Archive for March, 2015

Night Rating: New Licence Arrives

Monday, March 16th, 2015 | Permalink

Night Rating Delivery

Night Rating Delivery

Training complete, application and paperwork filled in and credit card details provided.   Nothing left to do but wait around for a newly updated licence from the CAA.

Your mileage will probably vary, but it took mine about 4 weeks from sending off the application to the date the new licence arriving.   Please note, I say ‘new licence’ only because you don’t send off your old licence, it’s not a replacement, you keep your existing PPL licence etc. and when your night rating is added on to your licence you’ll be sent new licence paperwork.

I was a bit worried about how this would be handled because it could have become a real headache if I had to send my licence off for 4 weeks and then not have a licence to be able to prove I was eligible to rent an aircraft etc.   but not a problem this way so good times 🙂

So I’m now legal to go flying at night all on my own!   Great stuff.

Have I used it yet?   Nope and if you’re sharp eyed you’ll notice this post is about a month behind the time of actual events 🙁    A night rating just in time for summer then, what’s the point you might ask?   Well I might not make masses of use of it in months to come, but when October/November rolls around, there’s no risk of getting caught out or having to rush back as 4pm rolls around.   It’ll just provide some options, I love to fly farm strips so I’m not hoping to use this to go night flying into farms……..but it will help keep me legal coming back from some farm an hours flight away from Cambridge etc.

Night Rating: Part 5 (Completing Solos)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 | Permalink

The requirements for a night rating include:  “5 full stop solo landings”.   With everything else signed off on my training, this lesson was aimed at just completing this requirement – with 1 solo night full stop already completed, 4 to go tonight.

Another Instructor, but a special one

5 hours of night flying will have seen me fly with 4 different instructors, they’ve all been great to fly with but this lesson was a bit special because I’d be flying with the instructor who was the first to ever let me take-off on my own (I didn’t say solo, just the first time I was ever trusted to open the throttle and rotate a Cessna 172 and climb away for myself and I remember that first take off fondly – but the landings did take longer to master 🙂 ).   That was all the way back in September 2011, time sure fly’s when you’re errrm, flying….

I never flew with that instructor again, tonight we’d probably fly one circuit, but all the same it would be a pleasure to do a circuit and show how a student from years ago had progressed.

Quick Briefing

Nothing much to say, just a review of my training records to make sure I’d get it all signed off on this lesson.   That the intent was we’d do 1 circuit, if that was good, he’d hop out and I could crack on and complete my requirements for a night rating etc.   Nice simple lesson for all involved hopefully.

Duel Check Circuit

My memories are of a all nothing to write home about circuit, take off, turn, downwind, checklists complete, radio call for final and land.   Nothing to it.

Clearly it was ok because he asked to vacate the runway, he could go get a cup of coffee and I could do a spot of night flying on my own.   The winds were calm and the sky was clear of could, a really quite beautiful night to go flying.

Solo Circuits:   Arrrgh Just Let me do my circuits!!!

After a fairly quick taxi and ATC getting me back into the air with no delay the first circuit was smooth and I was just settling in for a  nice ~30 minutes of going round in circles.

Just turning onto final approach for my second circuit:

Go Around, Go Around, G-HERC, Confirm Go Around.

Power back on and a radio call to confirm I was going around, that’d just stuffed ten minutes of flight time (in cash terms £30 wasted).   The Air Ambulance had scrambled and as you might expect they get priority to depart the airport – you can’t argue, but did someone have to have an accident right when I was about to complete my night rating?  😛

I was then asked to extend before turning crosswind for 2 miles to give the air ambulance time to clear the airport.  Ok, but this would mean having to find my way back into the circuit in a night sky of ground lighting soon to become unfamiliar.   Still not exactly rocket science, just another good way to burn money/fuel without achieving anything 🙁

Finally second circuit out of the way, really no drama my night circuits now were as consistently good as if I was flying in the day.

Circuit 3, all going great until getting onto the downwind leg when in a rare moment for ATC essentially I was stitched up for other traffic.

G-HERC, perform a right Orbit for separation.

No worries, I love to fly the odd orbit in the circuit, keeps you in good practice at holding a height while flying a constant 30 degree bank.   Except that, didn’t the preceeding radio call say the guy was 8 miles out?   That’s a lot of ground to cover in the time it’s going to take me to go 360 degrees @ 100 miles an hour.

G-HERC continue Orbiting until further notice.

Round and round and round and round……..I lost count how many times I went round in circles.  Once for fun, twice for perfection, but then it gets a bit boring.   I was starting to get concerned that at this rate I’d actually run out of time to complete the circuits in the lesson slot – but equally was pretty determined I was getting this rating done tonight come what may.

Finally some fast jet landed and I was cleared to stop circling, for another tick in a box landing that I think everyone in hindsight could safely say I could have done easily twice over without interrupting the plane I was delayed for.   Still, you win some, you lose some, don’t worry too much about it.   Just one more circuit to go 🙂

Nice Final Circuit

Finally the distractions had passed and I got a nice easy circuit with no trickery.

Back on the ground it was just a matter of taxing and parking up (amazingly my parking is now infinitely better then it was when I was a student and missed the wheel slabs, every time!).

All done except the Paperwork and Money

Job done, my night rating training was complete, just a matter of coming in during the week to get all the forms filled in and signed.

There’s quite a lot of paperwork, a surprising amount actually:

  • The Application Form is ~7 pages, you fill in a bunch of boxes, the instructors sign off on a bunch of boxes and hours flown etc.
  • You need a Certified (by the Chief Flying Instructor) copy of your Passport, to prove you’re applying for who you say you are – very strange.
  • A Certified copy of your Medical (i.e. Class 2), again by the Chief Flying Instructor – not sure why you need a certified copy of your passport if you’ve got this, but eh ok…
  • Your Logbook needs to be signed off and will need to be sent away.

Perhaps that list didn’t seem strange to you?   Well just consider this, you can only apply to the authority which holds your medical records.   So they have my license number, they have my medical record number, they know the ratings I already have and they know my medical is valid because they hold the records for it!   Really quite strange, but it is what it is and you just need to follow the process rather then try to fight/disagree with it.

My logbook was interesting, it had last been filled in with pen when I got my PPL.  Since then I’d clocked up about ~40 more hours/flights, all in pencil, so another hour or so of going over all of this with pen again!   Still I have a mistake free logbook record as a result of this effort of pencil first 🙂

Don’t forget the money, at the time of writing it’s £89 + £6 to have your new rating and log book returned by secure courier (I think you’d be mad to have your log book returned any other way!).

Then it’s just a matter of waiting……