Archive for the Actual Lessons Category

For whom the phone rings: Flapless Landings (Lesson 26: Solo #3)

Monday, July 30th, 2012 | Permalink



The weather had been horrid in July and finally when the sun did come out, I didn’t have any bookings on the plane.   This resulted in the longest gap between flights in my training – good weather AND a plane never lined up.

In an effort to meet those who had been lucky enough to get flying in the one week of glorious sunshine we’d had, hear stories of how good it was and encourage them to cancel at the weekend 🙂   I went to the monthly aero club get together at a local pub, really good evening as always and it got my name around the flight instructors that I was desperate to go flying!

They say you make your own luck, maybe that’s true because at 8:20am the following Saturday morning the phone rang – the aero club had a very last minute cancellation for the 9am slot, they knew I wanted to fly and was within easy reach of the airport with such short notice.

The weather was good and I finally had a plane!   🙂


I hadn’t flown in the best part of a month, so my currency was in question.  The briefing was pretty short and sweet though:   Go up, we’ll do some flapless landings with an intent to do duel/solo – but we’ll see how we go, if I was ok flying, I’d go do some solo.   If we got up there and it was all a bit too rusty, we’d leave the solo for another day.

Fingers crossed then…..

Circuit 1
Take off and Climb were all good, but forgot to back the power off to 2000 RPM in crosswind, as a result the airspeed was on a run for 100kts before my instructor reminded me to watch it.  Following another plane doing epically wide circuits (and over a village it shouldn’t have been flying over), the approach was done from far out and was high, I found myself adding a little power when none was needed, but we got down, the landing was ok and for once, not flat!   Yay!

Circuit 2
Was all round more awake on the airspeed, my instructor reminded me I was converging on circuit and to set a reference to fly on.  I remembered my downwind call, ATC came back to inform me we were number 2 following the Extra 200 …..unlikely to catch that, but because it’s small fast and maneuverable it can be a trick to spot, my instructor had it a clear 10 seconds before I did.

Approach was ok, but I must have missed a radio call as I radioed final, only to be told by my instructor I’d been cleared to land already, Air Traffic repeated the clearance….not a big problem, but obviously you don’t want to miss calls etc.

Landing was a bit hard, could have held off a touch longer.  Up we went again.

Circuit 3
Downwind was a mess, first I flew it at 870-950ft, on a 1000ft circuit 🙁   Then my instructor asked ‘Where are we?’  and this just threw me……Cambridge, England, The World……?    What do you mean where are we?

“What phase in the circuit?”

Ohhh downwind, aaargh, downwind call.

The rest was all pretty good, until 50ft off the runway when rather than sink, it floated up, a slight moment to grimace then on with full power……going around.

My instructor said I could have landed it, but ballooning has been drilled into me as a no no!   So I decided on the spot to be safe.  There are no points for dropping a plane on tarmac from 50ft.

Circuit 4
Under orders on the climb that the altimeter would not read 850ft this time, I was told to make it a ‘to land’.

It takes 10min a circuit, so I knew either enough was enough, or maybe we’d be landing so she could get out (leaving me to fly solo 🙂 ).

Downwind was at 1000ft, radio calls all remembered and the approach was fine – it’s amazing how hope of flying solo focuses you!

The landing was average, being flapless it was a faster approach, so took a while to stop and I was reminded not to use the brakes until we were at taxi speed.

Exiting at delta, I did the after landing checks and my instructor said to drop her off near the tower, I could go solo for ‘a while’.

After the mis-understanding of what boxes I was aiming to tick last time, I wanted to be clear on what I could and shouldn’t do……but it seemed to boil down to:

Go do a few solo circuits, as many as you like, I’ll radio if the time gets silly.

The fuel gauges said I had 3hrs plus reserve of play time 🙂   The instructors last words being ‘Go have some fun’.

Solo flight #3  –  Flapless Landings

C-130 Engine Check

C-130 Engine Check

With a call to the tower for ‘further taxi’, I was cleared to taxi back to Alpha……Then told there was a C-130 doing engine power checks down there and to watch out for it.    The traffic you get here makes it interesting.

Power checks done I lined up and waited for Charlie Bravo to land, as it did I was cleared to line up. They were touch and going, so I wasn’t even on the runway when my lineup clearance was upgraded to a takeoff clearance……..I still find it a bit weird to watch other pilots who I now know, land planes in front of me, and take off behind them.   It’s very cool, but just strange.

Full Power and we were off, knowing my instructor was in the tower I tried to make the climb as straight as possible, how good it looked from the ground is hard to judge, seemed good to me.

Keeping one eye on Charlie Bravo ahead, I climbed up to circuit height.  It was all good until I glanced right and realised I’d not set the transponder!  Opps, hopefully they wouldn’t notice the updated blip on the radar as I switched it on :-\

Radio calls done, downwind was really nice, to be sure I had plenty of time I extended a little, watching Charlie Bravo on final.   Coming in behind them, ATC told me to expect a late clearance, it was all good, a nice 70kts on the airspeed, everything feeling calm and with time to think.   It’s that sense of time to spare that tells you it’s going well.   Got clearance to land and with a slight bump I was down 🙂

Solo circuit #2
More of the same, all flown pretty nicely, there was some traffic about to join the circuit so I was conscious of them.

Overshot the turn onto final, leaving me right of the runway but nothing that couldn’t be easily fixed.

The landing was perfect, like a feather touching down.  When you get it this right, it’s always a nice rush of adrenalin.

Solo Circuit #3
No time to stop and pat myself on the back, just enough time to squeeze another lap in yet!    Really enjoying myself on these circuits, I was thankful for every second of flight time.

I’m pleased with how consistent my flying was on these solo circuits.

The approach was good, but it just didn’t quite want to come down that last 80ft, so the landing was a bit labored and chomped a fifth of the runway before touch down.  Perfectly fine, it’s a massive runway and I wanted to get down as I had traffic behind me.

There was no way I was getting this stopped by the exit point Charlie, so I was preparing to exit at Delta, when ATC said

‘….Whiskey Kilo, backtrack, exit at Charlie’

This means, turn around on the runway and taxi back up it in the opposite direction to its normal use.

I knew there was traffic on final, so I wanted to get this done sharpish, facing oncoming planes that have intention to land is not fun!

Soon sorted and on the way to parking.

In the plane the parking looked ok, it was when I got out I realised it was slightly shocking, the front wheel was 10cm right of the wheel platform!  This made tieing the plane down ‘fun’ and just about possible.

I was asked how it was, and said I thought it went well, I was really happy with one landing and no worries with the others.

My instructor said it had all looked fine from the tower.

Excellent stuff, 3 solo flapless landings ticked off.

A very good way to spend the morning, in finally improved weather 🙂

Credit for the C-130 Picture

Lesson 25: Crosswind becomes 2nd Solo

Thursday, July 5th, 2012 | Permalink

The Extra 200 flat tyre strikes again, unfortunate for whoever had it booked, but once more very lucky for me!   As again it meant an instructor was free with not much to do but call around the clubs ‘stand-by’ list.


Having done my first solo only the day before it was surprising to be flying again so soon, but you can’t beat the feeling of showing up to the club hoping to go play with airplanes 🙂

Although the sky was blue with a few scattered clouds at 2,500ft the wind was at 10kts, varying between 5kts and 17kts.  Unlikely to be going solo, but I needed time doing crosswind landings, so we’d go for it and see how we got on.

Checkout & Taxi

G-HERC (Golf Hotel Echo Romeo Charlie)

G-HERC (Golf Hotel Echo Romeo Charlie)

We took G-HERC, now located back on the grass so I wouldn’t have to worry if I was pouring AVGAS in the wrong place on inspection.   Not essential, but it now had a broken landing light (hopefully that wasn’t me, but technically nobody had flown it since my solo, so maybe a connector didn’t like my landing).

To date, I’ve always done the external checks jumped in the plane, done the internal checks and then waited for an instructor to show up.   Upon arrival this time my instructor said that from now on, I could start the engine on my own – “After your first solo……If we trust you to fly it on your own, we should trust you to start it.”    A reminder to just double check with the instructor on the day that they’re ok with that, but that this was the general policy – and it did mean the instructor could then stay in the office until they heard the engine fire up 🙂

Even the small tick boxes count.

Circuit #1 – Crosswind Demo

I flew the circuit down to 300ft, then my instructor took over to demonstrate a landing with a proper crosswind.   His last 100ft felt vastly more controlled then when I do it, but I suspect he wanted the landing back as perhaps it could have been a better example 😉     He’s been in enough of my ‘landings’ to know I’m in no position to judge though!

All the same we were down, after a bit of running commentary control was passed over, flaps went up and we were soon back in the air climbing to 600ft for the turn onto downwind.

Circuit #2

This was a bizarre one, Air Traffic Control told us there was a Citation jet, from memory on the ILS (could be wrong), a few miles out.   Both me and my instructor were looking for it, before I asked “do you see it, because I don’t….”.   My instructor said he couldn’t see it.    Air Traffic then radioed to ask if we had visual with the Citation – I radioed back “Negative, we don’t have a visual G-RC.”

This lack of visual was then relayed to the Citation (though they probably heard us as everyone was on the Tower Frequency) and Air Traffic told us to not descend below 1000ft.

We turned on to base, still holding 1000ft – very careful to hold the altitude in the turn.  It might have been miles away, the tower might have radar and be aware we didn’t have visual etc.   but I really didn’t want the accident report to read “Student lost altitude in turn, descending below instructed altitude, before being hit by a Citation….”

Apparently my instructor had never flown over the runway at 1000ft either and this was a bit of a first for him too.   It sort of feels wrong to see a runway you had intended to land on pass 1000ft directly under you, I did ask if I should move over to the dead side, but effectively there was no need because we were flying at circuit height.

Half way ‘down the runway’ (still at 1000ft) my instructor asked ATC if we could be cleared to make an early turn onto downwind.   It was declined,  G-SHWK (another club Cessna) was already on the downwind leg.

Circuit #3

We entered the downwind leg maybe 800ft behind G-SHWK, so it came as no surprise when ATC said we were number two in the circuit.

I just made sure to follow them round, they seemed to be going out further on the downwind leg then I typically did, but we just followed them round the circuit and let them set the turn points.

The approach was nice an consistently good, my instructor observed that the crosswind that we’d come up to find in the first place, was now totally gone.   Shame, but then he said if it stayed like this on the next circuit I might get to have another go on my own 🙂

Landing was ok, I can’t seem to get away from touching down flatter then I’d like.

Circuit #4Touch and go…..To Land.

I remember semi-audibly going through the motions of the pre-landing checks, in a sort of “doing it on my own, but you should know I’ve remembered them” way.  Anyone would think I was trying every trick in the book to be deemed worthy of another solo.  🙂

On final I announced “final, for touch and go”

And that’s what we were cleared for.

However, the landing was clearly ok because as I started reaching for the flaps, my instructor radioed to the tower

  “This is to land……instructor is getting out.”

As the crosswind was now all but gone, I’d get another solo after all.   🙂

Parked up near the tower, the instructor got out and this is where I might have mis-understood what he wanted me to do next.   I understood it as go around the circuit a couple of times, which I took to mean 1 touch and go, one full stop landing.

Solo Flight #2

Got clearance to taxi to holding point Alpha all nice and easy, but upon arrival there as I turned into what little wind there was, I heard “Student…..Kilo Papa…..Request Taxi.”   Oh great, I was about to have another student on his own behind me!   One of us was bound to screw something up.

Seeing him start his taxi I cracked on with my checks and then set off for the holding point.

Radioing ready for departure, I got told to hold position.

I could see Kilo Papa to my right, taking ages to get through his checks, I was sure any second he should be lining up behind me, but nothing, just sat there.   Finally I heard a radio call:   “Kilo Papa requests to return to starting position….”     Not surprisingly the tower cleared him to do so, and then asked if he had a problem & if he needed assistance.   His next radio call really made me feel for him:   “…..forgot to make phone call for Prior Permission at……”.     I could just imagine the thought process in that plane, the moment of realisation that he needed to call his destination airport, hadn’t and now what should you do? – obviously what he did was the correct thing, but I now realised why it had taken him so long to build up to making that radio call.   Still it happens, not the end of the world.

Back to my task in hand……..I was holding for Whiskey Kilo, I think I know who was flying it, but suffice to say their landing, although touching down waaaay down the runway, made my landings look average.   So thanks for that!  😉

Once they were clear, I got my clearance to take-off.

First Solo Go Around

The take-off was pretty good and the same sense of calm hit me as I got up through 200ft.   It’s surprisingly peaceful on your own in an airplane, or at least that’s what I’m finding.

The circuit was fine, but 50ft off the ground or so the plane went nose up and started to climb – maybe I could have recovered this, but “do not let it balloon” has been drilled into me, that I had about 10 milliseconds of thought “Can I recover this?”, followed by a moment of “Bugger…..”    before pushing on full power and aborting the landing.

Still, get a bit longer in the plane on my own…..

Traffic in the Circuit

Getting back on to downwind, another jet decided it wanted to come in on the ILS, a french pilot.

On my third ever circuit of the airport on my own, ATC instructed me to do a right hand orbit.

No problems, if I do something well, it’s orbits 🙂

I made a metal node of the heading I wanted when the orbit was complete, just to be sure I didn’t lose the runway (it’s massive, but you’d be amazed).   Then went into a 30 degree banked right turn, 1000ft all the way around – I could fly in circles all day 😉

Getting out of the orbit was going to be more interesting, just as I was coming up to complete it, ATC radioed a long set of instructions to the french jet.   Now I really wanted to get on the radio to let ATC know I was completing my circuit and what did they want me to do?   Only to hear the french pilot say “…..can you repeat that?”

Arrrgh!   I need to get my message in, the heading dial was quickly approaching the point where I’d have to either level out – or decide to keep turning and do a second orbit.   I was only cleared for one orbit, but a decision needed to happen pretty soon and flying down the base leg with a fast jet I didn’t have visual with didn’t seem smart.

Thankfully the french pilot stopped for just enough time for me to jump in and tell ATC my orbit was complete and request if I was ok to continue onto base………before the french pilot went back into hogging the airwaves mode.   I was half expecting a call for the football results.

ATC cleared me to start the base leg, I’d radioed for touch and go all the way through this circuit and that’s what I asked for on Final……..and was cleared to do.

So I touched down, brought the flaps up, put the power back on and within a few hundred meters, it was back in the air.

To Land

A fairly pain free circuit, short of the excitement of doing this on your own actually quite a routine run around the airport.

Not my best landing, but not my worst.

I got through the after landing checks and as I was going near the tower  my instructor came out so I stopped for him.

“That wasn’t quite what we talked about was it?”

Didn’t really know what he meant, but figured he must have meant that we’d agreed two circuits and if you count the go-around, technically I’d done three.   I said I’d assumed I was to do two circuits, so the go-around didn’t count.

What he actually meant was, that I was meant to have done 2 full stop landings.    Land it, stop, ask for further taxi and do it again………nobody had said the goal was to get 3 solo full stop landings on the books!    Now I’d technically done 2 full stop landings and jumped straight onto solo touch and goes.

Hmmmmm, ooops!?!    I’m blaming ambiguous requirements 🙂

Still……..2 days, 2 solo flights……4 solo circuits, 1 solo touch and go, 1 solo orbit, 2 full stop landings.

A properly good 48 hours of flying.



Lesson 24 : First Solo!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 | Permalink

The Extra 200 that did not want to start its engine!I had all sorts of time booked at the aero club, the Saturday I was supposed to be in the Cessna, but that got cancelled due to high wind.   The very next day I had the Extra 200 booked for some fun flying (you can spin the Extra and I wanted to do some ‘sensible’ spins as well as get into some inverted spins for fun…….if you’ve not flown an Extra, it really is out of this world fun).

Somewhere around 10am on the day of the Extra lesson the phone rang 🙁   This is almost always bad thing……

Sure enough my Extra 200 lesson was getting called off, not for bad weather, the weather was fine – it had a puncture!   Of all the things, I’ve had a lesson where it wouldn’t start, now it had a puncture.    Every cloud has a silver lining and this one was the fact that now there was an instructor free to go ‘sensible’ flying with.

The weather was scheduled to just keep getting better, so I snapped up the offer.

Arrival at the Aero Club

One of the other club members was getting set up to do his final ground exam, my instructor was trying to get him setup while also sorting me out with keys to the plane.

A quick question amongst the rushing back and forth:

Have you got your Medical with you?


“Do you know why I’m asking?”

“Oh Yes.”

While the instructor finished off sorting out getting the exam started, I took the keys to G-HERC and went to check it out.

All good except it wasn’t parked up on the grass…….ahhh there it is behind two other planes in the refueling area.   You’ve got to assume it’s about when you’re holding the keys 🙂

Internal Checks & Taxi

G-HERC (Golf Hotel Echo Romeo Charlie)

G-HERC (Golf Hotel Echo Romeo Charlie)

I haven’t flown G-HERC for weeks, if not months, it felt a bit weird getting back into it.   I’ve said it before, it’s one of 4 Cessna 172’s, but they’re all a bit different.   G-HERC has a slightly different Heading Indicator, no auto-pilot and a few other switches and dials that aren’t quite in the same places.

Just to mix it up or keep me on my toes, the artificial horizon was bust and was reading total nonsense for pitch.   In the instructors words:   “Good thing we don’t fly on instruments…”    Hmmm, I actually quite like to at least reassure myself the world outside is correct 🙂

On top of the ‘new’ plane, it was a ‘new’ instructor (or at least I haven’t flown with him in weeks) and a ‘new’ circuit (back to left hand circuits after weeks of right hand).   My instructor asked to see my medical certificate and was happy it was in order, now all we had to do was a few good landings…

Circuit #1

Take off was good, overshot the pattern height a bit, going to around 1150ft.   My normal first circuit is traditionally a bit rough and this was no exception.

The approach was as high as you like, just properly far to high and even with all the flap on and all the power off it wasn’t happening.

“Golf Romeo Charlie……..Going Around.”


Circuit #2

A fairly decent circuit, but due to traffic we were asked to extend downwind.   I’m sure I could have done the approach a bit better, but it wasn’t bad.

~70ft from touch down as the hold off began, the plane got lift and started going up.

Not wanting to balloon it……..Full power On.

“Golf Romeo Charlie……..Going Around.”


Circuit #3

My instructor assured me there wasn’t much wrong with the second circuit and I could have landed it, but it was good to see good decision making etc.    Yeah ok, but we didn’t land it, so it’s nice but there’s no points for go-arounds.

Strangely this is where I calmed down, two approaches messed up I was pretty sure that one more and it was all over for another lesson.

The circuit was a perfect 1000ft all the way around, the approach was as good as any I’ve seen or done and the landing while ok a bit flat, was like a feather touching down.  You’d have hardly have noticed the transition from air to ground – I’ve never been in a landing smoother than this one.

Flaps up, lets see if we can repeat that.

Circuit #4

Another pretty spot on circuit, finished off with a good enough landing – not quite circuit #3, but plenty good enough to keep the instructor happy.

Circuit #5 – ‘To Land’

On the downwind leg, my instructor said:

“You seem to like pressure, so how about this:   Make a good job of this landing and you can take it solo.”

Feel the pressure!

The landing was a touch flat and a touch bumpier then I’d hoped for, but my instructor was happy enough with it:   “There’s nothing unsafe about it.”

“Ok, Park up next to that jet and let me out….”

With the engine idling my instructor unplugged his headset and got out, reminding me that his chart was in the side pocket (if we needed that, we’ve done something properly wrong, but it is a legal requirement).    Followed by instructions that the plane was now:

Student Golf Hotel Echo Romeo Charlie

First Solo

At a recent aero club meeting someone I wish I could remember the name of said “Your first solo will always be engraved in your mind…”

Requesting ‘further taxi’ it was clear my radio calls would also go a bit off, the tower called back with the current QFE (pressure for setting an altimeter to read height) and the first time I might have ‘ignored’ them, not thinking they wanted it called back.   We got there though and I was cleared to taxi to Holding Point Alpha.

Power checks into wind all done, taxi light off, landing light & strobes on and final checks, double checked.

“Student Golf Romeo Charlie, ready for departure…..”

Words will never quite capture the excitement at this point, even with an instructor in the right hand seat there’s few feelings like the one you get from lining up on a runway.

………Clear for Take Off……

Trying to keep remembering to prefix ‘Student’ in front of all my radio calls, I radioed back “….clear for departure”, which is wrong, it should be “take off”.   ATC got the idea though and in a mix of adrenaline and nerves it’s easily done.

I lined it up on runway 23 and with no hesitation other then a brief pause for breath to try and capture the picture in my mind, on with full power and we were off, charging down the runway, 40kts, 50kts, 55kts…..Rotate.

The Cessna got airborne at around 60/65kts, at 200ft I remember saying to myself:  “Ok, 200ft, from now:  land it or crash….”

I’m not sure if that was reiterating reality or just something to keep everything calm, but generally on the climb up to 600ft for the first turn I was feeling amazingly relaxed and calm – more than anything I wanted to fly this circuit at 1000ft.

Turning on to the downwind leg, with a  few moments to enjoy the view, the altimeter read a perfect 1000ft the wind was being nice and I was trying to ensure I didn’t converge in the circuit so I had time to get everything sorted when I turned on to base.

Pre-Landing checks done and everything in the green, a quick radio call to tell ATC they still had a student downwind 🙂

Looking for a white house I’d been using as a reference to ensure I didn’t turn too early, I gave myself maybe an extra 100m just to ensure base and final had plenty of time.

It was strangely calm, peaceful and just an amazing feeling.  Turning onto base the enjoyment had to take a backseat because now the focus had to turn to getting the speed down into the white arc (flap extension speed), start putting on the first twenty degrees of flaps and thinking about turning onto final.

Final approach was looking pretty good, I’d given myself plenty of time to get it all trimmed up.   I kept reciting audibly “Don’t mess this up….” and at times I did wonder what I must have sounded like if my radio push-to-talk button was stuck on 😉

Final calls to ATC done and clearance to land given, it was all now down to lowering the last stage of flaps and watching two things:   Airspeed, Runway, Airspeed, Runway….

As I crossed the runway threshold I was doing 60kts, but as I went into trying to ‘stop it from landing’, I was being super careful not to do anything that would let the plane catch any wind or even think about gaining lift (begin a balloon).   The price for that was that I probably could have held it off longer with a bit more back pressure. Instead I touched down, dead on the centre line, but a bit flat and a bit hard.   It stayed on the ground and stayed straight……for my first go all on my own, I’ll take that!

Air Traffic Control came on the radio to say “G-RC, vacate next right – Congratulations”

I thought about saying thanks back to them, but thought I better stick to the script and just read back the vacate instruction.

Done……I was back on the ground safely, plane in one piece, now just the task of remembering how/where to park!

Parking and Debrief

After parking, one of my regular instructors parked a different Cessna next to me, I’d forgot she was around today.   After weeks of being told “more back pressure…”  hopefully she didn’t see that landing 😉

The instructor for today came over, congratulated me and reminded me the landing was a bit flat but in his words “There’s things I can tell you could have been technically better, but that’s not really what this is about, it’s about getting through that psychological barrier of knowing you can fly it yourself….everything else we’ll iron out with time and experience”

We were definitely through any such barriers:  Properly enjoyed that flight!

I’ve never been so thankful for a flat tyre as I was today.

Finally, first solo done, we can start pretending we know what we’re doing  🙂

Lesson 23: Circuits (Finally….)

Monday, June 25th, 2012 | Permalink

G-UFCB Cessna 172SP

G-UFCB : Cessna 172SP

I had the 9am slot booked, but at 8:40am I got the dreaded phone call that normally means only one thing:  Lesson Canceled due to…….    Sure enough that’s how the call started, but with the upshot that someone else must have cancelled because they now had an 11am slot available and did I want it?   No need to ask twice!

Upon arrival to the aero club, I discovered there were even more Olympic Games security procedures coming into play – now you can’t even get outside to the locked gate without a badge to get you through the now locked door!!   (price you pay for being one of the few airports near London that will still be open during the games).


I’d be flying with the instructor who I did my first landing with… this point, with so many forgettable attempts to duplicate that lesson behind me, I can’t tell you how good this felt.

I don’t know if he’d read my file, or just wanted to give me a typical “Haven’t flown with you in a while re-cap….”   However he went through flying the circuit again in the briefing room and it went roughly like this:

Fly down to the runway…..Then Fly Over it……Keep trying to Fly Over it.

In his words “Sure, you can talk about the ‘hold-off’ and ‘flaring’ and they’re all the right terms…….but if you fly down to the runway, then level off to try and fly over it and then just keep trying to fly over it, you’ll find the flare happens naturally.   You don’t have enough power on to stay in the air, so you’re coming down, it’s a fact.”

I don’t know why it clicked, but these words just seemed to click – if I was waiting for some coin to drop, this was the speech that made it drop.

Beyond this speech, it was as simple as:   “Right, lets get you the keys……”

I’ve been flying for nearly a year now and I still enjoy being passed the keys to a plane 🙂

Taxi and Take-Off

I’ve spent a year doing left hand circuits, but for the last couple of weeks it’s all change to right hand circuits…….still at least when Air Traffic ask me to “Taxi to Delta via the grass taxi way.”   I know where it is now, I need a map of this airport 🙂

Delta is at the far end, far, far away from where the Cessna’s are parked up and the grass taxi way to it becomes a descent down a hill which would make a pretty good sledge run in the winter.    Stop thinking it’s costing £3/min to be chugging along the grass at a speed you could literally get out and walk faster and just enjoy the views and the fact you’re playing with airplanes, what could be better!

As we finish up on the power checks and set-up on the holding position of Delta my instructor points out that somewhere in the 87+ point checklist, I’ve clearly missed the step to turn the nav/strobe lights on.  Oops!   (We could argue they’re not required during the day, but lets not…..)

First Circuit of the Day

The deal was the instructor would stay quiet, I’d do the circuit and he’d see where I was at from there – I did warn him that traditionally my first circuit of the day was my worst, but we’d see.

Other then a slight moment of doubting myself on when to turn on to base having only flown a right hand circuit a couple of times, the circuit itself was pretty nice and the approach was equally ok.   I turned a bit to soon on to final, largely because of a crosswind that made it feel like there’d never be a good time to turn.

It was all going so nicely, but around 100ft I convinced myself I was too low and was going to touch down before the runway threshold.   Rather then force the landing I decided to just bail on it and go-around.

My instructor said there was actually nothing really wrong with it and was looking good, but it showed I could make safe decisions.    Yeah, feed me the  positive stuff, I’m not paying £179/hour to be depressed 🙂

Second Circuit

An all round better circuit, we’re only talking by factors of 50ft but just that bit better.

A nice final approach with a 7kt crosswind.  As the runway disappeared under us, I began the attempt to “fly over/along it”.    Taking off the remaining power as it went and bringing the nose up in the futile attempt to keep the plane flying over the runway before kicking it straight with the ruder, the main wheels touched down.

…….and that is how I did it the first time!!!!!

It’s a sensation I’d been chasing for ~6 lessons, that nice touch down where you know you’ve landed but it didn’t require medical attention to your back afterwards.   Oh at times its felt like the whole show was a joke and I’d never crack it, but eureka, it can be done!

Admittedly I could have got it a bit straighter just before touch down, but we were on the center line or thereabouts, it was decent enough.

Third Circuit

All in all as nice as the second, slight improvement on the amount of rudder used to kick it straight just before touch down and a landing that felt like a landing – rather than a crash you walked away from.

Flaps up, full power on and back up we go…..

Fourth Circuit

My instructor decided to give my emergency procedures a run and announced we’d had an engine failure on take-off (oh ok there might have been a radio call to ATC to just let them know what we were about to do, but still, not much notice….).    Set the attitude to get airspeed (70kts) and then start picking a field.

The instructor pointed out that if there’s time you can go through the motions of curing the problem.   If not, the rest of the checklist for an engine failure on take off is effectively to shut the engine down and land straight ahead if possible (the checklist says land “Straight ahead” – but maybe don’t do this if straight ahead is a house and 30 degrees to the right is a big grass field….).   The objective though is that you don’t want to be turning without an engine unless you have to and/or have sufficient height.

Fifth Circuit

I flew the circuit and my instructor decided to demonstrate that the engine doesn’t have to fail on take off.   It can decide it’s going to fail wherever it likes, so this time he ‘failed’ it three quarters of the way downwind.

Constantly asking the question “Can I make the runway” he commenced a glide in approach – in all honesty making it look far to easy.

Sixth Circuit

We must have been flying in the most unreliable plane on the planet, because it had another ‘engine failure’ on take off!   (Honestly I’m sure the book says to land it when the first one happens 🙂  ).

Another fairly nice circuit, though I did need a reminder to make a radio call for downwind – I may have become ‘inflight obsessed’ with flying it straight.

The landing was another good one…..

Seven Circuit & Final Landing

Original plan was that I was going to do a glide in approach, but unfortunately another plane beat us into the circuit by getting clearance to fly straight into final approach.

Got to partially glide in and it was another happy landing……… Go back to the start, I don’t know why this lesson clicked, whether it was just a mental confidence boost to be flying with someone I knew I’d done good landings with, the speech at the beginning or something else.   The trick will be doing it again on the next lesson.


The words I remember hearing were “you’re landings are good enough to go solo.”

After what feels like stacks of lessons, this becomes all you look forward to hearing 🙂

Lesson 20 & 21 : Circuits

Monday, June 18th, 2012 | Permalink

As it was my birthday I decided what better way to spend it then to go flying all day long, so I’d booked in for two lessons on the same day (each lesson is a two hour slot, so other than a spot of lunch in the middle for 4 hours of the day you’re either checking a plane, talking about planes or flying the plane 🙂  ).   There really are worse ways to spend a weekend….


We went through the calculation for working out the crosswind component.

There are many ways to do this, the technically most accurate is:

XWind = WindSpeed * sin(WindDiffAngle)

Where “WindDiffAngle” is the difference between the runway angle and the wind angle, assuming you want the crosswind component of flying into that runway.  Good luck trying to remember your sine tables while somewhere in the circuit or on approach to an airfield.

Lets say the runway is 23  (230 degrees), and there’s a crosswind from 270 at 14 kts.

Flight Computer computing Crosswind Component

Calculating Crosswind Component

Because a Flight Computer (the UK  mandates use of a mechanical version, which for me is stretching the bounds of what you should be allowed to call a “computer”), is essentially a circular slide rule, it can do this equation for you.   Well sort of, because it’s mechanical its solution is that you set the circular part to the wind direction, then mark with a pencil the wind speed.   Then as you rotate the circular part to the runway direction, your pencil mark will move, giving you the final crosswind component for that runway (I can’t wait to try and do all that faffing in the air!)

Mechanical flight computers lack precision and are exposed to the mercy of human error, most of the time you just want a ball park figure anyway – especially when you’re busy doing the top priority of ‘aviating’ in the circuit.

There are many schemes for getting in the ball park, arguably the simplest is the “Clock” rule of thumb.

Quite simply, draw a clock with 60 at the top, 30 at the bottom etc.   Now take difference between the runway and the wind direction (in the above example: 270-230 = 40).   40 is two thirds of 60, so the crosswind component is roughly two thirds of the wind speed – so in our example, 14kts * 0.666 = ~9.32 kts.

If we used the equation to compute this we’d get:   (14 * (sin(40)) = 8.99 kts

So the rule of thumb method has an error of 0.33 kts (for this scenario, the rule has a huge 13% error at 60 degrees), but it gets you in the ball park.   You don’t need to worry too much about that big error at 60 degrees difference between runway & wind direction, because the clock rule of thumb is pessimistic.   It will result in you multiplying the reported wind by 1, instead of 0.87, this will give you an answer with a higher crosswind component then there actually is.

Look closely at the image of the flight computer, the pencil mark is now showing maybe 8kts or maybe 9kts of crosswind.   As I said above, being mechanical, they lack precision and this lack of precision comes from:  How thick was the pencil?  and the tolerance spacing between markings of 2kts per box.   Still, it’ll do the computation.

Taxi to Delta… where?



Flying G-SHWK, if the weather hadn’t been so bad the month before I’d hoped to have made this set of lessons the one where I went solo.   However, it was unlikely now, especially as the last lesson had ended with a need to see a couple of lessons of good landings before sending me solo.   At times I’d take 1 good landing, forget a lesson full of them, that is where my head is at this point in the training.

An amazingly hot sunny day, we got clearance to taxi down to holding point ‘Delta’ (where the heck is that!).   I’ve flown here for like a year, we’ve never gone there, I didn’t even know it existed.   Shocking.

Starting to be grateful about not being let loose on my own, I clearly don’t even know my home airport.   Still, it’s easier when there’s someone in the right seat to give directions 🙂

Emergency Stops on the Runway

Once down at Delta, which is the worlds longest taxi.  We waited for a plane to come in, then my instructor asks permission to do an emergency stop on the runway – now rather then getting our clearance, we get told to hold…….forever, for the longest time we were sat there, feet on the toe brakes just waiting for this jet coming in on the ILS (Instrument Landing System).   Waiting and waiting, there was even time to discuss having an ice cream out on the wing!

Finally cleared to go we line up and stop, the instructor runs me through how to do the emergency stop.

Full power on, then a voice “STOP!”    It’s all go from that moment, I pull the throttle out, then probably in a moment of wrongness start applying the brakes, I stop doing that and the plane attempts to get airborne!

The nose wheel is off the ground, we do maybe 50 meters on the back wheels alone before getting the nose back down.   This must have looked properly bonkers to onlookers.   Still, it stops and we have well over half the runway remaining.

Note:  We were not cleared for a take-off, we had been cleared to do an emergency stop.   So we have to ask for clearance again to take off.


The rest of the day was spent flying (right hand) circuits:  Up, round, down, land – almost always not applying enough back pressure.   Up, round and down.

Because I’m not applying enough back pressure my instructor tells me to trim the plane on approach so its nose wants to come up on the approach and basically fly it down with a little forward pressure.   Now on hold off it will be naturally trimmed closer to want to lift the nose…….this makes it a bit easier, but in my head I know I’m now cutting a corner and I want to avoid this trick.

It was a really enjoyable day of flying in some great weather, but I didn’t leave either lesson feeling much closer to going solo.

The positives are that I’m not flying with a map over my instruments, my instructor isn’t having to constantly tell me to “Look up!”   and other than a bit of convergence in the downwind, my circuits are now pretty good.    I just need that last 50ft to be as if I’ve done it a million times before……..and at this rate, I will have done it a million times 🙂

Lesson 19: Circuits

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 | Permalink




Take off, turn, descend, land…….flaps up, full throttle and repeat.

After a shocking last lesson in cross wind my notes clearly  said we’d had some fun in crosswind.

Back flying with my ‘regular’ flight instructor (more hours with her than anyone else, but I’ve had seven instructors to date!).   We’d take G-SHWK up and see how the gods of aviation felt like playing it today.


One general improvement to report, I no longer seem to have a map or a smiley face covering up all the instruments.

I’m not going to even attempt to remember every circuit from this lesson, it’s a blur in a mad run of lessons in May (the weather turned for the better and so I was flying faster than I could stop to write it all down).

A theme of nice circuits, really nice approaches and hard landings is occurring.

There’s no way I could ever put it into words for someone else to truly appreciate unless they’ve seen it first hand, but the last 50-60ft just felt too fast.   There’s a sort of ‘elbow stop rest’ and I keep finding myself pulling the control column back to this point and no further, which ultimately seems to result in landing “flat” rather than with a decent flare.   I’m not sure if it’s just this, a subconscious fear of ballooning (results in having to go-around) or something else going wrong.

The quest to try and figure out what I did on the first circuit lesson that was so much better just continues – oh that isn’t to say what is going wrong isn’t being explained to me.   Unfortunately if you could just read the book and then put the words into actions, learning how to fly would be a lot easier 🙂

Circuits were mixed up with a few practice emergencies and go-arounds.

Another Chance to Land on the Grass

The lesson ended with Air Traffic radioing in that runway 23 had been closed for inspection and could we land on 23 Grass?

……….we could give it a go 🙂

Lesson 18: Circuits (with Crosswind)

Sunday, June 10th, 2012 | Permalink

I’m still catching up on a back-log of flying, so this is a few weeks after the event, but in the grand scheme of the blog, it’s generally in sequence.




We’d be flying G-SHWK.  Of the clubs planes, this one is my favorite.   Cessna, the FAA or even EASA might tell you that as the plane is certified and holds a Certificate of Airworthiness (“C of A”), that it is born equal.   In terms of at what speed it gets airborne/stalls at etc. I don’t dispute it.   However, it doesn’t squeak/creak like Charlie Bravo does.   I’ve flown it at night, I like it.

I’ve flown enough circuits now to not really need briefing on it, but with an instructor I’ve only flown with once before, we had a quick catch-up and a look at the weather:

The wind was really starting to pick up and starting to reach the limits (20kts) of a student pilot, but we’d go up and give it a go.

Taxi and Take-Off

Due to a hose pipe ban, I hadn’t flown in ~3 weeks.   Top tip to anyone taking up learning how to fly:  This is the absolute max gap you want to have between flying lessons, it’s the point where you can’t quite remember the sensation of starting the engine and it all starts to feel non-instinctive.

Circuits and Crosswind

As this was with an instructor I hadn’t flown with for a while, but had been chatting to the previous night through aero club social events, I had hoped the gods of aviation would be kind.   It was not going to happen though, the first circuit was as shocking as any I’ve ever done, the approach was just a fight and at somewhere around 200ft:

Full Power On………”Golf Whiskey Kilo, Going Around….”

That wasn’t the original game plan, but as we started to climb away, I thought “Not to worry, shows you can make safe decisions….”

Circuit #2 was nice enough, the approach was still a good old session with the wind, but better than before.   100ft to the runway still looking reasonable, with 50-100ft to go it all started to unravel and we touched down with a solid full-on WHAM!  🙁

It was so hard that the next words from my instructor was “When we get back up I’ll take control and explain what went wrong there…..”

No joking.

I can look back with weeks of hindsight and I’m convinced my arm was finding a natural ‘back rest’ and would not pull back the controls further than just about nose level.   So we were hitting the deck at 55kts or somewhere around there – it felt like it!

Circuit #3, lets just cut to the chase – the magnitude of disappointment in myself with the landing on this circuit was exhausted audibly in the cockpit with what my instructor described as a “Big Sigh.”

What you have to remember is that my first two landings were things of near perfection.   Since then, I’ve just searched to replicate them and failed, lesson after lesson……three circuits into another lesson, my subconscious was clearly starting to to ponder what the hell I was doing.

I think my instructor got the general impression that this wasn’t going to happen today and called it quits.   The next circuit was to land…… was better, but still completely rubbish in my book.


My instructor said a lot of positive things about my approaches and general flying.

For my money though, this was quite simply my worst lesson to date.   Maybe because this was the 6th circuit lesson I’d had and it was a million miles worse then my first.

Blame it on the cross winds, book some more lessons and see what happens next time – not all lessons are great ones to remember.

Lessons 15,16,17 – Circuits, Circuits and More Circuits

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 | Permalink

Quite a bit to catch up on, as time has been limited and the only constant where everything else has had to give – has been actual flying lessons.

It’s funny how time flies when you’re having fun.    I remember waiting to do my first take off, then my first landing – each time feeling like it’s just out of reach, then it happens and before you know it you’re looking back and can’t remember how many times you’ve done them.   I’d struggle now (without referring to my log book) to tell you now how many landings I’ve done.

Now I’m just waiting to fly solo for the first time……and the knowledge that you’re maybe a few good circuits away from doing it, is a double edged sword.




All three lessons were flown in G-SHWK. For no real reason, now my favourite of the clubs planes.

Lesson 15 was to focus on general circuits, touching on aborting/go-arounds.

Lesson 16 & 17 were flown on the same day (due to a bit of a club mix-up on bookings – and my eagerness to go flying, I just decided I’d have both slots with a few hours gap between them).   Again the focus was on circuits, but these lessons introduced the first emergency scenarios and beginning to get a feel for “if the engined failed, which field do you think you could reach Vs which field you could reach.”

All three lessons, rather amazingly were with an instructor who historically brings the rain (or I bring the rain to her – depends which side of the story you want to listen to).

Circuits, Circuits and More Circuits

Unlike almost all the previous lessons, when flying circuits I find I have a hard time remembering the good/bad/ugly from each circuit and it all just merges into a collective event.    Probably due to the increased workload going on.

First circuit of every lesson to-date has tended to be not brilliant, but from there on in generally the circuits of lesson 15 went smooth enough – a running theme of perhaps a bit more power still on during touch down then would be ideal and a constant bombardment from my instructor to keep my hand on the throttle for the entire circuit (more on that later).

Lesson 16: can be best remembered with my instructors arm & map covering all of the cockpit instruments – for most of the flight.   Apparently I’m flying on instruments to much……my defence of you can trust them didn’t go down well :-\   Countered quickly with the fact that the instruments won’t tell you you’re about to fly into someone else and an emphasis on the fact we fly at a very busy airport, while many pilots learn at much smaller airports and thus tend to make mistakes when flying into bigger airports with heavier traffic and stricter necessity to follow procedures (She has a point I guess 🙂 ).

With the map covering the instruments I apparently fly well, without the map I start flying on instruments and the desire for absolute accuracy (1000ft +/-0.1ft altitude etc.) causes the control surface workload to skyrocket – ask an autopilot to achieve 1000ft +/-0.1ft and see how many inputs it makes to achieve it……this probably illustrates what I must look like attempting to achieve it.

We practised a bit of engine failure and a couple of aborts/go-arounds and it was time to land – lesson 17 just a few hours away.

Lesson 17 – The Latest in Aviation Equipment

After lesson 16, my instructor had a very tired arm and so came up with a cost effective instrument to improve my flying:    A piece of paper & some sticky tape with the words:


Written on it, with a smiley face of course……… 🙂

From about 100ft, my instruments were covered by the paper and I was told in no uncertain terms that I know what an 80knot climb looks like, so fly it and stop staring at the instruments (not that I could now).

A scary thing happened next:    With no instruments and only my instructor to tell me when to turn on to crosswind, I climbed at 80 knots, turned using 20 degrees of bank – and by some ‘miricle’ leveled out on crosswind at 1000ft!   My instructor thought I was cheating I suspect because she said “How did you know when to do that….”    and my honest response was “I have no idea – it just sort of looked right.”

Hmmm….they say something similar in the book about the landing perspective.    Could it be I’m getting the hang of this VFR flying lark, but am just holding on to the instruments like a safety blanket?     Maybe my instructor knows what she’s talking about!

My only problem now was trying to break the habit of staring down at where the instruments would be resulting in a very strange effect that you find yourself attempting to look through paper.

With the paper my flying was (instructors opinion) calm and smooth with plenty of time left to do other things like pre-landing checks.    When she took the paper away……..back to worrying about every single foot of altitude, every RPM over 2000.   Must look up, Must look up, must look up!

Grass Runway Landing

As we came in to land air traffic control announced that runway 23 main was closing for an inspection – and could we accept 23 grass?

As I’m heading closer and closer to going solo I’m doing most of the radio work now, but for this I had to look at my instructor and give a “I have no idea, can we?”  

Apparently we could – but that left the remaining issue that I’ve never landed on 23 grass before (or any other grass runway for that matter).

Issues to remember about grass runways:   Narrower (esp. compared to 23 main which can take 747’s), shorter and well errrrm they’re made of grass!

Took a few seconds to get it lined up properly as without all the nice PAPI toys and other lighting unless you’ve flown it before it takes a bit longer to actually work out what you’re trying to line up with.

After that the approach was good,  the landing ok – but I continue to be at 50ft with too much power…….and a grass landing?    Well it’s like a tarmac landing except it’s as bumpy as anything!

We backtracked on the runway to get to the taxiway and then had to hold position because one of the other clubs Cessna’s was coming in and hadn’t got stitched up to land on the grass 😉

I can’t seem to repeat the super smooth landing of my first two landings ever done, it’s beginning to get a little annoying that they were almost perfect and now I can find issue in almost every landing I’ve done since.

I left this string of lessons with one recurring phrase:   Look up!


Lesson 14: Circuit Flying – (#2)

Sunday, March 4th, 2012 | Permalink



After quite a few cancelled lessons due to bad weather, we finally got there.   Winter is beginning to fall away and with that the 4pm slot is available again as it’s now just about still officially daylight at 5pm.

This lesson would be flying G-SHWK with an instructor I’ve not flown with for a while, but we’ve done a couples of lessons (inc. a night flight) so it’s all good.


As I’d had a three week gap in my training, the instructor just wanted to go back over the approach perspectives to landing.    Other than that it was as simple as “Can you remember your speeds, altitudes etc…..” – answer yes and get on with it.

The wind was approaching no go speeds, currently at a reported 14-16mph from 240 degrees.    But my instructor said we’d give it a go and worst case the lesson would have to be cut short if the wind got really bad on final.

The plane (Whiskey Kilo) had a broken taxi light, but other than that, brimming with AVGAS and in basically tip-top shape.


After one or two lessons some time back where the plane wouldn’t start first time, I still find myself breathing a sigh of relief when the engine kicks in and starts to run.    I should be over this, but I think it might be stuck with me now as one of those little ritual things you pick up.

Air Traffic Control seemed fairly relaxed and tolerant of my taxi clearance radio call “…..G-SHWK <stop> for Runway 23.”     Which is syntactically wrong (call sign ends the message), but they got the idea.

Bailed from doing the take-off briefing, at the end of the day I’m not envisioning the instructor letting me do an emergency landing in a real emergency, so I think we can both be confident he’ll take control should that occur.

Take Off

In my previous lesson (different instructor), I was told to level the nose during the take off to see how good/or bad it was with respect to being straight without using instruments…   So this time I did level the nose, and got promptly told we shouldn’t be able to see the horizon, point the nose up.    Now one thing to note about the sanity of the first instructors idea, is that the runway I take off from is massive (1,965m) with respect to the amount required for a Cessna 172SP to take off on (~500m) – so you’re airborne while you’ve still got 2/3 of the runway left to go.    However, it’s another one of those small examples of the problems you get from constantly swapping instructors.

Other than that, the take off was fine – it’s one of those things.   A few months back I’d be sitting in the plane hoping to do the take of, when I started doing them you’d be hoping it’ll come off looking pretty good.   Now I find I’m just expecting to do it and expecting it will be good.


So much was going on during this lesson with air traffic control (as we’d find out while doing laps of the airport they were not having their finest day).  It’s hard to actually remember on which circuit each event happened – but here’s my best recollection of events.

On the first circuit my instructor did the radio, everything went largely ok, the approach was fairly nice but the wind was “immense” (relative to my first lesson where it was practically zero).    The problem with this was not so much an issue for keeping it lined up – but the increased volume of corrective actions required to keep it lined up, every other second there was a gust of wind making the plane want to go somewhere else.

The approach down to 80-100ft was nice enough, from here on I wasn’t happy with it.   I’d come in on the glide slope (~3 degrees), this is a fairly shallow approach, meaning you’re fairly ‘flat’ to the runway, the net result is its harder to shed the remaining speed and rather then a gentle touch down, it was a hard thump.    Not main wheel destroying, but not good enough in my own mind and compared to my first two landings, this was like taking a step backwards.

Flaps up, power back on and we were off to try doing that again!

On the second circuit air traffic told us to extend down wind, we did, they then gave instructions to another plane that my instructor suggested they’d regret.  And moments later, they retracted their call to the other plane.

Again the approach was fine other than the wind trying hard to stop the landing from happening at all, but we stayed on course.    I don’t think I had the airspeed trimmed in very well (if at all) and the flare was more of a fight then an action.

Try again…..

Orbit, don’t Orbit……whatever you want ATC

As we were going down wind air traffic asked us to orbit right, so after looking under both wings, I started the turn – my instructor again suggested “he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s going to regret asking us to do that”.   Sure enough, no more than 40 degrees into the 360 degree turn, ATC came back with “Cancel orbit, continue downwind.”

Great, except we’re now pointing away from the circuit!    Still nothing a sharpish left turn can’t fix, and it’s all good practice and the result of learning at a busy airport.

The landing was better, but still hard and I figured in my head “one more and these will be starting to look decent.”

Abort Landing, Go Around – Repeat Abort.

On the next circuit I was set to try and do it decently, it was beginning to get dark and the runway looks like landing at heathrow when its dark (which can be off-putting all on its own).   Very conscious we were starting to run out of time.

Air Traffic threw in some more fun and games on the down wind leg.

Final was going fine, 400ft, 300ft, 200ft…..somewhere around 150ft and at this point you’re just about to cross a busy road at a fairly low altitude.  Air Traffic Control radio “G-SHWK,  Go Around.”      Knowing our altitude my instructor radioed back “We’re below 200ft, confirm the go around….”      ATC came back repeating the instruction to go around.

Concurrently with a lot of mumbling my instructor took control, full power went on, the last stage of flaps was removed and we began our abort shift slightly to the dead side (right) of the runway.

Damn it, that was going to be a nice landing too – and I never did hear the reason for the request.

Final Touch and Go, Landing.

Both were pretty much repeats or slight variants of what had come before:  Not shocking, not so awful that my instructor wanted to grab the controls for fear of his life……..but they just could have been better.

My instructor said what I kept doing was approaching nicely, but coming in to shallow (this goes back to the debate of whether you should fly the glide slope or not in a light aircraft, I’m beginning to agree with the “not” argument).   To achieve it I was finding myself over the runway in a configuration that couldn’t be flared, so the only option was to reduce power and thus thump the runway.

Personally, with hindsight, I also think I was focusing on landing on the numbers more than making the landing smooth.   I was ‘flying it down to the landing’ rather than trimming it up to fly itself down to the runway, which would probably be fine on a calm day, but the wind was really high and it was a fight to keep the airspeed attitude correct (which probably didn’t need to have been).


Nothing overly critical, the general comment was that I “didn’t have enough penetration on the approach, so you had nothing left to flare with”.    Other than that, generally good comments on the setup and overall approach perspective and reactions to being high/low etc.

It was enjoyable, but it just needed one sweet landing to have made me happy and I got robbed of that by ATC  (as good an excuse as any).

Another 50 minutes in the log book, another instructor who’s survived several of my landings 🙂


Chance to fly to Sywell ruined by bad weather!

Sunday, February 12th, 2012 | Permalink

Had two lessons booked for this weekend, hoping for the best – but planning for the worst, that maybe one would get cancelled (winter has hit the UK late, but hit it has…).

Sure enough on arrival to the club Saturday afternoon, I was promptly told to “Go home…”  followed by “… can stay, have a coffee if you want, but it’s not going to get any better.”   Who am I to argue with that?   I’m far from at a point where I can accurately predict the gods of weather by glancing at the sky.

Just as I was accepting the fact I would be staying firmly on the ground, the admin staff told me there was a slight issue with my Sunday lesson – oh great, now what!

Turned out the club needed to get the Extra 200 over to Sywell (where it is maintained), but to get it there an instructor would have to follow in a Cessna in order to bring the Extra pilot home again…….would I like to go with?   It’s not far away, but it would still have been my first fly away to another aerodrome and the opportunity was there to fly in either the Extra or the Cessna.  Bad luck on the weather was turning into a very good day indeed.

It all hinged on getting the visibility.

……and sadly it was not to be.

I woke up to low clouds, probability of rain and 2km visibility 🙁    It never got much better and at 1:30pm the phone rang to bring the bad news, the trip was off, there was no hope of getting the weather today.

EGSC at 10am on 12th Feb. 2012

EGSC at 10am on 12th Feb. 2012

A massive disappointment, but what can you do……..except book a few more lessons and hope for the best.   Fingers crossed for next weekend then 🙂