First flight

May 26, 2008

Saturday May 24th, 2008 will be a day that I will remember for a long time. It is the day I first went up in a small plane, a Piper Cherokee to be exact. It is the day I began my flight training.

A few months ago I signed up for ground school at Toronto Airways. I had been thinking about it for a while, since my house mate in Markham was in the Seneca College Aviation program and we spoke about flying and maneuvers and weather quite often. I have been playing Microsoft Flight Simulator since I first became aware of its existence so you could say I had an interest in flying but I never really looked into it.

I completed ground school on April 10 of this year and, since I moved to Hamilton at the end of April, I began looking for flight schools in the Hamilton area. My choices were Spectrum Airways, in Burlington (CZBA) and Peninsulair in Hamilton (CYHM). I decided to go with Peninsulair since it was closer, I would be flying out of an international airport so I’d get experience with the big boys and also I like the look of the Cherokee.

Saturday was my introductory flight, a 30 minute flight preceded by a discussion of licensing goals and requirements. Since I have already completed ground school, written and passed my PSTAR, radio license and held a valid Category 3 medical, the discussion was cut short and my instructor, Bob, and myself headed out to the plane.

GQFP, the plane I flew

Once at C-GQFP, Bob showed me how the walk around is done before each flight, checking the control surfaces, oil, fuel, propeller, landing gear etc. He asked me a couple of questions about the plane (Why are the control surfaces corrugated? [More strength while lighter in weight] What purpose does the counter-balancing weight on the ailerons serve? [Prevents them from fluttering as air moves over them]) then told me to take the left (pilot’s) seat and performed the engine start up. After taxiing out of the parking spot to the edge of the apron, Bob called Hamilton Ground for clearance to taxi then:

Ok we’re cleared to taxi. See Bravo over there, take us there.

He let me taxi until we got to the hold short line for the active runway where he requested clearance for takeoff. Once we received it he said:

Alright let’s taxi into position. I’m gonna close the door here. Alright throttle it up and get this plane in the air.

He let me do the take off! Once off the ground, the feeling was unreal. So much freedom to move in three dimensions. It was amazing. I turned right to follow the 403E until I got to Princess Point then turned right again. Went over the Skyway bridge and followed the Lake Ontario shore line until I was over Wild Waterworks. It was a beautiful day and there were many boats on the lake. The colour of the water was a spectacular blue with boats carving white streaks as they passed through. I turned right once again and passed over Devil’s Punchbowl and the escarpment on the way back to the airport. Bob let me do the approach (which was awful in terms of approaches) and when the plane wouldn’t go down any more, he took control and landed us.

Flight path
My approximate flight path with mile markers (Click to enlarge)

My first flight was over, the next one is on Saturday. I can’t wait!

Flight Training Phase 1: Complete

Apr 14, 2008

Two months ago I began my flight training with Toronto Airways at Buttonville Airport (CYKZ). I guess “flight” training isn’t exactly correct since this was actually the ground school preceding the actual flying. Over the course of eight weeks, the course covered everything from the basics of flight, to meteorology, aircraft engines and navigation. The instructors went over the important parts and left it up to the students to fill in the blanks since the amount of information is enormous in most sections.

This past Thursday marked the end of the ground school portion of my training. I am now ready to take to the skies and will do so starting in May. I have decided to complete the requirements for the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) first and then decided where to go from there. To give you an idea where I stand, the requirements for the PPL are as follows:

  • Minimum 17 years old [Check]
  • Category 3 Medical Certificate [Check]
  • Minimum 40 hours of private pilot ground school [Check]
  • Minimum 60% overall and in each section of the Private Pilot Licence – Aeroplane written exam
  • Minimum 45 hours of flight training
  • Radio Operator’s Restricted Certificate Aeronautical [Check]

These requirements are detailed in CARs 421.26.

The only things standing between me and the PPL are the written exam and the flight training hours. I have decided to fly out of Hamilton’s John C. Munro International Airport (CYHM) with Peninsulair. It was a toss-up between Hamilton airport and Burlington airpark (CZBA), however in the end Hamilton won since I can just take the bus up to the airport, whereas to get to CZBA I would need a car.

Peninsulair has a fleet of Piper PA28-140’s which they use for training. The plane is a single engine, single door, two or four person aircraft. I can’t wait to get behind the yoke of one of these and take it out for a spin!

(Peninsulair's Piper GQFP)

Learning to fly

Mar 2, 2008

Flight has been quite the mystery to me for quite some time. I enjoy flying both as a passenger or pilot in command (while playing Microsoft Flight Simulator, of course). I’ve also purchased an E-flite Blade CX-2 RC helicopter so I could get my fix of RC flying. However this still didn’t “quench my thirst” so to speak.

Two weeks ago I started ground school at Toronto Airways which operates out of Buttonville Airport(CYKZ) in Markham, Ontario. The course runs from February 14th to April 10th, twice a week, 3 hours per night. It is definitely a great way to get “back in shape” school wise. The lectures so far have been very interesting, covering topics from the parts of an airplane, theory of flight, air regulations, weather and so on. I am currently torn between getting my Recreational Pilot’s license which allows one passenger and only day time flight, and getting my Private Pilot’s license which allows the plane to be full with passengers and the addition of extra ratings (night rating, float rating, etc.)

Apart from the extra knowledge (and in some cases refresher), flight training also has given me the opportunity to acquire some gadgets. The most fun of which (so far) is my Vertex VXA-220 Transceiver.


It’s sitting right in front of me as we speak, tuned to Buttonville Tower on 124.800 MHz. I’ve been listening to ATC traffic all day and it’s quite fun to hear all the commands and instructions given.Originally I was going to get just an air band scanner, but for the same price, this transceiver is a great addition as a backup radio.

I have a few more lectures to go, about four tests, an aviation medical and then about 60 hours of flying to do before I get my license. I can’t wait to start my in-plane training! Most likely it will be a Cessna 172

but it may also be a Piper Cherokee.