In which I learn how to refuel, almost fly into a mountain, do a few more unassisted landings and experience overload for the first time.
Yep, today’s mission was more circuits.
I arrived and went out to preflight 4929. I had to pinch cushions from the Jab sitting next door, and I later discovered they were damp with what I assume was sweat (ewwwwww). I checked the fuel and noticed it was very low so when J came out we went to refuel. Since we were close to the fuelling spot, instead of starting the engine and taxiing, J just grabbed the tail and pulled the plane over to the spot.
There, I was given a demonstration on how to refuel. First a wire (which looks a bit like a jump lead for a car) is attached to the nosewheel leg which “theoretically” grounds the plane and removes any static electricity. Then the fuel caps on the top of the wings are opened. There is another ‘jump lead’ attached to the actual nozzle which is attached to a thing on the top of the wing next to the fuel tank opening. Then the nozzle is put into the tank and the plane is refuelled. It’s important to make sure that you can see inside the tank because apparantly they fill up rather fast. Most people need a ladder (handily placed next to the pump) but J managed to reach (standing on his toes). I dislike ladders so I’m not sure how I’m going to go when I have to do it!
We jumped in and I found out whether or not my repaired headset actually worked. I got it back on Sunday – the guy who repaired it said that he wasn’t sure what was wrong with it and caused the noise but he replaced lots of components and it appeared to be fixed. From using it today, it does appear to be fixed, hopefully permanently!
I did the taxi radio call today, and also the turning final call in the circuit.
Taxiing for circuits, runway 36
Turning final runway 36L for touch-and-go
It was a little confusing trying to work out which runway to use today, for some reason some people seemed to be using 18 for a while. We used 36 which seemed to be the correct one when looking at the windsock plus the other Jab going out for circuits was down at the threshold of 36. I taxiied us to 36, did the pre-takeoff checks and we took off from 36R.
Rather than discussing each circuit in detail (I made less mistakes today so there’s less to discuss I reckon!), I’ll just given an overview. I definitely flew much better today, although I was having some issues with turning onto crosswind, I think I was taking longer to climb to 500AGL so I was turning crosswind later. This meant that the mountains were closer to us when turning downwind than they would be if we had turned crosswind earlier. For the first circuit after takeoff this wasn’t an issue, but for the circuits after that we were turning crosswind later and having issues with the mountains. The first time it happened 4964 had just made a radio call and I was like “Lilydale Traffic, 4929 is about to fly into a mountain” – I didn’t actually say it over the radio (only the intercom), but I was tempted to!
My landings were amazingly different today, I was really concentrating on getting the hang of the ‘flying above the runway’ part that I’d been missing. I can’t remember if it was my first or second landing today that was unassisted, but I know that I definitely did at least one or two more unassisted landings today. The other landings I was assisted but far FAR less that I had been before.
I also managed to mostly fix the problem I’d been having when turning. Last lesson J mentioned that I was overbanking because I was looking towards where I was turning rather than looking at the nose attitude. Today I made a conscious effort to look at the nose attitude and not towards where I was turning. A few times I caught myself looking towards the side where I was turning but mostly I got it under control.
After the second or third circuit today J said that it was clear that everything was beginning to click for me. I was like “good to hear, I’ve spent the last three days visualising it, I was determined to get the thing down by myself!” This is true, the last few days I’ve been visualising the circuit/approach/landing in my mind and what I need to do at each stage, and it really helps.
J said that one of the problems I’m having on landing is that when I reduce the power and increase the backpressure, I do it too quickly, instead it should be done gradually (we’re not going to run out of runway!). I need to work on this, I’m tending to get to the flying above the runway part and then pulling the power too quickly because I think I’m running out of time.
When we were coming in for the final full stop, we came in slightly fast and, since we were using 36R (the shorter runway) for the full stop, we were running out of runway so we were forced to go around. This was the first time I really experienced anything close to overload as, even though I heard J say to go around, I didn’t actually power up and go around, instead I continued to touch down – J had to take control and do the go around. It was strange because even though I heard him and realised what he was saying and what he meant, I still just didn’t do it.
After one circuit J mentioned that he had been secretly helping me with rudder inputs during take off, but he was going to stop and leave it all up to me. Apparantly I’m not putting in enough right rudder input to counteract the yaw caused by the slipstream. I totally hadn’t realised that he was doing anything at all, I guess this is just an example of how much instructors do that us busy students don’t realise!
After the go around, the next time we managed to do a full stop on 36R and I taxiied us back to the flight line.
J said that he thinks today was the best I’ve flown yet (I agree). I said I was pretty pleased with my flying today 😀 We were going to do some flapless landings but he said that since I was doing so well today with the flapped landings, he didn’t want to mess that up by introducing flapless landings into the mix! I think next mission we’ll probably try flapless landings again.
I also noticed this mission that I’m getting much more comfortable with radio calls. Initially I felt really uncomfortable and nervous about them but now they’re becoming close to routine, which is fantastic.
Overall I am completely stoked with how I flew today. I am (finally) getting the hang of landings (and doing some more unassisted) and during the circuit I felt more in control of when everything needed to happen and what was going on. J said that today I wasn’t letting the plane do it’s own thing on approach, I was actually properly flying the plane and making it go where I wanted to – which is completely awesome. I feel like things are finally starting to come together. Now I have to wait until Saturday to see if it continues!