In which I preflight in the rain, do a glide approach, have some engine problems and make some PIC decisions.
The weather on the way to the airport today was pretty dodgy, so I called them to check that things were still on. Apparantly the weather wasn’t too bad there, so off I went.
I arrived and was sent out to preflight 4964 in the drizzle. Got slightly wet, did as much of the preflight as I possibly could hiding under the wings!
We had to wait around for about 10 minutes while the weather cleared, then we jumped in and I taxiied us to 18R and did the takeoff.
The first circuit was a glide approach (I haven’t done many glide approaches on 18). I had some problems trying to keep it down to 65kts (glide speed) – I had it trimmed full back but the airspeed still seemed to sneak up a bit. I did an S-turn then a vague attempt at a sideslip (really need to practice those) and then lowered half flap. It was nicely lined up to land and I was concentrating on that when J said “Go around.” So I had to immediately change my mindset to powering up and going around and did it pretty smoothly.
The second circuit was a flapless full stop. During the circuit J said that he was going to send me off for some solo circuits, but I was to keep a very careful watch on the weather approaching from the south and land if there was any showers. He said he’d be keeping an eye out from the ground and would radio me to tell me to land if he decided it was too bad. I did a slightly bumpy full stop on 18L, dropped J off and headed off to do some solo circuits.
I taxiied to 18 and did my pre-takeoff checks. During the checks the rpms on the tacho dropped to zero for a moment. I knew the rpms weren’t actually zero because the prop was still going along happily, but it was rather disconcerting. The rest of the checks were fine so I taxiied it to 18R. However, as I was taxiing the rpms dropped to zero again at least once, if not more times, which worried me a little. When I stopped at the end of the taxiway to do my lining up checks, I got to Ts and Ps in the green and noticed that the oil pressure was in the yellow. I played around with the power settings for a bit and noticed that at 2000rpm it was in the green but only just in the green. I decided to taxi for a bit to see if that fixed things (I was still a bit uncertain about the tacho as well). I taxiied up and down the taxiway but noticed that the oil pressure remained in the yellow.
I had to fight the feeling of ‘I really want to go flying…maybe it’ll fix itself in the air’ and remember that I am PIC for this flight and my safety, the safety of the plane and the safety of other people was down to me. I decided that I didn’t want to test out my glide approaches for real and I didn’t really want my last words to be “Well that was a bloody stupid decision wasn’t it!”. So I made the decision to abort the solo circuits and taxiied back to the school.
I went inside and J asked me how it was – I was just like “I didn’t even get off the ground!”. I told him what the plane had been doing so we headed out to take a look. He said that often with the Jab it’s more of a problem with the connection between the engine and the guages than the guages themselves, so we turned it on and had a fiddle with the connections. One reason why the oil pressure may have been a bit low is that the engine was warm so the oil was thin, which lowered the pressure. The tacho issue was probably also caused by the connection since the engine still sounded the same and the prop was going along fine. Apparantly if the guagues aren’t working properly on the Jab (like most things on that plane it seems) give them a whack to see if that fixes them.
It was disappointing to only get 2 circuits in today, but I made the right choice to abandon the solo circuits since I was unhappy with the plane. That is the sort of decision that comes with being PIC.
Something exciting did happen today, J said that next time I can take the plane up solo without have to do the dual check circuits first! That means that I’m clearly flying consistently enough each mission for him to be happy to let me loose without the dual. So, tomorrow, I’ve booked the plane for an hour or so to do some solo circuits – it means I have to get up at 7am to get there at 8:30 but it’s worth it – clearly I’m obsessed! 🙂