Episode 20 – Fit to fly

As we start the second season of the Ready for Departure podcast, Steve describes his decision-making in determining if he was fit to fly. Following a bout of illness, a short recovery, then a relapse, Steve wanted to go flying as it had been quite a while since his last flight.

But something wasn’t right. Steve was on medication and didn’t feel 100% OK, should he go flying? Was it just nerves because it had been some time since he’d been in the P1 seat?

Join us as Steve talks through the situation and ultimately what he ended up doing. During the podcast, Steve mentions the CAA Safety Sense leaflet and Rory on Air’s latest video, the links are below.

Episode 19 – In-flight Emergency

This episode of the Ready for Departure podcast details an in-flight emergency that Steve recently experienced whilst he was pilot in command of an Ikarus C-42 microlight. Steve and fellow pilot Adrian were returning from Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport when the pilot’s door suddenly blew open, sucking out anything that wasn’t strapped or screwed down.

Listen as Steve replays the incident, with the help of actual ATC recordings of the incident and explains how he rectified the situation (along with commentary from inside the cockpit as the problem is diagnosed and eventually resolved).

Episode 18 – Differences Training

In this episode Steve talks about completing differences training on a new type of Microlight aircraft, the Ikarus C-42. Whilst it uses the same Rotax 912 4-cylinder engine that Steve is familiar with, the C-42 is a high-wing aircraft and has some notable differences when compared with the low-wing Eurostar EV-97 aircraft that Steve normally flies.

It took Steve a number of lessons with an instructor to get to grips with the change, but now completed Steve has access to a fleet of five aircraft thanks to the PPL hire scheme at the school where he rents his aircraft. This means more flying and more podcasts! Listen in and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple iTunes if you want new episodes instantly downloaded to your Apple device.

Episode 17 – Landing at a farm strip

Fellow microlight pilot Adrian and I decided to see if we could make it to one of the local farm strips to the north of Barton.

Rossall Field, which is the base for attitude airsports, a small microlight school  where flexwing, fixed wing and quite rarely, tailwheel microlight flying is taught, came recommended to us by another pilot. Rossall Field is a farm strip at Tarn Farm in Cockerham, Lancashire with 2 runways (both with reciprocal bearings). Runway 02/20 is 305 metres long and 11 metres wide, and there is a shorter 10/28 runway which is just 270 metres long. Compare that with Barton’s shortest runway (which I have operated from only once, during training) which is a generous 398 metres long and 60 metres wide!

Rossall Field is close to 2 other microlight sites and Cockerham’s parachute dropzone, so correct field identification is really important.

Spotting the site proved to be just as difficult as the time I tried to find Ince Airfield (still not landed there yet!). A grass strip with a farm next to it, from 2,000 feet looks pretty much like any farm with green fields! And there are lots of those in Lancashire!

Once we’d found Rossall Field and hung around for a while, Adrian brought us back to Barton. It was pretty simple navigation back to Barton – pick up the M6 and route southbound, through the inactive Warton MATZ due to it being a weekend, on to Chorley Lakes and then the newly re-named Middlebrook football stadium VRP.

I’m sure Adrian won’t mind me saying it wasn’t one of his better landings (and I have certainly landed worse myself since this trip), you’ll hear me say on the video “you can blame me for that one if you want” and it was because at one point I realised I’d fouled the control stick with my map on final. I moved it away as soon as I felt the stick touch the map, but it might have been enough to put Adrian off. Anyway, it was a safe landing so that’s all the counts. And I don’t mind admitting Adrian is a better pilot than me!

So all in all, a great little trip that gave both of us really valuable experience and, due to splitting the cost, was a very cheap way to spend the afternoon. While only a 64 mile round-trip, it’s certainly a favourite flight in my log book (perhaps not THE favourite) and it’s given me the confidence to find more microlight and farm strips to land at during the remainder of 2018 and beyond.

Episode 16 – Where can you fly?

One of the most common questions Steve is asked when people find out he is a private pilot is “Where can you fly?”

In this episode of the Ready for Departure podcast, Steve attempts to answer this question, which is not quite as straightforward as you might think. Steve attempts to dissect the complexities involved in planning a trip to a new airfield, such as flying through controlled airspace, flying somewhere new for the first time, how it all works in practice and even how long is comfortable to fly before a break!

Join Steve as he talks about where he has already flown this qualifying for his private pilot’s licence and where he plans to fly in the future. If you’ve always wondered where you can fly on a UK NPPL or EASA PPL licence, have a listen in to this episode of the podcast and you might find some inspiration for flights of your own.

Struggling with your training? Wondering if all the effort and expense is worth it? Steve explains what you’ll be able to do with your licence once you’ve qualified – definitely worth keeping the training going!

Episode 15 – Learning around The Liverpool Loop

Steve discusses his latest flight, one he dubs The Liverpool Loop, since it involves a flight which starts and ends at City Airport Manchester (Barton) but follows the edge of Liverpool’s controlled airspace in a loop. The journey touches on the tip of North Wales and Steve even managed to negotiate a zone transit over the Airbus facility at Harwarden, where the Beluga Super Transporter is based.

Steve also talks about his recent learning points from flights he has taken since the last episode of the Ready for Departure Podcast aired, including a fairly significant safety omission from the start of one of his flights.

Listen in as Steve discusses problems with ipads, last minute changes to plans and making the best use of aircraft time.

Episode 14 – First Passenger

In this episode of the Ready for Departure Podcast, Steve talks about his first two flights post-qualification, including his first flight with a passenger. Steve has now gained his UK National Private Pilot’s Licence (NPPL) and took Kat on a tour of the North West’s motorway network, since this was something she had requested to see from the air. A video of the flight is linked in the blog post which accompanies this podcast.

Steve walks through some of the things that went well with both flights as well as some of the things that didn’t go as well, including a couple of small mistakes, things he forgot and self-learning points for future flights with passengers. Faulty ipads, self criticism, dodgy radio calls and a failure to listen to a fellow pilot’s advice all feature. Listen now!

Episode 13 – The Flying Widow

In this episode of the Ready for Departure podcast, Steve is joined by his first guest, his wife Kat. Join Steve and Kat in this special podcast episode where they talk about what is was like “from the other side” and how the support of his friends and family helped Steve during the difficult stages of his flight training.

Kat shares her own experiences of watching and supporting Steve while he learned to fly, all the while watching and wondering how much it was all costing! Now that Steve is qualified Kat is looking forward to going flying for the first time in a microlight and, as you will hear on the podcast, Kat wants to see lots of motorways….why? You’ll have to listen in to understand!

Episode 12 – Fun Frustration Impatience Relief and Happiness

Steve has completed the final flight of his NPPL training for qualification of a his private pilot’s licence. It has been a long time coming and Steve describes some of the frustrations he experienced, talks about how impatient he became at times as his second and final qualifying cross country flight was cancelled numerous times due to weather and conditions. Not forgetting that the whole point of learning to fly is for fun, Steve reminds us how enjoyable flying across the country solo is and talks about his relief and happiness at finally reaching the milestone of qualification for the NPPL private pilot’s licence.

Episode 11 – New Airfields New Procedures

In this week’s episode, Steve talks about flying with his instructor to Sleap Airfield in Shropshire. Experiencing lots of new and different procedures for the first time proved to be a huge challenge, including navigating the extremely narrow Manchester Low Level Corridor, which is in between Manchester and Liverpool’s controlled airspace.

As a navigation flight (and preparation for his final Qualifying Cross Country flight), GPS and electronic navigation aids are forbidden! Therefore all navigation is done via map and dead reckoning, with all pre-planning done with just protractor, ruler and map.

The new procedures and flying to another new airfield put Steve outside of his comfort zone – listen and hear how Steve overcame these difficulties and successfully completed the flight.

Episode 10 – Navigation

This week’s episode is all about navigation flying. Steve goes through his navigation training, from learning how to make the necessary wind and heading calculations manually (with nothing more than pen, paper, map, ruler and protractor) all the way through to completing one of his Qualifying Cross Country flights – a flight from City Airport Manchester (Barton) to Blackpool Airport on the west coast of Lancashire. Steve describes some of the difficulties he encountered mastering navigation. Listen as Steve discusses his progress through navigation training.

Episode 9 – The General Skills Test

Listen as Steve describes taking the General Skills Test in a Eurostar EV-97 microlight for the National Private Pilot’s Licence (NPPL). Steve explains the various manoeuvres he was tasked with completing by the examiner and talks through his experiences with the process. Some things go very well, some things not so well.

Episode 8 – Advanced Turns

Steve talks about his experiences with Advanced Turns in this week’s episode. As part of the NPPL syllabus, it is a requirement to be able to complete a turn at up to 60 degrees of bank angle. Very steep turns! Steve discovered that he was having an issue with the G forces that are pulled during the advanced turns. Listen as he describes how he overcame that problem.

Steve also realised that while he had been shown how to do advanced turns in previous training flight, he actually hadn’t learned how to complete the manoeuvre on his own. Here, Steve talks about his first few attempts at advanced turns with his instructor and ultimately describes how he eventually completed advanced turns on his own.

Episode 7 – Radio Telephony

Radio Telephony, RT, is the subject of episode 7 of the Ready for Departure podcast. Steve explains how the RT qualification fits into the PPL syllabus and he talks about his experiences with the two exams, the written test and the practical aural examination with a CAA examiner. Using real-world examples of RT from City Airport Manchester (Barton), Steve explains some of the most common RT calls and how he learned the phraseology.

Steve highlights the importance of listening to the radio as well as getting the calls right and refers to the example youtube video below, courtesy of Touchdown Point. The RT bible, CAP 413, Steve mentions in this podcast episode can be downloaded in PDF format here.

Podcast episodes are released weekly. For early-bird access, why not make a small donation (a pound a month would help to fund some of our website hosting and bandwidth costs). You can do that by clicking here.

Episode 6 – weather

In this episode Steve discusses how the weather has played an important part in his flight training, whilst working towards the UK NPPL pilots licence. As well as talking about the meteorology exam that must be passed as part of the syllabus, Steve goes into how poor weather disrupted his training and how he took advantage of weather windows in order to make progress with his training. As Steve is a microlight pilot, he operates from a grass airfield and not only was Steve grounded during poor weather days, but at many times for several days after some bad weather, while he waited for the grass runways to recover.

Podcast episodes are released weekly. For early-bird access, why not make a small donation (a pound a month would help to fund some of our website hosting and bandwidth costs). You can do that by clicking here.

Episode 5 – Overhead join

Join Steve for Episode 5 of the Ready for Departure podcast where he talks about his experiences trying to perform the overhead join for the first time. This was something that was a bit of a struggle to understand, however, after watching some videos, doing some reading and discussing the overhead join with his instructor, Steve was able to finally understand how it was supposed to be done, before performing it himself correctly and safely for the first time.

Mastering the overhead join is an absolute must before leaving the circuit solo, so its a crucial step in the learning process.

The YouTube video by the ‘Flying Reporter’ referred to in this weeks podcast episode is shown below.

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Episode 4 – Goin’ solo

In episode 4 of the Ready for Departure podcast, student pilot Steve Middleton describes his first solo. Steve discusses the build up to the solo and his feelings as he finally pulled it off, including a small issue as he came around to line up for his landing after one circuit.

 

Podcast episodes are released weekly. For early-bird access, why not make a small donation (a pound a month would help to fund some of our website hosting and bandwidth costs).

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Enter a one-off donation amount in the box or use up/down arrows to select your donation amount

 

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Episode 3 – Circuits

Ready for departure is the new podcast aimed at student pilots or those thinking about starting flying lessons for the first time.

In episode 3 of the Ready for Departure podcast, student pilot Steve Middleton describes his experience flying in the circuit for the first time. Listen as Steve talks through the different stages of the circuit from his perspective as a new trainee pilot. Steve recalls some of the common mistakes he made, such as forgetting to push the right rudder during take-off, climbing too steeply and struggling to steer in a straight line down the runway.

Eventually Steve overcame these problems and even managed to learn acceptable radio telephony skills (with an example live RT recording included within the episode) so that when the time came to fly solo in the circuit, all his skills had come together, thanks to plenty of practice. Listen as Steve describes his circuit work.

Episode 2 – Exams and Landings

Ready for departure is the new podcast aimed at student pilots or those thinking about starting flying lessons for the first time.

In episode 2 of the Ready for Departure podcast, student pilot Steve Middleton talks through some of his experiences studying for and taking the National Private Pilot’s Licence (NPPL) exams, including Air Law, Human Performance and Limitations (HPL), Navigation and Meteorology.

Steve also discusses the difficulties in trying to land. Speaking from his own experiences, and before he went solo, Steve steps through the problems he was having with his approaches and the common problem of ’rounding out’ too soon and too high. Listen as Steve explains how he eventually overcame his inability to land.

Episode 1 – The Trial Flight

Ready for departure is the new podcast aimed at student pilots or those thinking about starting flying lessons for the first time.

In this episode, student pilot Steve Middleton talks about that very first lesson aka the ‘trial flight’ and gives a little insight into what students should expect during that lesson.

Steve also talks about the costs of learning to fly and mentions the kinds of extra items you might be expected to pay for on top of your lessons.