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So, yesterday I hopped on a flight bound for Kalmar, via Stockholm’s, Arlanda Airport. A pretty routine flight, but the second leg was a good reminder of why exactly it is, that I’m making this great undertaken. As I boarded the small turbo-prop aircraft, it suddenly dawned on me that my seat selection wasn’t exactly thought out, or at least that was my initial thinking. Yep, row 6 on the ATR 72, is exactly in-line with the propellers, so don’t pick it if your planning for a quite flight. It was however kind of interesting to get a closer look at the propeller, and see how the pitch changes in the different stages of flight. I guess you had to be there.

It's views like this always help to remind me, there is method to the madness.

It’s views like this, that always help to remind me there is method to my madness.

Once landed at Kalmar, it was simply pick up my bag, meet Henrik(the brains of the operation here) and then take a stroll back onto the airfield, and into the accommodation. Believe it or not, that does actually make sense. The housing is air side, which is great. Everything is within 100m, whether it’s the hanger, the apron or the sim you’re looking for.

As well as a good location, hats off to the guys, they’ve made it a comfortable stay here too. From Netflix on the Ipad minis, which are provided for the course(I’ll discuss this later), to Apple T.V., a comfy crew room, a fully equipped kitchen, good internet etc. There’s really not much to complain about.

Ipads you ask? What the hell do you need an Ipad for? When I heard this was part of the course, I thought it was probably going to be a bit of a gimmick. I have to say though, it seems to work really well. Everything is on them that we need, approach plates, manuals, checklists, even our schedule and it’s all kept up to date via wifi, a drop box and a common email. There’s also software for flight planning, checking weather and even a Garmin G1000 simulator(these are the screens in the cockpit, which contain the aircraft instruments). So, all in all, this does seem to be a worth while piece of kit, and! I can use it to check my Facebook.

The flight academy is quite a small school, with just the one aircraft(and a back-up available) and a simulator. Currently, there is just six of us here, so we also have these facilities spread among a relatively small group of students.

Another strong point of the course is that the simulator and the aircraft are pretty much identical, which means that all the knobs, buttons etc are in the same place on the aircraft, as in the simulator. In fact the simulator is the front end of an aircraft, as would be built in the Diamond Factory.

This differs from the usual situation, where the same training provided here, may be carried out on multiple different aircraft types, none of which have any similarity to the simulator used. This simply means you can concentrate learning the syllabus, instead of trying to learn multiple aircraft types.

Sitting in the simulator, before taking off at London City Airport.

Sitting in the simulator, before taking off at London City Airport.

Today was the first official day, we spent the morning with Henrik being shown around the Ipad, making good use of the Apple T.V., discussing the rest of the course and eventually preparing for our first flight in the aircraft, which came later in the day.

After lunch, Tommy took over from Henrik. Tommy is going to bring us though the 6 hours of the Multi Engine Rating(ME). He’s a former fighter pilot with the Swedish Airforce, and from my first meeting of him, a top notch guy and instructor. Very down to earth type personality and kind of type you wouldn’t expect to understand the meaning of the word stress.

Since the aircraft was busy, we headed over to the sim where some of the guys, who are further on in their training, were busy being put through their paces. The simulator is a great tool, in that when you mess up you can pause for a chat about it, you can reset to a previous position or you can try something that you wouldn’t risk in a real aircraft. So it’s not only a cheaper way of doing the training, it’s also a valuable teaching aid.

Tommy brought us in to watch the guys and also gave us a quick circuit around London City(see picture above). It’s amazing how realistic it is, once you’re engrossed in flying it, you don’t even realise that you’re in a sim. In fact, it can tend to make you a little dizzy since the visual is so realistic, and the rest of the body isn’t sensing movement.

Then, this evening, the class of October 2013, took to the skies for the first time. The most notable thing was the kick in the ass you get when you push the throttles forward. The next thing you notice is that things were happening quite a bit faster than smaller single engine aircraft, mainly due to the fact that the DA42 is quite a bit faster. Overall it’s a nice airplane to fly. It takes tonnes of rudder in some stages of flight, but that’s just something to get used to.

The Diamond DA42 TDI. My classroom for the next few months.

The Diamond DA42 TDI. My classroom for the next few months.

We were really lucky with the evening we got to go flying, it was a beautiful sky, similar to what I seen the night before on the way down from Arlanda. Back seating for the first flight, it was nice to just sit back and take it all in, and even get a few snaps on my phone.

They say the late evening or the early morning is the best time to fly. Whoever they are, they talk sense.

They say the late evening or the early morning is the best time to fly. Whoever they are, they talk sense.

Cleared to Land, Runway 16, Diamond 101

Cleared to Land, Runway 16, Diamond 101

Finally, I mentioned in my last post that I was looking to find a way to save money, on what seemed extortionate fees charged by banks to exchange currency. Having looked deeper into it, I found a company called CurrencyFair, which seem to have some decent reviews and appear to be significantly cheaper than the banks. I’ve not made any transfers yet, but if all works out I’ll let you know by singing their praises. If they screw me out of a few thousand, I’ll most likely put my tail between my legs and say nothing out of pure embarrassment. From my research though they seem to be the way to go and I can’t find a bad word about them.

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