In which I nearly mess up every radio call I make, try my first sideslip, have issues with a displaced threshold and discover that I’m not allowed to fly down the side of the runway.


Today’s mission was, again, circuits, basically consolidating everything we’ve done so far.

I preflighted 5231 (luckily not 4964, yay!) and, after we jumped in, taxiied us to 18. Then I did the takeoff, realising just how crap 4964 has been last lesson…

It’d been a while since I’d done any circuits on 18, so it took a little while to get used to doing right hand circuits again. Plus I was having a few issues with making the radio calls – the amount of times I very nearly said that we were on “wunway wun eight“! I think J was wondering what was wrong with me!

The first few circuits were flapless. The first circuit we ended up far too fast on final, closer to 90kts+ rather than 80kts. This meant that the approach was pretty unstable and the landing wasn’t too crash hot (at all). It did, however, give me the chance to try doing a sideslip which, at the same time, was good fun but felt completely nutty to do (can’t wait to try more of them!). Considering how fast we were on the approach, it may have been more sensible to just admit I’d f*cked up and gone around. J said that when making the base turn, I’m not reducing the power enough before making my radio call. I need to remember my priorities – aviate, navigate, communicate. So, during the base turn, I need to roll the plane, then reduce the power, then once I’ve got that set up I can make my call. I tried this the next circuit and it was interesting to see how much it helped the airspeed to wash off – we seemed to get down to the required 80kts in no time.

One of the main problems I was having today was the fact that 18R has a displaced threshold – you can’t land before the white markers next to the windsock but there is extra runway before that which you can use for takeoff. This really messed me up a bit because on approach I kept looking at the end of the runway and forgetting that I should be looking about halfway up the runway where the windsock is. On the second circuit I actually didn’t realise about the displaced threshold and touched down before the markers – J pointed it out and I was just like “oops”

After a couple more flapless landings, we moved onto flapped landings – again, with varying degrees of success. On of the circuits we ended up towards the left side of the runway on approach and J was like “let’s head to the right a bit shall we?” and I was like “awwwww, you mean I can’t fly down the side of the runway?” 😛

J also pulled an EFATO on me on one of these circuits. I lowered the nose and picked a field slightly to our right. There were trees bordering most of the fields near us which made it a bit harder to pick. J must have been satisfied with my choice though, and we powered up and continued the circuit.

For the final circuit, we were going to try a strip run – flying just above the runway at about 5ft and not landing. I managed to start flying level but I think I was slightly too high. Then J said to slowly pull the power and just let it touch down when it wanted to. In theory, this was a good idea but (once again!) I misjudged our height and thought we were higher than we were so we touched down before I was expecting it.

During the debrief, J said that I’ve got all the pieces of the landing, I just need to put them together. He can clearly tell I’m getting frustrated with myself, he said that nobody is born knowing how to fly, we learn by f*cking up and by doing so I can learn what it looks like when I’m wrong and how to correct it (which is true, I know). I said that I think my main problem is not being able to judge how high/low we are above the runway – I keep misjudging it and either thinking we’re higher than we are and getting a surprise when we touchdown and I’m not expecting it, or thinking we’re lower than we are and attempting to touchdown and not succeeding. J thought about it and suggested I need to use my peripheral vision more – like when driving, you use your peripheral vision to judge where you are in the lane etc. I know I’m generally slow when it comes to learning things which require judgment – when I was learning to drive, it took me a fair while to learn how to park etc 😛 It’s just getting frustating because I know what I need to do, I just can’t do it and put it together. J was like “we’re going to get there, don’t worry” 🙂

I’m hoping the next mission (on Wednesday) will be using 36 so I don’t have to deal with the headache of the displaced threshold while I’m trying to get the hang of landing the thing!

Things I need to work on next mission:

  • Working out our height above the runway
  • Using peripheral vision better during landing
  • Turning carby heat off on final (always forget, poor J has to remind me every time, I’m sure he’s sick of it by now)
  • Keeping the plane on its heading and on the centreline and correcting it quicker when it tries to drift off towards the side (since I’m not allowed to fly along the side of the runway!)
  • Letting the plane touchdown by itself as airspeed washes off

One Response to Circuits

  1. GraemeK says:

    I used to forget the carb heat every time!

    But now it’s fixed! What I do at about 500ft is actually call out a “Finals” checklist:

    Carb heat OFF
    Runway CLEAR

    The fact that I’m scanning for any traffic near the runway reminds me to call out the checks – so now I don’t forget. And actually calling out “Runway CLEAR” makes my instructor happy because he likes to know I’m always thinking about where the traffic is.

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