Circuits (again)

In which I suddenly develop a fear of the ground, attempt to not land the aircraft and decide that I need to use a second cushion.


Today’s mission was (unsurprisingly) circuits again.

After preflighting 5231, I was watching the skydivers while waiting for J to come out. When he came out I told him that I’d been trying to work out what the skydivers were thinking and he replied that they weren’t thinking, that was the problem! We both agree that there’s no way we would ever skydive and that skydiver’s are clearly insane.


Today we were using runway 18L, the shorter runway. We taxiied over, lined up and I did the takeoff. I think I still need to raise the nosewheel earlier than I am on takeoff. I also need to use more right rudder due to the slipstream which makes the plane yaw to the left.

I’d say that my first circuit wasn’t particularly good. Today was the first time I’d flown in the late afternoon (my lesson was at 4pm) and I’m wondering if that made a difference.

For the first few circuits today we weren’t actually landing, we were doing the ‘flying above the runway’ thing we started last lesson. The first two times today we did that I couldn’t get the hang of how high we were and J had to help. The purpose of this exercise is to get rid of the fear of the ground that most learners seem to have. After the second attempt at this today, I mentioned to J that I was actually less scared of the ground before I started trying this! Before attempting this exercise I wasn’t scared of the ground at all, but when trying that exercise I was really worried I’d go too low and touch down without meaning to. On the third try of this exercise today I decided that the plane was going to listen to ME and do what I wanted, and I managed to do the exercise successfully without J’s input. It’s interesting how when things begin to click, they seem so much easier!

I was having a few issues today with when to turn onto base. We were using 18L which has a displaced threshold (it’s shorter than 18R) and I think I was looking at the threshold of 18R to tell when to turn onto base and then I was left with a really long final. I also kept forgetting to turn the carby heat off on final.

The next few circuits were going to be proper touch and gos. We were going to start working on the next parts of landing – flying straight then touching down. Apparantly many pilots don’t recognise the importance of the flying straight part and try to go straight from approach into touchdown without the flying straight part. Basically, once the runway perspective changes (which is harder to tell on 18L because it’s a wider runway), you start flying straight, cut the power to idle and raise the nose as you do so – J put it that you’re trying to trick yourself into thinking that you don’t want to land.

One of the main problems I have is dealing with the uneven air closer to the ground. It throws my approach off and I keep heading towards the side of the runway which makes me freak out and try to correct it (and probably over-correct it). During the debrief J said that I needed to start making more positive control inputs to deal with this, apparantly I’m being too gentle so once I’ve corrected the first bounce we get thrown off by the next bounce. I need to work on this more next lesson.

I was managing to control the approach better I think. I was getting better and knowing what speed I needed and increasing/decreasing the power to get that speed. I’m still having some problems trying to see the shape of the runway to determine if I’m too high/low – it doesn’t help that it’s a grass runway in a grass field. I’m sure eventually I’ll get better at that too.

My two actual landings didn’t seem too bad, although I think I need to increase the backpressure sooner. Also, on the takeoff part of the touch and go (the ‘go’), I need to use more right rudder to correct for the slipstream.

The second actual landing was a full stop, and I taxiied us back to the flight line.

J suggested that, since my arm is fully stretched to reach the throttle (you hold the throttle with your hand against the dash), I should probably use a second cushion. I’ve been trying to avoid using two cushions mainly out of vanity really – one is ok, two is just kind of daggy. But if it means I fly better, then I’ll just have to look daggy I guess. I really do wonder how people shorter than me go though – I’m 5’3, just below average, so how do really short people fly? Even more cushions?!

Apparantly my actual circuit is quite disciplined, I’m doing everything at the right times, which is good. I just need more work on my approach and landings. I am where I should be at the moment though apparantly.

I’m not entirely happy with my flying today. I guess I’m just expecting to go perfectly on each flight or something, even though intellectually I know that that isn’t possible. I’m not sure what exactly I’m unhappy about today, I’m just not totally happy. I half feel like I’ve gone backwards since Saturday, I did feel like I flew particularly well on Saturday, so maybe I’m just expecting to fly like that all the time. I’m not sure why I feel this way, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how I fly next lesson.

I also found out how to correct the error I made in my logbook on Saturday (I added up the monthly total for October despite the fact that October isn’t over yet). According to J it’s fine to use whiteout to make corrections so I’ve taken my logbook home and I’ll have to buy some of the tape whiteout. At least it’s nice and easy to fix!

The next mission is booked for next Wednesday since J’s taking the weekend off. After I left the airport today I got about a minute away (or less), suddenly realised that I wouldn’t be flying again for an entire week and got rather depressed. They should really warn you at your TIF that aviation is addictive!


One Response to Circuits (again)

  1. GraemeK says:

    I also used to have trouble landing well on 18 – I think (even though I tried not to) I used visual cues to set up my turns, easy on 36 with the roads and the tree line on final but nothing like that on 18 unfortunately.

    So my base was all over the place, hence not stabilised early on final, hence landings not all that flash. My last landing on 18L though was an absolute greaser – gotta love a wider runway and the new grass without the bumps, hardly felt the wheels touching!

    Jeremy is the only instructor who got me to do the ‘flying above the runway’ thing and I found it really useful – improved my landings no end.

    But yep, flying is full of ups and downs – one day everything goes well, the next you can’t even do the most simple things like a neat level turn, guess that’s what learning is all about! And I still sometimes forget to turn carb heat off on late final!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: