No Flaps!

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!

G-NT Landing
Flex Wing Microlight
G-NT Landing

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Triple First

Today Sunday the 11 Jan 2015 was triple first for me as it was my first flight in 2015, my first flight in a microlight over my home and my first flight using Skydemon to navigate!

On arriving at the club I met Alan who was just leaving and had not been able to fly, thus I thought this would be the fourth consecutive week the weather would stop me from flying too!

After the normal greetings etc. Mike ask what would I Like to do, normally I reply whatever you think I should be doing to work towards my GST, however today I had some new toys with me, over Christmas I had got a Garmin Glo satellite receiver  and a Skydemon subscription, I had a little play with these at home, but not flown with them, so I asked Mike if we could fly using them and plot a route over my house and back, he agreed.

So the first task was to install the partly homemade iPad Mini 2 bracket. I’m using a homemade one as we have a Garmin satnav bracket in the aeroplane and I therefore needed to adapt a Garmin arm to take an iPad mini. This was made from a sheet of 3mm Perspex I had ordered and then cut to size and bent to shape using a heat gun, this was a lot easier then it may sound! An existing Garmin mount arm and ball and socket purchased online for around £5.00 the lot, some nuts, bolts and a circle of aluminium provided and assembled by a friend. The end result can be seen below.

The GPS mount was a universal phone suction mount that my son no longer uses, purchased online for around £3.00.

This post is not meant to be a review of Skydemon or the Garmin Glo, which I plan to do later, once I have got to know them better, however I will give my first impression of them both.

Skydemon

First Mike showed me how to remove the inadvertent waypoints I had added which was simply a case of dragging them to the next point, or the origin, or destination.

Which craft!

He next showed me pulling the compass up and out to reveal the HSI display, but the collapsed view is preferred.

 

Now with it all installed it was time to go flying, it was windy again so no flaps for take-off! We departed on runway 24 and flew the circuit leaving on the downwind leg to converge on the course shown on Skydemon, the first thing I noticed and liked is you can roll out on the heading as there is not over or undershoot, the display shows you the direction you are traveling and the direction you need and when you are within a few degrees it turns green. It actually made it very easy to fly accurately, I just can’t see myself flying without it once I have my license the way it calculates the direction means you don’t need to allow for drift as it does this for you too!

We flew out to just south of King’s Lynn, then turned east over Bawsey Lakes and on to the village where i Live Gayton.

The Garmin Glo had a rock solid fix throughout so there is not much to say re this it just does what it says it does!

Flying back, Mike did his normal of, ok take me back, but this time I could use Skydemon and I flew us back without issue and I use the extended centre line shown on the Skydemon map to line up on the runway very early. As I was about to touch down a gust of wind cause us to balloon, but I held it on the stick and made a very soft touch down, Mike complimented me on the land too!

This is what flying should be like, well for me any way!!!

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Kings Lynn

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Bawsey

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Gayton Norfolk

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Gayton Hall

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Gayton Cricket ground

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Gayton, Norfolk

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Gayton, Norfolk

Back on the ground and with the aeroplane refuelled I was about to go home when Stuart ask if I would like to go for a fly with him, I did not turn him down! We stayed local as he flew a few circuits and then around the drains and back for some more circuits. It was very interesting to see how someone else flies, the main difference being he comes in much higher than I on the landings. I think I may have picked up a few tips from watching him fly.

Flooded drains
Welney Marshes

 

Solo Practice

The sun was shining and the overnight rain had stopped, the ground was soft and by the time I arrived at the flying club the car which I had cleaned less than 24 hours before was now covered in mud!

I arrived a few minutes late today, mainly due to a large number of caravans on the road. In the clubhouse Mike had made us all a cup of tea and there was some cake of a new variety left over from Saturday, I’m not sure what it was called, I think Katie said it was a Lumberjack cake, it was good whatever it was, but my favourite cake at the club remains the upside down cake that Alan’s wife makes.

In the hanger Dave was fitting a brand new landing light a 15W (3x5W) LED light to his C42, although I did not see him coming in to land those who did said they could see his light a long way out, long before they saw the C42!

As I dunk my tea Mike and I discussed today’s lesson which was to flight out solo over to the drains and practice steep turns, stalls, and engine failures.

Checks complete, I taxied out to runway 24 and took off turned to the east and climbing to 2,500ft once over the drains I started with the stalls and found following the refresher a couple of weeks or so earlier I was able to make the aeroplane stall each and every time; my recoveries seemed a little aggressive, in that I tent to put the stick forward to quickly and too far, but on each attempt my height loss was less than 100ft with my best attempt being around 70ft. Next I tried steep turns and these seemed ok, I even hit my own wake turbulence a couple of times! So on to the practice engine failures, I pre-selected a field each time to ensure I was away from houses etc and using the constant aspect ratio method I would have made it into each and every field, which is a great improvement, the only issue I have with this method is I find it gives me a very short final approach and I’m too low to convert to a normal final.

Katie and Julie about to go up
Manea from 2,500ft

Time goes to fast while I’m flying and it was time to return to the airfield, I joined on downwind 24 and making the call, I also asked for confirmation that all canopies were down and got the reply that they were. By now I could also see the parachute plane backtracking runway 19. He lined up ready for take-off as I turned onto base leg and duly took-off. For some reason I flew straight passed the centreline for 24 and was heading for 19, I guess subconsciously my mind was following the parachute plane, I made a couple of turns and quickly got back on track for 24, the landing was light, but the plane seemed to float a long way down the runway before touching down due to the lack of a headwind. When I was having problems with circuits I think this was a worry for me and maybe why I failed to keep it flying and made it touch down! This time as I floated along I recalled one of Mike’s maxims and I paraphrase “If you have not touched down then you are still flying, so simply put the power on and go around if you run out of runway”  this was nearly always followed up with “no one has ever crashed into the sky!”.

Our C42 is out of action now for the next 3 weeks as every 5 years the ballistic parachute has to be removed and sent a way to have a new rocket motor and the parachute repacked.

Next Saturday most if not all of the syndicate are planning to get together and clean her as well as doing any little jobs that are needed, I’m looking forward to us all meeting up for the first time!

Web site hits new high

The blog hit a new high on Friday 24th Jan with 75 visitors in one day, I know it’s no Google or BBC but I was very pleased nonetheless.

Top search terms were “learn to fly” followed by “Microlight VFR” and then “e-Go”. The user stats have been bouncing around, as can be seen from the graph with a previous high of 66 (not on the graph) when a blog contained the words “engine failure” in the title, just goes to show how people like to read about drama.

A couple of people have messaged me to ask why I have not posted an update on my progress (or the lack of it!) for a while well it is quite simply down to the weather, if I don’t fly I tend not to blog. I did go to the fly club this weekend and the two instructors Mike and Katie were there, but no one else. The parking area for the aeroplanes looked like a small lake maybe we should fit floats to the C42s, now there’s an idea!!!

c42-floats

I went over as I was due to fly so I had nothing else planned and during the week I had bought myself a David Clark H20-10X headset from a well known online auction house. They were advertised as being in good condition and working, however when I got them they had two issues, the mic boom would not stay in place and the LED light that flashes to say the battery pack is supplying power was not flashing. I emailed the seller who assured me they were working when he last used them and that he had sold them with good intent, going by his tone I believed him and decided to keep them and ask my instructor to take a look at them, before sending them back to the sell if they still didn’t work.

Not everyone seems to know this, but if you use “buy it now” as opposed to bidding, even on a second hand item you are covered by the distant trading laws, no matter what the seller may say or put in their listing, they cannot be more restrictive than the rights you have in law. I’m not sure what the case is if you are buy from an overseas seller, but that was not the case for me anyway.

After having a little play with them I found the LED would come on if I put pressure on the connection to the battery pack and the mic stayed in place if I push the plastic sleeve back into the hole where it exits the head set.

Mike is very thorough in everything he does or so he seems; I guess that’s a good trait for a flying instructor, he tested them out tighten the battery connection and found one of the cable strain reliefs needed replacing so fitted a new heat shrink to it. I now have a working headset which I can’t wait to try out in the air, hopefully next week UK weather permitting

I’m thinking maybe I should write some reviews and then just maybe I would get some free samples!!!