definitely the beginning of one. This happened twice.

I have the feeling, if I could lift the tail immediately after landing, the view would be un-restricted, and the rudder would get more airflow, making it easier to stay straight.

Anyway, practice, practice, practice is what I need !!!

The glide approaches, are not so hard, just getting used to the plane and getting a feel of gliding the plane back to the runway, without engine power, and getting to the threshold (start of the runway) with enough height to spare.

This is all about getting used to landing somewhere in case you have a real engine failure!!

And then the last thing today was side slipping. During the last few glide approach landing, I had to come in a bit higher then normal so I could side slip. This basically means flying sideways.

You do this by giving right rudder (makes the plane turn right) and left aileron (to compensate for the right turn).

The result of all this is that you still go straight, this is when in final (landing), but you are loosing a lot of height fast!!  I noticed that the little air vent in the window on my side, that hardly lets any air through during normal flight, had lots of air coming through during side slipping. This is because the plane is flying side ways, so lots more air is “hitting” my side of the plane. Then when I am about one wing-span high above the ground, the stick and rudder goes neutral again and everything is normal, about time to flare, pulling the stick to start flying level with the ground, and loosing more and more speed until the plane drops out of the sky and on the ground: the landing. 🙂

Oh yes and while side-slipping, flying side ways, being pushed into the door, because the plane tilts left, I also need to fly at the right speed, all with that one stick, left and right to side-slip straight, and forward and backwards to maintain the correct speed….   phhhhhhh

Talking brain overload !!! And then as explained above, as soon as you touch the ground, the rudder needs to work over time to keep straight 🙂  🙂

The things you need to do to become a tail wheel pilot !!  BUT REALLY ENJOYED THE LESSON AGAIN. Ready for next one, next week  🙂

Lesson 35, Landings landings and more landings

Early up again for 0800 take-off at NZRT.

We (Dave and I) were talking a bit about last weeks lesson and the ballooning (jumping up after touch down) I was doing. Dave decided that the landing speed of 50kn was possibly to high. So after take-off, we left the circuit tracking North West to a safe altitude and did some stalls, trying to check the stall speed. That turns out to be about 40kn.

So after we joined the circuit at standard height of 1500ft from the traffic side, we started doing circuits at low level (500ft) to get a lot of them.

Today was a demanding day with a brisk Nor Easterly wind about 20 deg from the left landing on RWY07.

Air speed (or energy stored in the plane) is very important in preparation to a good landing:

So during finals I fly at about 55kn, slowing this down to about 50kn when reaching the threshold (start of the runway). Then when about to flare, I am trying to get to like 47 or something and fly horizontal, just above the ground, raising the nose more and more, until we stall / land.

During takeoff, as soon as the power goes on, stick goes forward to raise the nose, so I can see in front of me, and the main landing gear gets pushed down and when getting to 50, pull the stick and take off.

Definitely a bit trickier with some side wind and a bit gusty, but I am really impressed with myself, how things were going. A lot better again then last week

Lesson 36, Lots of landings and side slipping

Yes it was going to be a perfect day for flying. Arrived at the airport (NZRT) at 0700 to get the plane ready.

Dave briefed me about his plans for today:

  • Instead of Touch and Go’s I am going to do Stop Start’s. This is when landing, so you come to a complete stop. The aim is to get more really low speed experience, as this is were directional control is hardest.
  • Do more side slipping, a powerful tool to drop altitude while on final (=landing)

Had a really good lesson !!  🙂

As always, initial landings are a bit hairy, wasn’t that bad, but I noticed that I was making big improvements. The biggest thing to control is airspeed. Making sure that it drops down to 55kn during finals and 50kn just before roundout, dropping below 50 down to 47kn or so when rounding out. At the same time if there is some wind from the side, using rudder to keep going straight, before “dropping out of the sky” and landing.

Taking off and raising the tail soon after making some speed is good for getting more visibility and keeping the Kitfox on the ground before pulling the stick at the right speed to take off again 🙂

The side slips are going well, although I always stop that a bit earlier then required to give me time to prepare for the landing. While side slipping it’s not just maintaining the right direction and keeping an eye on my altitude but also slowly dropping the air speed to around 50kn with the same stick I use for directional control, that’s if the rudder is fully right.

Still feels a but strange as I am hanging into the door, well feels like that !

But yes I am happy, and Dave thinks I am making good progress. Been flying the Kitfox 9.7hrs now. A little bit more and I think he is going to make me do a solo flight, well in a few weeks, maybe a month or do 🙂 🙂

Lesson 37, circuits 😊

Another nice morning, 2 weeks since my last lesson, and we did just lots of circuits, with some variations like glide approach, side slipping, some stop/starts, low level circuits……

But the big thing, and I have mentioned it before is speed control. Make sure the speed goes down enough when landing, and be prepared to control the rudder, lots of bursts left and right while landing especially. When taking off, push stick forward as soon as I make speed to raise the nose…….

I really think I need to prepare myself mentally with all these tips before every lesson, while it’s not an automatic behaviour yet.


Lesson 38, and more circuits

Sunday today, got txt from Dave “Hi Gert. Lite NW at RT. Reckon it will be OK. Ready to fly at 0830?  D

When I left home, felt a North West wind gust, but the closer I got to Rangiora (RT) the calmer the weather.

Refueled KNZ, and started my lesson.

First circuit was at full circuit height (1000ft AGL) but that was to bumpy, so the remainder, we did at low level (500ft AGL). No more bumps 😊

Take offs are going a lot better now, and yes had some good landings as well

But yes the timing of the roundout is very important.

Did some glide approaches, a bit of side slipping to lose extra height….

Yes all in all a good lesson !

Lesson 39, circuits

Busy day for Dave today. I was second one for a lesson, so didn’t have to take it out of the hangar 🙂

Perfect weather, no sun and no wind 🙂

And yes things went a lot better again. I am taking off OK now, and my landings are getting better. Definitively feel I am making improvements every time!

I should try to install the camera in the plane next time to show you !

Lesson 40, …..circuits

Early morning start again 😊 Thanks Dave !!!!!

No isobars today, but still a North Easterly picking up. Enough wind with varying speeds, from an angle, like 10 o’clock while landing that you need make adjustments all the time. Trying to fly at 50knots at the final stage of the landing is not that easy but if you’re going too fast, there’s a big chance of ballooning. Want to get rid of that speed just before rounding out.

Had a few really nice landings but a few that needed improvement…

Afterwards we stopped to talk to a few of my plane people including Paul, the owner of KNZ. He made a photo of me 😊 :

Dave said, just need a few nice calm days, before you go solo in KNZ !!!

Lesson 41, back after 3 month break

After 3 months and 1 week, back flying again.

Been super busy working on the engine, had my parents here on holiday, build a plane trailer, bought a section on the West Coast, and been to the Yealands Classic Fighters air show in Omaka over Easter with my Bleriot.

Yes was a good day to start flying again. Sunny and no wind  !

Last night I was feeling confident about flying after this 3 month break, and yes it went all very well. Basically did one normal circuit and all the others low level (500ft AGL) circuits. Most landings were good. some really good, and one or two bounced a bit. Really happy how it all went !!  🙂
Looking forward to next one, hopefully next Saturday….

Lesson 42, Circuits

Today a little bit of a South West wind, nice and constant.

Off we went, did lots of circuits, one full high one at 1000ft AGL and all other ones at low level, 500ft. As the final is going past some pine trees there was a bit of turbulence, enough to disrupt my final flare. Not to dramatic, but a whole lot harder in KNZ compared to JOR, my first plane.

I am thinking that I need to get some tips from someone else, maybe Paul, the owner of KNZ, the plane I am flying now 🙂

But yes looking forward to the next flight !!!!

Tips from Paul

Saw Paul today, the owner of KNZ.

Basically I am doing all the right things, flaring just before the landing. Its finding the right moment to start pulling the stick gently, and slowly pull more and more, while staying at the same height, maybe half a meter (1 – 2 ft) above the runway until the speed drops below the stall speed: you land.

But sometimes, you pull a bit to much, or you touch the ground and still have to much speed, and as a result you balloon: going up again. But because your speed is so slow now, you are about to stall, and fall down onto the runway, from a bit to high.

So what to do is when you balloon, is to apply a little bit more power, enough to not to fall to fast but to gently fall, and land   🙂

Next time I will talk with Dave and practice this…..

Lesson 43, stalls and circuits

Beautiful day here today, no wind and lots of sun, with a frost!

Had my first lesson with Terry Salmon, so lots of new tips and comments ( Dave is currently busy in his olive grove ! )

Anyway, we first agreed on a few rules and things we were going to do today 🙂

  • Leave the circuit and do a few turns then a few stalls.
  • Re-joining the circuit.
  • And a few touch and go’s, flying around the circuit !

I am not a big “stall the plane” fan, but I know its good and should be doing this every month I think. We flew towards Mt Thomas where we do training work, where Terry showed me two stalls and afterwards I did two. When I did it, KNZ sort of stalled a bit but definitely didn’t do a dramatic dive, all gentle. That means it (KNZ) is showing that you are stalling but still a lot of control so that’s good…..

After that we went back, went through the re-joining procedure, and flew a few circuits.

Got a few hints about my flare (just before touch-down) I need to keep on doing what I do:

  • Most importantly get the approach right: correct height, correct speed (50)
  • After flaring, keep flying horizontal, pulling more and more stick until it stalls and lands.
  • But the new things is; when touching the ground, push stick forward a bit, to keep the landing gear on the ground. Not to much, just a little !

And for the take off I also had a few things I should do better. All the normal things:

  • Apply power, in 3 seconds.
  • Stick full forward; to get forward vision, more rudder control, better airflow over the wings.
  • Use rudder for directional control.
  • But the (not so new) important thing to look for is air speed, before pulling the stick. Make sure the speed is 50, so I can fly!!!!! If thats not high enough, you try to take off but the plane is still stalling, and could side slip ways or stall one wing etc etc creating all sort of very dangerous situations.

Anyway Terry was quite happy with most things, just those few points to pay attention to 🙂

Oh yes, when in the circuit, make absolutely sure, you join at 1500ft AGL, and when in down wind fly at 1000ft AGL, because thats where other “planes” expect you to be !!!!!

Oh and yes keep the slip indicator ball in the center all the time.

Phhhh quite a few things. Lots to think about when flying, but yes happy pilot, still learning.

Practice practice practice

Thanks Terry !!

Lesson 44, circuits and yeaaaah tail dragger SOLO

Yes after last lesson I knew  was going to do some good landings. And yes my feeling about what was about to happen was right !

I think I made 4 landings, 3 of them really good !  🙂  During that last circuit Terry, my new instructor told me to do a full stop. Strange I thought, didn’t think I had done an hour yet, but yes I was thinking maybe I will fly solo today.

Terry rang Dave who just arrived at the airfield and asked him to come over. The reason, Terry belongs to a different club, so only Dave can authorize me to go solo. So started doing circuits with Dave, and after 2 of them he told me to let him out, so I could do my solo’s.


Yes had two almost perfect circuits, good takeoffs and landings.

First solo in KNZ
First solo in KNZ
First solo in KNZ

Nice comment I got from Brent Thompson:

I recon the kitfox is one of the best taildragger trainers around. Beautiful when you do it right but let’s you know all about it if you don’t. Once you’ve mastered the kitfox, you have an excellent foundation for any other taildragger. Well done!

Lesson 45, Solo circuits

Just another beautiful day here, in the middle of winter 🙂

Went flying again with Terry. Not sure if it was 2 or 3 circuits, feeling good about my landings ! And yes afterwards 4 circuits solo !!!  🙂 4 Good landings !

Yes happy, but you probably guessed ……

Lesson 46, 🙂 more solo

Horrible weather yesterday (Saturday) but today, just perfect.

So I contacted Terry for a lesson just after lunch. Went through all the preparations, checks and was ready to fly just after 1300.

It was almost as I was mentally not completely prepared. I took me 2 circuits to get used to everything again.

  • I need to be so more aware of the slip indicator, and
  • With different conditions, it was a bit harder to get the altitude right for finals (the landing)

Apart from that, the circuit was fine.

During the landing I had to pay a bit more attention to the timing of the flare. At one stage I was flaring a bit to high, like only 1/2m to high, so no drama !!  🙂

After 3 circuits with Terry, he jumped out and I went solo again. Everything went really well. Almost like its easier if no-one is watching……. I know Terry was, “outside” from the runway, keeping an eye on me.

After I finished my 3 circuits, I did a “full stop” and vacated the runway and back to the hangar, were Terry came to see me.

He was happy overall with what I did. So from now on, while I need to get more time under my belt, I can start flying on my own, without an instructor with me for these first few circuits. I do need to call Terry before I take-off and talk him through the conditions.

So yeah !!!! Really solo now 🙂

Lesson 47, more solo…

Beautiful winters Sunday. Was going to do a little trip 7 nm West of our airfield, but Terry thought I should have some more solo circuit flights first. We will do that 7 nm trip next week.

So off we went, first 2 circuits with Terry, then about 5 I think on my own “SOLO” 🙂

All very good, feel comfortable !

The second to last landing was a little bouncy. Started flaring to high, and then in the end “stalled” from a bit to high. Could have landed, but decided to do a go-around. First time ever. Basically aborting the landing and applying full power to take off straight away.

So yes never did that before, but this is one of the best decisions you can make if you are not 100% sure !!!! Good lesson for myself 🙂

Flight 48, just solo

Yep, more solo today. First time, without instructor Terry for first few circuits.

Was a nice day but there were North Easterlies developing, creating bumpy conditions, tossing me around a bit while up there 🙂

This made the landings a bit trickier. One of the reasons as I was flying a bit faster during landing to compensate for the wind gusts and turbulence around the hangars on final at RWY07 here in Rangiora. So yes a few landings were bumpy, ballooned a little bit. But all about learning I suppose.

Terry and Mike Small, watching me were not concerned. Yes their comments were that my speed was probably a bit on the high side.

But yes, feeling good after today !

Flight 49, bumpy solo

🙂 Woke up in the middle of the night thinking, ooh no, the Nor-Wester is blowing, no flying today. But by the time I got out of bed, it calmed down a lot.

So I left home to go to the airport, and yes by the time I got there, absolutely no wind.

Rang Dave as Terry my current instructor was in a conference, and got permission to fly. I need to get that every time until I have my first licence.

I got the plane ready, and of I went. The wind was picking up a bit but nothing serious, but straight away I noticed that higher up there was definitely a bit of a Nor-Wester, a wind coming over the mountains, with a lot of turbulence in it. Especially in the last 15 minutes that wind was getting stronger and bumpy-er. Really happy how my body is coping with turbulence now

Anyway, I flew for 1.1 hrs. Happy with all my landings! Today I definitely had to work harder to get them right as the wind was playing tricks with me, but learned from it. Get your speed right and everything falls into place.

Flight 50, solo standard circuit rejoins

Another really nice day today. There’s a NorWester threatening on the horizon, but still nice and calm here.

Before we were going to do anything, Terry wanted me to show some Rotor cloud. These are cloud rotating as a result of waves created by mountains. Now we have lots of those, and these ones where really prominent, very similar like the one you see here (the grey looking ones). The main reason he wanted me to see them is that you DON’T want to fly near them, as its very turbulent there ! 🙁

Rotor cloud

Terry was going to train me officially today on the execution of a standard circuit rejoin. This is basically were you come back from a trip and get into the circuit before you land.

I have done these a dozen times before with Dave and Paul, but it was never signed off in my log book.

We made two short trips away from the circuit, one to Loburn Abbey going North, and another one to the chip factory just East of RT flying at 2000ft.

Then coming back, dropping to 1700ft, and flying flying back to Rangiora, continually looking out for other traffic.

When “overhead”, you make the radio call:

Rangiora traffic, Kilo November Zulu, is overhead, joining left hand 07, Rangiora

Basically saying, hello people from Rangiora, I (KNZ = plane registration) have arrived from a trip at 1700ft altitude and I am joining the circuit, and will land with a left hand turn onto runway 07 😊

As expected this went without a glitch. Oh yes on one of the landings, Terry closed the throttle of the engine, forcing me to do a glide approach. Basically simulating a landing without the use of the engine.

This is where you try to get to the threshold of the runway a bit too high, just to make sure you can make it, and then at the final stages, you side-slip to lose height quickly and land. All going well !

Terry popped out of the plane, and I went solo:

Vacated the circuit, flew to Loburn Abbey at 2000ft, turned around, dropped to 1700ft, and rejoined the circuit, and finished with a perfect landing.

After this, Terry officially cleared me to go solo into the local training area, with a note on my log book. One step closer to my advanced local pilot licence. Weather permitting we will do a cross country flight to Culverden in 2 weeks !! Last weeks trip was a good practice run for that.

Next week hopefully a bit of local flying with a few standard circuit rejoins !!!!

Oh yes, Terry is really happy with how I’m flying!

Happy pilot 😊

Flight 51, 3 rejoins

This (Monday) morning, I was flying early, just after 0700 !

Woke up normal time for a work day, but instead drove to Rangiora 😊. The weather in the weekend wasn’t great, so decided to fly today.

Got there, ran the engine for a few minutes to warm it up. Stopped it, and did all my checks.

Spoke with Terry on the phone to discuss what the conditions were. Just a nice morning, no wind, and cloudy, just high enough to fly at 2000ft I found out later during the flight.

In the end I did 3 separate flights, with circuit rejoins and a touch and go.

First one, was a short one to a local air strip North, Loburn Abbey. Didn’t land there. That’s where I turned around at 2000ft high, and back to RT.

Second trip was East, via the Ashley river to the river mouth, turned around over the beach, same altitude, and back to RT.

Last one I decided to go West, via “river junction”, and then to Cust before i turned around again. While flying over just, I spotted Evan’s air strip (my test pilot).

All circuit rejoins went really well, as expected. Only heard one plane take off while I was flying. Pretty quiet!

Flying with low cloud went well. It must have been somewhere around 2500ft. I never touched it, but I was close 😊

So yes was a good start to the week.

Hopefully next weekend, will do a cross country to Culverden…..

Flight 52, bumpy NW

Yes Saturday again, and we have had a few days of NorWest winds. The same today, but usually they are not as strong in the morning.

So yes I went to the Rangiora air strip and pulled KNZ out of the hangar. I knew it was going to a bumpy flight, but I wanted to fly, to give my body more exposure to turbulent conditions. My plan was to ask Terry if he wanted to fly with me. just as a backup, and to calm “me down”. I am not great in turbulent weather, and used to get air sick, so yes that idea worked well for me.

As soon as I had finished doing the pre-flight checks, Terry arrived, and told me to go solo in the local training area, and enjoy myself. When I told him I wanted to take him as my passenger, he was happy to do that.

So yes, I taxied to runway 25, facing almost perfectly into the wind. We took of very quick with that wind, and slowly climbed up to 1700ft and headed to the “River Junction” reporting point. from there the plan was to fly to Oxford, but we soon realized that the wind was to strong and to turbulent. It wasn’t to bad, but no going to Oxford would be unpleasant. So we turned right towards a local; airstrip “Loburn Abbey”. With the wind in the back that went really quick. With that wind our “ground speed” almost doubled. That’s when Terry decided to go back to Rangiora, and maybe do a few circuits.

So I did a standard circuit overhead join and got into the circuit and landed. We decided to do a few more circuits, so back to the runway and there I went again, still with Terry with me. I wasn’t that worried with him there and not getting “official solo time”.  At the end of this circuit it got very bumpy for a second, just turning into final. Still feeling very good 🙂

I did one more circuit followed by a perfect landing !!!!!

So yes very happy I went flying this morning. It was only 45 minutes, but my body was feeling good, and that is what I wanted to find out. And yes Terry was happy with how I was dealing with the NorWest wind 🙂

Flight 53, RW04

Decided to fly early Sunday morning. Yesterday we had strong North Easterlies, and the same forecast for today.

I arrived early, around 7, and yes the wind had already picked up. But after last weeks North West winds, I wanted to try it out again.

I was ready doing my pre-flight checks, and rang Terry. I assumed he would be home, but it turned out that he was on his way to the airport as well. Only 2 minutes. So yes when he got here, he gave me the OK to fly. I assume he wanted to see me fly, and keep an eye on me 🙂

I told him I wanted to use the shorter runway (RW04) as thats pointing nicely into today’s wind.

Yes I took of from RW04, and flew my circuit. The plan was to fly a few circuits, and then decide what to do, stop or go flying somewhere. When I left there was no one else in the circuit, but soon after I took off, I had someone, Victor Charlie Charlie I think, ask me what the vector (runway) in use was. Soon I saw him join the circuit. Never saw him land, he must have been behind me all the time…

Anyway, back to my flying….

I flew 3 circuits. The first two touch and go’s weren’t really a landing. As the runway is very short, I only briefly touched down, and then applied power again. I noticed I was drifting sideways quite a bit after turning into the “Cross wind” part of the circuit (first turn left), so yes a lot of wind up there. Apart from that flying went well.

As I was flying a different circuit as the normal one, it all looks a bit different, but that was OK. I started to feel comfortable and was making my decision to leave the circuit during my third circuit.

But then ……. during my 3th final, I suddenly had a big wind gust pushing my left wing down (right wing up…) I banked quite a bit. I did a quick check of my slip indicator, to see what correction I had to make. Luckily that was still in the center.

This is when I decided to stop, and land. The landing went fine I think, can’t remember anymore really. I know I got to a stop halfway on this short runway so that was good.

After I got back to the hangar, I spoke with Terry who had been keeping an eye on me. He told me I made the correct decision. If I would have continued and vacated the circuit, he would have contacted me on the radio, to tell me to come back and land.

So yes happy I did fly this morning. Was only 30 minutes, but feeling good about it. Lots of new experiences !!!  🙂

Flight 54, XC to Culverden

Today I did my first real Cross Country (XC) lesson. Got an email from Terry a few days ago with his plan to fly with me to Culverden. This is about 50km in a straight line North of Rangiora.

It was a bit foggy this morning at home, but some of my plane friends told me it was nice and clear in Rangiora, so all good !

Left home at 0700, to prepare the plane and be ready for 0800. Just a beautiful day again.

Filling up

Today I mounted a camera on my headset (see photo below taken mid flight) to show you what it looks like during the flight 🙂

Terry (left) and me

The video you see below is a bit on an angle, sorry… Yes in the video, you see my cap on the left. The video is 5 bits joined together:

  • 0:00 / 2:21 : Taking of in Rangiora
  • 2:21 / 4:42 : Flying towards the Hurunui river
  • 4:42 / 5:35 : Air strip in Culverden in sight
  • 5:35 / 6:12 : Flying in cross wind, last good check of runway
  • 6:12 / 6:57 : Landing in Culverden

So yes, flew from Rangiora, via Amberley (just to the West) where I changed frequency as that area is using a different radio frequency. Then via the Weka Pass to the Hurunui township, and towards Culverden. On the way I made about 4 or 5 radio calls to tell “every one” where I was, how high I was flying and where I was going ……

The air strip in Culverden is long and nice and smooth, owned by the local council. So when I arrived at 1500ft above ground level, I had a good look at the wind sock to find out the wind direction and decided to land on the “Northern Vector”, descending to 1000ft on the non-traffic side of the circuit into the wind. Then fly through the cross wind part of the circuit, into the downwind sector, still at 1000ft. Finally descending through the base sector to 500ft, and turning into the final sector into the wind again and landed.

Just landed in Culverden

We had some morning tea and a drink. before I went flying again. On my own this time, doing 3 circuits. Somehow my landings get better every time. must be getting used to doing it ! Nice photo below of me landing 🙂

Solo landing in Culverden

After my 3rd circuit, Terry jumped into the plane again, and we flew back to Rangiora. Same route: 3000ft over the Weka Pass, 2500ft past Amberley, and down to 1700ft towards Rangiora. There I did a right hand circuit and landed on runway 25 (magnetic direction 250deg) and made a perfect landing.

Yes Terry was very happy with how I did everything, and cleared me to do XC trips !!!  I still need to call him before I go but good progress today !!!!!

Terry just checked with Mike, another instructor. They want me to do a solo XC now from Rangiora, to Oxford, to Amberley and back to Rangiora. This is about an 1 hr trip ! So that’s what I will be planning for next Saturday hopefully  🙂  🙂  !!!!

Flight 55, first solo XC

Yes did my first solo XC (Cross Country) today.

Basically means you leave the airport where you are based and go somewhere else and navigate a bit 🙂

So yes, arrived just after 0700 I think it was and there she was :

The hanger where KNZ lives

I did all my checks, filled up the petrol tanks and rang Terry. We were talking about the wind conditions and he gave me the OK. It was nice and calm, with a bit of a NE wind, not a lot. But I know it would get stronger.

This is the map I was using for my trip:

Today’s map

So basically starting in Rangiora, going anti clockwise.

First point to fly to was the Sefton Chipmill. Easy to spot as it always has lots of white smoke coming from the chimney, but not today. Just a little bit:

Sefton Chipmill

Flying North just past Amberley, my next turning point was Dave’s property. He has his own private “SHORT” runway. I spotted it from a distance (can you ?). So yes all good :

Dave’s runway

That’s the way to Oxford. A nice day, but a bit of fog ahead of me !! I noticed it driving away from home this morning:

That’s the way to Oxford

Beautiful views:

Just a nice view

Next turning point was Loburn Abbey. I’ve seen it many times before, but never approached it from the East. But again I didn’t have any problems finding it:

Loburn Abbey

And yes getting closer to Oxford with more and more fog! Beautiful views towards the North, looking at Mt Thomas:

Towards Oxford, looking at Mt Thomas

As the fog was to thick, I decided not to go all the way to Oxford, but stay on the edge of the fog, and turn at Harewood Rd. Easy to recognize as I have driven there lots of times. Here you see the little single lane bridge across the Eyre river:

Harewood Rd single lane bridge across the Eyre river

And yes I wanted to circle around our house. Its a bit to the right from the centre, with the drive way loop and the white looking shed 🙂 :

Our house
Our house

Everything was going fine, until I got closer to Forrest Field, my next turning point, the air strip not far from us. I spotted it straight away.

I saw a plane not far from me, but quite a bit higher. So I radio-ed him that I could see him. A few seconds later I saw another plane coming towards me, at the same altitude, so I started turning right, that’s one of the “right of way” rules in aviation, internationally. He descended and went under me. All looking safe, didn’t feel in danger at all at any time. Next someone called me on the radio saying that I was on the wrong frequency ! OOOOOPS

I apologized and quickly changed frequency, and reported my position, altitude and my intentions.

I completely forgot to change frequency. I blame the fog, as it changed my plans,

So important to use the right channel !!!!!!!!!!

Won’t do that again. So no photo of Forest Field.

Next turning point was Cust. Yes looking good, almost home:


I found Rangiora no problem and had a really good landing, considering there was a lot of wind now, a lot more then when I left.

If you click on THIS LINK a new tab opens with the map you see below. And if you zoom in, you can see the turning points that I photographed, GREAT :


So yes had a really good time. Seen fog from above, had beautifully views, made a mistake with my frequency (hopefully learned from it) and had a really good landing. So yes happy !!!

Oh yes rang Terry when I landed to “terminate” my SAR time ( Search And Rescue ). If I wouldn’t have arrived on time they would start looking for me 🙂

Flight 56, XC ForrestField, Oxford, Amberley

The weather this weekend wasn’t looking good, so planned a Cross Country trip for today, early start as usual, before work !
Paul had just installed a new windscreen, yes looking very shiny 🙂
I was planning the reverse of last week. Starting in Rangiora, via Cust, past Forest Field, do another loop around home, then around Oxford. And instead of going to Lowborn Abbey like last time, my plan was to follow the foothills towards Amberley, and then back to Rangiora via the Sefton Chipmill.
And yes that all went beautifully well !

Brand new windscreen

Took off towards the west on RWY25 and straight towards Cust, staying at 1200ft, the circuit height, avoiding any aircraft that would be joining (at 1700ft). But today was very quiet. Didn’t see any one. Heard one plane flying around Burnt Hill, sort of the direction I was going to and later on one doing circuits in Rangiora. So yes had the sky to myself !!!!

Below Forest Field. Didn’t take a photo of it last week with all the radio frequency hoha.. Its just to the right of the centre:

Forrest Field

The views are just amazing. None of these photos with my little “plane camera” justify it. You just have to experience it yourself 🙂
Lots of little irrigation reservoirs on farms, lots of roads, easy to navigate as I know the area quite well.
Next I looped home again, see log at the bottom of his post, and around Oxford with the super market just left of the centre:


Now going to the North East, following the foothills, below the first hill past Oxford. It is named A9V4, funny name that I found on a topographic map, and the Lees Valley Rd going up on the right :


Ashley Gorge with the camping ground, a bit hard to see, but the bridge and river were we swim in summer clearly visible:

Ashley Gorge

Then Glentui, where we regularly go for a walk. That’s in the back, a nice peaceful loop walk there:


Here is Mt Grey with lots of forestry. I felt a bit un easy here with all the forest below me. No where to land if I had to, but NO problems so all good.
Just on the horizon on the right is where I went a few weeks ago with Terry, via the Weka pass, to Culverden :

Mt Grey / Maukatere

And around Oxford, with the new Countdown shop in the centre, back on my way home again :


Just a shot of the Sefton Chipmill here as it was’n “smoking” enough last time:

Sefton Chipmill

Yes had a good time again.
Before I left home, I checked the MetFlight weather report and it had:
15kt wind @ 1000ft 340deg,
15kt wind @ 3000ft 300deg and,
20kt wind @ 5000ft 290deg.
So thats all between North and West.
Well I definitely could feel that. Little “bumps” in the air all the time, especially flying along the foot hills, making me feel a bit up tight, basically waiting for a big one !
But luckily that never came. Just have to get used to them, and relax a bit more, but be ready for when it happens 🙂

If you click on THIS LINK a new tab opens with the map you see below, GREAT :

Cross Country; RT FF Oxford Amberley RT

Acrobatics talk

No I haven’t gone crazy !!!!  🙂

Won’t be doing acrobatics, but we had a very interesting talk here at the club. Our guest speaker Andrew Love, an accomplished aerobatic pilot.

I met Andrew a few times in Omaka during the last two Easter shows, and knew he was building an acrobatic bi-plane. Super nice guy.

Anyway, the reason we invited him here because we want learn more from him. One thing in perticular:


A spin is a state of the plane where its not flying anymore, and literally spinning to the ground ( the earth in yoga terms 🙂 )

You get into this situation when the plane stalls and basically falls side ways. Probably because one wing stalls before the other.

This is all good when you are really high and have altitude left to recover. But when low, like in your finals, or somewhere else in the circuit you DON’T want to be in this position !!!!!

To avoid this, make SURE the plane is IN BALANCE using the slip indicator. Oh yes make sure you are flying, so have enough speed 🙂


Recovering , if you have enough height its “easy“, but something we might want to practice with Andrew as our instructor, in an acrobatic type plane. Its done following these few instructions:

  • Engine IDLE

  • Stick NEUTRAL

  • OPPOSITE rudder

According to Andrew, you will be out of your spin within one revolution.

Oh and by the way you could easily have dropped (fallen down) 500ft …………



Flight 57, 3 forced Landings

Yes another Saturday, another flight. A strong NorWester blowing yesterday. Today more of that but it looked like this morning was going to be ok, just not as strong. And yes nice and calm this morning, but signs of the NW on the sky !!

Getting VERY close now to my Advanced Local pilot licence.

I met with Dave the head instructor who has been instructing me until a couple of months ago, and Terry my current instructor. They were sorting out at what stage I was and get me ready for my Advanced Local pilot licence.

While they where talking they send me off, Solo, into the local training area, about 10nm NorthWest of Rangiora, to perform a number of Forced Landings. You basically find a nice padlock into the wind, and simulate a landing , starting at an altitude of 1500ft above ground. The same height you join an airstrip.

Click HERE to see the map below:

3 Forced Landings

When I found a place to land, on the left of me, I closed the throttle, and started descending in the “down wind” leg to about 1000ft. Then turning left (base leg), still descending as the engine has not enough power to fly, until I got to about 800ft, turning into finals.

When in finals, the idea is to aim at the back of the paddock, and when you are ABSOLUTELY sure you are going to make it, you start “side slipping” in order to land just after the fence at the beginning of the paddock.

I went as low as about 100ft, applied power again and flew away 😊

In the map above you see 3 Forced Pretend Landings.

The first paddock wasn’t good ! Had a power line going straight across, not a good place to land !! I didn’t abort that “landing”, just continued this practice landing, staying well clear of the lines.

I wanted another place to practice and found one not far from there. Did 2 more “landings” and felt it was going better every time.

This is also one of these things I suppose, that you need to keep on practicing. Just like a normal circuit, but somewhere in a paddock.

When I got back, I explained to Dave and Terry how it all went, and they were satisfied.

In the mean time they spoke about my progress, and decided that there was one more thing I had to do:

Flying low level, that’s 500ft, the absolute minimum. The plan is to fly to Lees Valley at about 500ft over the ridge to get there and do some low flying there. Then back over the Weka Pass via Amberley !

After that one more thing, a test flight with Dave. He basically asks me to do a few tasks and if all of that goes well, and it should, I get my Advanced Local pilot licence.

So yes almost there ! 😊😊

Flight 58, low level flight in brisk NW conditions

Sunday today, having a lesson with Terry in low level flight, that’s at 500ft.

The plan is to go via the Ashley river towards the coast, and then North flying over the beach towards Motunau Island. Then over the hills to Omihi and Waipara, back to Rangiora.

BUT, the wind was from the NorWest, and we knew we might have to change plans……

Take off was good, but yes turbulent weather today. Taking of into the NorWest on RWY25 and leaving the circuit via the downwind leg at normal circuit height 1000ft above ground level. As soon as we were a few miles towards the coast I started descending down to 500ft, and that is quite low…. The air was a bit nicer to us down here, but as soon as we reached the hills from Amberley, the down draft of the NW wind over the hills there was really bad. I am sure it would have been OK higher up, but that’s not what today’s lesson was about. So we turned around and followed the hills towards Waipara. The idea is that you fly at an angle of 45deg with the ridge of the hill when crossing it, so that you can quickly turn if you want to for what ever reason. That’s all today’s lesson was about, knowing how to go across one safely.

When we reached the other side, I followed the State Highway up to Omihi, and turned around back towards Waipara and Amberley, still flying at 500ft above the ground. I am glad I did this lesson, not just for the low level flying and going 45deg across ridges, but also the NorWest wind, and the turbulence’s associated with it. With Terry as instructor I felt safe, but I am sure I would not have flown solo in these conditions. Not ready for it, but good to experience them. Its like being in a washing machine, up, down, left right…..  Just have a look at the landing video below, gives you a little bit of an idea about the wind.

I call it a solid landing, suddenly lost airspeed and got onto the ground, without bouncing !

Tomorrow possibly my “flight test” with Dave before I get my Advanced Local pilot licence. Will let you know how that went 🙂