Out into the big wide world

The plan for today was to try to get a few more landaways under my belt, with a view to me getting to do some solo in the near future.

Indi complicated matters somewhat by offering me the chance to fly her aircraft down to Brize. So, I headed off to Indi’s home field, where I met up with Barry, who was taking a workmate out on a flight to Conington and then Kemble. We agreed to meet up later in the day at Kemble for lunch.

Then we prepped Echo Alpha for takeoff, and headed off for the short flight to Brize Norton. Indi had booked us in for an ILS approach, so this would be a good excuse for me to have a bit of a play with that, something that I don’t need to cover for the PPL, but which would be a good exercise nonetheless.

Takeoff from the A/G controlled field was fairly normal, and we immediately switched frequencies to talk to Brize Zone and get established on an ILS approach. As this was radio work I’m not familiar with, Indi did most of the initial calls to get us established, and then I responded to the controller’s instructions for height and heading changes as appropriate.

We had to orbit a few times in the vicinity of Brize to give spacing from an outbound aircraft, but we eventually were cleared onto the approach and were established on the localiser. Then as the glide slope got to about half scale, we gradually established a descent of a couple of hundred feet per minute. From then it was just a question of ‘following the needles’, something which I didn’t have too much trouble doing. I have to admit to a few sneaky peaks out of the window, but in general the tracking of the ILS wasn’t all that difficult.

At 250 feet Indi instructed me to go ‘visual’, and I looked up to see the runway almost exactly where it should have been. From then it was a normal approach, getting the flaps down and ready for the flare. The landing went well, and we taxyed Echo Alpha back to the flying club, ready to switch over to Delta Delta for the rest of the day.

The plan was to hop over to Oxford (an airfield I haven’t visited before) and land there, before planning the flight to Kemble. I’d asked Brize ATC if we could have a ‘direct’ route to Oxford (which would keep us in the Brize Zone for most of the flight) but they insisted we carry out a standard Burford departure. Once we’d checked out Delta Delta, we headed out to the hold and carried out the rest of the pre-flight checks, before getting take off clearance and taking to the air again.

As we switched to the Zone frequency, they then cleared us direct to Oxford (result!) but not above 1000 feet QFE. We switched almost immediately to Oxford Approach, and were given instructions to join on a right base leg for their southerly facing runway at 1500 feet QNH. We had to be careful not to climb up to 1500 feet (which in reality was about 1200 feet on the Brize QFE) before we were clear of the zone.

The wind at this point was coming pretty much from the West, at about 15 knots, so was close to the demonstrated crosswind performance of the Warrior. Indi told me to keep an eye on my speed on the approach, and if at any point I was unhappy to say so, and either go around or get her to take control.

We were established on the base leg without difficulty, and then turned to final at the appropriate time. The wind was obvious at this point, because I needed a significant crab angle to maintain the centreline. This was the most crosswind I’d experienced in quite a while, but it was something I’d need to learn to deal with so we continued.

The rest of the approach was fairly normal, and as we approached the flare I kicked off the crap with left rudder, dropping the right wing into the wind to maintain the runway centreline. In the flare I never really got it all sorted properly, and we landed slightly crabbed to the left. I was a little concerned that it was a ‘bad’ landing, but Indi said I had coped well with the conditions.

We were given taxi instructions from the Tower, and parked up. Then we headed into the terminal (an impressive facility compared to what you see at most airfields) for a cup of tea ad to plan the next leg to Kemble.

Sadly, at this point I received a phone message that meant we had to cancel the rest of the day, as I needed to get home quite quickly. The best way to do this was to take Delta Delta back to Indi’s home field (where my car was!) and for me to head home from there. Indi would then return Delta Delta to Brize. While not exactly what we had planned, it did mean I still got in two landaways, so the day wasn’t spoiled too much.

So, we quickly finished up our drinks, had a quick check of the chart and booked out ready to go for the short flight back to Indi’s home airfield. Take off was relatively normal, and we turned direct for our destination.

Once we got close, we contacted the air ground operator, who asked us to join crosswind on a right hand circuit for their Westerly runway. As we were approaching from the South this seemed a little strange, so I eventually told him we would join directly on left base. We did this, and again got set up for the landing.

This was where things started to go a little wrong. It was probably because I was a little distracted about having to rush home, but also the wind was very variable at this point, and our air speed was varying considerably. By the time we got over the threshold of the runway I had allowed the speed to drop somewhat, which I noticed and applied power to get the speed back up. This distracted me from the flare, and at this point I probably should have gone around. However, I flared a little late, and the mains touched down just before the nose wheel did. One of my worst landings for a while, but Indi said that I had dealt with the changeable wind conditions well considering the extra pressure I was under.

So, although the day didn’t go exactly to plan, I had got a couple more landaways under my belt, and the next step is to try and do the same thing solo!

Total flight time today: Dual 1:15 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 3 – Landings: 3

Total flight time to date: Dual 37:10 – Solo 7:50
Take-offs to date: 100 – Landings to date: 95

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