May 28, 2011

Back to business

Relationships are like flowers. Some bloom slowly, others fast. Some are beautiful, others stink. Overall- they all come to an end. Whether its a breakup, divorce or a death it all sucks just as hard - you just need to pick up the pieces and move on.

So if you haven't picked up on it yet, yes I am back to the single life. Back at home with my parents for the time being and while that may suck just a bit I have found the silver lining. Games and Flying. I no longer have the financial, time or commitment responsibilities of living in your own home with a partner and her child which means I have a lot more time and money to concentrate on getting my flying career started and kick back with a cold one and some games!

I have my eye on LA Noire at the moment. From the reviews I have heard it is slow and somewhat repetitive, but if I wanted something fast paced I would get a racing game or load up Halo or COD. What fascinates me about this game is the level of detail they have gone into for it. Mapping the voice actors faces so that when the deliver their lines and get into character- the are recording their facial expression as well. This leads to one of their main point in the game - interrogation and more realisitic on screen performances from the characters. I give this a big plus. And also its new intellectual property. For too long we have had too many sequels. Mass Effect, Halo, Star Wars, Call of Duty, Medal of Honour, Assassins Creed - all big names, all of them sell video games and all of them have made millions for their developers. But they aren't "new".

 They reuse the old characters, bring in a couple new ones, update gameplay and give you the next installment in the canon of that universe. But they usually dont bring a lot of "new" to the table. Sure Halo 3 was the first Halo game for the 360, Mass Effect 2 did away with the item upgrade process and Gears of War 2 let you use enemies as shields. Halo 3 didn't bring much to the actual game play except add in the equipment and talked itself up a lot. I loved the game and even bought the Legendary Edition with the Spartan helmet- but it didnt give me the same level of amazement and awe that the original Halo: Combat Evolved gave me when I first encountered the Flood, when I saw what happened to Keyes and the climactic race against the clock to escape the Pillar of Autumn. In fact, Halo 3 borrowed a lot of the final sequence from Halo: CE just removed the timer and gave you more things to fall off. Gears 2 was just like Gears 1 with a bit more vehicles, meat shields and really not much else. Mass Effect 2 was brilliant don't get me wrong- but I kinda liked to mess around with my weapons and armour. I love the RPG element to it, enhancing, buying and selling and creating armour and guns to suit my playstyle, my group type and give me a level of personalisation that ME2 just didnt give me. Sure you can change the colour and look of the armour to a certain extent but its still the same armour. LA Noire will be something NEW and the level of immersion I am expecting from actually having to pay attention to the witnesses facial expressions will no doubt fascinate me to the level of which the hidden blade did in Assassin's Creed. You know you rampaged around just killing people indiscriminately with that bad boy. Don't deny it.

As far as my flying is going, it seems that I am cursed. I keep working on beautiful blue sky days and have bookings on days with horrible amounts of cloud, rain and wind. Last weekend I was forced to just do a few circuits at 500' for a check ride on a R182. Couldnt get any higher than that. This weekend looks to be better but still cloudy. Yesterday (Friday) was clear, light wind and just a nice comfortable 22 degrees. Could not have asked for a better flying day. Today the cloud base looks to be around the 3000 - 5000' base mark which is still flyable but just doesnt give the smooth ride and excellent view that 8000 or 9000' gives you. It is a shame but it is out of my control.

I have a job I am aiming for at least. Advertised in the paper and online, there is a mob down in Victoria who do aerobatic joy flights in Tiger Moths as well as scenic flights and parachuting along the Great Ocean Road. Sounds like a brilliant first job. Won't be huge hours but it will be fun and it is a start. Without having to quit my job and do an instructors rating. Win.

May 4, 2011

More old flying notes and Tamworth tie up.

 So it is march and again I have forgotten about the blog. A bit has happened since the last time I wrote. First of all the largest change to my life since I started to pursue my flying career. I am a full time step dad for my partner's daughter. It has been a bit of a change to say the least. But a couple months of living with the two of them and I hope that I am living up to the job description. Little A can be a barrel of laughs most of the time, but like all four year olds, the tantrums, drama and the mucking up can get a little wearing. Gotta just suck it up like all men do at one point in their lives. Most of the time it is a lot of fun though. Kids are always wanting to play and have fun. Helps to stop you taking yourself too seriously (I hope).

But back to the flying. I went to Tamworth with the RAAF for flight screening. It was the most amazing two weeks of my life. Two weeks worth of a job interview sounds daunting right? Wrong. The last two days suck but up until that point it is just you, a bunch of guys (and girls) who all love flying as much as I do and getting up every morning to go flying and learn more about it. First thing I realised was that the accuracy expectation was so much higher than civil GA flying. Holy crap it was like learning to fly all over again. Chances are that it was just how slack I had gotten myself since leaving Avondale. But the way they want you to fly the aircraft is so methodical. You don't just turn base. RPPT- Roll 20 degress AOB, Power 15" MAP, Prop Full Fine, Trim 2 sec left 2 sec back. It is almost surgical in its presicion. Aerobatics was just the icing on the cake. Not only were complicated sets of aero's demonstrated but I was taught the loop, barrel roll, inverted flight, slow roll and aileron roll. I loved every minute of it and cannot wait until I can justify getting my aero rating!

In the end I didn't make the cut. I feel a little cheated that the last instructor blew so much hot air up my ass that I thought I was a sure thing and then the flying results show a fail mark. How are you meant to improve on aspects of your flying if you are under the impression what you are doing in spot on? I was shattered and it is a dream I will again follow once I am able. 3 years. Its a long time and a lot will happen in that time but I swear I will try again.

So now it is May. It is has been about a year since I started this blog? Holy crap. Anyway, Tamworth was amazing, and I still months later hate the fact that I was not selected. One saving grace is that none of the other applicants who got through flight screening have heard back from the ADF yet, so it would have been trading one type of pain for another. I am back to flying GA again, got my bankloan approved and have already racked up about 5 more solo hours. Only about 10 to go and another 5 or so instrument hours then I am legally allowed to sit my flight test. I do not think I am ready for it though. I need to get a lot more skill back before I am back to my Avondale level of skill.

Here is one more post from my first few lessons flying.

Ok so its been a while since I wrote anything about my flying. Not much happened though... did straight and level, turning, climbing and descending. All pretty standard stuff and i passed it all. Turns irritated me though- thought i wasnt gonna pass that one cuz my rudder coordination was way out. Instructor passed me though. This last weekend though was cool as. I did stalls!

Stalls are when there isnt enough airflow hitting the wings properly and cant hold the plane in the air. When you have wings clean (no flaps and no turning) you reduce power and pull back on the yoke to retain altitude.eventually you are too steep and too slow so the nose drops. To recover you release some elevator pressure and increase throttle to full. Easy as and you only lose 50 feet or so.

The next bit was more fun. Incipient stalls!!!
Check that out its more or less what I did. Scared myself shitless!

I gotta go to bed so ill finish this another time damn 4am wake ups...

ok now its the 12th and got home from another lesson- more on that soon. back to stalls. I managed to recover from them within the appropriate limits so if anyone wants to come flying know that if something happens and we stall i can bring it back and keep flying :D After a few more stalls went back to the circuit area and I got to do a couple circuits- first landings of mine were horrible but Im still alive so that counts for something.

On to todays lesson. Got to fly around inthe back seat of a 172 for free for half an hour for another pilot to get used to flying them around with passengers in it- nice cruisy. he was a good pilot but the crosswind made his landings a bit bumpy. Then came my turn- I can fly a plane well- take offs are great, I can fly straight and level, getting the rudder balance on the turns almost perfect and manage to make the correct radio calls at the appropriate times. But landing in a crosswind is a bitch. You have to fly at an angle so you fly straight- sounds weird but you get the feel of it pretty quick. But coming on to final (which is the approach to landing) you track towards the runway but then when you get close enough you have to kill the throttle, pull back on the stick and get the plane straight without being blown off the runway- hard stuff. Havent got it perfect yet but I can land without crashing or doing damage. I will get there. Im taking bookings already for people who want to come up when i earn my GFPT (first license). Bed time again- cant believe i agreed to saturday work.... money is so good and pays for more flying so i shouldnt complain