In which I give the impression that I pack lightly enough to go away for the weekend with only a headset bag, discover the Jabiru’s ‘air conditioning’, have another crack at circuits and make a whole set of new mistakes.


Today’s mission was another round of circuits.

When I arrived there were lots of people at the airport, apparantly there was a flyaway to Adelaide for the weekend. These older women saw me and were like ‘Are you coming to Adelaide?’. I’m not sure why they thought that considering all I had with me was my headset bag, how light do they think I pack?

I preflighted 5231, checked the bolt on the wheel was there and had a stab at trying to read the oil dipstick (not entirely sure I was right though). We jumped in, got sorted, and I taxiied us to 36L. There, I found out the plane’s ‘air conditioning’ – basically, there are two little holes/vents, one on each side near your feet, which is basically nothing more than a hole to the outside which lets some fresh air in. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing! We did the pre-takeoff checks, waited for the planes on base/final to do their touch-and-go’s and I did the takeoff.

For the last few sessions of circuits we used runway 18, so it was strange to be using 36 and doing left-hand circuits. It definitely took a bit of thinking to work out when to turn etc.

Just after we turned crosswind after the takeoff, another plane made a radio call that they were joining crosswind behind us. Soon after he called that he was turning downwind which rather confused me since I was just turning downwind, I was like ‘where the hell is he?!’ and J pointed him out – he was a way ahead of us by then which was good.

My first landing wasn’t particularly successful. J said after that I need to make more positive control inputs as the air becomes more turbulent closer to the ground. I also need to use the rudder more to control where the nose is pointing.

After the second circuit, J took control on base to demonstrate an approach and landing so I could get a better idea of the sight picture I was looking for. It actually helped a lot. I realised that I was looking in the wrong place, I was aiming the nose at the runway rather than having the runway in front of me. It definitely helped a lot.

My next attempt at landing was a bit better, I had a better idea of what sight picture I needed and I was trying to make more positive control inputs. There was an updraft just before the threshold which blew us off a bit though. As I was doing it though, I was swearing softly to myself (without really thinking about it) and completely forgot that it might be picked up by the intercom. J was like ‘Sorry, didn’t hear that’ and I was like ‘Just swearing to myself…it wasn’t my politest one’ (not repeating it here though, this is a polite blog). A minute later I said it again and I could tell he heard it that time because he laughed. 😛

After a couple more circuits and attempts at landing (with varying degrees of success) we did a full stop on 36R.

I still haven’t managed to do an unassisted landing which is getting a bit frustrating. I know that making lots of mistakes now, with J there, is better than making them solo but I feel like everytime I get better at one part I mess up another part. Apparantly I keep missing the third part of the landing, the flying above the runway part. Next lesson I’m going to ask if we can do the ‘flying above the runway instead of landing’ thing which we did a few lessons ago.

During the debrief J suggested that it was time that I ‘bite the bullet’ and start using two cushions. I admitted it was vanity that made me not want to use two cushions and I’m going to try two cushions next lesson. I do admit it would probably help!

Overall I’m not unhappy with the lesson, although I wish my landings were progressing a bit quicker, I’d like to do at least one unassisted landing sometime soon!


9 Responses to Circuits

  1. Julien says:

    I’ve flown with one instructor here at Bankstown who always uses two brightly coloured cushions, so as you can see that’s not a limiting move in an aviation career!

  2. darksarcasm503 says:

    haha, yay!

    My instructor is over 6′ tall and squishes into the Jab (I swear he has his knees against the dash) so he can reach everything easily and I’m just like ‘hmpf!’ 😛

  3. Zurtri says:

    The Jabby I am using has a red strip down the lhs of he cowl. THis helps the line up.

    When I first strated circuits I couldn’t line it up for love or money.

    Apparently everyone is the same

  4. darksarcasm503 says:

    The red strip sounds handy but I think I’d start relying on it too much. I’m already relying on roads and stuff on the ground too much to tell when to turn in circuits (changed to a left hand circuit this lesson for the first time in weeks and got SO confused!)

    Glad to hear everyone can’t line it up. It gets so frustrating though because I know what I’m meant to be doing, it just doesn’t want to do it half the time…

    • Zurtri says:

      I used to use the farm houses and stuff and religiously use them to line up.

      I found last week, I just naturally used the distance from the air strip.

      On Sat it was a hot day here with no wind so I needed a longer final than usual (thus necessitating a longer downwind). Somewhere in the lesson I realised that I was just using the landmarks as much less of a guide and I was actually choosing where I needed to be depending on the weather conditions and where I wanted to be.

      I still balloon at landings though – so I think that is just a timing thing.

      Whenever I ask the instructors about these issues – they always say “Everyone has the same problems when they are learning – it’s completely normal”

      sounds like your instructer and mine are from the same flight school!

  5. darksarcasm503 says:

    I’m still hopeless at trying to factor stuff like wind into my flying, another thing to add to the list of things to work on! 😛

    The thing is, I’m sure the instructors are right, everyone does have the same problems (unless they’re like a prodigy or something) but even thought intellectually I know that, it still feels sometimes that everyone else must be picking it up so much better than me…

    If I could just manage one totally unassisted landing in the near future, it would be nice… 😛

  6. GraemeK says:

    Like you, I had lots of problems caused by looking over the prop instead of straight ahead – it used to cause me to trace a “Z” pattern down the runway on takeoff as I overcorrected left, then overcorrected right. OK now though, but it took a while.

    Don’t worry about landings, it’ll all come together eventually – we’ve all had the frustration of feeling we’re going backwards. Each time you do something, another piece of the jigsaw snaps into place and becomes automatic, leaving you more time to concentrate on the rest of the process.

    • Zurtri says:

      You have filled me with hope mate!

      When I look back over the hours in circuits I realise that I can do things that I never did before like:

      1. Takeoffs are straight forward now
      2. Radio calls are automatic
      3. The approaches are relatively lined up
      4. I can feel when I’m too high
      5. I can slip if I need too
      6. My Instructor doesn’t scream as much

      all of this I could never do before.

      But yeah, I am like DarkSarcasm – I would love it to all happen quicker!

  7. Nick says:

    Hey Darky,

    Enjoying reading about your training so far. Just started on circuits today myself after a false start yesterday with the fog hanging about.

    I managed 1 unassisted landing, or “arrival” as my instructor put it. Some of my others were fairly ordinary! Just flying the pattern, doing the checks quickly, and attempting the radio calls is pretty challenging.

    Up again early tomorrow if the weather permits.


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