Five hour flight

Flying weather has been totally awful this summer, just a week ago I had only 4½ hours of flying this year when at the same time last year I had already flown almost 30 hours. But this week I finally got two really good flights, first one just under 3 hours and the second one 5 hours 18 minutes. The 5 hour flight is required before doing any cross-country flights so I am happy I finally got it done.

Track of that flight is here, weather was mostly pretty good though big rain showers were in every direction and sometime after the 4 hour mark it got truly challenging to stay in the air. One last weak thermal (the shallow bump at the end of the track) saved it though!

So the flying season has ended for me for this year. I got my license a few months ago, and already flew 25 hours as a certified pilot! So far in addition to the DG-505 trainer I flew the Astir CS Jeans and LS-4. Its surprising how different the planes handle and feel despite having a very similar design on first sight.

The LS-4 feels very nice, only thing I dont like about it so far is the wheel brake which is operated by pressing the bottom of both rudder pedals with your heels – slightly tricky if you want to use the rudder at the same time.

I almost had to do an outlanding as well, flying the Astir. I was 450m from the ground and over 8 km away from home in headwind. I felt quite anxious at first but I had a field picked for the outlanding and when I was low enough that I knew I’m absolutely not going to make it home, I felt quite confident about being able to land ok. But then I found a weak thermal still and after a bit of patience made it back up! Track for that flight is here.

Proper cross-country flying still seems a little bit scary, but maybe next year I will go an do it in a two seater with some experienced pilot.

I had my first solo flights a week ago, phew. All went well and I have done the required 10 solo flights now for my final flight test. I was even a bit surprised how easy I felt about the first solo flight, not much anxiety at all. As such the flying itself I feel I can handle well, its any unexpected situations especially during landing that I feel anxious about.

I took some video clips and pics with the Mobius action camera I had with me on a few longer flights, they are below. Next up for me is the final flight test, then I should get my glider license and then at some point I should man up for some cross-country flying. The “standard” easy route in our club seems to be to fly from Rautavaara to Iisalmi and back which is about 100km total. Not a difficult task in good weather but you need to be prepared for an outlanding on a field and the first time doing that feels like a huge challenge.

When weather is not so good it is good time to go do some geocaching. I went to “Kaivannonkierto” trail which is on a peninsula (if thats what it is called) that you can see on the last two flying images above. It is about 3km long looping path with some 15 geocaches and water on both sides.

The nature was nice and I enjoyed the walk, though I found the idea of geocaching trails – where you place as many geocaches as you can next to some path – a bit boring. Stopping every 150m to find a cache identical to the previous one is not too exciting.

Gliding season is in full swing. I did my first flight of the summer almost a month ago already but good weathers didn’t arrive until a few weeks ago. This weekend I flew only two flights, totaling under 1 hour 30 minutes but had plenty of new experiences:

  • New personal altitude record (3000m MSL)
  • Flying inside a cloud
  • Flying in a hail storm
  • Landing during rain
  • New personal shortest flight record (under 30 seconds), because of:
  • A true, non-practice failed wind launch due to winch engine failure

Flying can be unpredictable :) Unfortunately I did not have my cameras and stuff on board so I have only some less exciting photos from the ground.

Trying cloud flying was great, I did it with a teacher of course but managed it quite well. I found trusting the instruments to be not that hard, possibly due to so much simulator flying where the instruments are the only thing you have. Resisting the temptation to react to the things you think you feel the plane is doing is challenging however.

Flight track is here, the fast rise from 1200m MSL to 3000m MSL is inside a cloud. Solo flights ahead of me next…

While in the Czech Republic still a few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit Zbraslavice airfield and do some gliding way before anyone in Finland would even think of starting the gliding season. Of course the weather was not so good that day so I only did one short flight with a local teacher in the L-23 Super Blanik.

The Blanik is certainly a different beast than the modern DG-505 I had flown before. Aluminium construction, not so perfect ergonomics, no high tech gadgets to help you. But I liked it and it was an unique opportunity to have a flight logged in my logbook in another country before I even have my license :)

Short video of an aerotow start there, it was my first time experiencing that as well:

Gliding season has ended for this year, I didn’t manage to get my license yet due to some delays with getting the medical certificate. I could not do solo flights until I got the medical, so they will have to wait until next year.

I did manage a total of over 30 hours in the air, max. altitude ~2200m and longest flight of just short of 4 hours.

Here is a video of some flying, captured with the Mobius Action Camera: