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!

GST Revision Exercise 17C Part 1

Is it really October? The sun is shining the wind is almost non-existent, the clouds are high and scattered, all in all a perfect day to fly. It’s been three weeks since I have been at the controls of our C42 Microlight and I thought I may have forgotten a few things, but as it turns out it like riding a bike! Well the fundamentals that is, it would seem I have forgotten how to execute the various exercises to the standard required and to be honest I could not even remember having executed some of the manoeuvres, stalls in a glide descent for example!

So today’s lesson was take off and leave the circuit to the east climb to 6,000ft (the highest I have been) and then execute a stall with powered recovery, execute a stall within a turn and recover, execute a stall in a glide descent and recover without power,  medium level turns and steep turns.

So we taxied out to runway 19 back tracking it, as we approached the take-off point Julie call down wind and as we could see she was nearly on base leg we turned off 19 to allow her to land. She landed and back tracked to a taxiway, by this time the parachute plane was ready and holding short so we lined up and took-off, I was a little late in switching the fuel pump off and taking the flaps up but other than this all was good with the take-off. Turning to the east I called that I was leaving the circuit and climbed to 6,000ft; the view is amazing and reminds me why I love flying, we could see for miles, RAF Marham, King’s Lynn and beyond it the Wash and many other places too.

First I did a HASELL check Height, Airframe (check the flaps etc), Security (harness and hatches), Engine (Ts & Ps), location & Lookout (turning one way and then the other), next the stall, as some may have read I could make it stall very well previously and Mike pointed out my mistake. Instead of trying to maintain altitude by keeping the stick moving back I was trying to keep the nose level! As normal by following Mike’s instructions I soon had it stalling every time, as for the recovery this was not too bad it should be nose down (but not too much) and power on to recover to a climb, my problem was lowering the nose too much and too quickly almost putting it in to a dive, however it did recover it!

It’s basically the same technique for each of the stalls, just without power in the glide descent.

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Turning, well that should not be too bad I have done a few of these, or so I thought! Well my turns were too shallow and as I steepened them up to 30-45° for a medium turn and 45-60° for a steep turn, I found one way I lost height and the other I gained height, in fact I remember blogging about this, but still I had issue until Mike pointed out that I was using the nose on the horizon and not a point on the windscreen in front of me!

Time fly’s, if you excuse the pun, while flying so it was time to fly back and as I approached I saw the parachute plane just taking off and with no other traffic in the circuit I was straight down, I think I rounded out a little high, but the landing was ok.

And so ended another lesson, next week, weather permitting, it’s an hours solo to consolidate the stalling and turning.