In which my landings go back to being terrible, I learn that it is preferable to fly into a fence rather than a tree, nearly fly into a mountain and nearly land in a tree.
Today was the first mission of 2010, yet more circuits. Considering the 2 week break, it was going to be interesting to see how I went – as I thought, things didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. J said I’d probably be a bit rusty but (naturally) I was hoping to prove him wrong 😛
We ended up with 4964 which apparantly has a new engine. You could definitely tell the difference when flying it, happily it’s now no longer an absolute nightmare to fly.
We took off from 18R and upwind was my first indication that today mightn’t be my day. I completely forgot to put the flaps up until we were at circuit height and about to turn crosswind (oops). Although that is an indication of just how much better 4964 is now – before 4964 didn’t want to climb with the flaps down and reaching 500ft was always a bit of a relief! During this circuit I also discovered just how easy it is to accidentally get fixated on something inside the cockpit and not look outside enough. During downwind I (not realising it) got focused on something to do with performance inside the cockpit (probably the altimeter or tacho) and looked up to see a mountain in front of us, went “Oh crap, there’s a mountain”, turned immediately (at least my reflexes are good) and ended up on base early. We had to fly a slightly diagonal base to end up in the right place for final. We did a flapped approach and I soon discovered that my recent success with landings was gone – I was back to bouncing and landing with a fair thump.
During the downwind call for the second circuit of the mission I, for some reason I still can’t fathom, released the PTT button halfway through my radio call. I pushed it again, finished the call, and just went ‘Today is SO not my day!’
The landings today were a mixture of flapped and flapless and all of them were a bit messed up. I bounced some of them, flared too high on others and did a general mix of what I’d term fairly bad landings. However, on the upside, I managed to correct/deal with all of these mistakes by myself without J’s input, so that has to be a good thing. I have a tendency to swear when I’m landing (just to release tension I guess), and I don’t think I’ve ever sworn as much as a I did today (luckily for me J doesn’t seem to mind)!
During one of the circuits, J pulled an EFATO. All the fields in front of us were lined with trees, but there was a slight gap to the left so I decided that I would head over there. When we powered up and continued the circuit I noticed that there was a tractor or something there, but hopefully we would’ve been able to avoid that if it was a real EFATO. J pointed out that if you have a forced landing, you can go through a fence if you need to – it’ll mess up the plane a bit (or a lot) but you’re more likely to survive. If you hit a tree, you’ve got less chance of survival. Ideally, I’d like there to be a nice empty field or road in front of me I reckon!
During approach for one of the circuits, we struck a fair bit of sink over the tree line to the north of the field. If Jeremy wasn’t there, I have a feeling I might have ended up in the trees! One thing to watch out with something like that is to not pull the stick back to try and stretch the glide over the trees, you need to add a chunk of power as well. If you don’t, then you risk raising the nose and increasing the AofA too much and stalling the plane. Definitely something to remember.
The final landing today was a flapless landing on 18L. I felt like I had to drag the plane in with power on this approach. When I flared, I swore before we’d even touched down this time because I knew I’d done it at the wrong time. J was like “You really do have a thing about landings, you’re swearing before we land now!” 😛
Apparantly (and I agree), I’m tensing before landing which doesn’t help. I need to relax more (which is easier said than done I reckon, who’s relaxed when heading towards the ground?). I know one problem I was having today was that each time I did a landing I was unhappy with, I put more pressure on myself to get the next one right which meant I was even more tense when it came to the next landing. I need to concentrate on being more relaxed next mission – I think I need to remember that if I mess up too badly, J’ll save us from crashing so I just need to relax and do it.
I’m pretty frustrated with how I flew today. J said that considering I haven’t flown for 2 weeks or so I flew well and in the next few hours he reckons I’ll get there and landings will click. I’m just annoyed because I thought I’d cracked it and it had all clicked and now I seem to have gone backwards. I guess this is all part of learning to fly though. We’ll just have to wait and see how I go on Saturday!