More circuits…

Another great day today. Weather was fabulous, and I had two sessions booked with Chris as my instructor.

Aircraft was a little late coming back before my first session, but Chris gave me a bit of a surprise. For the first time ever, I was handed the keys to a plane (figuratively speaking anyway!) and told ‘Off you go’.

So, out I went. Pre flight with no issues, then a minor hiccup before I could do the pre-departure checks. I was asked to cross the active and do my checks at hold Charlie, to allow another aircraft to land and taxi back before I departed. That aircraft was an Antonov! I felt small as it barrelled past me at the hold point on its landing roll!

Cleared to line up and takeoff, and off I went. This time I was trying flapless approaches. The difficulty was that there was absolutely no wind whatsoever, so getting the aircraft to descend without any headwind component was difficult without the assistance of the flaps! Most of my flapless approaches also ended up as glide approaches!

This was my first time in Romeo Golf for a while, and because I had previously been flying Alpha Fox most of the time, that was stuck in my head. A lot of my radio calls went along the lines of:

‘Golf Alpha Foxtrot, Final to Roll’

‘Golf Romeo Golf, Clear to Roll’


Also, on one of the early circuits I was given the instruction

‘Golf Romeo Golf, caution wake turbulence, orbit on final to allow for departing traffic’.

Gulp. Orbiting on final approach is one of the things they recommend that low hours students don’t do, so I replied:

‘Golf Romeo Golf unable. Can I orbit on downwind?’

This was approved, and I did my orbits on the downwing leg of the circuit (at 1000 feet and configured for cruise) rather than on final (more like 600 feet and configured for landing). Much easier (and safer)!

Apart from that, the session went well. One grin inducing moment occurred on the downind leg on one of the circuits. After carrying out the downwind checks in plenty of time, I had little to do other than keep a good lookout for other traffic (which in reality is unlikely at a military field in Class D airspace). I happened to glance at the ground at this point, and noticed a shadow whizzing along the ground at a rate of knots. It took me a while to realise that it was me! Out came the big cheesy grin for the rest of the flight 🙂

The second session was with Chris alongside me, and was earlier than expected due to a no-show. Chris demonstrated glide approaches (having to try twice because the lack of sink was catching him out too!) before giving me a go at a few, as well as a practice EFATO. The climbout from 26 has plenty of fields to choose from as a landing site. Hopefully I won’t ever actually need one though! One glitch in this one was forgetting to turn off the carb heat after a glide approach, and only noticing this when doing the downwind checks for the next circuit. Again, whoops.

Another more scary moment as when I completely lost the plot on the turn to base leg for a glide approach. For some reason I lost my height control, and was climbing noticably in the turn. In an attempt to correct this I released back pressure to get the nose down. However, this diverted my attention from the turn, and all of a sudden we were in a 45 degree bank, nose down with the airspeed increasing rapidly. I’ve read about spiral dives, and I think this was about to become one before Chris brought it to my attention. It was easily remedied, but a reminder of what can go wrong if you allow yourself to get too far behind the aircraft.

Once Chris was happy he arranged for me to do a full stop, and jumped out to let me continue solo.

Again no real dramas this time, but I was having real difficulty in getting the glide approaches to lead to a landing at the correct aiming point. Never quite got it right (I did once but that was probably a fluke) so I guess it’s something that is likely to improve with a bit more practice.

The landings today were all pretty good again, so hopefully that means that it wasn’t just a fluke yesterday!

Got a number of sessions this coming week (1 Wednesday, 2 Thursday, 2 Friday, 1 Saturday and 2 Sunday) so I’m hoping the current spell of good weather will continue so that I can get plenty of time in the air. Next session I’ll be heading away from the airfield again, to practice landing in a field!

Total flight time today: Dual 0:40 – Solo – 1:25
Take-offs: 15 – Landings: 12

Total flight time to date: Dual 16:25 – Solo 2:25
Take-offs to date: 68 – Landings to date: 63

2 Responses to “More circuits…”

  1. leiafee Says:

    Just wanted to comment to say very well done for having the gumption to tell them you weren’t going to orbit on final. That was an excellent bit of airmanship to recognise the risks and do something to manage them.

  2. Andy Hawkins Says:

    Thanks for that Leia.

    Can’t take too much credit though, as this is something that’s specifically mentioned in the flying order book for the club, and that we should refuse any instruction we’re unhappy with. Also, reading the thread on UKGA regarding the poor lad who was given some unusual instructions from ATC leading to the worst possible result, it was something I had been prepared for.

    I guess it was a bit ‘scary’ to have to refuse to carry out the instruction, but I did what I felt I had to do.

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