Today was a very exciting day in that I successfully passed a flight test at the Jazira Aviation Club and earned a Microlight Permit from the Jazira Aviation Club here in the United Arab Emirates! Captain Afaq and I met for what would be a fully action-packed hour of flying and fun in the Aeroprakt Model A-22LS registration number A6XSM. From last week's post you might remember Captain Afaq as the chief flight instructor at the Jazira Aviation Club and today he's with me to evaluate my flying ability of this airplane and also decide whether I am capable of flying these aircraft on my own.
The weather this morning was quite the same as last week, which is typically the case here in the UAE summer... hot and dry. Although there was definitely a stronger headwind coming straight down runway 16 when we taxied out to the hold short line. The first few circuits (trips around the traffic pattern for my American friends) were fairly smooth, except one nearly three-point landing on the first attempt. Just when I thought we would continue flying lap after lap around the pattern things became more interesting.
Just after taking off for what was probably the fourth or fifth time, Captain Afaq announced...
We were position on the crosswind leg and had just reached approximately 600 feet above the ground and thankfully, and immediately, my own training instincts from years of practice kicked in smoothly.
Airspeed: best glide. Best field: chose the new runway 28 that hadn't even been painted with markings yet. Check systems: no time for that as I committed to landing the airplane since we were only 600 feet above the ground. Declare the emergency: I communicated over the CTAF that we were executing a simulated engine failure and landing on runway 28. Exit the airplane - not needed as this was simulated.
Many memories from years of training in the United States came back to me quickly... my first practiced engine failure was on my second flight ever with Andy Rienstra flying out of the Jamestown Flight Center in Williamsburg, VA at Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport (KJGG) in 1999. Then there was a private pilot checkride with Henry Joyner at Ahoskie Tri-County Airport (KASJ) in May of 2002 less than 48 hours before leaving for Marine Corps Recruit Training. There have been countless other instructors that have also tested me in this maneuver over the years... Clay Pierse, Charles Tucker, Gary Ambrose and others. The point is, I've been honored to fly and learn with many good instructors that have helped developed the skills I used today to earn a pass on this test.
We executed a few more circuits, one additional simulated engine failure, and then a few landings with the aircraft established in a full side-slip. For those who are unfamiliar, that's applying full rudder pressure to one direction while also applying full aileron pressure to the other side. This allows the airplane to create loads of drag to assist in bringing the airplane down at a steeper glide path.
So, with the flight complete, and Captain Afaq pleased that I can fly, and land, the airplane without causing damage to myself, the airplane, or the general public, I was granted the privileges of a Microlight Permit and hope to exercise those privileges on a solo flight on Monday 19 August!
One note to add... the Microlight Permit currently issued in the UAE is soon to become the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) Pilot certificate that is commonly issued in other ICAO member countries. The LSA/Sport Pilot License was created in 2004 in the United States and is growing in popularity across the world. There is currently proposed amendments to UAE Civil Air Regulations that will soon create the LSA Pilot certificate, and it is proposed that all holders of microlight permits issued by a club will be granted the LSA certificate as well.