Another currency check, after a long break!

After my last flight, I’d made a number of attempts to fly to keep within the Club’s 60 day currency rules. I predictably dropped out of currency, and then had to cancel a couple of Currency Check flights due to weather or not feeling fit to fly. I finally managed to find a day when aircraft and Instructor availability, weather and my health all meant that I could actually go flying!

I’d never flown with DJ before, but chatted to him via What’s App in the days leading up to the flight to plan what we needed to do. One helpful part of the timing was that I was now in the second year of my Class Rating, so if this flight could be of an hour or more duration, then it would count as the required training flight for my Class Rating Revalidation by Experience requirements.

The day before the flight some pilots had some issues getting the aircraft started, but when I arrived at Kemble on the morning of our flight I was just in time to see DJ heading off for the flight before mine without any problems. They were running a little late, so I settled myself in the Club to prepare myself for the flight, reading over the Warrior’s checklist again a few times to refresh my memory. Fortunately, DJ and his previous student returned after cutting their flight short, so I wasn’t too late in heading out myself.

We had a quick brief over what we needed to cover, before heading out to the aircraft. I gave AF a quick once over before getting in and getting settled ready for the flight. I completed all the pre-start items from the checklist, then as we had been warned, the starter seemed reluctant to turn the engine over initially. However, keeping the key in the ‘start’ position for a few seconds soon had the starter turning the prop, and the engine started fairly soon after.

Kemble were operating on 08 today, so this meant a taxy along the grass down to the North Apron for checks. Once the checks were completed, I made my first slip of the day, announcing “Checks complete, Hotel site” (Hotel site is where our aircraft are parked!). The FISO picked me up on my error and corrected me, before clearing me initially to the hold, then to line up. I backtracked a little before lining up and commencing the takeoff roll.

Takeoff and climbout were normal, and I set course to the South to head to Lyneham as we’d planned. We climbed up to 3000 feet, but I failed to level out and trim correctly, meaning we ended up are 3200 feet for a while. DJ took control and put the aircraft well out of trim, then gave control back to me to have me re-trim. This time I did a better job, and the altitude stabilised at 3000 feet correctly.

I initially carried out a gentle turn to the left, followed by one to the right, increasing the angle of back towards 30 or 45 degrees at DJ’s prompting. During both of these turns my height keeping was almost spot on, showing how important it is to have the aircraft correctly trimmed for level flight!

As we came out of the turn, DJ pulled the throttle to idle, announcing ‘simulated engine failure’. I was a little slow getting us down to best glide speed, meaning we lost height unnecessarily initially. I was also a little hesitant in choosing a field, including incorrectly verbalising the wind direction (although in my head I knew that we had to turn 180 degrees to face in to wind). DJ gave me some useful advice, that in the absence of an obvious candidate off to the right, I should just pick a field in view to my left, as this would make it easier to maintain sight of the field while positioning to land in it.

The field I had chosen had a line running across it perpendicular to the landing direction, which I initially assumed was just a path. As we got lower it became clear that this was in fact a wall or ditch, so I quickly shifted to a field just to the right of my initial choice. As I lined up for my Final approach, I was (predictably!) high, and when DJ asked what I was going to do I told him I would side-slip, and then carried out this manoeuvre (which allows rapid height loss without much of a gain in airspeed).

DJ allowed be to descend to around 300 feet AGL, before announcing he was happy and telling me to Go Around. I climbed away, correctly remembering to initially retract 1 stage of flap (which generates a lot of drag) before waiting for a positive rate of climb to be indicated and then retracting the remaining flaps in stages. I oriented myself with Kemble, before calling the FISO for airfield information to carry out some circuits.

There were another couple of aircraft joining at around the same time as us, and we spotted one of them off to the right ahead of us. The other had announced on a 5 mile Final, so I made a note to keep an eye out for him as we carried out our Overhead Join and Deadside Descent. We slotted in nicely behind the aircraft ahead of us, and carried on around the circuit, carrying out the before landing checks on the Downwind leg.

I turned Base and Final for the first approach, seeing the aircraft ahead of us clear the runway as we were on Short Final. My speed keeping was generally good, and I brought us in for a slightly firm landing. As I applied power and retracted flaps, I told DJ that it could have been better, and his response was “There was nothing wrong with that, but lets see if you can do better next time!”.

As we climbed away, DJ thought he spotted a drone operating below us to our right, and kept an eye out for it during this circuit. We continued round the circuit, this time extending Downwind slightly to allow the aircraft who had earlier reported a 5 mile Final to land in front of us. He must have been significantly further than 5 miles away for it to have taken him that long to land! Once the runway was clear, the second landing was much better, leading to a slight chirrup from the tyres as I brought us down to a very gentle touchdown. Very satisfying!

As we climbed away, DJ again spotted the drone, and reported this to the FISO. While not really affecting our flight, I’m pretty sure the drone rules prevent the flying of drones this close to an airfield. The final circuit was routine, and my last landing of the day was again a satisfyingly gentle touchdown!

We taxyed back to the parking area, and refuelled the aircraft before putting it back into its space in readiness for the next flight. On the way back to the Club DJ gave me a debrief, and was very complimentary about my flying. He called particular attention to my good situational awareness and radio work, so it was nice to be given a pat on the back!

Track flown

Track flown

Flight profile

Flight profile

So after a 6 month break, I was finally current again. While it’s sometimes frustrating to get be in the position of needing a Currency Check flight, I generally enjoy the opportunity to fly with an Instructor, and often come away with something new from each of these flights. DJ was a pleasure to fly with, and it was nice to be complimented on my flying! Now I need to try to maintain currency for a bit longer this time!

Total flight time today: 1:00
Total flight time to date: 341:10

One Response to “Another currency check, after a long break!”

  1. 2019 Summary | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] Writings of a UK based Private Pilot « Another currency check, after a long break! […]

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