End of Year Review 2020

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What a strange year this has been! COVID caused huge disruption to everybody in many ways and I have been fortunate not to have been badly affected. My major milestone this year was gaining my CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence).

Flight instruction has continued between lockdowns and has been 80% IFR related this year. IR training has again almost entirely been in student’s own aircraft, with IMC ratings using the club PA28. I’ve enjoyed working with all my students and especially those where you develop a more close working relationship over a period of time. I managed to run one well attended groundschool class for flying abroad with subsequent bookings deferred until 2021. Although not an FIC Instructor, I’ve also participated in the delivery of a Flight Instructor seminar and will continue to do so. These are currently delivered via Zoom and I wonder if this convenient method will remain available post-COVID.

Andrewsfield (near Stansted) which also offers CPL training. I spent almost three weeks here in October.

With an eye on the expiry date of April 2021 for my CPL theory exams, I thought it prudent to expedite the 15 hour CPL practical training and skill test for licence issue. In retrospect this was a good move and would have been quite difficult to progress with the latest Tier 4 lockdowns and more limited winter VFR weather. Receiving my CPL licence from the CAA in the post made for a positive end to the year.

Donegal

The highlights on the personal flying side included a week’s trip up to Scotland and the Orkneys to fly with a student based there, and a week’s touring of Northern Ireland and Donegal with my wife in the summer.

My TB20 group, G-CORB, sold two of the five shares having had no changes since I bought in seven years ago. Both of our new recruits are keen and one has even passed some of the CB-IR theory exams. I look forward to flying with them both next year when the situation improves.

I stepped down from committee duties with the Bristol Aero Club after five years but continue as an instructor. I remain Chair of the AOPA UK Members’ Working Group with all meetings since March held via Zoom and have published a number of articles in their magazine.

Simulator image of Caernarfon Airport in Wales – incredibly realistic

Lockdown encouraged me to develop an interest in Flight Simulators. After configuring my own, I was commissioned to build one for the Brize Flying Club. I experimented with using a simulator for remote flight instruction and wrote/collated a number of articles published in the PPL/IR magazine. I’ve spent quite a bit of time learning how to create and develop airport models and aircraft avionic panels, which make the experience ever more realistic. It also means I now appreciate more of the subtleties of airport markings, lighting and avionic equipment operation.

I’ve also published a number of articles in the AOPA UK magazine, including a write-up of my trip to the Orkneys and my research into the progress (and bottlenecks) for RNP Instrument Approach approval.

My thanks to all those who have mentored, supported and flown with me throughout the year.

My objectives from the end of last year were:

1: Yet more instruction!

Constrained by lockdowns, this has been more limited for everyone. There has been a surprisingly high demand for PPL instruction where allowed, and I probably could have done more if I had managed my availability between different clubs and schools better. I have found the mix of intensive courses for IR students conflicts with the more typical once-a-week demand from typical PPL students.

2: Another longer trip into Europe

A day trip to Le Touquet didn’t really count, but I was fortunate to make alternative forays to Scotland and Northern Ireland. In retrospect, I was surprised how much I have flown CORB this year.

3: Commercial Pilot Licence

Pleased to have got that done. I’ve also completed the 2 hour instructional flights (day and night) required for an FAA CPL should I want that in the future.

Raw Statistics

  • Total Time: 1431:20 PIC 1211:00
  • This Year: 225:40 (of which 7:15 night)
    • PIC  201:15 (of which 154:35 instructing)
    • Dual 24:25
    • G-CORB 51:55
  • 163 flights (of which 3 IFR Airways flights, plus some IMC/IFR outside airways)
  • 3 different aircraft types
  • 1 logged European trip to France plus overnight trip to Eire
  • 13 new airfields (Total 241)

Next year’s wishlist:

1: Yet more instruction!

I’m open to all types of instruction at all levels and enjoy the variety, but particularly the IFR and more advanced avionics aspects. I’d appreciate a more stable/consistent schedule, which has been pretty chaotic at times this year due to COVID but also hampered by scheduling demands, technical issues with aircraft, weather and other operational issues.

2: Another longer trip into Europe

I’m convinced there will be huge pent up demand for travel in the summer once COVID vaccine and other measures take effect. While there will be some additional hassle entering/departing from the Schengen Zone, I’m hoping that flights across Europe should return to some normality by the summer. Trips in CORB or as a club expedition beckon.

3: Flight Simulator Training

While many have reverted to flight simulators during lockdown, I still think there is value in their use during normal times. I’d like to make more of the Flight Sim installed at the club as well as the potential for remote instruction, both of which I believe can provide a more comprehensive, effective and lower cost route to qualifications. Watch this space for more developments.

Some photos from the highlights of the past year:

Flying west towards the Needles/Solent on a daytrip to the beach at Lee-on-Solent
Duxford Aerodrome
Deserted Duxford
London (Beach) Airport, Eday, Orkney Islands
Just arrived at Donegal Airport during a rain shower
My shiny new CPL licence

2 comments

  1. Congratulations on all you have achieved in 2020, especially your CPL. Definitely up for a European Trip in 2021.

  2. Lovely way you have of describing in writing your experience along the path to getting your license and ratings and also much so the variation of flight instruction environments. A very positive and balanced perspective, most recently partially during the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic. Please keep it going – and keep enjoying it as you do. Best regards, Claus.

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