Up, up and away

So this morning started far too early. 8AM is not a good time for an alarm to go off. Breakfast at quarter past wasn’t acceptable either, but had to be done. Left the house at about 9:10 and got to Staverton bang on time. Set the camera up, added my cushion, then we were all set to go. We did two circuits together, followed by an autorotation, then one more circuit. Each circuit I nailed the approach, which was good considering there was no wind whatsoever. Then it was over to me again, James got out, I had a little play around and then off into the circuit. This time, no nerves at all, very relaxed and just got really into it. Nailed the first one perfectly, James came over to make sure all was good then I knocked out another three, all were pretty good, all actually had great landings. Then a plane hit the runway a bit heavy and burst a tyre, so closed that one off, the active runway then changed so at that point after four circuits by myself I called it a day. I was extremely pleased. It’s odd, because a month a go I was thinking of giving it all up as it was getting dull as hell. Now I can’t wait to get going again. Next time I get to do about an hour by myself, then we start to leave the circuit and fly around the North a bit. I don’t think I’ve seen outside Staverton circuit now for about six months, I’ve forgotten what it all looks like.

Came back and walked the dogs, then had lunch. Then neutralised the Artex stripper. Then it was off to B&Q, got the wood for the template. Then as it was a nice day I picked up some crickets then wandered into town. Uploading a new helicopter video to YouTube now. Have a shower, Jamie is cooking. DIY day tomorrow.

Changing seasons

So once again I was up like a shot. Okay, may be not then. As the weather has now certainly changed it’s time to knock Geocaching on the head and crack on with the DIY. So I was lying in bed researching DIY projects. I’m going to get someone in to do the bathroom, so as long as I get that sorted that’ll be fine. It’s just not worth me attempting it. I’m sure I could do it eventually, it would just take about five years. So I’m going to crack on with the living room. First things first is preparation, and that means running cables. Lots of cables. I need to get an HDMI cable up from behind where the TV is to a mid point across the ceiling. This is for the projector. I think the best way to do this is cut a hole through the floor behind the TV, then another over by the door, pull the cable across here and then another hole over by the archway. Then pull up here and drill through the bottom of the studding, then up the wall (I’ll put a speaker cable up this way as well), through the ceiling, then through the floor of the landing and across the floor of the wardrobe, then across the ceiling. I also need to run power and probably a network cable as well. I’ll probably run two HDMI cables for redundancy. I reckon theres a good couple of Sunday’s work there to start with. Also I’m thinking of some wifi controllable down lights.

Got up, boiled eggs, picked up dog poo. Drove to Tytherington. Did the puzzle cache which was the last remaining one there. That brings me up to 315 now, happy with that. Message from captain James that the fog was lifting. Drove to Staverton. We had the air field pretty much to ourselves due to the weather. We did lots and lots of autos. Pretty much got the hang of them now. Took the ‘Operational Procedures’ exam again. Got eleven out of sixteen. Had another pop at it and got fifteen out of sixteen. We had a look at a couple of questions, there was one there that neither of us thought was correct. Some of the semantics of the answers is just bizarre. Anyway, passed. So now on to radio telephony.

Came back. Went for a quick run. Imported helicopter footage of today. Have a bath. Drink wine.

Fuck you ‘air-law’, fuck me ‘operational procedures’

So today started with Jamie mounting me and tossing me off, although I may have dreamed that bit. He did look quite fit, so may be the latter. Had a relaxing morning in bed, fed the dogs, had breakfast, read the paper. Phoned mother, managed to stop her talking about herself for almost an hour. Walked Sasha, then drove up to Staverton.

Good flight today, all about emergency procedures in the circuit. So we did lots of autorotations on final, down wind, take off and an absolute shit load in hover. Those hurt, as you are dropping out of the sky six feet at a time and hitting the ground. All good.

Came back into the hanger and then was going to do the ‘air-law’ exam. Candia then explained that it had been split into two, ‘air-law’ and ‘operational procedures’. So I sat both papers. Air law was fine. I think I got about three wrong and two of those were stupid. Operational procedures however was sixteen questions, I got four right, so statistically I could have ticked it random and got the same. Didn’t have a fucking clue. Then she says, oh, there is a new book out to cover the new exam. Book purchased, more reading required.

Came back. Went for a run. Did the accounts and had a bath. Jamie is cooking. I may require pudding.

Round and round and round….well actually square and square and square

Got up and did some vague work for a couple of hours. Packed away the shopping. Then drove to Staverton. Straight into circuits, I lost count of how many I did. A few I came in a bit too quick and one was a bit closer to a vertex ring than I’d like. But overall not bad really. We then finished off with a load of auto rotations on final. Again, all pretty good, flared too early. But when you are approaching the ground at 12MPH you don’t really want to hit it. So more practise required there. Next couple of flights will be pretty much the same, just get all the safety procedures down to instant reactions. Weather wasn’t particularly good either. Traffic on the M5 on the way back. Had lunch. Did more work.

Then it was off to the gym. Did Pump. Followed by a very heavy session with Laverne. Not heavy in we discussed Proust, but heavy in the weights used. I now have massive muscles above my shoulders. Shame that’s the only place. Still it’s given me a bit of encouragement.

Lots to do tomorrow. Including going to a model engineering exhibition, that’ll all be a bit geeky.

Today was a great day to fly, and I flew great

So started off this morning with another batch of air law, followed by picking up dog poo. Soon it was time to head to Staverton. For some reason I was heading out with bang on the correct attitude. I was going to nail this flight and it was going to be perfect. Arrived in good time. James fuelled G-OJAN and I set up the GoPro. I had the lead for recording the radio so attached it to the top of the bubble. Preflight was perfect, radio call bang on. Pick up and initial hover was a bit all over the place, but I kind of can forgive that, I class that as the ‘5 minute wobbles’. I don’t fly everyday, so a few minutes just to get back into it is required. Before the flight we did have a bit of ground school covering vortex rings. So we set off to the north west, set up away from wind and James demonstrated a vortex ring. Scary shit, we were descending at 8,000ft/min. Then it was my turn, actually it was fairly painless. We then did an out of ground effect hover and then back to the airfield. We then did a bunch of circuits, nailed every single one of them. Sometimes I was a bit high, but corrected well in time. Then we practiced engine failure in the circuit which was scary but great fun. James said that I had stepped up a big level on this flight, and I felt I had as well. For once I felt I had tamed the beast and I was in control of it, rather than it being in control of me. I was doing spot turns in 13kts and holding position. Even at the end of it, I had to hold for ages to cross the runway and I was side on to an 13kts wind, going nowhere. Really enjoyed todays flight, I gained a huge amount of confidence from it.

Did about five geocaches while I was there. Then drove back home. Did a couple of video uploads and had a bath. I’m in a really positive mood today. I like it.

So I got another helicopter video on Radio One’s ‘Dan and Phil’ show

Today was all about one thing, finishing off the USA mega series. I was parked up at 12:15 and off I went. A quick early one which wasn’t on that trail, followed by two DNF’s. It was then time to get on, I had about twenty of the series yet to do. Basically by 6:15PM I’d done the lot, every single one, including about ten extra ones and the puzzle cache linked with the series. I was well pleased.

Drove home, had an ice lolly. I’d gone almost seven hours at 23 degrees without a drink. Powered up the PC and started logging the horde. ‘Dan and Phil’ show came on Radio 1. I was the opening video, and they kept the tune I synced it to as well. So that’s two I’ve got on there now. As far as I know I’m the only person ever to get two of their videos on the show. Need to try for a third now. That kind of made my day really. I know it’s just a bit of toss and means nothing, but I kinda enjoyed it and it makes me happy.

Had a bath. Downed half a bottle of wine while watching the German grand prix (while still in the bath), now to have dinner.

“Helicopter G-OJAN listening out to the North West”

So woke up a bit late, fed everyone and got coffee. Worked on adding GPU markers for a few hours. Ate chicken and a tomato and then drove up to Staverton. James was back. It was his first flight in five weeks, so more rusty than I was. I know I had apprehensions, but his attitude to everything was fine, I felt quite safe.

Oddly I didn’t really need to as I actually did 99% of the flying. Only showing me a few additional exercises. I did all the radio calls and even parked it back at the hanger. It was great, took off to the North west. Got just outside the ATZ, switched to Gloucester control and called out, “Helicopter golf Oscar Juliette alpha November, listening out to the north west, request basic service”. Which was granted. It was only then I realised I said ‘Listening’ and not ‘Looking’, they knew what I meant. But it does seem silly when you have a dirty great windscreen out in front of you that you would be ‘listening out’ rather than ‘looking’.

We did an auto, then an off airfield landing and finally a circuit. I was really pleased there was a bit of a breeze as well, but still all in control. Getting close to that solo, really must read that bloody air law book.

Drove back, traffic was kind. Went to the gym, did Pump, then a session with Laverne. Then back to work, needed to make up the hours, now it’s just gone eleven. Time for pizza and a beer.

Oh, mother is coming up tomorrow. That’ll be fun. Actually it won’t. I think I’ll set up the audio recorded for that one and see how often she mentions money.

So flying has become fun again

Today I was working mainly on shader debugging. Nothing wrong with the shaders working, it’s just in some cases they can produce odd results like divide by zero, not a number and infinity. We now have a way of trapping the source of these errors, it’s just a long iterative process testing them all.

Walked Sasha, Dillon just hid under the bed, he was still quite tired from yesterday. Then in the afternoon I vanished off to Heliflight. Met up with Jon who I already knew. Decided we were going to do a bit of a review. He said the guy I flew with last time can be a little bit dull and isn’t very adventurous. We flew out to the north west and did a couple of climbs and descents and a couple of autos. First one was a bit chaotic but the next two were good. Returned to the airfield, the first approach was a bit steep but landed it. I did two more circuits which were near enough perfect. We then did another one with a full engine off landing. These are always fun, if you enjoy pretending to crash. All in all though very enjoyable. He didn’t moan once about me exceeding RPM limits or not checking carb heat. He just let me get on with flying. I’ll be seeing him again.

Came back and did some more work. Went for a run. Did more work. Finally ate.

More shader debugging tomorrow. Pump with Laverne, followed by a weights session afterwards. Hopefully won’t fall ill again afterwards.

So I’ve cancelled Stuart, we just really didn’t gel

Still working on GPU stuff, tidied up quite a few bits. Got a few more ideas to try tomorrow. Also need to look into why some audio is eating up a shed load of CPU time. Managed to get the correct video clips into a new project for the Vegas heli video, also found a good audio track for it.

Now I’ve been thinking about this carefully for a while, so I gave Heliflight a call and cancelled Sunday’s flight with Stuart. Nothing against him, but somethings just been bugging me about that last lesson, I just wasn’t really gelling with him. I don’t know if it was perhaps I found him a little bit condescending, where with James you always felt a little bit more like he was just there for the ride and to stop you killing yourself. It’s more of a bit of self discovery within limits. So instead I’m now booked in with Jon on Thursday evening. He is the owner of Heliflight, he also taught Richard Hammond, so must have some patience with erratic people. No idea if or when James will be back.

Weather has turned shit, suppose it must do at some point. Went running in the rain, it was kind of refreshing. Lots of work to get onto tomorrow, plus Pump and a session with Laverne.

“I did make them with yellow heads”

So this morning started off with disappointing presents, well Ritz crackers, but that was from the dogs. I did get a couple of useful things though. Quick breakfast and then it was off to Staverton. Took Jamie. He enjoyed sitting in the lobby while I went off and played with Budgie. It was a little bit gusty but we did a couple of autorotations including one full engine off landing, which was quite scary. Came back and went to work. All about anti-alaising, which wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Jamie and I walked the dogs. I then had a shower and we made a great video. It involved plasticine, modelling and a Korean boy band. Lots of editing required but I think it will be a great one. I finished off the evening with much wine and a double episode of Top Gear. Good day, ate too much. Back to the gym tomorrow.