All photos me too, copyrighted
Having been warming the chair with my ATPL studies for a good part of the month – not the most fulfilling of activities I must say, especially since it’s 35 Centigrade outside… and probably more inside – I was naturally through the roof when my name finally came up on the multi-engine training roster :). Eager to fly (and photograph :D) any day of the week, I was doubly excited this time, since I’d finally get to try my hand at the university’s sole Piper Seminole – in a nutshell my first Piper, first low-wing and first twin 🙂 (greetings from fixed-gear Cessna land!).
The aircraft in question is 9A-DZG, a trusty 1978 normally-aspirated Seminole that has pretty much passed through the hands of almost every multi-engine qualified pilot in Croatia in the last few years. Powered by two 180 HP Lycoming O-360s, it may not be the most exciting or high performing aircraft in the world – but after half a dozen Skyhawks, it is pretty much the top of the line :D.
Training-wise, first up was the Multi Engine Class rating, done under VFR (thankfully we’ve been having some excellent VMC lately). This pretty much revolves around the most important skills multi-engine aircraft require – the ability to fly on only one of those engines. As well as zone work – to familiarize ourselves with the aircraft and its handling characteristics – the course includes a broad range of “one engine inoperative” (OEI) situations, such as in cruise, during landing, during takeoff, after takeoff and on go-around. Lacking any navigation elements (such as IFR flying), we could have done the course at Lučko or Pleso – but given that they do have a lot of traffic nowadays, and OEI ops tending to disrupt the normal traffic flow, we decided to head somewhere else, most often the coast :).
To compensate for the increased transit time, time we could spend on honing our OEI skills, we usually flew in pairs of two students, where one would fly outbound and do his/her training, after which we’d land and swap places. The other student would then do a similar set of exercises and fly the return leg, while the backseater would observe and learn… and in my case, snap a photo or two :D.
Heading for Rijeka (LDRI) on the coast, climbing to 5500 ft. Given the recent heatwave, forming cumulus clouds were a common occurrence. Many never developed far enough to carry any rain, but the few that did ended up wreaking havoc all round... (at Lučko two Skyhawks - including one I flew on my IFR course - were damaged when the sudden wind tipped them onto their wingtips)
A busy view up front as we near the first substantial clouds near the Velebit mountain range. Blowing perpendicular to it, the week's north-easterly wind was the perfect trigger for the formation of vertical clouds
On approach to Rijeka's RWY 32. Situated on Krk, one of the largest islands on the Adriatic Sea, the airport's comparatively low traffic volume, a long runway and an abundance of radionavigation aids (not to mention it being just 30 minutes flight away) makes it a popular training destination 🙂
On any of the Cessnas I normally fly, this sight would be cause for immediate - and considerable! - alarm :D. However here, with the other engine still pulling, you can breathe a bit easier :). Normally, engine-out training is simulated - with the throttle on one engine retarded - but in some cases the instructor will actually shut the engine down completely. The propeller is then feathered (turned parallel with the airflow) to keep the drag - and all of its unwanted side-effects - down to a minimum. Also, the small mirror on the cowl is provided for the pilot to visually confirm that the nose gear is down (generally, if the nose gear is down, probably the mains are as well).
Encountering a spot of rain on the way back with me at the controls. Photo courtesy of the aircraft's autopilot :D. While I generally prefer hand-flying - sharpens the skills - a (finally) functioning autopilot was just too good an offer to pass up 😀
Still more working atmosphere on day 2 :). Flying back home from Zadar along the islands, the long - but far more pleasant - way around. Capitalizing on the fine weather, the military had activated several of its training zones - which basically cover the entire Velebit range - so to avoid close encounters with supersonic MiG-21s, we were routed around them
Aaah, the sea! Always a beautiful sight for us landlubbers :).
DZG ticking itself cool - as much as it could have, given it was +40 on the apron - at Banja luka airport in neighboring Bosnia :). For our final multi-engine class flight, we'd decided to go international - which, to add to a list of firsts, this was my first ever international flight as pilot :). Succumbing to the traditional culinary delights of Bosnia - "čevapi" for any locals who might read this 😀 - we decided to stay in town for lunch. In the end, this turned out to be by far the tastiest training flight I've ever had!
Some more dramatic weather at 6,000 ft on our flight back to Zagreb