More Circuits

In which I crash my car, have another attempt to learn how to fly circuits, almost crash-land the plane and discover that some people want to learn to fly but are afraid to actually take off.


Today’s mission was more circuits with concentration on landing technique as well.

I got a flat tyre about 5 minutes away from the airport on my drive there and had to call them and ask them to take pity on me and pick me up 😛 Unfortunately my wheel rim is cracked and I need to buy a new wheel, which is frustrating. Take it from me, keep a good lookout for potholes, especially when you have low profile tyres!!

When I got there, there was a nice old tailwheel plane being taxiied over to the runway (everyone at the flying school was standing by the window watching!). I asked J later and found out that it was a Winjeel which replaced the Tiger Moth as the RAAF training aircraft in the early 1950s.  According to the guys at Lilydale, flying the Winjeel is like flying a block of flats. Just what we want the Air Force to have, huh!

WinjeelA Winjeel (not the one I saw however – as far as I know anyway)

I preflighted 5231 and, after starting (where I managed to drop my checklist (ended up on the ground under the plane) and hit my head – so not my day), we taxiied to 18R. We had to wait while 3 other planes who were on base/final did their touch-and-gos. Then I did the takeoff. I think I need to get the nosewheel off the ground sooner than I am, I’m just trying to find a balance between raising the nosewheel and lifting off too early.

I did a couple of circuits and found them quite a bit easier than last lesson. I think this might be partly because I’ve been ‘flying’ circuits at home – a few times, I’ve walked in circles around my backyard and talked to myself through what I need to do at each stage of the circuit. It sounds slightly silly but I think it actually helped. Last lesson I had to really think to try to remember what I had to do next, this time I felt relaxed and pretty much knew what I should be doing and when.

After a few circuits with assisted landings (yet another slight crosswind argh), we started to work more on landing technique. To do so, we were going to do a normal approach then fly straight just over the runway. J did a demonstration and then, after the next circuit, it was my turn. It was far harder then it looked! I think I was overthinking it a bit rather than just thinking of it as flying straight and level (just low to the ground) I was worrying about it too much.

The next time around, I accidentally touched the main wheels down even though I wasn’t intending to. This is the first time I’ve seen J go for the controls in anything less than a supremely calm and controlled manner (he was laughing afterwards though so I’m not too worried). I have to admit I’m slightly proud of my achievement, it doesn’t seem right to learn to fly without worrying your instructor at least once! (sorry J :P) It wasn’t too serious but I have been telling people I nearly crashed to see their reactions 🙂

The next circuit was the final one, ending with a full stop on 18L (which I had never actually used before). I managed to make a slight mess of this landing too, I flared too high (not sure why) and we landed with a fair thump (basically, I flared to high and we fell out of the sky onto the ground). I’m not going to worry about this too much, I was told I’d make lots and lots of terrible landings so I can’t expect to do it right (or passably well) each time.

Two issues I had during the circuit was drifting to the left on upwind (away from the extended centreline) which was probably caused by the slight crosswind blowing me off course, and drifting to the left (towards the mountains!) towards the end of the downwind leg. Most people apparantly drift away from the mountains but not me! This was likely caused by me losing sight of the runway on downwind (it didn’t help that we were doing right hand circuits) and losing track of where I should be going. I’m going to work on this next lesson.

I noticed this lesson that I was generally more relaxed during the circuit. I was able to chat with J a bit while going around whereas usually I’m using all my concentration to work out what I should be doing next. I’m not saying we had a full-on conversation during the entire circuit, but I definitely didn’t need to concentrate as hard on the circuit and what I needed to be doing.

We saw the police helicopter flying nearby and I mentioned that they often fly over my house. J asked if I had drugs in my backyard and I was like “shhh, don’t tell!!” (I don’t really). Apparantly one of the other instructors has a friend who got caught for drug dealing – but get this, he was using the money from the drug dealing to pay for his law degree! I said I use my drug money to pay for flying …

After the lesson I booked lessons up to the 19th of December – so up until the end of the year. I also filled in my logbook (1.1) and filled in the monthly totals (which I’ve been putting off doing). I realised later that I messed up by putting in the monthly total for October even though October isn’t over yet. I’m going to have to find out next lesson how to correct errors – since a logbook is a legal document, this needs to be done properly. I think I was just distracted by worrying about my car.

I had to wait around for about 30mins to an hour after the lesson for one of my parents to come and get me and help me fix my car. During that time I discovered that listening to people talk is highly amusing (although I knew that already) and that some guy called the airfield and wanted an instructor to go with him to taxi up and down the runway – apparantly the poor guy is afraid to actually take off (so why does he want to learn to fly? :|)

Anyway, I was picked up and went to try to fix my car. We discovered that my wheel rim is cracked (and will probably need to be replaced) and the spare tyre in my car doesn’t actually fit and is therefore useless. I’m definitely going to take more care about potholes in the future…

This lesson marks the point where I have spent over $2000 on lessons (this is not including books/equipment costs either). As of today I have spent over $2000 and have 10.4 hours.

I wonder if I can get my licence by the end of 2009….it seems unlikely, but let’s see what happens! 🙂


4 Responses to More Circuits

  1. Maj Millard says:

    Darky, when I was learning to land I was told to ‘look down the runway’ on flare. it sort of gives you a good prespective of where you are. You know, situational awareness and all that. Try it next time, just look straight down the runway instead of at the point where you might land. Occasionally even now I will get into a period of bad landings (lazy, not really trying, too much experience !) and I will go back to the the ‘look down the runway trick” to get back in the groove. It works. Cheers Maj.

    • darksarcasm503 says:

      Hi Maj,

      No, I have been told to do that, but it doesn’t mean I remember to do it! So much to remember at once, so little time…

      One day, everything will fall into place and I’ll remember to do everything I’ve been taught. For now, though, it seems I will do at least one thing wrong as I try to correct everything else 😛

  2. Corey says:

    Heh, regarding your drug crops, couple of mates of mine were telling me someone painted a huge penis on the top of a school which is downwind of the 21L circuit at Parafield. Amazing what you see when you’re in the air above everything (and what amuses pilots)!

    Was meant to go for my first lesson after overseas trip tomorrow but bills have forced me to cancel it. Yet another reality of flying!

    May all your circuits be square.


    • darksarcasm503 says:

      Aha, that’s hilarious! Is it worrying that my first thought after reading that comment was wondering if there were any flat-roofed buildings under the circuit at YLIL? 😛

      Sucks about your lesson though, hopefully you’ll be back in the sky soon 🙂

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