In which I try my new headset, discover that percussive maintenance works on aircraft and attempt to fly some circuits.


After nearly 4 weeks on the ground (gah) I was back for my next lesson!

When I arrived I was sent out to preflight 4964. Someone had pinched the fuel drain tester but instead of going inside to find another, I just wandered over to 4929 parked next door and borrowed that one!

J wandered out to clean the windscreen and I asked him how his week was. Apparantly this month they’ve only been able to fly about 10% of their booked missions. I asked if they still got paid and he was like “nope”. I can see why most instructors go to the airlines, even if they like instructing they just can’t afford to do it as a career…

This lesson we were going into the circuit. Before starting J explained that circuits are quite difficult for the first few times and if I could fly something resembling a circuit by the end of the lesson I’d be doing well.

We jumped in and I plugged in my new headset (yay!). J was interested to see it and I said that he was welcome to try it one day, just not today because I wanted to try it! After starting the plane, it was time to see if the new headset worked. J was like “The moment of truth – can you hear me?” and I was like “Yes!”. I was slightly worried after all this it wasn’t going to work!

As I was taxiing us to the runway, I thought the engine sounded a little strange but I couldn’t work out what  it was. I figured it musn’t be anything to worry about otherwise J would have noticed. But then I realised what it was – it sounded different because I wasn’t hearing it as much because of my new headset! I was pretty amused at myself. Apparantly my taxiing is getting better which is nice.

When I was doing the pre-takeoff checks, I went to lower the flaps and nothing happened. After fiddling with the switch for a bit I admitted defeat and asked J. He reached over behind me and hit a place on the roof and suddenly the flaps started working. I am bemused, and also a little worried, about the fact that planes respond to percussive maintenance!

J then did the takeoff and demonstrated a few entire circuits.

After the second touch-and-go (landing then immediate takeoff afterwards), I took over. There was certainly a lot to remember.

I was having a few issues on approach because there was a slight wind which was making me drift off course. From the ground I thought that the plane must look drunk it was waving around so much.  J helped me with each of the landings, they might’ve gotten rather messy if he hadn’t!

The main issues I had during the circuits today were:

  • Turning from upwind onto crosswind, I kept overturning and had to turn back slightly to keep the wing parallel with the runway
  • Being too high on downwind, probably from levelling off too late
  • Keeping straight on final (although there was probably wind causing drift affecting that)
  • Seeing the shape on the runway from the air (doesn’t help that the area around the grass runway is also grass meaning it’s hard to pick the runway out!)
  • Knowing when the flare on landing (I did it too high a few times)
  • Holding enough backpressure during landing

By the final circuit I was nowhere near competent but I was making my way around it with less input from J (compared to the first circuits anyway). I am very glad J’s taking care of the radio calls at the moment though, I’ve got enough to think about without having to worry about those as well!

After doing the final landing (where I seemed to be trying to make every mistake I hadn’t previously made – too high, too low etc), I taxiied us back to the flight line and shutdown the plane.

J said that one of the main problems students have when starting circuits is that they expect to fly a perfect circuit the first time they try. Since I didn’t expect that, he didn’t really have anything to debrief me on this time (which seems a good thing). So, overall, I’m happy with my progress today.

I’ve booked lessons through to the end of November. I’m on holidays in 3 weeks and want to fly twice a week, so I figured I’d get in early. As we were booking them, I started writing them on my hand. J offered me paper but by that point I’d covered half my hand so I was like “I’ve gotten this far, may as well go for broke!”.

My hand

I also filled in my logbook – 0.9 (yay!). When I was doing it I could not remember for the life of me what month it was so I asked J. He was like “It’s Grand Final month, that’s all you need to know!”. Some time I must really point out that I barrack for Melbourne so this year Grand Final month isn’t really so exciting for me!

I’m going to put my review of my new LightSpeed Zulu in a separate post, so stay tuned!


2 Responses to Circuits

  1. RobD says:

    Hey, great blog…but I don’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please 🙂 🙂

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