Archive for the ‘Tailwheel training’ Category

Tailwheel circuit practice

August 3, 2014

Despite being signed off by Dave after my last flight in the Citabria, I wasn’t feeling comfortable flying it solo, particularly due to the fact I don’t think I made a single ‘good’ landing at Oaksey while flying the aircraft!

Hoping to take David for a flight the next weekend, I booked a refresher session with Dave to try to get a bit more practice in a crosswind, and hopefully start to feel more comfortable landing the aircraft.

The weather was near perfect again (perhaps I should keep flying the Citabria if it makes the weather Gods so favourable!), and I arrived at Oaksey in good time as usual. Dave was running a little late due to a previous flight at Kemble, so I made good use of the time reading through the POH for the Citabria. In reality there’s not a huge amount in there, as it’s a pretty basic aircraft!

Dave walked me through the things to check on the aircraft for the ‘A’ check. After taking a fuel sample from below the aircraft, the drain continued to drip, so I helped him remove the drain and clear out a small particle of dirt from the seal, both of us getting a liberal coating of Avgas in the process! There was plenty of fuel in the aircraft, and after arranging for a a piece of farm equipment to be moved out of the way, we rolled the aircraft down onto the grass to get ready for the flight.

I took my time arranging everything in the cockpit before jumping in and starting to fasten the five point harness. Dave squeezed into the back, and we were ready to go. The engine started easily, and we taxyed towards the threshold of runway 22, favoured by an almost perfect headwind today On the way I realised I hadn’t strapped the kneeboard to my leg, so after failing to do it while taying I gave up until we were in position for the power checks.

After getting the kneeboard secure and completing the power checks, we heard another aircraft announcing ‘Downwind’. With plenty of time to get airborne before we would affect his landing we took to the active runway, Dave spotting him as we lined up. I ensured the tailwheel was straight, before applying full power and starting the takeoff roll.

I was a little sluggish getting my feet moving as I brought the tail up, but soon corrected this and made a fair takeoff for my first attempt of the day. We had planned to initially make a standard landing back at Oaksey (taking advantage of the favourable wind) before heading to Kemble for more circuits (Dave had already flown from there and knew that there was more of a crosswind component than at Oaksey).

The circuit was normal, although as usual I was high on Base and Final. The excess height was easily lost with a sideslip, and I brought us in for an acceptable landing at Oaksey, my first in this aircraft! Once under control, we taxyed back to the threshold and made ready to depart for Kemble.

This takeoff was much better, and we climbed away from Oaksey to the West, changing to Kemble’s frequency and setting their QFE in readiness for joining the circuit. Things were relatively quiet at Kemble, but as we joined we were warned of an inbound ‘non-radio’ aircraft due in the next half hour or so. It later transpired that this was one of Freedom’s Warriors, returning from an aborted flight to the Isle of Wight with total electric failure.

The circuit pattern at Kemble is fairly familiar to me now, and I followed the noise abatement circuit without any issue. As usual I was high on Base and Final, meaning I had more work than was ideal to get set up for the landing. As a result, the first landing attempt was pretty poor, as I approached with too much airspeed and failed to hold off for sufficient time to bleed it off. As a result, the touchdown was accompanied by a predictable bounce, and I immediately took the decision to go around for another try.

The second circuit was much better, although again I was high and slightly fast on Final. I did bring us in for an acceptable (although far from perfect) landing, although neglected to maintain the into-wind aileron required to keep straight on the runway during the roll out.

I flew a total of 10 circuits at Kemble. On one we were following another aircraft Downwind, who appeared to be flying a circuit that seemed half way to Lyneham! I extended Downwind to follow him on Base, announcing this fact to the FISO in the process in order that everyone else knew what I was doing. On another takeoff from the grass we followed an aircraft departing from the hard runway into the circuit, and he continued to the West for several miles before turning Crosswind. Again, I announced I was turning ‘inside the aircraft a couple of miles to the West’ just to ensure people knew what I was doing.

The landings gradually got better, and another bounce triggered a go around (although Dave commented that he felt I could have rescued that particular landing). The majority of problems with the landings were caused by me failing to hold off for a sufficient amount of time. In the Citabria, you really need to be flying level along the runway with the stall warner sounding for a good 5 or 10 seconds before you have bled off enough speed to land and stay down.

The non-radio Freedom Warrior arrived and landed safely (it later transpired the pilot had neglected to turn on the alternator switch, which in this particular aircraft is separate and in a different place to the master on most of the other Warriors). I also saw Sean joining from his flight to Shobdon, and followed him around the circuit, landing on the grass shortly after he landed on the hard runway.

I realised that a lot of the issues were due to me continuing to be too high on Base and Final, so made a point of reducing the power and descending before making the turn onto Base. I carried out two circuits using this method, the first producing a much better landing, and the second leading to Dave finally exclaiming ‘Clucking Bell, Andy Hawkins finally makes a decent landing!’ 🙂 He didn’t use those exact words, but the two he used at the start of the sentence did rhyme with what I’ve put there!

The last circuit at Kemble saw me high on Final again, but I took care to get down to an appropriate profile and speed long before needing to transition to the landing phase, and this again led to a fairly decent landing. Deciding I’d now had enough, we headed back to Oaksey to see if I could continue my recent form and make a decent approach and landing there. We joined Crosswind at circuit height, and as usual ended up a little high on Final. Armed with my new found knowledge, I made sure the height was lost in plenty of  time, and brought us in for an acceptable landing at Oaksey, rounding out a few feet too high leading to a firmer than ideal landing.

I think the reason for rounding out too high is the difference between the width of Oaksey and Kemble. Oaksey’s runway is a lot wider, leading to the illusion that you are closer to it than you actually are. Hopefully if I continue to fly from Oaksey I’ll get more used to the correct ‘picture’, and be able to make more acceptable landings there.

As we taxyed back towards the Citabria’s hangar, a party was in progress at the club house at Oaksey. A number of cars had been parked such that it wasn’t immediately clear if we could taxy past them, so we shut down on the grass and Dave asked some of the owners to move the cars a few feet forwards to give us room. We pulled the aircraft up into the hangar once there was sufficient room, and pushed it back into its parking place.

Track flown

Track flown

Flight profile

Flight profile

Dave and I chatted for a while about the flight, with Dave announcing that he was happy for me to hire the aircraft based on my performance today. Although some of my landings had been far from perfect, they had all been acceptable, and I’d also shown good decision making in terms of going around from the two that caused ended up with a bounce.

Yet again I’d had a near perfect day for flying in the Citabria. I now have it booked for a flight with David next weekend, so hopefully the weather will co-operate and we’ll be able to make the flight.

Total flight time today: 1:35
Total flight time to date: 248:15

Tailwheel Signoff

July 6, 2014

After making good progress yesterday, I was keen to strike while the iron was hot and continue with the tailwheel training. The weather forecast was again good, so I booked another session with Dave in the afternoon. Dave returned slightly late from his previous flight, but I chatted with Sarah and Mark’s other half Naomi while waiting. The weather was perfect again, and Oaksey is a nice place to spend idle moments.

There was a threat of showers in the forecast, but Dave returned and told us that while there were a few areas of threatening cloud around, they were all easy to spot and avoid. We both got settled into the Citabria after a short briefing, and Dave called Kemble to book in for circuits while I prepared to get the engine started. We taxyed down to the start of runway 22, and after completing power checks (managing to avoid pulling the mixture this time!) we lined up and began the take off roll.

Take off was fairly straightforward, and we immediately set course for Kemble, signing on with them as we climbed to an appropriate height for the overhead join. We joined the circuit and made ready to continue where we left off yesterday. The first circuit went well, and we established nicely on Final in readiness for the first landing. The final stages of the landing went almost perfectly, and we touched down gently on Kemble’s grass runway. However, after that things went a little awry, as I somehow forgot that in this aircraft you really need to use your feet after landing!

We got things under control, with Dave giving me praise for the landing and a bit of a telling off for the roll out! Backtracking for the next circuit I made a mental note to keep awake once the initial part of the landing was complete!

The next few circuits and landings went generally well. I made the decision to go around on one circuit after rounding out a little high, and finding myself running out of energy while still several feet above the runway. Dave commented that he was glad to see me make the decision and demonstrate a low-level go around, but thought that I probably could have rescued the landing. The next circuit I proved that I could, after again making a slightly unstable approach but taking appropriate action during the round out phase, and touching down nicely on the runway.

On one of the circuits the wind given by the FISO was in clear contradiction with what the windsock was showing. The windsock indicated a near perfect headwind, but the FISO had given something like a 45 degree crosswind figure. Dave questioned this, and the FISO clarified that the wind figure he’d given was an average wind, the instantaneous wind was actually as being shown by the wind sock.

Dave announced he was happy with what he’d seen, and suggested we then make a few circuits to land on the hard runway. Landing on grass in a taildragger can help to ‘flatter’ a poor landing, but on a hard runway it was important to get the landing right, and take an early decision to go around should any bounce occur during landing.

During this phase of the flight, a big black cloud arrived overhead and started to deposit rain on us and the airfield. Another aircraft approached to land, but opted to hold off until the shower had passed. We were joined by a PA28 flying circuits, and this led to a fairly concerning chain of events on the next circuit.

As I continued Downwind (on the correct noise-abatement circuit for Kemble), Dave spotted an aircraft ahead of us and well out to our right, approaching the airfield looking like it was going to make a Base leg join. As we kept an eye on him, I eventually decided to leave the circuit as it wasn’t clear as to what exactly he was doing. We announced this to the FISO, and he suggested that the aircraft we might be seeing was the other aircraft in the circuit on a recently announced Base leg. This turned out to be the case, although the circuit he was flying probably put him on the South side of Oaksey on the Downwind leg! I slotted in behind him and slowed down in order to gain sufficient spacing.

There was some doubt as to whether I had left enough space, as it looked like he might not clear the runway before I needed to land. I announced ‘Final’ at the appropriate place, leading the FISO to respond ‘expect runway occupied’. Dave commented that he probably wouldn’t have bothered making the ‘Final’ call when I did, as it left the FISO with nothing to do other than to advise us to expect to have to go around. In hindsight I should have just continued the approach, announcing ‘Final’ or ‘Short Final’ once it was clear the aircraft ahead had cleared the runway in time.

The landings on the hard runway continued to be good, and I dealt relatively well with the more difficult handling on the ground caused by the change in surface. On each successive circuit we continued on the appropriate track, as the PA28 continued to fly incredibly wide Downwind legs. Luckily for us he was flying that bit faster than us, so we always had plenty of separation despite flying a much shorter circuit.

After completing a couple of circuits on the hard runway, Dave announced he was happy with what he had seen, and that we should head back to Oaksey. He dropped a bit of a bombshell on me in announcing that if I made a good landing at Oaksey, he would hop out and allow me to carry out a solo circuit!

As we approached Oaksey, it became clear that the wind there was less favourable than it had been at Kemble, showing an almost 90 degree crosswind. The circuit and approach went relatively well, but on Final Dave commented from the back that we seemed ‘a bit fast’. For some reason I was flying down Final at 100 mph, well above the usual figure of 90, slowing to 80 and less as we approached the runway. I think I probably should have made an early decision to go around, as it became difficult to lose the extra energy, and we ended up with excess speed as I rounded out.

Oaksey’s runway is plenty long though, so I elected to continue, making a mental decision to go around if the initial touchdown wasn’t a good one. The landing was generally Ok, but I neglected to make sufficient compensation for the crosswind on the rollout, leading to a fraught few seconds until I got us under control.

This obviously (and quite rightly!) gave Dave cause for concern, and he suggested we try another one before I considered going solo. We took off on 22, and Dave suggested we try a landing on 35, which was more appropriate given the wind. However, runway 35 at Oaksey has a house close to it, about half way down, and I’d never landed on it before. The abbreviated circuit and approach all went well, and I made a passable landing, but again the rollout wasn’t particularly good.

We had a final go on 22, making another circuit and coming in for another landing with a fairly strong crosswind. I think to be honest the pressure of potentially going solo and also the fact that I’d spent the last hour and a half making numerous landings had probably pushed me over the edge. The final landing again wasn’t particularly good, so Dave suggested we called it a day there.

We taxyed back and parked the aircraft outside the Club house, and Dave announced that he was happy to sign me off, but that I should come back for some more crosswind circuits and landings before flying in similar conditions myself. He was happy for me to fly the aircraft solo should the wind conditions favor runway 22 at Oaksey however.

 

Track flown

Track flown

Flight profile

Flight profile

We headed back into the office, and Dave updated my logbook with the sign off for tailwheel aircraft (to join those for variable pitch propeller and retractable gear). I settled up my account, and headed home pleased with my achievement, but slightly frustrated at my failure to make some good landings back at Oaksey and hence go solo. Still, I’d had an excellent day’s flying, and really felt that (until the end!) I’d got to grips with the peculiarities of operating a tailwheel aircraft. Hopefully with another short session I can nail crosswind landings too, and start to make some good flights in this lovely aircraft.

Now signed off to fly this beauty!

Now signed off to fly this beauty!

Total flight time today: 1:35
Total flight time to date: 246:40

 

More tailwheel, and some aeros

July 5, 2014

Keen to make progress on the tailwheel rating, I had booked a flight for the Saturday after my first flight. The weather on the day seemed pretty miserable, but a quick check of the TAFs suggested an improvement in conditions in the afternoon. As lunchtime arrived this seemed to be happening, so I headed off to Oaksey to meet Dave for a flight putting me back in the circuit.

After a quick brief of the peculiarities of taking off and landing in a taildragger, we headed out to the aircraft. Things didn’t start well when I pulled the mixture instead of carb heat during power checks, leading to it all going quiet up front. As Dave said, if there’s anywhere to make that kind of mistake, this was it!

Dave carried out the first takeoff and landing with me following through on the controls. We then taxyed back and it was my turn. The takeoff went generally well, with some coaching from the back from Dave. The initial difference in footwork required was obvious, particularly once the tail was raised early on in the takeoff roll. Generally it was fairly uneventful though, and we took to the skies for a circuit.

Once airborne, it was clear that conditions were almost perfect for flying. The scattered clouds we all well above 3000 or 4000 feet, and the visibility after the recent rain was spectacular. It was truly a joy to be flying in such perfect conditions.

The circuit went relatively well, as I gradually refreshed my memory of the rudder inputs required when flying the Citabria. Base and Final saw me slightly high, but a quick adjustment to the throttle sorted that out, and I brought us in for the landing. Surprisingly, it couldn’t have gone much better, as I rounded us out and flew us along the runway with the stall warner blaring, before we touched down and rolled out. Initially my footwork on the landing roll wasn’t quite up to scratch, but I soon got it sorted and we slowed down, before again was caught out by not making progressively larger rudder inputs as the effectiveness of the rudder decreased. To cap it all, I began to turn off the runway while travelling too fast, leading to a further reminder from Dave not to make turns in this aircraft until slowed down to a walking pace.

We refueled before heading back to the threshold to carry out some more circuits at Kemble. This takeoff again was normal, and I called Kemble to get their information while climbing to 2000 feet for an Overhead join. There was another aircraft operating in the circuit and one other joining. We slotted in nicely with the aircraft in the circuit, and the other joining aircraft slotted in behind us.

Again, the first landing went pretty well at Kemble, helpfully the wind at the airfield was straight down the runway, although stronger than it had appeared at Oaksey at some 16 or 16 knots. We backtracked at Kemble, and continued for a total of 6 landings at Kemble. The first few were pretty good, but the remainder all had some issues. These amounted to:

  • Touching down with excess speed, leading to a bounce and Dave taking control to go around
  • Rounding out too late, effectively flying straight onto the runway
  • Approaching slightly slow, then after recovering this not closing the throttle correctly, using up a lot more runway than was necessary
  • Not losing enough height on Base and Final, needing some side-slipping to get back down to the correct profile

In general, all the work on the ground was Ok, my footwork gradually improving over the course of the session. None of the ‘problem’ landings were too drastic, and in some ways it was good to be experiencing some problems as otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to learn how to correctly deal with them with Dave’s experience in the back to rescue me should it be required.

For a few of the circuits we flew with the window open, the pleasant breeze helping cool things down on a hot day. This gave me something else to be aware of, as the maximum operating speed with the window open is 90 mph, below the normal circuit speed of 100 mph.

Once complete at Kemble, Dave asked me if I wanted to try a few ‘gentle’ aeros. After a brief thought I agreed, and we departed to the South to find some clearer airspace. Dave demonstrated a loop initially, and I was caught slightly by surprise by the amount of ‘g’ in the initial pull up into the loop. The remainder of the loop was fine though, and I didn’t feel any immediate after effects despite it being my first experience of aeros.

Now it was my turn. Dave talked me through the initial one, operating the throttle for me. I was a little too ‘gentle’ on the controls, both in the initial dive to gain airspeed and the pull up into the loop. We made it around though, and after a turn to the North I carried out another in full control that went much better.

Finally Dave offered the chance to experience a spin. Spinning was something I’d always said I would go and do soon after gaining my PPL, so that at least I would know what to expect should I inadvertently find myself in one while flying. Dave explained what he was going to do, and put us into a 5 or 6 turn spin before recovering. The few was definitely disorienting, but wasn’t quite what I’d expected. I’d expected the spin to be more ‘flat’, when in fact it appeared that the aircraft was actually in a very tight spiral dive. I’ll probably try to get some more experience of them on future flights including some recoveries myself.

Both Dave and I took a moment to reorient ourselves, with the lakes in Cotswold Water Park being the first landmark to stand out, making it easy to locate Kemble and then Oaksey. We signed off with Kemble and joined at Oaksey on a high Downwind leg. I was initially expecting to find it difficult to get down to circuit height in time, but in fact the descent down to the runway was fairly constant and put us on an appropriate profile to land.

The last landing at Oaksey went fairly well, and after we put the aircraft away Dave announced he was happy with the progress we’d made. I’ve booked another flight for tomorrow, so hopefully we can continue the good progress.

Track flown

Track flown

Profile

Profile

(Not sure what happened to the GPS track. It appears that it recorded the entire track, but stopped recording altitude information sometime after the first loop)

It was a real pleasure flying today. The conditions couldn’t have been more perfect, and flying such a nice, responsive aircraft (at times with the window open and a pleasant draft keeping us cool!) was really enjoyable. Also, I’ve finally experienced some basic aerobatic maneuvers to boot!

Total flight time today: 1:30
Total flight time to date: 245:05

Tailwheel!

June 29, 2014

One of the additions pilots can add to their license is a tailwheel signoff. This allows flight in aircraft with ‘traditional’ undercarriage (two under the wings, one under the tail) as opposed to the more common (now) tricycle undercarriage (two under the wings, one under the nose) that are generally used for training. Tailwheel aircraft often demand more pilot input (particularly on the rudder) during takeoff and landing, so a new set of skills need to be learned as a result.

Freedom Aviation have recently acquired a Champion Citabria, an aircraft which is suitable for tailwheel training, with the additional benefit of being approved for aerobatics (something else which I’ve been promising myself some experience in). Always eager to continue to extend my flying experiences, I arranged a flight with Dave on Saturday. Sadly Saturday’s weather was very unpredictable so the flight was cancelled and moved to the Sunday. Almost ideal flying weather meant a perfect opportunity to get the whole family down to Oaksey Park Airfield for the afternoon, with Luned and Catrin playing in the sun and enjoying a picnic while I had some fun of a different kind!

I arrived (as ever) in good time, and chatted with Sarah as we waited for Dave to return from his previous flight. He soon arrived, and we had a quick chat about what he intended to cover in today’s flight. One characteristics of a typical training aircraft is that they tend to be relatively docile and stable, and easy to fly. As such it is easy to be lulled into bad habits when these are the only type you’ve ever flown (as I have). One principle difference is that for typical flying, the rudder in a PA28 can often be ignored, whereas in other aircraft it’s a key flight control that needs careful attention.

This is the case in the Citabria, so Dave proposed that the first flight should primarily be spent ‘getting used’ to the different aircraft without even worrying about takeoff and landing. We’d concentrate initially on turns, learning the rudder inputs required for this aircraft. Assuming I was getting the hang of it, we would then move on to steeper turns, perhaps culminating with some practice approaches and maybe even a landing or two.

The difference between passenger comfort in the PA28 and Citabria can easily be compared with Mondeo and Westfield. As such, getting into the Citabria and getting settled can easily require the sort of contortions I’m well used to from having owned a couple of Westfields in the past. Dave and I are both pretty tall, and after I got settled in the front he squeezed himself into the back and we started the rigmarole of fitting the 5 point harnesses (again, something that was reminiscent of Westfield ownership!).

Safely onboard

Safely onboard

Now Dave's turn!

Now Dave’s turn!

After a bit of fiddling with the cable for my headset (helpfully fitted with a clip that could attach it out of the way on a convenient plate above my head to the left) and a brief look over the checklist (which only contains two procedures at present!) we set about starting the engine. Despite needing three hands, this was a relatively simple procedure, and the engine started without too much coaxing. We took advantage of the lack of other aircraft in the ground to taxy around a bit, getting used to the ground handling of the aircraft. In general, it was relatively easy to manoeuvre on the ground, but definitely noticeable that the steering was a lot less ‘direct’ that what I’m used to in the PA28. Also, it was apparent that turning into wind was a lot more difficult than turning away from it.

Taxy practice

Taxy practice

After a few turns using the brakes (leading to a very tight turning circle indeed) we taxyed to the start of runway 04 in readiness to depart. Dave talked me through the takeoff, before taking us to the air with me following him through on the controls. The climb rate in the Citabria didn’t seem sparkling, and for the first time I was aware of just how close to the airfield the Electricity Cables are on the Eastern side (having previously only ever approached over them, rather than departed towards them).

Airborne!

Airborne!

Once clear of the cables, I took control and started to get a feel for the aircraft. Everything Dave had told me proved accurate, the aircraft needing a lot more rudder input when rolling into or out of the turn. Also, the lack of a rudder trim meant that a small amount of pressure was always required to keep the aircraft in balance. Also, Dave had warned me about a tendency for PA28 pilots to climb the aircraft when attempting to fly level, due to the fact that the horizon is in fact about half way up the windscreen, rather than 2 or 3 inches above the coaming as I’d previously been used to.

Attempting to level off at 2500 feet soon had me up near 3000, but I brought us back down and concentrated on getting the right attitude to maintain altitude, getting the trim sorted while doing so. I experimented a little with the trim control (that Dave had warned me was likely to be a lot more sensitive than what I’m used to), and we moved on to more practice with turns. I still had a tendency to be wallowing around the sky out of balance, but as the session progressed I started to get more of a hang of things. We gradually increased the angle of bank, including reversing from right bank to left (and vice-versa) to continue to build up a feel for the controls.

We weren’t paying too much attention to navigation, using large features like Lyneham and the surrounding towns to fix our bearings. We moved on to a couple of stalls, with the first being a particular none-event due to me not being ‘aggressive’ enough with the control inputs. After some urging from Dave, I made a point of trying to get into a deeper stall, and managed to get the aircraft nodding nicely, with the occasional break from level flight too. The nose attitude and airspeed clues were obvious, so it’d be difficult to get into a stall such as this during a normal flight, but it’s always good to have a feel for how the aircraft feels in slow flight and close to the stall. We didn’t move on to stalls in the landing configuration, as due to a lack of flaps, the Citabria is always in the landing configuration!

I experimented with the fresh air vents ahead of me, as I was starting to feel the heat in the relatively open cockpit. This prompted an encouraging comment from Dave in the rear, he’d obviously been having the same thoughts in the back! Dave urged me to try some steep turns. I did one initially to the right at something like 60 degrees of bank, before further urging put me into a left turn approaching 90 degrees of bank, with further prompting from the back seat to pull back on the stick and experience some ‘real’ G (I think the G meter got as high as 2 G at one point!). The aircraft handled really nicely during this, so I can see that I might have to try some real aeros in it with Dave at some point in the future.

Dave had me practice a couple of glide approaches into a field. As was customary with my PFLs, the first attempt had me significantly high. The difference here was that I had no flaps to help me lose height, but a side-slip would have been a good alternative for losing height without picking up too much airspeed. After climbing away I tried another, and would almost certainly have made the field we chose this time. One thing I did find relatively straightforward was getting the aircraft trimmed for the glide, getting the sense that I had a much better feel for the trim in this aircraft than I often do in a PA28 (or perhaps it was just beginners luck!).

We headed up towards South Cerney, listening in to Kemble to get a feel for the wind direction. Typically it was almost exactly 90 degrees across Cerney’s runway, meaning that approaches into either end would be relatively difficult. Dave had me make 3 approaches in alternating directions, demonstrating on one of them what can happen if you end up too high and how difficult it is to lose height without consequently gaining too much airspeed to be able to actually complete a landing. On the third approach he had me try a full side-slip (taking care to ensure I kept the nose down, as this is a ‘pro-spin’ control input, and being aerobatic this aircraft is certainly capable of spinning!). This demonstrated how height could be lost if necessary, and we transitioned nicely into a low-level approach over the airfield, flying along the runway again just a few feet off the ground.

We’d now been airborne for close to an hour, so decided to call it a day for this flight. The plan was for Dave to demonstrate a landing at Oaksey, then for us to position for another takeoff and landing with me at the controls. As we positioned at Oaksey, the two windsocks seemed to be pointing in different directions, indicating a tailwind for both runways! We initially positioned on a Right Downwind for 04, before changing our minds part way down the Downwind leg and reversing course to put us on a Left Downwind for 22. Dave brought us in over the cables, as the windsock again seemed to change direction, this time indicating a distinct tailwind on 22!

First landing attempt on 22

First landing attempt on 22

Dave brought us down for a low approach, before deciding that discretion was the better part of valour as the runway disappeared below us. We received a cheery wave from Luned as we passed (she probably assumed it was me that had made a mess of the landing!), and Dave climbed us away to position for a more appropriate landing on Oaksey’s runway 35 (which rather helpfully has a house right near the runway about half way down!). There was a slight comedy moment caused by the fore and aft seating configuration in the Citabria, in which neither of us were actually flying! I eventually asked Dave “Who’s flying now?” and he chuckled before (correctly) announcing ‘You have control’ and I took over and set us up for an approach to 35.

The approach is quite low over the woods to the South of the airfield, and I brought us down over the trees before handing back control to Dave at a few hundred feet. Dave demonstrated a perfectly adequate landing from the rear seat, despite being unable to see the altimeter, airspeed indicator or even get a good view of the runway ahead of us due to my big head being in the way!

Dave landing on 35

Dave landing on 35

Once under control, Dave handed back control to me, and I taxyed us back to their hangar before we shut down and pushed the aircraft back in to the hangar.

Taxying back

Taxying back

Dave announced he was happy with my progress on the flight, it was just unfortunate that the wind conditions on the day weren’t really conducive to getting in some takeoff and landing practice. I’ve booked another session for next weekend, so hopefully conditions will be a bit more favourable and we can continue to make good progress.

Total flight time today: 1:30
Total flight time to date: 243:40