Another type, and another victim

Brize have recently sold their Cherokee, and both Warriors are away at maintenance at the moment, so we’ve been without an aircraft for several weeks now. Lynne managed to get a Grob 115A in as a temporary stopgap, and I needed to get checked out in this before I could fly it. As luck would have it, a break in the weather coincided with the opportunity for an afternoon off, so I arranged to go and be checked out on a Friday afternoon.

Spoke to old friend James too, who was at a bit of a loose end this weekend, so we arranged for him to meet me at Brize, and we’d go for a flight together after I’d had my check flight.

Arrived early at Brize, and hung around in the club listening to another pilot being checked out on the Grob before me. His flight seemed to over-run by ages, so it was almost 4 O’Clock by the time I walked out to the aircraft (I was supposed to fly at around 2 O’Clock). Spent a little time familiarising myself with the unfamiliar cockpit and checked the aircraft out before Geoff (a CRI at the club) came out to join me. I’d been warned previously that I would need to be a lot more active on the pedals during the landing, which I assumed to mean that it needed a lot of rudder input during the approach.

However, I think this is actually because the linkage between the pedals and the nose wheel steering isn’t ‘rigid’ like it is in the Warrior. As a result, the aircraft has a tendancy to ‘wander’ slightly while taxying, which has to be controlled much more using the pedals.

Geoff also warned me about the stall warner often coming on a bit prematurely, and as we climbed out after takeoff I saw what he meant. Even climbing at a good 75 knots or so the stall warner still sounded once or twice, about 20 knots above the stall speed!

We left the circuit and tried a few steep turns initially. I found these a lot easier in the Grob for some reason, and if anything had a tendency to gain height in them rather than lose it. A couple of stalls followed, which were virtually unnoticeable (although that could have been because Geoff had me recover on the stall warner rather than waiting for a full stall). Made a bit of a mess of the PFLs though, but after a couple of tried got back into the swing of them. I made a mental note that I should be doing these on a more regular basis during my own flights just to ensure I’m fully up to speed.

We returned to the circuit and made a normal join, before coming in for the first landing. The approach went well, and the actual landing wasn’t too bad for the first one on a new type, until the landing roll began! This was where the steering problems surfaced with the aircraft heading off to the left of the runway as soon as the nose wheel touched. Fighting to get it back the centreline, the effect became more pronounced as I increased power to takeoff again. Lesson learned there, and a good job it was done on a massive runway like they have at Brize!

The subsequent landings were all much better, with the last two among the best I’ve ever done. Knowing to expect the steering issues made it a lot easier to counter them on the later landings.

Headed back in to the club, and decided that our original plan of a trip to Sywell wouldn’t be wise given the late hour (it was about 17:30 by now), so we decided to head over to Enstone for fuel and then just do a bit of a ‘local’ flight up to Wellesbourne and back with James.

Booked out and walked out to the aircraft with James, giving him a bit of a brief as to what he needed to do and what to expect on his first flight in a light aircraft. We got settled in and headed out to the hold. After being given our clearance (direct to Enstone rather than having to go via Burford) and take off clearance we headed out onto the runway. The takeoff went well, but again the stall warner gave a warning bleat despite the airspeed being up above 70 knots again.

We headed directly to Enstone, which for once I had no trouble spotting. James was sitting a fair bit lower than me so couldn’t spot it over the nose, so I headed left slightly to give him a view of the field out of the right hand side of the cockpit. Joined overhead into what sounded like a busy circuit, and heard someone else calling that they were about to turn base. This became an ‘orbiting on base’ call, so I also orbited on the downwind leg, keeping a good look out to ensure I could see the aircraft ahead of me in the circuit.

I watched one aircraft land, and then someone else must have cut in, because the aircraft on base announced he was orbiting again! It was just like being at Brize again!

Eventually we all landed in turn, and my landing was perhaps the worst I’ve ever made. We bounced slightly two or three times, and this distracted me enough to end up heading off to the left and off the runway. I was on the verge of applying the power and going around when I got the steering under control and we rolled out. Taxyed to the South side of the field to get fuel. Had some problems pushing the aircraft around as we didn’t have the tow bar for it, but Paul from the club at Enstone gave us a bit of a helping hand!

Made ready to leave, being followed to the hold by a nice looking biplane, that we allowed to pass behind us while I waited to do the power checks. These done we headed out to the runway and took off, heading towards Wellesbourne.

I hadn’t planned this flight, but the trip to Wellesbourne is one I’d done several times, and I dialled in the 355 radial on the VOR at Honiley as a backup to my visual navigation. As it happened we didn’t need it, despite being slightly distracted by Gaydon which can look quite a lot like Wellesbourne from the distance. It soon became obvious that it wasn’t, and I later spotted Wellesbourne and was able to head straight forward.

Despite it being late, there were a number of aircraft in the circuit and landing at Wellesbourne, so we made blind ‘traffic’ calls to keep everyone appraised of our position. Once overhead we turned South back towards Brize (dialling in 175 on the VOR as a bit of a helping hand) and I handed control over to James.

Initially he was navigating using the compass, which confused him slightly due to the fact that it turns ‘the wrong way’ in comparison to what you might normally expect. When I pointed out the DI to him he began to do a bit better, but still tended to weave along a little. It’s surprising that the things I also found difficult early on in my training now seem so simple, I guess it just shows how far to progress during the training and how you conveniently forget how poor you were initially!

We were now talking to Brize, and they offered us a direct arrival. However I declined and we went via Burford (as I’m more familiar with doing this), and after we passed Shipton I used to throttle to bring us down to 1000 feet before we reached Burford. Made the usual joining calls, and had James follow the A40 to join the circuit. I offered him the chance to try a landing (slightly tongue in cheek) but he politely declined, so I took control back and turned us onto the base leg.

Again the approach was good, but the landing wasn’t much to write home about. We landed slightly crabbed, but a lot more smoothly than we had at Enstone. I also had a lot better directional control once we touched down, so at least I was improving!

Taxyed back to the Flying Club parking area and James helped me push the aircraft back into the hangar (a lot easier than the Warrior as it’s both lighter and has a shorter wing span) and we walked back to the club. James said he’d enjoyed the flight, and I apologised for putting him through the awful landings!

On the whole I enjoyed flying the Grob. The 115 HP engine meant that the climb and cruise performance wasn’t great, but the handling characteristics were quite nice on the whole, and the view from the cockpit was very good. Sadly it was a little expensive, being charge based on logged time, as opposed to tacho as the Brize aircraft generally are. Will have to see if I fly it again (hopefully I’ll be checked out at Lyneham too soon).

Total flight time today: 2:20
Total flight time to date: 71:40

2 Responses to “Another type, and another victim”

  1. Back to Leicester « Andy’s Blog Says:

    […] a note of it and checked my log book when I got back to Lyneham. This was a Grob 115 that I had flown from Brize just after I got my PPL. Small world! An old […]

  2. Late destination change to Gloucester « Andy's Blog Says:

    […] so I’d booked the Arrow several weeks ago in order to take him for a flight. He’d previously flown with me in the Grob that Brize had for a short while just after I got my PPL. Despite the appalling landings on that […]

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