Admin months

May and June are busy months from a flying admin point of view. My medical (which needs to be done annually) expires at the end of May. My PPL needs to be renewed by the end of June. This makes this a bust couple of weeks.

To renew my medical requires an annual audiogram, lipogram and eye test. To be honest, I can’t see why these need to be done yearly (perhaps with the exception of the eye test?). Having to go through a medical every year at my age (42) seems superfluous – especially since I know I’m in good health.

There are aviation authorities which are moving away from regular Medical’s for PPL holders and others which are simplifying these (think the FAA BasicMed plan). But our authority tends to be on the healing edge of the curve, not the bleeding edge so it must be done.

This year my medical has turned up two unwelcome harbingers of being over 40 – firstly my myopia which has been present since I was about 6 has turned and it is starting to trend back toward normal which means that presbyopia is on it’s way. Fortunately, my arms haven’t begun getting shorter just yet.

Secondly my cholesterol has increased. Quite a bit. So will have to do some intervention there. I guess if the worst part about having a yearly medical is that it can pick up potential problems early, then maybe it isn’t such a bad thing…. It’s still a PITA though.

From the point of view of my PPL renewal – well, it is simply something that must get done. In South Africa we need to renew/revalidate our PPLs after 12months initially then every 24months. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but i need to practice the maneuvers and get them down pat. Fortunately, the Sling is so docile they shouldn’t be an issue at all….

Some days you’re the bug..

It had to happen sooner or later. I had to have a bad day flying. Now don’t get me wrong, a bad day in the aeroplane is still better than a good day at work (or something like that), but my last lesson was a real struggle.

In fact, it has been a bit of a difficult/frustrating week. The ongoing issue with my medical was finally resolved this week. I missed the aeromed panel in July becasue a document they needed wasn’t with them 7 working days prior to the panel meeting, so I was deferred over to the August meeting. Which was held on the 15th. Now the communication from the CAA was along the lines of “you will receive written confirmation of the results of the panel within 7 working days.”

By the 9th working day following the meeting I was getting a little twitchy. on the 10th day I emailed the panel member I’ve been communicating with. No reply. On the 11th day, the reply I’ve been waiting for – you have been cleared to fly! I was supposed to receive “shortly” a formal confirmation and the certificate, so I waited and waited. 2 days later, no letter, no certificate, so I phone the responsible person – “oh yes, we’re just waiting for the panel to fax the documents”. Fax? in 2017? #facepalm. Anyhow to cut a long story short, I have in my grubby hands the required medical clearance.

Before my lesson on Friday I thought I’d pop into the CAA to apply for a student pilot license which one needs before one can write any exams or go solo. I’ve been assured that this process usually takes 3 working days. Imagine my horror when they say it will be ready in, you guessed it, 7 working days. Hurry up and wait. Le sigh. At any rate, we are making progress, albeit slow progress toward me being in a state of being legally allowed to go solo.

Hurdles to be overcome before going solo?

  1. Get SPL
  2. Write and pass Air Law for the PPL exam (requires 1 above first)
  3. Land the plane properly – and thus the reason for me feeing like the bug and not the windshield…

Friday’s lesson was TOUGH. Having a look at the METAR may give some insight as to why this should have been the case…

FALA 011300Z 21012KT 160V230 CAVOK 25/M07 Q1022 NOSIG

Let’s break this down – 01 Sept, 1300Z (1500Local) – Wind 210deg 12kts variable between 160 and 230deg, 25deg celsius. Which doesn’t sound so bad except when you realise that the runway heading is 245 deg – which gives us wind ranging from 25deg from the left to full 90deg from the left at 12kts. Add to this the uphill runway (FALA gains 100ft across the length of the runway) and the high levels of traffic and the stage wasn’t set for a great afternoon of flying. We flew ZS-ZIP which I’ve maligned before as being a bit of a dog, but to be honest, I’m starting to get a bit of a soft spot for her. She’s very docile in the pattern, perhaps not the most athletic of the planes but very useable and forgiving – which is just as well.

Every plane I’ve flown on flight sim, and every aircraft I’ve read about flying as a GA aircraft would have one believe that it is important to flare the aircraft before touchdown. Not so the Cirrus. The Cirrus requires you to fly it onto the runway – i.e descend under power, fly into ground effect then reduce power to allow her to gently descend onto the runway.  I’m REALLY struggling with this. as the power goes and the airplane slows you need to pull back on the yoke gently to settle her in. I’m a tugger. I cannot get that smooth pull down, and on the odd occasion when I do, I don’t get the power off so she won’t land. we had a number of somewhat positive touchdowns.

In my defense the wind was swirling around and we had almost full crosswind at times but I cannot help feeling frustrated, especially when my approaches are really pretty good – despite never getting the same length of final due to ATC/ traffic restrictions – we flew a lot of very short final approaches. My one consolation was when the instructor offered to do a landing just to refresh my technique. As she flew over the threshold she muttered “No wonder you’re battling, it’s horrible”.

So we need to find some respite from the wind. It IS the windiest time of the year in Jhb at the moment, but I’m going to try and carve out a morning slot this week to try and get the landings sorted so we can carry on with the circuit emergencies – we’ve only done no flap and 50% flap emergency landings – no engine failure on downwind, no EFATO drills. While I want to believe I’m not impatient to go solo, there is a little part of me that wants to get it done. But really, I’m in no rush….

Below is a video from an earlier circuit session, also in ZIPpy but under much better conditions – with a greaser at the end for good measure. Take it as read that the flying was MUCH worse last time….

Jumping Through Hoops (i.e Getting a Class II medical)

So part of the process of getting the PPL is collecting a Class 2 medical. Which should be a simple process for a nominally healthy 41y old like myself.  (Well, that’s what I thought)

For a Class 2 medical the following are required.

  • Stress ECG
  • Lung Function Test
  • Visual assessment
  • Auditory assessment
  • Chest X-ray
  • Fasting lipogram (cholesterol)

Thus far there is good news and bad news for my medical.

The good news – My eyes have not deteriorated significantly at all in the 3 years since I last had them tested. I have excellent hearing (apparently supranormal). My chest X ray is pristine (which is always a relief given the massive occupational exposure I have/have had to Tuberculosis (it goes with the territory when working in SA)

The bad news – It’s on the ECG at the top of the page. This is the 2min post exercise ECG. Now understand that a stress ECG requires one to get to 90% of Max Heart Rate. I got to 99%. On climbing off the treadmill the person doing the test said to me “Try not to breathe too much”. OK then, that is easier said than done. So I try to. Breathe. Slowly. – as a result I basically end up doing a Valsalva and the massive change in heart rate seen on the rhythm strip is a direct result of that.

It’s called sinus arrhythmia and it’s normal. Well. It’s normal for the average man in the street but it needs checking out to be called normal for a medical. So, it’s off to the cardiologist for me.

Fortunately, my wife is a general practitioner and was able to refer me to a cardiologist without a 6month waiting period. Tomorrow I see said heart doc and I hope he’s able to give me the all clear…

 

#holdingthumbs