More circuits and a local

Unsurprisingly, I found myself on the verge of losing currency again. I’d had a couple of attempts thwarted due to the weather, and sadly in the days leading up to this planned flight the weather also didn’t look ideal.

There was a bit of confusion over which aircraft I was to take. A long-term Arrow booking initially prevented me from taking that, so I booked a Warrior and made a standby booking on the Arrow just in case. A couple of days before the flight I noticed that the Arrow booking had been activated, so knowing that Kev had the aircraft in France I double checked that it would be back as expected. It turned out that he thought he had it booked for a further day, so it was a good job I checked! I moved my booking back onto the Warrior, and continued watching the weather forecasts as the day of the flight approached.

Sadly the forecasts didn’t improve sufficiently for me to be confident enough to plan a landaway, with the last TAFs suggesting relatively low cloud (around 2000 feet) and a strong wind from the South that would put me close to the aircraft’s demonstrated crosswind limits back at Kemble. I decided to play it safe and try to at least get some circuits in to reset both my Club and Passenger currencies.

The forecast on the morning looked slightly better, with the weather being expected to start to improve from mid to late morning. I completed the final planning at home, before heading off to Kemble. Mike was in the Club, and we had a brief chat about some radio issues that had been noticed on G-BPAF over recent flights. Taking advantage of the fact that I was in no hurry, we both headed out to the aircraft with a couple of headsets to see how the radios and intercom were functioning.

We were initially a little concerned that the intercom didn’t appear to be working correctly. The aircraft now has a similar audio panel to that in the Arrow, and we found that while we could both hear ourselves in our headsets while talking, Mike couldn’t hear me and I couldn’t hear him. The penny soon dropped when I saw the indicator on the ‘Pilot’ button was illuminated, effectively disconnecting Mike (who was sitting in the P1 seat) from the rest of the aircraft.

We turned this off, and the intercom then proceeded to work as expected, and I gave Mike a brief tutorial on the operation of the audio panel as he wasn’t overly familiar with it. We then set about testing both radios by talking to Kemble’s FISO (the frequency was dead so we weren’t inconveniencing anyone!) and found that both radios appeared to work correctly on the ground, with box 2 (the older radio) being reported as having a lower transmit volume by the FISO.

G-BPAF avionics

G-BPAF avionics

Happy that the avionics were all working correctly, I completed the remainder of the ‘A’ check, before heading back into the Club to complete the pre-flight paperwork. Just in case I had any issues, I kept the second headset that Mike had brought out, leaving it plugged into the front seat passenger’s connectors.

I gave Kemble a quick call to book out for some circuits initially, before returning to the aircraft to get ready for the flight. The aircraft started relatively easily, and I was careful on all the pre-flight checks due to it being almost two years since I had last flown a Warrior. I made a particular note to exercise the carb heat regularly while flying!

Flyable, but far from ideal conditions

Flyable, but far from ideal conditions

I was cleared to taxy to A1, while two others performed their checks on the North Apron, and a helicopter made ready to fly from the other end of the airfield. There was one aircraft in the circuit as I completed the power checks, and once ready I pulled up to the hold just as he turned Final. I let the FISO know that I was ready (and could see the aircraft about to land!) and received the expected instruction to ‘Hold Position’.

Once the circuit aircraft had landed, I was cleared into position, and I lined up on 26 waiting for him to complete his touch and go. The helicopter was also cleared to cross to the South side as the circuit traffic rolled out also. Once the aircraft ahead had taken off, I waited a short while to open up a bit of spacing between us, before beginning the takeoff roll.

The takeoff was normal, despite the significant crosswind from the left. I followed the other aircraft around a slightly wide circuit, carrying out the pre-landing checks on the Downwind leg, making sure to also exercise the carb heat! The other aircraft in the circuit was landing just as I turned Base, so I had plenty of spacing to follow him around.

I decided that I would only use 2 stages of flap due to the crosswind, and carried out a relatively nice landing given that it was my first in a Warrior for some time. The Warrior tends to float a lot more, and though I expected this, it did make control during the roundout a little more difficult due to the crosswind.

The second circuit was routine, although this time  I flew a more normal (tighter) circuit and caught up the aircraft ahead a little. As a result my ‘Final’ call was responded to with ‘runway occupied by landing traffic’, and I was unsure whether I would have to go around from this circuit. The aircraft ahead took off again as I was at around 300 feet AAL though, so I was able to continue for another relatively good landing, although this time I landed with a small amount of crab which wasn’t ideal.

I’d noticed that the cloubase appeared to be lifting all the time, as well as becoming much more broken. I thought I might as well take advantage of this, and instead of turning back into the circuit, I told the FISO that I was heading out to the West for a brief local. I had to adjust my height a few times to remain clear of cloud (really must get my IMC rating renewed!) as I headed West towards the River Severn.

Improving weather out to the West

Improving weather out to the West

The cloud thinned enough for me to get to around 2500 feet (which was convenient as this was around the correct height for an Overhead Join back into Kemble). I made it as far as Thornbury before turning round to head back into Kemble. I received the updated airfield information from the FISO, and all seemed quiet as I routed back.

I did consider joining Downwind, but decided that carrying out a full Overhead Join would be good practice, and I was certainly in no rush due to the abbreviated flight! As I neared Kemble another aircraft came on frequency approaching from the South, announcing that he would carry out a direct Downwind join. As I entered the ATZ (including a slight fluff on the radio: “G-WS – correction G-AF is entering the ATZ from the West) I was slightly concerned that this might put us on the Downwind leg at around the same time, but while I descended Deadside he reported that he was on late Downwind, so we had good separation.

As I was on the Crosswind leg, I spotted him turning Base (confirming the separation) and the rest of the circuit was routine. I brought the Warrior in for my best landing of the day, spoiled only by realising that I had failed to turn the Carb Heat off on short Final as I should have, instead spotting it during my after landing checks on clearing the runway.

I taxyed back to the Club before refuelling the aircraft and putting the covers back on. I returned to the Club to carry out the usual post-flight paperwork, before heading home.

Track flown

Track flown

Although disappointed that I couldn’t carry out a longer flight, at least I’d done enough to reset all my currencies in readiness for (hopefully!) some better weather in the coming months. My Class Rating is due to expire at the end of May, and unusually I’m still around 2 hours short of the required time to be able to revalidate by experience. Really need to make sure I get some more hours in soon!

Total flight time today: 0:55
Total flight time to date: 320:15

2 Responses to “More circuits and a local”

  1. Touring Wales | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] Writings of a UK based Private Pilot « More circuits and a local […]

  2. 2018 Summary | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] flights (including one currency check, 3 locals for currency a flight to fulfill the requirements for Class Rating Renewal, a tour of Wales, one […]

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