Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Night Rating

Yesterday evening (September 29th 2008) I had the practical exam for the night rating. I started with the training last Saturday evening. According to the syllabus one needs at least 5 hour of flight training in night conditions for night rating. Months ago I attenede the theoretical part of the training.
Since I got my PPL(A) there were several occasions when it would be much easier if I would have night rating at that time. All these occasions were one big struggle with the time in order to land before the official night starts (sunset + 30 minutes). Now fall is coming in and the days are getting shorter and I have still some journeys to fly. Therefore the night rating was something what would make my life much easier. I really don't plan to fly much during the night as it is not a very good feeling flying in a single engine aircraft and experience an engine failure. But it is a good extension for your flight when you can prolongate your daily VFR flight into night VFR and land at the destination airport some short time after the official daylight conditions end.
I started my first night training on a brand new Cessna 172SP with the glass cockpit, which has only about 200 hours. Although I have over 62 hours on C172 , the new glass cockpit environment was a very unpleasant time for me. Also flying in the night conditions was something new for me. But the biggest change was the glass cockpit. I attended a several hours training before my first flight but obviously this was not enough for me. I felt so uncomfortable that my overall performance was significantly reduced.
My instructor was Matej Cerar from "Janez let" flying school, a great young man, who tries to transfer all his knowledge to his students. He was my instructor for my PPL(A) as well. We departed from Divača just before the sunset and continued to Ljubljana airport (LJLJ) where I had performed my first night landings. The first one was not a very smooth one, however, all others were good enough and those without flaps were the best ones.
Next morning, it was Sunday morning, we departed early and performed a touch-and-go and then proceeded to Divača where we landed already in daily VFR conditions.
For my next training I chose the old Cesna 172 which I was using during my training for PPL. What a relief! Known environment and behavior! Yesterday evening we departed from Divača before the official night started and again flew to Ljubljana airport. Then I was performing traffic patterns more than one hour to gather enough practice. After landing, I had a briefing with the examiner Aleš Štimec and then we departed on the night exam flight across half of Slovenia. It was a gorgeous night without moon and there were no clouds. After departure from LJLJ I had to make a short diversion to Ljubljana city where I was climbing to 8500 feet while waiting that the IFR traffic will land at LJLJ. After that the route was to DOL VOR, Polzela, Trebnje, Velike Lašče, S3 and LJLJ. At the end I had to perform two landings, one was with landing light and flaps, the other one was flapless and without any light in the cabin. I was tempted to use the battery, however, I decided to land without being able to see the instruments. Of course, the examiner had a GPS receiver in front of him, so he was able to monitor the airspeed. And surprisingly, the landing was very smooth.
Finally, after 1 hour and 38 minutes, the exam flight was over. I passed. After the de-briefing we finally left airport after midnight.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

SIOUG2008 Conference in Portorož

From September 21st to 24th the Slovenian Oracle Users Group - SIOUG - annual conference was taking place in Portorož (LJPZ), Slovenia. As many already know I am working with Oracle products now for 20 years, so this event is really important for my business.
This year I was able to fly to Portorož from Divača what is only a 20 minutes flight. It was nice to have my Piper parked so close to the conference venue.
On Saturday, September 20th, a colleague from OakTable Riyaj Shamsudeen with his beautiful wife Nisha and 6 year old son Imran arrived to Ljubljana airport and they were staying in my house. On Sunday the young Imran flew with me to Portorož.
On Monday afternoon I invited some of my customer for a panorama flight over Slovenian Adriatic coast. On Tuesday , I had to fly to Ljubljana airport (LJLJ) to pick up another colleague from OakTable Carl-Jan Engel from Netherlands. During the flight back to Portorož he took a short video while we were landing. I used this video instead of the introduction in my keynote speech on Wednesday morning.
I have removed the original sound and replaced with a record from one of my solos when I was singing in octet "Oktet Hoja" years ago. I hope you will enjoy not just the picture but also the sound.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

FlightMap Slovenia

In the spring 2008 I was preparing for flying in Switzerland and at that time I found on the web a very nice page called Flightmap Switzerland, which was prepared by Pascal Dreer. I contacted him in August and asked him for permission to use his JavaScript code as a base for a similar application for Slovenia. He generously granted me the permission and I started to develop the
application in the middle of August. Unfortunately I have some public appearances in September and October, so my time was limited and therefore I decided to currently prepare just a beta version of FlightMap Slovenia. Currently it is located on my home web page, but eventually it will be relocated to its own domain. In future more data will be added to this page.

The idea was to prepare a web page where all the official aeronautical data for Slovenia is visualized and can be easily accessed. The second goal is to put all available meteorological data to the same map - like radar and satellite images and also weather forecasts in the form of predicted winds and clouds/precipitation layers.
One very useful information I frequently use are the web cams. If you can see a part of the sky you get the most recent information about the actual weather there and this can be quite helpful especially in those cases where you are still not sure if you should depart or not. So the web cams are also one of the layers in my application.
I also obtained some other data from Sloveniacontrol d.o.o., the Slovenian ATC, and Slovenian CAA at Ministry for Transport where I got the detailed coordinates of all air-stripes in Slovenia, which are also published on the Jeppesen VFR map for Slovenia.
The layout of the original Pascal's page was retained, however I had to change things behind and develop all the interfaces for obtaining weather information from XML sources at Aviation Data Center and official Slovenian Meteorological Agency. Completely new is the mechanism for displaying raster data - like animated images from radar and satellite. A lot of time was spent in preparation of digital borders of Slovenian airspace and obtaining data about airports.

As with any database, also this has certain errors or inconsistencies. Therefore I am fully thankful to everybody who will report any data faults and with this help to improve the data quality. And using the data (the application) is the only way how one can find out some data inconsistencies.

Therefore any comments, ideas and bug reports are most welcome!