In which I discover that model aeroplanes are evil, experience a sideslip and learn that I can’t narrate my approach.
Today’s mission was circuits, with a mixture of flapped and flapless approaches.
I preflighted 5231 (fighting off the flies as I did so – I swear every fly at YLIL saw me there and zoomed over to annoy me) and taxiied us to 36.
I did the takeoff and when we reached about 500ft J pulled the power for an EFATO. Taken totally by surprise (I knew we might be doing EFATOs but not on the first take off) I was like ‘gargh, you prat!’ but (happily) immediately lowered the nose. There was a line of trees just in front of us but there was a slight gap just to the left of the nose, so I turned us left and said I was heading towards the gap in the trees. That worked, so we powered up and continued around the circuit. J apologised for pulling the EFATO on the first circuit (I need to stop swearing at the poor guy during EFATOs but I don’t realise I’m doing it, it’s just a response to suddenly not having any thrust!) but apparantly most EFATOs happen after the initial takeoff. I immediately lowered the nose when it happened, so I’m doing the right thing 🙂
During this circuit I messed up the turn onto downwind and ended up on the left/east side of Victoria Rd instead of the west/right side. Apparantly we fly on the west side to avoid overflying the model aeroplane club that is near there. I didn’t know this but apparantly despite being only meant to go up to 300ft, the model aeroplanes can go up to circuit height and the idiots sometimes actually try to loop the model around the plane. (and, if they hit a Jab, has the potential to bring it down, eep).
The first landing was a flapless landing (although I realised after the takeoff that the flaps were down and I’d actually left them down for the entire first circuit, oops). Anyway, we were coming in a bit high so J did a sideslip (absolutely cannot wait until I have to do one myself, they’re FUN!). With a sideslip the controls are crossed which creates drag. You make the rudder input first (lead with your foot) and make aileron inputs to correct for the roll caused by the rudder.
The next few landings were also flapless (and actually flapless this time too!). This lesson J wanted me to commentate during the approach and tell him what I was thinking, which is good in theory, but the problem is that half the time I’m not sure what I’m thinking and I’m generally doing it by feel, so it’s hard to articulate what I’m thinking. I think I failed majorly at that challenge somehow!
We then moved onto flapped landings. 4929 was also flying by this point and for some reason he was extending his circuits so we had to turn upwind later and also delay the base turn. This meant that when reducing the power, instead of doing it during the base turn, you wait and do it after the turn since the final leg will also be extended.
I think I did at least one unassisted landing today but most of them seemed to be partly assisted. I think one problem is that I’m not holding enough backpressure because I forget that the controls are less responsive at low airspeeds so bigger control inputs are needed. A couple of times today I flared too high as we ran out of airspeed when meant that we landed with a fair thump. Also, one time today I actually landed on the left main wheel and the nosewheel (instead of the mainwheels) which is a bad move as if you land on the nosewheel in a Jab, you can flip the plane (I didn’t actually realise I’d done it though until J pointed it out). Attempting to talk through the approach did seem to help me break the landing into stages better and get the flying above the runway part.
Apparantly my approaches/landings are 95% there, we just need to get the last 5% which is apparantly ‘finesse’ (and probably also managing to bloody do it all by myself!). Next mission we’re going to look at glide approaches which should be interesting. We’re also going to work on my situational awareness (which I put as ‘knowing what’s around you to crash into’).
Unfortunately J didn’t have any times free on Sundays during the rest of the year, so I’m down to 7 hours to try and go solo before the end of the year. I guess it depends upon how well I get glide approaches and also if there’s anything else other than glide approaches I need to learn before solo. Also, getting the plane on the ground by myself consistently would help!