I must admit I'd been pretty lucky with the weather since the commencement of my training with only one marginal day, a few weeks ago, when the fog threatened to can the flight. Sydney siders would agree it hasn't been the best week weather wise this week, I knew the rain would eventually show up to test my patience. I remembered back to that foggy morning thinking that the lesson might not be on and found that I'd "switched" off a bit - not as fully prepared for the flight when we actually did end up heading out. From then on I'd set out to turn up as if I was going to fly every time, regardless of the conditions. I'd entered the aerodrome perimeter on Tuesday morning and the rain had started again - maybe we'd still get up?
I was up for confined areas, I'd read the course notes and when I arrived I asked the instructor what the chances were of us getting up. The instructor replied something like, 'well you can't be a VFR pilot who only goes up on sunny days for the rest of your flying life, go and get a raincoat from out the back and do your pre-flight".
After the briefing I'd gone out to start up and when I turned on the radio to listen to the ATIS I was met with the message that the aerodrome was shut due to an emergency. So when the instructor came out to the machine and I told him what I'd heard, he spoke to ground who confirmed the closure but said if we'd contact tower they would let us get out. So we did and without knowing what the emergency was headed off to the training area no windscreen wiper required. As we came up to the normal haunt for confined area training and we commenced the reconnaissance, mist was coming in and in general the weather wasn't looking nice at all. In the approach I remembered reading in my Met notes (just last week) about visibility reduced on approach in fog and mist - too true. From above, looked ok, from the approach didn't look good so - go around. Looking back towards the east the weather wasn't looking any better so the instructor decided to can the lesson and head back.
I suppose the lesson switched at that point and we started talking about not flying into bad weather, pushing through cloud could be playing russian roulette and what options there were if I were stuck in this type of situation (ie land, alternates, gulp, asking Sydney to have a gander on the radar to give a hand or not going in the first place). It was something, up until this stage, I hadn't thought about a lot (but now I have). Due to IFR departures we had to hold outside for a while, but after a few orbits we were ushered back. As we turned from base to final I saw what was the emergency, a chieftain had gone off the end of the runway.
I couldn't help but rubberneck a bit (I suppose the tendency to have a look is just as attractive in the air as opposed to the normal incidents on the road). The gear was still down so I guessing it was a bit better than the opposing gear up version. And as normally happens on the road, concentration needs to get back straight away to your own vehicle / helicopter and land! I didn't see this lesson as wasted, more an experience that I hadn't really had previously and as I was reminded - you can't always go out on a nice sunny and still day.
I'll try again next week for confined areas...
Thought I might try a few photo's today, from a trip down to the Temora Aviation Museum yesterday. The boys from Nowra had been invited to bring some Squirrels up and although the place has an awesome collection of aircraft, it was good to see the rotary aspect in their show (can't wait until some ex-military rotary wing gear gets a home at Temora ). I also noted that right down the end of the strip were 2 R44's, an black EC (not sure number) and a yellow and blue rescue Dauphin (probably there for the military?), the most choppers I'd seen down there at one time. Was it worth a 4.5 hr drive each way with a 3 & 4 year old in the back seat ? for choppers you bet! (my wife is still to understand that concept - as much as I'm trying to understand why the Westfield over the other side of town is better than our local one ).
a) hope this works and
2) the camera was a loaner so don't be too harsh on the quality (I'll try better next time)
There's the spitfire to the right
Until next time...
Follow choppernut on his journey to CPL(H).
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