(yet more) Circuits

In which I read the oil dipstick correctly, discover that the nose wheel is liable to fall off, learn how to do a go around and bounce a few landings.

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Today’s mission was (yet more) circuits.

I arrived and was sent out to preflight 4964. After studying the oil dipstick for about 5 minutes (or maybe more) I decided that it was low on oil (or I thought it was at least). I asked J and it turned out I was right – first time I’ve read the oil properly, so I was very impressed with myself. Those dipsticks are hideously difficult to read, because when you take it out the entire stick gets covered in oil so you have to try and work out where the line of oil is. Today was the first time I’ve actually succeeded 🙂

I was also shown something that I need to add to my preflight walkaround. Apparantly the bolt that holds the front wheel on is a cheapie from China (bought by Jabiru) and the head of the bolt has been shearing off sometimes lately – apparantly they’ve had two shear off this month. Both times they caught it on the ground but apparantly if it happens in flight, on landing the nosewheel leg will drive into the ground and the plane will flip – not nice! So during each preflight I have to check if this bolt is there (and in one piece).

We jumped in and sorted out our headsets. J was using a flying school headset today since he left his at home, and he put it on and straight away went ‘ow, this is uncomfortable’ and I was like ‘why do you think I bought my own!’.

I taxiied us to 18R and did the takeoff. I think my takeoff was better today, I remembered to use more right rudder to correct for the slipstream.

On the upwind climb after takeoff, I began to really notice just how cloudy it was today. It was hard to see too far ahead and quite difficult to see the horizon. I ended up having to guess where the horizon was in some places. It was all good experience though!

My first circuit was fairly successful but my landing was slightly messed up as I missed the third part of the landing – the ‘flying straight above the runway’ part. Instead I went from approach straight into touchdown and cut the power too early. I could definitely tell the difference in the landing and it showed just how important the ‘flying straight’ part is. Apparantly with more experience you can save that sort of landing, but not so much at my level!

On the second circuit we ended up too high on final and had to do a go around. This is where the landing is aborted and the plane is climbed back to circuit hight. To do a go around, full power is applied and the nose is raised to a climb attitude. The plane is also moved so it is flying just parallel to the runway, not over the runway. This enables you to see any traffic that may be on the runway at the time. Examples of when you might go around is when the approach is particularly unstable and when there’s another plane on the runway and won’t have cleared it in time. J said he’s also had to do go arounds in the past for things like kangaroos and utes on the runway!

On one of the approaches today (I forget which) Jeremy demonstrated a ‘sideslip’ which is a way of descending quicker. You use full right rudder and deflect the ailerons which deflects all of the control surfaces and helps to slow the plane. I can’t entirely remember how you do it, but I do remember that I thought it was fun 🙂 I can see me one day doing them just for the sake of it, which may not entirely be a good thing!

My next attempt at landing went better except that I bounced it slightly after touchdown. Apparantly my technique during the landing was good (yay!), except for the bounce. When the plane bounces it is important to not fully let go of the backpressure but instead to just ease off on it slightly. If you let go completely, then the plane drops nose-first into the runway and can flip (the amount of times today I heard that the Jab can flip because of different things!). So it’s important not to let off the backpressure completely. I definitely felt more in control during this landing. During previous landings it always felt like everything was happening really quickly but this time it felt like things were happening slower and I had more time to think through what I needed to do at each stage. I’d say this is an improvement, now I just have to see if I can replicate it next lesson!

The next landing was the final one for the mission, a full-stop. This landing was slightly wonky (sigh), we kept drifting off towards the right side of the runway and actually landed pretty close to the right edge of the runway which was rather interesting. Still, we got down in one piece so it’s all good…

When taxiing off the runway, I tried to turn before the plane had fully slowed. Apparantly this is a bad idea as if you turn with sufficient speed up, you can (again) flip the plane.

During the debrief J stated that my approaches were becoming more consistent. Apparantly in another 2 or 3 hours or so, all the parts of the landing will come together which is good to hear. Next mission I’m going to start making some of the radio calls. J was like “You might not believe it, but it’s actually quite hard to fly and talk”. I was just like “I find it hard enough to fly without talking, so I believe you!”. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes…

I think I flew better today than last lesson. I definitely felt more comfortable with the approach and landing and I was better at judging the stability of my approach. I’m getting better at realising what sight picture I need and when I’m too high/low. I’m still having problems with trying to see the actual shape of the runway though, it’s hard to make out the edges of the grass runway in the grass field! I can see improvement today, so I’m pleased with how the mission went.

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