Lesson 18: Circuits (with Crosswind)

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……..it 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.

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