Sunday I went flying and had a double lesson and then on Monday I got to go again for some additional solo (sssh don’t tell the bank manager!)
With my GST moving ever closer I’m trying to get as much flying in as I can, well as money will allow!
In my previous lesson I had not done a good job of side slipping allowing my speed to drop to low, so today we would revisit side slipping and do some GST revision.
It was not a great day for flying as it was very turbulent with a lot of lift and sink going on, this made it difficult to keep to an exact height and speed. Looking at my side slipping I had somehow reverted to trying to keep the nose of the aeroplane pointing in the direction we wanted to go instead of us tracking in the correct direction and while doing so I pull the nose up causing the loss of speed. So this was easily corrected and now seems a lot better.
We also practice recovery from stalls, dangerous and unusual attitudes, steep turns and some PFLs too! All seemed to go OK and the hour was soon over. After a short break I had an hour solo to practice all of the above once more.
Monday morning things were looking a bit wind and today’s solo was in doubt, however about 16:30 Katie message me to say things had improved and I should be ok for solo practice.
On arrival it was still gusting around 20 kts so I had a cup of tea and chatted for a while with Katie and Alan. About 40 mins or so later the wind had dropped a little to around 18 kts and Katie and I went up and flew a couple of circuits, so Katie could see how I handled the windy conditions. All was Ok so I dropped Katie off and went and practice the things I had been doing the day before.
A lot of flying, but not much to blog about!
Latter in the evening Katie posted the video below of me landing on Facebook, which I have duly stolen and posted below!!!
I normally only go flying during the day and at the weekend, but as I missed last Sunday’s due to the British weather and Katie was kind enough to stay late so I could make it after work, I thought I would give it a go!
It was a lovely evening, wind was around 5 kts some cloud at around 3,500ft and it was very smooth, perfect!
We started with me flying a couple of circuits with Katie; immediately after the first take off Katie closed the throttle and declared an engine failure! Nose down and select a field form those in front, all going well so far, the field I selected was possibly a little to near the edge of the gliding range and to make matters a little worse I put a stage of flap on before I knew for sure we would make it! As it turned out we would have made it, just! I powered up and climbed turning back towards the circuit for runway 24.
Downwind checks done, turning on to final and we can see smoke rising in the middle distance, its direction told us that the wind had changed direction a little and was now favouring runway 19. So I made a call to say Base leg 19 and we switched runways.
On the next circuit I left the power on longer and tried to sideslip on the approach, it worked, but not as well as I have done it in the past, I allowed the speed to drop a little too low, as pointed out by Katie, I need to practice this some more!
Back on the ground there was just time to grab a couple of Jaffa cakes before I went solo! Paul had just got back from flying up to King’s Lynn and back via Wisbech and March and this sounded like a fun thing to do, so I asked Katie what I should do on my solo and she was happy for me to do the same.
I set off and followed the 16 Foot Bank (another drain!) which runs up to King’s Lynn and as I got near to Lynn there was a prohibited area on the map, gas venting (GVS/2.6) as i was about the same altitude 2,600ft I decided to fly wide of it. Just passed Lynn it got a little bumpy and looking at the time I decided to turn around and head for Wisbech. I trimmed for 80 kts and flew between Wisbech and Emneth and on to March. I decided to join the circuit as I had on my cross country by continuing on towards Chatteris town and then descending to join the circuit downwind for 19.
This was one of my most enjoyable flights so far, I guess because I was solo and “just” flying as opposed to practicing for my looming GST, But I will be back to doing that this Sunday!
The weather forecast for today all week had been low winds with broken cloud at 3,000ft with good visibility, so as I have had a few lessons cancelled I thought I would take advantage of the nice Easter bank holiday Sunday weather and book a lesson followed by an hour solo. On arriving at Chatteris it was a gloomy day, this has its benefits in that the parachutists would be grounded! But Mike was also concerned that the weather may not be suitable for a solo, however we would wait and see what it was like following my lesson.
My lesson today would be PFLs and Flapless landings; we took off on 01 and for the first time in this direction Mike closed the throttle and declared an engine failure! I put the nose down, but there was nowhere to go, well other than a young oilseed rape field, not ideal, but we would walk from it, if this was a real engine failure. We powered up and went around and flew a couple of normal circuits to start with, but we were to come in on the orange triangle (52 kt – Recommended Minimum Approach Speed) we normally come in at 60kt. Then on the third circuit we did a touch and go without flaps, I needed to sideslip to get down as I had left the power on far too long, it is surprising how far you float and how slowly you come down on a still day without flaps!
We then left the circuit as the sky had cleared enough for the parachutists to be up and to call “Clear-Drop”. We left to the south as we knew Katie and Julie were to the East; as it turned out they aborted the drop and returned to the airfield as the visibility was not great.
Out to the south we did a few PFLs and I was again not great, but a little better with each one.
Time was up and I flew us back to the airfield and did another flapless landing. Once we were parked up Mike debriefed me as normal, but his words hit home, “I must fly the PFLs as if my life depended on them, I need to do all that I can to get into a field and not simply say that “I didn’t make it and power up and go around!”, Chilling words of wisdom.
The weather had cleared up sufficiently for me to go solo which I did under Katie’s supervision as Mike was off flying with his son. I flew out to the East and practiced trimming and did 3 PFLs, all went well, even my PFLs, I need to sideslip, but at 600ft they were looking good, we don’t go any lower when solo to ensure we don’t fall foul of the 500ft rule and for safety.
I flew back to Chatteris and could see the parachute plane on the ground so I joined base leg and landed normally, it was a very soft landing, which I thought felt good. I taxied back and went in where Katie was waiting for me and asked how it had gone and also comment on my landing looking good!
I gave the aeroplane a quick wash and put it away with Katie’s help before heading home from an enjoyable days flying.
Today we had a low cloud base once again and an increasing wind! Mike had return from his holiday too so I was back flying with him.
Our C42 had been serviced during the week and had the ballistic chute reinstalled too, this in turn had restored the trim to its default setting and to me it seems to make the aeroplane fly better!
As the Cloud base was low we decided to fly a few circuits and power back doing only a glide approach touching down on 06 and then going around, this seemed to be going OK so we left the circuit to the east and did some side slipping practice and then returned.
Side slipping seems to go against what we have been told in that except for side slipping we are always trying to keep the slip indicator ball in the middle, but now we want it hard over! Mike pointed out that slipping to the left (stick to the left rudder to the right) gives the pilot a much better view, which it does, and thus recommended to slip this way on approach. The other thing I was doing wrong was trying to keep the nose straight, but this was my mistake as the nose has to move off to present the side of the aircraft to the airflow, recognising and accepting this fact makes it a lot easier to side slip.
Back in the circuit the exercise now was to leave the power on so I was high, then power back and either side slip or S turns to drop height. I did both on the next approach S turning and then side slipping and we landed ok on the far half of the runway. We back tracked and repeated this again this time it worked better and we landed normally.
My hour was up; it seems to go very quickly when you are in the circuit!
While I would love the title of this week’s blog to be the reflection of a special offer at the flying club, it’s not. The title refers to the fact that I missed a week of the blog as a few people pointed out to me, so this week’s entry covers two weeks!
If however you are looking for a special offer AviationLogic are giving away some free, yes free, copies of its new app ApproBase to readers of my blog, to find out how to claim yours visit the review post here and read the comments they have posted, an offer not to be missed!
Two weeks ago we had our open weekend at Chatteris, I attended on the Sunday only, I could tell it was busy as I could not get parked down by the flying club, instead I cheekily parked in the parachute club’s car park! There were many new faces at the club and a few old ones too! A nearby gliding club, Peterborough and Spalding Gliding Club (P & SGC) attended with one of their gliders and all the Microlights were lined up outside and to top it all the sun was shining down. My wife and some friends had come over too, to watch the aeroplanes and parachutists. I also had a lesson booked which was a continuation of the previous weeks forced landings with a few circuits thrown in for good measure.
It was a most enjoyable day apart from one incident where on opening my Jerry can and petrol sprayed out all over me, luckily and in accordance with safety procedures there was no naked lights around else I would have looked like the guy on the Pink Floyd album cover “Wish you were here” check out Google if you are too young to know what I mean!
This weeks was an hour solo after a brief check flight.
The check flight was a circuit flown from the active runway 19, easily my favourite runway as it’s the widest and longest. I taxied out and flew the circuit which I know well and made what I thought was a good landing, certainly a very soft landing, then Mike congratulated me on flying a good circuit and an “Excellent” landing. I was very pleased by this and taxied back to the clubhouse to drop Mike off. I thought it would just be a case of going out and getting more experience of flying around the local area on my own, but no, today I was to fly three or four circuits on my own and then climb out to the east, level out at 2,300ft and trim for 70kts and ensure I maintain the exact height, then to do the same for 80Kts and 60Kts.
My first circuit we good, not as good as the one before, but I was happy, my second one not so great and I decided to power on and go around while I had two stages of flap on. It’s hard to keep the nose down with full power and two stages of flap and keep the speed in the white arc, but I did and around I went. This time I was determent to make it a good one else I was going to stay in the circuit until I did a good one. As I turned on to final I was little low, but no too low so I put some power on early and took it off as I rounded out and I touched down softly, flaps up, full power, off to the east I went feeling happy with my last circuit.
Next was to keep height while flying at different speeds, this not hard to do when Mike is sat next to you, but on your own you think you have it and then glance at the altimeter to find you have lost 200ft or gained it! Finally I was all trimmed for 70kts and holding 2,300ft so power on a bit keeping the nose down and watching for 80kts, this was harder to trim for but I got it after a few tries, right down to 60kts and trim, this I liked the most and stayed in that configuration as I flew into wind and towards Chatteris. I descended down to circuit height and called my base leg join, I really wanted this to be as good as my earlier circuit and all seemed to be going well, then I was low so power on a little and I continued to my touch down point, all was going well. I rounded out and took the power off but it bounced not too badly, but still a bounce and then a second slight bounce possibly due to my speed and the uneven nature of the runway, but I was down. I’m not sure why I bounced the first time I think I may have rounded out to late or more likely stopped bring the stick back. But all in all it was a good days flying which I really enjoyed.
ApproBASE Is a simple but useful app if you are new to flying or like me a student pilot about to venture away from my local field while learning navigation. It collects via a few screens you approach heading and details of the circuit you want to fly. It then generates a nice animated graphic showing you the circuit and headings, helping you to visualise the circuit removing any uncertainty.
The first page you see when ApproBASE loads is the Welcome screen which contains the disclaimer also. I understand why the disclaimer is here and why its is shown every time you run the app, however it would be nice if the “Agree” button could be hit without scrolling down!
I’m not sure I would try and use it inflight (but that’s just me!), unless I was using an iPad for navigation anyway. I would however use it to review how I intend to join a circuit I had never flown, before setting out.
This leads me to the first enhancement I would like to see, that is an option to print out the circuits for my navigation notes. Yes the wind direction may change and I might need to re plan; using the app in advance of joining, then using it in flight maybe an option I would consider.
What would make it of use for me in flight is the option of entering an airfield (or farm strip) in a directory or a favourites list by longitude and latitude and maybe the radio frequency too. When you select this airfield and enter the runway and approach direction it could display the radio frequency together with the distance and direction, allowing me to make the call that I’m X miles south (or wherever), this together with the animation on a single screen would be of great help!
The graphics are clear and the animation is simple to understand, but I’m not sure I would pay the £3.99 for ApproBASE, I would have paid 69p without thinking about or even 99p, over that I tend to want to make sure it meets a need I have and to be honest I have never thought about this or the need for an app to show me how to fly a circuit. However with the enhancements above I would buy the app at the asking price or even a little more!
I showed ApproBASE to my instructor thinking he would say it was not necessary, but instead he said it maybe a good teaching aid, he proceeded to enter an airfield we use for out landings as follows:
Runway 27 RH, overhead join from the south, unfortunately the animation shows an approach from the north! I will feed this back to AviationLOGIC and up date this review with any response.
Currently ApproBASE is only found when you search the app store for iPhone only and not iPad, it does run on the iPad, but within the iPhone compatibility display not as a native iPad app.
If you have used this app why not let me know what you think below.
Another nice day to fly, a bit bumpy and a little breezy at times, but not as bad as it has been.
After a briefing on what happens to the aeroplane when in certain scenarios and asking some questioning of me as to what is the danger of and how to recover from each of the following: climbing to steeply e.g. above 45 degrees, descending at angles greater than 45 degrees, banking at more than 60 degrees and a combination of all of the above, all demonstrated with the aid of a model aeroplane we set off to experience this first-hand.
After the “all canopies down” call Pat taxied out to runway 06 and I followed. We lined up and took off without due delay as the parachute plane was also lining up to take off, but on a different runway.
We climbed out to the NNE and to a height of 3,000ft, having left the circuit and flown away Mike took the controls to demonstrate the first of the manoeuvres, however before we started he said if at any point I start to feel unwell to let him know! How very reassuring this is to someone who doesn’t travel very well!
Mike showed each of the manoeuvres and the corresponding recoveries, the only manoeuvre that made me feel a bit odd was the recovery from a steep descent, which you can feel the G force being excreted on your face. This attitude also gives the most disconcerting of all views, 45 degrees may not sound a lot, but when you are staring at the ground and it is rushing towards you at an ever increasing speed, it is!
Next Mike put the aeroplane in to each of the attitudes and asked me to recover from them, the only one which gave me a slight problem was the steep ascent, the recovery is easy enough, nose down and full power together until the nose is level with the horizon, however a few times I let it go passed the horizon before levelling out. Other than this I think the exercise today is really about experiencing these attitudes and the recovery of them to help ensure you don’t find yourself in the situation, but if you do it arms you with what you need to know to safely recover.
To help remember what to do if the nose is above the horizon power on, if it’s below the horizon power off. Correct the attitude before rolling the wings level if one has dropped.
There was just time to fly a circuit or three before the end of the lesson so I flew us back and we joined base leg 06, which is one of the smaller runways. My first attempt had us down with a bit of a bump so power on and around I went, my next attempt was still worse I had come in to low and was on a very shallow approach and again needed to go around, this time the approach was much better and so was the landing although I did bounce twice, they were small and we were down, on the roll after landing Mike asked where the stick was and I instantly knew I had not brought it all the way back! Mike explained that is why we bounced, as he has done before but for some reason I just stop moving the stick back (see my other blog entries).
But none the less another enjoyable days flying.
Mike mentioned my next lesson is going to be 16 forced landings!
Today the flying conditions were good and this was confirmed by the fact that the numbers of available car parking spaces at the club were limited! As I parked up I saw a couple of aeroplanes I did not recognised taxiing up towards the clubhouse and I saw Simon busy refuelling after his lesson.
A number of people where stood in the hangar looking at a steam engine Pat had built, it is indeed a fine piece of engineering.
As I went around to the club house Mike was in deep conversation with someone I had not seen before, so I went into the clubhouse and it was just as busy inside. As I walked in I was offered a cup of tea, which I gratefully accepted. I stood talking with one of the people who had just arrived in a Zenair CH70 Microlight, the other aeroplane was a Skyranger Swift also a Microlight.
It was soon time for me to check out the aeroplane before my lesson, all was ok with it and Simon had kindly filled passed the 30ltr mark by 3 or 4 litres. It is something Simon and I need to get better at as I did the same after my lesson by only by around 2 ltrs.
Back in the clubhouse Mike outlined today’s lesson which was a quick circuit or 2 and then I was to fly out to the drains and practice flying on my own, keeping the aeroplane on a chosen heading and height to be decided in advance by myself, the reason it was to be chosen in advance was to ensure I practiced accurate turns and controlling the height.
We flew the circuit without Mike telling me the turning points and I landed ok unsure if I was to do a second circuit or not I asked Mike just after touchdown and thought he had said yes, so I put the power on, but he soon corrected me and I throttled back and taxied back to the club house.
It was now time for me to do my first full solo including leaving the circuit fly around and finding my own way back to the airfield. One thing that always plays on my mind, is how I can be sure if all the parachutists are down before landing as I often don’t hear the “all canopies down” call, Mike gave me some pointers i.e. if the parachute plane is sat in the middle of the runway they are not down however if its parked then they most likely are, but added if I was unsure then radio and ask.
So I was now in the aeroplane alone and was waiting for the parachutes to descend before myself and 3 other aeroplanes could taxi out and take off. The first two went and I was next as the 4th had only just started up, I taxied out to runway 24 and took off, I climbed up to 2,000ft and turned to the east and flew out to the drains. Far beneath me at circuit height and to my left were Mick and Thomas who were flying along the drains also. I flew up towards where the drains narrow at Downham Market and turned around and flew back down the other side, then as I got nearer I looked out to try and find Chatteris airfield, having spotted where it was I turned and flew the route again, but this time at 3,000ft and then a descending turn and continued descent back down to 2,000ft, I did this a few times and was tempted to take a few pictures, but thought better of this on my first solo outside of the circuit!
Time was soon up and I flew back down the drains, turned towards Chatteris and descended to 700ft, circuit height, were the parachutists up or down!? As luck would have it I saw their aeroplane climbing out so I knew it was safe, I carried out my normal checks and saw another Microlight on the taxiway. I made my joining call and Mick in the other Microlight call that he was lining up for immediate departure and was gone long before I turned on to final. I made my final call and lined up with the runway, which I then needed to correct. As I came into land I held the aeroplane above the runway trying to keep it flying as we are taught and it seemed to hang or rise slightly for a split second before a very gentle touch down, probably the second most gentle I have done, and I felt very pleased with the landing. As I continued down the runway the nose came off the ground a couple of time which I had not experienced before and I meant to ask Mike about, I assumed it was a combination of the lighter weight, full flaps being on and the wind. However on my return to the clubhouse I was asked “how was it?” and I said it was good “and the Landing?” I said it was good too, the approach could have been better lined up, but the landing I was pleased with, I asked why and Katie said it look as if I had bounced, which I hadn’t, maybe the wind caused it to balloon slightly, but if so from in the cockpit it did not seem so. I wanted to discuss this with Mike, however he was in deep conversation, we did discuss it briefly after and he said if it balloons I should go around.
I have relived the landing a number of times and to me I can still not explain what they saw from the clubhouse as for me in the cockpit it seemed a good landing! Thus I left feeling puzzled and confused.
On another and lighter note a friend who reads this blog sent me some stuff and it was taped to the card pictured below which summarises my learning to fly through his eyes!
Plane goes here, relating to not getting it in the middle of the runway; Compass with the wrong points, to me having miss read it; windsock to all the gusty wind; the parachutist, my concern over knowing where they are; Left and right the wrong way around, I haven’t worked out, maybe he is confused! and lastly tea and cake he believes is the real reason I go flying!
I think it’s a fair summary of all the issues i have faced!
I try to give the real feeling I have and not the “haven’t I done well” approach some blogs take.
Another fun day to fly with variable and gusty wind and some light rain too!
Today was too windy to go solo and we were back on my least favourite runway used so far 21 (see previously posted the curse of the trees here ). Today’s lesson was mainly about leaving and rejoining the circuit, after taking off on 21 we climbed to 1,300ft, about 200ft below the cloud base and then turned towards Ely which we could see in the distance. I flew out to the drains and then turned through 180 degrees and came back towards Chatteris airfield, I knew it was ahead of me, but I could not see it at first. As we approached it Mike asked how I planned to rejoin the circuit for 21, my plan was to fly to the left and then come around and join on downwind, Mike had a better idea carry straight on and join on base leg, so long as I was down to circuit height before joining. I throttled back to 3,000 rpm and descended to 700ft, there was a lot of turbulence probably the most I have experienced in the microlight to date, I made the radio call to say we were joining base leg and proceeded to land. My approach was a little low so I added more power and came in well clear of the trees, in fact to high and a I rounded out to high also, so power on and around we went. We just flew the circuit this time and my landing was better, but not good so around we went again and this time it was acceptable. After climbing back up to 1,300ft we headed towards Ely once more and then back to the airfield, the weather was getting worse now with stronger gusts! I spotted the airfield a little sooner this time and flew us back for a touch and go, the approach was quite good this time as was the round out, but then the aeroplane suddenly went up, thinking I must have ballooned I put the power on and went around, puzzled I asked Mike what I had done wrong, but for once it was not me, but a gust of wind that blew at an inopportune moment. We went back out towards Ely once again and as soon as I had turned back towards the airfield I spotted it, I think I must be getting used to seeing it, I flew us back for the last time and made probably my best landing of the day in what has to be the most challenging conditions I have flown in to date.
Shortly after I had refuelled the aeroplane Simon arrived for his lesson, sporting his newly acquired headset, a nice pair of DC 10-13XL’s, he is just starting on circuits and made a couple of 50ft passes over the longer wider runway 19, however the weather continued to deteriorate and his lesson was cut short. Simon also has a share in the C42 so needed to refuel it after his lesson, he got his new Jerry can out and this is when we found out not all jerry cans are made equal, unfortunately his has a breather tube that restricts the opening to the point where we could not get the pipe from the pump in. Thus it’s worth checking this before buying a can, they should also have a UN number stamped on them. My Wavian Jerry can seems a good choice and Simon is now going to get the same.
Time for some tea and cake back in the club house!
I took a day off work today to have a double lesson of circuits, I took the day off as the parachute club doesn’t normally operate on a Monday, thus allowing me to get more circuits in, so making best use of my time and money. The first hour went OK, some good landings, some not so good, but I was gradually improving over the duration of the lesson. The hour was soon up and we returned to the clubhouse for lunch; Katie took a new guy up for a trail lesson and I took some pictures of Hazel doing circuits in her Thruster.
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Lunch was soon over and Katie was back from giving the trial lesson and it was time for Mike and I to continue my lesson. After a couple of circuits on the climb out Mike shut the throttle and I immediately got the nose down and selected a nice black field to land in. I was pleased I reacted to the simulated engine failure, but Mike did point out my selection of landing site was not the best and to always aim for a field with a crop in where possible as a newly ploughed fields will stop the aeroplane quick and possible flip it over. Full power on and turning climb back up to circuit height. The landing was quite good for me, especially as it was yet another windy day! On the next circuit we had another simulated engine failure just as I turned on to downwind leg. Again I got the noes down and turned into wind and this time selected a green field! We climbed back up to circuit height and again my landing was not bad for me! On the next circuit Mike had another test for me, this time just before we turned on to base leg Mike said “right there’s an aeroplane on the runway about to take off, what should we do?” I said and apparently it was correct that we should extent the downwind leg to give them time to take off and that’s what we did. On turning on to final I kept the power on until we were nearer the runway and flew yet another OK approach and landing, apparently Mike wanted to check I would keep the power on as needed and I had passed this test too.
We taxied back to the club house and I felt quite pleased with my efforts, but the day was not over! Once back Mike asked if I wanted to do my maiden solo flight and I nervously agreed, well I think it was nerves, in hindsight I think it was a mix of many emotions ranging from excitement to trepidation as I filled with both self-confidence and self-doubt. Mike gave me a chat to re assure me and reminded me to go around if needed. Mike left the aeroplane and I commenced the start-up checks, I radioed my intent to taxi to runway 19 and commenced taxiing, I back tracked 19 and lined up for take-off and it somehow felt normal and all my nerves had gone. Another radio call stating taking off on 19 and away I went. 500ft fuel pump off (no flaps were needed for the take-off), the climb out was a lot quicker, as Mike said it would be and I found myself going straight through the 700ft circuit height, so I reduced the power and descended back to circuit height and turned onto crosswind, all seemed to be going to plan now. I saw my turning point and turned onto downwind, I carried out my checks, switched the fuel pump on and made my downwind call. I turned onto base leg at circuit height and checked the runway and approach were both clear, as I came up to my turning point onto final I took the power off and put a stage of flap on and turned on to final, I then added a second stage of flap and saw I was going to be short, so I put some power on and continued. I won’t lie my landing was not the best of the day, but it was OK and I was down without breaking the aeroplane or killing myself! Like a mad man I had been talking to myself all the way around just as I do when Mike is actually sitting beside me, I guess its force of habit!
Back in the clubhouse I was surprised that it had taken 15 minutes, it seemed no longer then 2 or 3 to me. Everyone congratulated me and Pete added that I had done well especially given the wind conditions. I felt totally shattered and immensely satisfied of my achievement and indebted to Mike for his tuition and support from Katie and the other club members.
So a major milestone achieved, but I still have a long way to go.