Simon and I went over for our lessons together and only just made it there in time due to cars queuing after leaving the car boot sale down the road, note to self to leave a little earlier in future!
On arrival Pete very kindly made us a cup of tea and Simon discussed the lesson he was about to have, “EX 10b – Stalling” with Mike. Pat and Katie went for a fly in Pat’s C42 and shortly after Mike and Simon set off too.
On their return more tea was drunk and Mike produced a large Panettone cake and cut Katie a large slice which she somehow ate!!!
Today, by way of a change and mainly due to the wind direction and gusts we didn’t do circuits in my lesson, I would like to say it was due to me having become proficient in landings, but I’m not there yet! Instead we did “Advanced turning (up to 60° bank angle) – To carry out a coordinated level turn at steep angles of bank and to recognise and recover from a spiral dive” this was both new and fun for me!
We left on runway 24, which was a relief as 29 had been being used, it’s not too bad for taking off, but not the best runway for landing on when you are still learning as it is shorter, narrower and you come in over some power lines. We climbed up to 3,500 feet as we wanted the calm air above the inversion layer, with Peterborough visible in the near distance Mike demonstrated the 45 degree turn and then let me have a go. The 45 degree turn is much like any other turn except you need a bit more back pressure and you need to up the revs a little. I found turning anti clockwise I was losing height and when turning clockwise I was gaining height, this Mike explained, is a common error and is caused by using the nose as a point of reference to the horizon and not where the horizon was on the windscreen, I then tried again and it was much better. Next came the 60 degree turns, wow you can really feel the G force in these turns pulling on your face, its only around 2 G, but you feel it none the less. In these turns it’s principally the same as the 45 degree turns, but it takes more power and considerably more back pressure. On my first attempt I let the nose drop and nearly entered a spiral dive, which is the next part of the lesson! The next attempt went better and on coming out of the turn we felt a bump, which is a good thing, it means we have hit our own wake turbulence meaning we had done a full 360 turn and remained at the correct height.
Next came the spiral dive, this is when you do a 60 degree (or steep) turn and let the nose drop causing the speed to build to dangerous levels, the normal reaction to this is to pull the stick back to reduce the angle of attack and reduce speed, but as you are in a steep turn doing so just tightens the turn and makes it more violent, or at least that was how I perceived it. Mike explained what we need to do is, take the power off and roll the wings level, as the aeroplane levels the nose comes up and at this point we apply full power and climb back to our designated height.
This concluded the lesson, but next was to find the airfield, not a clue had I! What could I see? a town with a prison and railway, well that as it turns out is March, and a gentle turn I spotted Ely cathedral in the distance and the drain below us, from here I knew where we were and flew us back and we joined downwind for runway 24. On final it was a bit hairy with the gusts and I was bit all over the place, but the flare and touch down was quite good especially given the conditions, the only issue I had was Mike telling me to move the stick to the right, well apart from when you are side slipping you move the stick and rudder in the same direction, which I did in an almost automatic fashion and then found we were steering off the runway and I needed to correct it. I was that surprised at my landing in these conditions I found myself asking Mike if he had assisted, but apparently it was all my own work.
Mike and I put the C42 in the hanger and returned to the club house for a cup of tea!