My first flying lesson
A day that will remain in my heart forever as the day of my first flying lesson. We were split into two groups, or equipages. I was going to be the second one to fly that day. 08:57 local time – I get in the Socata TB-10 aircraft and start adjusting my seat. On my right is Laszlo, also known as Laci, chief theoretical knowledge instructor. Behind us is the lovely Jeanette, another one of our instructors: “Maybe you’ll need a pillow” she tells me. I fidget nervously in my seat. “Yes, you are right.” and grab a pillow from me as she smiles. I try to make myself comfortable thinking I’ll need another pillow. But Janette already knew this and handed me a second one. “This will be your seat configuration, it is important that you memorize it” the instructors tell me.
OK, pre-engine start flow, engine start, engine run-up and we are good to start taxiing. “Nyiregyhaza Info, good morning, PH-MLS in front of the main building, ready for taxi.” “P-LS taxi to holding point runway 18”. (The ATCO/AFISO may shorten your registration – which in my case is PH-MLS, to the first a
nd last two letters, P-LS. After that, communication can be done using that shortened version. Do not use the shortened version to identify yourself if the ATCO/AFISO hasn’t done so first. It’s also not incorrect to continue using your whole registration if at first you find the shorter one too confusing.) Deep breath in, I release the parking break, add a little bit more thrust because the plane was parked on a grassy area and we are moving. “Don’t use brakes while taxiing, just reduce the thrust.” Laci tells me. But the thrust reduction only doesn’t feel like it’s enough braking. After 5 minutes or so, I start to feel more and more confident about the handling, feeling the need to steer with the control yoke, rather than with the rudder pedals, less and less. “OK, let’s stop here at the holding point for RWY 18 and inform the AFISO that we are going to depart.” We line up on the runway, my thoughts are going at the speed of light, trying to remember all my theoretical training. One final cabin check. Laci tells me that he is going to take off but I should keep my hands and feet on the controls and pay attention to what he is doing. Full throttle and before I know it, we’re up in the air, climbing with 85 kts. 300 feet, flaps up, engine instruments checked. 500 feet, first right turn to crosswind leg. Lower the nose, 90 kts in the turn, level off and back to 85 kts. Look back to the airfield, check your position. At around 45 degrees angle between the wing and the tail of the plane, start second turn to downwind leg. Again, 90 kts. Level off. We reach 1000 feet. Fuel pump off, landing lights off, reduce thrust and prop pitch. “Watch the horizon. Your speeds are inaccurate”. We are now parallel to the runway. Abeam the threshold point, as per training, I contact the AFISO. “P-LS ready for base leg, touch and go”. Fuel pump on, landing lights on, carburettor heat on, reduce thrust more. Third turn, lower nose, 90 kts. Level off, 85 kts. At 10 degrees between the wing’s leading edge and the runway, commence the fourth turn to final. 500 kts upon final turn completion. Flaps landing, prop full forward. Establish descent path. 200 feet, carburettor heat off. 7 m, break the descent path and flare the aircraft. Touch with the main gears, then let the nose touch down too. Flaps to take-off position, full throttle and we go up again. One more visual circuit and then we make a full stop landing.
At the time as I was doing this exercise, another Romanian fellow was going through a different kind of jitters and nerves. Massive shout out to Robert Condurache who was taking his international CPL practical exam. It warmed my heart to realise that as I was doing my first flying lesson, the only other person sharing the airspace above Nyiregyhaza Airport with me was another Romanian. If you’re reading this, thank you for the encouragements. 🙂
The entire experience lasted 30 minutes, but it felt like the blink of an eye in my head. During debriefing I received the following feedback:
Preflight inspection, servicing and documentation: S
Start-up, taxi, aerodrome and pre-take off procedures, normal take-off: S
Straight and level flight (altitude, heading and speed control): S+
Airspeed changes during level flight: S+
Normal turns: S+
Climbing and descending during turns: S
Orientation, look out and collision avoidance: S
Checking of the engine instruments: S
Use of checklist: S
Actions after the flight: S
The scale is (from low to high): BS (below standard, or another thing that BS stands for which I cannot name because there might be kids reading this post, haha), S-, S, S+ and AS (above standard). Of course, my aim is now to score ASs on all the criteria. After all, practice makes perfect!
I filled in my first logbook entry in my brand new Jeppesen pilot logbook (thanks CEFA!). I even took a photo of my logbook with my grandfather’s logbook when I went home for Easter. He seemed happy and very proud. I wish my dad was around to share the joy with the both of us. But I also know that with every day that I get to fly now, he can see me and we are even closer.
It was a great day. Thank you again to everyone who made this possible. From my family and friends who helped me in every way they could, to my instructors and colleagues. You are all amazing!