Arrow Currency Check

Due to the extended downtime on the Arrow caused by its annual and requiring a new prop, I’d run out of currency before it came back into service (the owner offered me the first flight in it just 3 days after my currency expired!). As such I needed to have a currency check with an Instructor, so tied up with Roger to get this sorted.

Originally the plan was for me to fly the sortie from the right hand seat, to gain some experience of flying from there should I ever need to take control in the future. However an impending holiday and a bad week at work meant that I really needed to keep the flight as short as possible, so we decided just to cover the minimum.

The weather forecast for the day was excellent, but there was some mist and fog in the morning that meant things were running a little late. I checked the aircraft out while Roger was out on another flight, and we quickly briefed as we walked out to the aircraft. The plan was to depart Kemble, climb to 4000 feet then carry out stalls clean and in approach configuration. Then we’d carry out a PFL (practice forced landing) before returning to Kemble for a flapless landing followed by a standard approach to a landing.

Kemble was busy due to a fly-in, and the FISO was having trouble with people stepping on each other on the radio. Luckily as we made ready to depart things quietened down somewhat. All the pre-flight checks were normal, and the engine started easily. We were soon taxying over to the apron for power checks. I carried out the taxy checks on the move, ensuring I had full rudder travel in both directions and that all the instruments were responding appropriately.

Roger suggested that given that we were heading for a wide expanse of tarmac (now even wider due to the fact that a number of large jets were no longer parked there) then it would probably have been better to do these checks there. Fair point!

Power checks were all normal, with Roger just mentioning that it’s better not to leave the prop lever at low RPM for too long, as your forcing the engine to run slower than it would normally. Once complete the FISO asked if we were ready for an expedited departure, and cleared us directly onto the runway once we replied that we were. Roger commented that he was glad that I took the opportunity to head left to get a bit more runway before departing, despite this not being strictly necessary. One aviation maxim is that there’s no point having runway behind you!

The takeoff was normal, and I made the required right turn for noise abatement as we approached the airfield boundary. As Roger had promised, conditions were almost perfect, and we climbed out to the West up to 4000 feet. Once clear of the circuit I reduced RPM and leaned the mixture, lowering the nose periodically to check for traffic ahead of us on the climbout.

Clear of Kemble I switched to Bristol’s frequency, but didn’t call them at this point. We heard another aircraft on frequency reporting a route to the South of us, so we turned North East before carrying out the first stall. I neglected to correctly carry out the HASELL check, but the remainder of the stall (right up to the nose drop) went well and I recovered nicely. There was a slight tendency to bob the nose a little, but generally I was happy with how it went.

After a clearing turn, we headed straight into the ‘dirty’ stall. I lowered two stages of flap and reduced power, and Roger eventually prompted me to lower the gear too! I recovered this stall at the stall warner, and Roger suggested I might like to carry out another in the correct configuration (3 stages of flap and gear lowered). This stall again was taken right up to the nose drop, and the recovery was good, although Roger suggested I should probably gain a little more airspeed before starting to raise the gear and flaps.

The next manoeuvre was the PFL, simulating an engine failure. Once established at the correct glide speed, at our height I might have been tempted to try to make Kemble. On the descent Roger also said that Badminton might be an option as well. However, I nominated a field and set about planning the approach. I set myself up for a left hand circuit, and then carried out the restart drills. After a simulated Mayday call, I continued the approach. Roger suggested that rather than try a full circuit it might have been easier just to make a turn onto a Right Base, meaning I wouldn’t have had to make such a tight circuit. We also checked the difference in descent rate between full fine and coarse pitch settings on the prop. There was a marked difference, with a significantly lower descent rate with the prop set to low RPM.

I think Roger was a little concerned about the proximity of a small village near to the field I had chosen, as at about 1500 feet or so he announced he was happy, and we headed back to Kemble. I used the ADF to get a general steer, before mistaking Aston Down for Kemble (something that has been done plenty of times in the past I’m told!). Fortunately Roger pointed out that I was heading in the wrong direction, and I soon got my bearings and set up for a Downwind join.

The Downwind leg was perhaps a little wider than it should have been (it’s a lot easier to judge when you’ve done a full Overhead Join), and I extended the leg a little longer than usual due to this being a flapless approach. I had to consciously remind myself not to keep reaching for the flaps as I turned Base! The Approach went nicely, and I carried out a nice landing for my first flapless approach in a while, although Roger did pick up on the fact that I hadn’t announced ‘Three Greens’ in my ‘Final’ call. The touchdown speed was perhaps a little high, as I induced a slight oscillation when trying to hold the nose wheel off, perhaps an indication that I hadn’t scrubbed off enough speed.

After meandering down the runway a little, I got things under control and increased power for the departure into the circuit. I checked with Roger whether he wanted me to raise the gear, but he said it was best to leave it down when operating in the circuit. We decided to take the grass runway this time, so executed a tight ‘microlight’ circuit at 750 feet or so. Again the circuit went well, and Roger talked me through reducing speed on Short Final in order to land and use as little runway as possible.

The touchdown was good but a little firm, and again I was a little poor at maintaining directional control on the ground. We slowed with plenty of runway to spare though, and turned off onto the taxyway without needing to use the brakes.

Roger announced he was happy as we taxyed back to the parking area, just highlighting the couple of points that he’d mentioned during the flight. We pushed the aircraft back in readiness for the owner to take it to Oaksey for the Club’s Navigation competition that was running later that day, before we headed back in to the office to complete the paperwork.

Track flown

Track flown



The original plan was to pack for our holiday once I returned home, but the weather was so good that I suggested we all head out to Oaksey to watch the proceedings there. Catrin had a great time looking at the aircraft (including a helicopter) and playing while we were there, and we were treated to a low fly-past by Kev in the Arrow as well. On the whole, a great day, just a shame we couldn’t perhaps take more advantage of the excellent weather!

Total flight time today: 0:40
Total flight time to date: 199:40

One Response to “Arrow Currency Check”

  1. 2012 Summary « Andy's Blog Says:

    […] flights (including 1 currency check on the Arrow and a flight for the renewal of my IMC […]

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