Flying lesson

Posted by jerry on May 20th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Travel

Well, it ws a calm day, partly cloudy and time for a flying lesson – something I have wanted to do since I was a kid πŸ™‚ So it was with a tinge of excitement and anticipation that I drove into the airport and parked next to the transportable office with the glass door marked “Brindabella Airlines“. I was quickly introduced to my pilot and he calmly explained the control surfaces and the the three directions of movement provided by the controls. He explained that I would have some good hands-on time when the aircraft would be fully in my control. It all sounded reassuringly straightforward.

light aircraft

The plane is tiny – the size of a small car with wings – and it was reassuringly basic. We started off with a thorough pre-flight inspection – make sure none of the rivets have come loose, or that any of the wire split-pins had come adrift, and that all the control surfaces worked easily, and to check all the leading edges (including the propellor) for any dents or nicks. Then check the undercarriage and the brakes. And then the all important stuff – fuel. This thing runs on 100 octane avgas and it was important to ensure there was plenty of the stuff in the wing tanks, and to check the relief valves and make sure there was no water or grit in the fuel.

The plane is a Cessna 150 which weighs just over 500kg (just twice the weight of my motorbike and lighter than my car) and has a top speed of 202kph (slower by a fair margin than the top speed of the motorbike!) and seats two – a generous assessment.

  • Dimensions
    • Span : 9.97m (32’9ft)
    • Length : 7.34m (24’1ft)
    • Height : 2.59m (8’6ft)
  • Weight
    • empty : 501kg (1,100lb)
    • max : 757kg (1,670lb)
  • Power Plant : 110hp Avco-Lycoming )-235-N2C
  • Performance :
  • max speed : 202kmh (125mph)
  • ceiling : 14,700ft (4480m)
  • range : 1,158km (719m)

The engine – a 110HP horizontally opposed four cylinder air cooled Lycoming motor uses only about 27 litres an hour, so with more than 70 litres of fuel on board we had plenty for my half-hour flight.

The pilot took care of the radio stuff and went through the checklist, and started the ngine, setting the throttle to a bit above idle and got me to feel the brakes and the foot controls. Then with the instruction to taxi following the yellow line he handed over to me. First impression – it feels really counter intuitive to press a right pedal to turn right. So with a real conscious effort I managed to mostly follow the yellow line, and was slightly relieved to find that we would be turning with the ailerons, rather than the rudder. Perhaps it is a car thing – you know, turn right by pushing on the steering wheel with your left hand and pulling with the right – it somehow just felt wrong…

cockpit of light aircraft

Anyhow from there things got much better very quickly. After waiting for a passenger jet to take off and a Dash-Eight to land, it was our turn to line up on the runway. After clearance from the tower, my pilot took over and opened up the throttle and launched us down the runway.

Once in the air and up to about one thousand feet the pilot handed over and asked me to turn left – just use the ailerons to roll a little (just like a motorcycle) and keep the nose up … “that’s it, now bring it back level – good, so I can relax and go to sleep now?” he said. “Well, maybe in a while” I said – I could feel some mild turbulence, and it took a little while to get used to the feel of the controls – how much movement of the controls produces how much movement of the aircraft. Surprisingly, it didn’t take very long at all before compensating for the small air bumps became fairly straightforward, if not entirely automatic. Soon we turned again and flew over the racecourse, then on to Black Mountain tower – by now we were about three thousand feet. Steering just left of the Tower, we passed over the lake and over Parliament House then another small turn to head towards Woden.

We turned again at Mount Mugga and headed back towards the airport. The airport radioed to let us know there was a Dash Eight making an approach and we could slot in behind for our landing. It didn’t take long to spot the other plane off in the distance at right angles to our path, and we kept going straight in a ‘square pattern’ until the Dash Eight had made its approach, then I turned the plane to line up with the runway as we began our descent. It soon became apparent that the wind was not as calm at our altitude and a 25 kph wind kept making us drift offline. Once I had manoevred us back on track I handed back to the pilot for the landing – and I was glad I did as the approach had a bit of turbulence. But as we levelled out over the runway on our approach the air became smooth again and all too soon we were back on the ground, as I made a rather better fist of taxiing than when we started.

light aircraft - pilot side

I couldn’t keep the grin off my face as we walked back to to the office and I inquired about what I would need to do to qualify for a basic licence. It actually started to sound quite reasonably priced – and I am very tempted to at least do a follow-up flight very soon πŸ™‚

The folks at Brindabella Airlines are very professional in their approach, and very conscious of safety – I shall certainly fly with them again:-) Thank you Eve – that was a wonderful present!


Hardingfele music (hardanger fiddle music)

Posted by jerry on May 15th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Music

After doing a bit of a hunt for a hardanger bridge, I stumbled across Lennart Sohlman’s Swedish Fiddle site – and he has a delightful collection of tunes in sheet, abc and midi format from all over Scandinavia – from Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Want to buy a new hardanger fiddle? Wulffenstejn has a full price list πŸ™‚ But I think I’ll be happy with mine for quite a while yet.

And from the sublime to the … er… creative: This fellow makes instruments by finding ways to adapt existing ones into new forms, or, even new instruments out of old boxes, bits of PVC pipe and so on.


Bookmark – inspired by Moleskine

Posted by jerry on May 13th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Writing

As I prepare to head off on another adventure, the first stop is of course, to Pepe’s Paperie for a new Moleskine notebook – the squared paper being my preference. Now, one of the great design features of the Moleskine is the elastic strap which keeps the book closed – preventing all those wonderful ideas from falling out!

As I took the Moleskine to the counter, Sharon noticed a stand of bookmarks and saw at once the key thing that set these bookmarks apart from any other – yes, an elastic strap which would hold the book closed (and the bookmark in place) – just like a Moleskine πŸ™‚


And here it is in use with the book I am currently reading


And yes that is my latest pen – the Visconti ‘Van Gogh’ fountain pen – now with a fine nib – which works perfectly on moleskine paper.

And the moleskine, the pen and the bookmark were Sharon’s gifts to meΒ  – now that’s special πŸ™‚


Tunes to learn

Posted by jerry on May 11th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Music

Well, the tunes I’m currently learning are mostly ones that Eve has found at sessions – and a great collection of tunes they are too!

  • The Sweetness of Mary (strathspey)
  • Cliffs of Moher (jig)
  • The Flogging Reel (reel)
  • Heights of Casino (jig) – tricky with all those dotted notes!
  • Blue Idol (jig)
  • Catharsis (reel) (some tricky cross-bowing on the second part)
  • Sean Ryan’s Jig (jig) – I’ve heard it at festivals – but most recently at a session in Brisbane where my daughter held up her mobile phone so I could listen to the tune in Canberra!

All these tunes are on http://www.thesession.orgΒ  – a great resource for tunes. I’m looking forward to hearing the other tunes that Eve has in mind for me to learn – she’s got a great ear for an interesting tune or rhythm.

TunePal – abc tune player for pocket pc

Posted by jerry on May 10th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Music, Technology

Are you a high-tech folkie? How about taking the complete O’Neill’s Music of Ireland in your pocket to a folk festival! Here’s where Bryan Duggan’s TunePal comes to the fore. I first encountered this wonderful software when I found an early version for my Psion 5MX. Since upgrading to an HP iPaq2750 I have been on the lookout for something that would play .abc format tunes, so I can take an aural reference with me to festivals. Enter Bryan Duggan again – with an updated version for pocket PC (pocket windows 2003+).

The software is easy to instal, and, once you pay the €10 registration fee (ten euros)you can then install a MIDI instruments package that lifts this software into a truly useful package. So you can play the tunes with a fiddle-like sound, and control the volume, and more importantly, the speed of play. That is, you can vary the speed without varying the pitch – so you can slow the tune down to learn it, then speed it up as you get more confident with the tune – or to hear it at session speed.

This will play any .abc tune, and runs very stably on the iPaq. So now I can go armed with literally thousands of tunes, and when I hear one I like at a session, I can retire from the fray and play it over a few times to get it stuck in my head and ready to play for real πŸ™‚

TunePal on pocketPC

TunePal on pocketPC

As you can see from the screen shots above (the bulge is an artefact of the camera lens) the interface is simple, clear and easy to navigate. The only further development I would like to see is a means to display the tune as sheet music – but this has a big thumbs up from me – well done Bryan πŸ™‚