Landing, rather than ‘arriving’!

Another flight with John today. Weather was perfect, but when I phoned him just before leaving home he said there’d been a problem with an aircraft stuck on the runway at Brize, and had to be towed off. As a result they were running a bit late.

Arrived as John was about to go off with another student, so did my usual reading beforehand, refreshing myself on glide and flapless approaches which were the things I would probably be covering this session.

John returned and I went out to check the plane over. We then headed out after usual pre-start checks. When we were at the hold and had done our power and pre-takeoff checks, ATC informed us that they had a number of departures due in the next half hour or so, so we should expect to have to orbit at some point.

The first circuit and landing was Ok. As usual John didn’t say much, just letting me get on with it. He then said we’d try a flapless approach on the next one, and gave me a quick heads up on what to expect. He told me when to turn base and pull the power, and the approach continued without too much drama. Then, something amazing happened. All of a sudden, we weren’t flying any more, we were on the runway. Not a bump, not a jolt, nothing! Dunno how that happened!

The next circuit we were told that there were three aircraft about to depart, so we orbited for a while, taking care not to overfly Carterton, me and John having a chat while doing it.

It’s amazing as I think of it now how much spare capacity I now have in the cockpit. While orbiting, keeping an eye out for the departing aircraft and scanning the skies for other traffic, I was also happily having a conversation and listening to the radio with little thought of the actual mechanics of flying. Amazing how much difference a bit of practice can make.

We were (eventually!) told we could continue, and I tried a flapless approach on my own this time. Made a complete mess of the initial approach, so John told me to pull on full flap when we turned final as we were a little high (if I hadn’t I think we’d have been landing at Lyneham!). After this the approach proceeded normally, and again we were on the ground without any noticeable bump. Perhaps the first one wasn’t a fluke after all!

On the next circuit, I chatted to John about whether you would consider asking for them to switch runways. By this time (about 5 O’Clock) the sun was getting low and the approach to runway 26 was becoming more and more difficult because of the sun in your eyes, and with no wind it didn’t really matter which runway we used in that respect. He said we could do (and often ATC would offer it if they were feeling particularly helpful), but that ‘practising when it’s bad would do me good’ 🙂

So, we did another circuit, orbiting as another Heavy made it’s approach into Brize this time. We both decided that despite how much fun we were having, we’d probably got a little fed up of flying around in circles now, so we would make this one a full stop.

My conversation about switching runways now became even more apt. The sun made it very difficult to judge the approach to the runway, and a lot of the time the only way I could work out where the runway was (due to the glare) was by using the VASI lights the jets use to judge their approaches. By the time we were below about 100 feet, it was very difficult to work out how high we were above the runway. I ended up being ‘talked down’ by John, as he looked out of the side to work out how high we were.

All in all, a very satisfying session, despite only getting 4 circuits in 50 minutes (a circuit usually takes 7 or 8 minutes, so we probably spent half of the flight orbiting) for some reason my landings were immeasurably better than they had been in the past. I’m not sure if it was just a fluke, or whether something has clicked, but it was very satisfying nonetheless!

So, two more sessions with Chris tomorrow, followed by lots of sessions next week. Hopefully I can get the final circuit work nailed, and move on to the next stage of the syllabus.

Total flight time today: Dual 0:50 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 4 – Landings: 4

Total flight time to date: Dual 15:45 – Solo 1:00
Take-offs to date: 53 – Landings to date: 51

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One Response to “Landing, rather than ‘arriving’!”

  1. A new destination in North Wales | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] we arrived, John (an Examiner who had carried out some of my early PPL training back at Brize) was putting one of the other aircraft to bed. I positioned us to be pushed back into our […]

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