Landings, Geese, and The Tower

This weekend was awesome for flying. I was able to get in all three lessons. Winds were calm (less than 8 knots, and only 3 today) which made it perfect for practicing my landings. I was also able to practice landings on two runways, 21 and 33.

With each lesson the bar I set went higher and higher. I’m working on really nailing down the circuit now. My FI noticed that my turns weren’t all 90°. I would end up turning too much. This resulted in more of a triangle (ie, no base leg) rather than a perfect square. I wish I had brought up my GPS this weekend so that I can show you what I mean.

If you take a look at Buttonville’s entry in the CFS it has a warning about keeping an eye out for wildlife. Until yesterday this really wasn’t an issue. After we landed and completed my post landing checklist I called up ground and asked for taxi instructions back to the main apron. They chimed in with the necessary details and told me to watch out for geese chilling next to the taxiway – I had them in sight.

My FI warned me that these guys are usually pretty cocky and to expect them to run out in front of the airplane as we get closer. As we approached, they walked right on the taxiway and stopped. Stupid birds.

I had visions of them getting sucked into the prop with blood and guts everywhere ;)

I slowly moved forward and they moved out of the way with a few quacks (peeps, or whatever the geese sound is called). My FI then told me of a story where someone was taking off, and the geese decided to fly next to the airplane while it was rolling down the runway. The pilot decided to abort the take off, and just as he/she did, the geese crossed the runway in to the airplanes path. Potential bird strike averted.

I was able to sneak in a lesson before work today. It was great. I was surprised to see the METAR showing the winds at calm. I was told this is hardly ever the case. When I finally got up into the circuit they had increased to a whopping 3KTs. The ride was smooth mainly because of:

– Low winds, no mechanical turbulence

– Early morning, no convective turbulence caused by the hot air rising from the sun heating the ground.

It was good having these three lessons in a row, all with calm winds, to practice my flares and landings.

Because it was relatively quiet, I asked my FI if we could head up to the tower to take a peek. She agreed and called to make sure – it was a go!

0993719.jpgI was surprised at how small it was. It looks a lot bigger from the ground. There were two people. One working ground and the other working tower. They had two LCD screens, one was a radar feed from Pearson and the other looked like a record of who took off and where they were going (a flight plan management system?). They both were running windows.

No more old school crt “scopes” with that sweeping arm ;)

The radar feed was cool. It showed Buttonville, Markham, and Toronto’s control zone as well as major roads and reporting way points (like cities and monuments). The display was really simple: black background, green ground features, white aircraft, and yellow control zone markings. The actual radar unit was located at Pearson, and the data is sent to Buttonville via “telephone lines” (most likely ISDN). The majority of the traffic handling is done visually using binoculars. Apparently Buttonville only had this radar feed for the past few years.

They still used strips to keep track of traffic though. I witness ground handing off a few to tower (they literally sat next to each other) as well as a runway change. The controllers were excited about the new tower opening though. It’s going to have state of the art technology replacing the strips with touch screens.

I have also starting doing some solo “prep work”. Making sure I record the tach and hobb numbers. As well as going over the journey log book before each flight to make sure I wont be violating anything.

All in all, it was a good weekend with lots of progress made. Next lesson will be half (or so) in the circuit and half doing emergency stuff.

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