In which I bounce a few landings, try to take off without flaps and manage to get some reasonable landings out of unstable approaches.
Today’s mission was more circuits…I need to move onto something else soon, I’m running out of names for these blog posts!
I preflighted 5231, we jumped in, I remembered how to make the taxi call and we taxiied over to runway 36. Before I started the Jab, J mentioned that when I start it I need to keep one hand on the throttle so I can reduce the rpms to 1200rpm after startup. I actually hadn’t realised that the rpms needed to be looked at after startup so I learnt something new today. Sometimes I worry about how oblivious I can be at times…
I did the takeoff, remembering to use more right rudder to correct for the slipstream.
The first few landings for today were normal flapped landings. Unfortunately none of them were totally unassisted (gah). I was having issues with trying to get a stable approach today, I kept varying between too high and too low. One of my problems is that I’m generally too slow to correct these problems – I recognise them but I don’t make the correction soon enough so the problem gets bigger.
On a couple of the flapped landings today I bounced (which is, unsurprisingly, where the plane touches down then bounces up again). The first time it happened I let go of the backpressure (wanting to get the nose on the ground) causing J to grab the stick and increase the backpressure. I made the fundamental mistake – when you bounce, do NOT ever release the backpressure. If the plane keeps on boucing down the runway it will eventually land nose-first and drive the nosewheel and the prop into the ground. I bounced it a couple more times after this and each time I had to fight my instinct to release the backpressure (I’m not sure if everyone has this instinct or just me?). Apparantly though, J’s pleased that I made this mistake while he was there so it’s not all bad 🙂
I’m also having a few issues with the base leg of the circuit. When turning onto base I tend to do the radio call first and then reduce the power etc. This means that it takes me longer to get the plane set up for approach (flaps lowered, power set, trim etc) and means that I haven’t descended as much as I should by the time we turn onto final. We should be descending about 500ft but instead we’re only descending about 150ft which is a big difference! To fix this I’m going to try reducing the power first then doing the radio call as the plane slows to the speed where flaps can be used.
After a few flapped landings, we moved onto trying flapless landings again. We didn’t do these last lesson so I was a little hazy on them at first. When doing a flapless landing, when on base, the plane’s nose is placed in a straight-and-level attitude which for me is about 1/3 up the windscreen. The final leg is a flatter than for a flapped approach and, once again, I had some issues with trying to keep the final leg stable.
When doing the ‘go’ after the first flapless landing I forgot to lower the flaps before taking off. It was interesting to see just how much of a difference flaps make to take off, it definitely took longer to lift off than a normal take off. I made sure to remember to lower the flaps on all the take offs after that.
I did manage to do one unassisted landing today but I think that was partly because J talked me through the approach. It does demostrate what he’s been saying, that a good approach is essetial for a good landing. He did say today, though, that my landings were quite good considering that my approaches were quite unstable.
After a few flapless approaches, the final landing was a full stop on 36R. I bounced a bit (again) but this time I remembered to hold the backpressure on so I clearly learnt something today!
I’m also tending to level off and starting flying straight too far above the runway. Considering I was skipping this step completely before, I guess this is an improvement! I need to keep flying the plane down towards the ground and only start flying straight once the perspective change occurs. I guess it’s partly a psychological thing, not wanting to get too close to the ground! I also need to remember to look at the horizon once the perspective change happens, not at the ground in front of the aircraft – if you look at the ground, that’s where you’re going to fly!
One of the issues today was that the winds were quite variable – anything from nothing to 10kts or so. Additionally there was a bit of a headwind which affected the approach. J put it as, as well as fighting the aeroplane to get it where you want it to go, you also have to fight the environment. It’s all good experience though.
Next lesson we’re probably going to start looking at Engine Failures After Take Off (EFATO) as well as doing more consolidation of approaches/landings. We don’t actually do any engine failures, just simulated ones by pulling the throttle back. I have a feeling it’s going to be rather interesting!
Excitingly, I might be getting the chance to fly/fly in (yes they are different and I’m not sure which applies yet) in a Tiger Moth!
J is apparantly arranging for a Tiger Moth to be at Lilydale for a month or so and people can do Joyflights or tailwheel endorsements in it. I’ve put myself down to have a ride in it, it seems too good an opportunity to miss!