Circuits and Solo circuits

In which I learn how to use the radio, chase the airspeed during a glide approach and fly some more solo circuits.


The plan for today’s mission was to do some dual circuits then for me to go off and do some more solo circuits.

I wandered out to preflight 5231. As I was doing it, a guy who was out there (watching his wife do circuits in their Jab I think) came over and gave me a tip on reading the oil dipstick – take it out, wipe off the oil, screw it back in then remove it, tilt it slightly and you’ll get a definite line of where the oil is. Good tip to know, those dipsticks are hideous to read!

While I was preflighting I was also told by Jono (one of the FIs) that they’ve been having some problems with little bugs living in the Jab pitot tubes (used to measure airspeed) so some flights have had to be cancelled because of no airspeed indicator. To combat that, they’ve started putting covers on the pitot tubes while the Jabs are parked and you need to start doing that after every flight. Of course, being me, I forgot to do it today so I’ll have to try and remember next mission.

J came out and we jumped in. Before we started up, I asked him to go through what each knob on the radio did – I’d had a little play with them last mission so had an idea but just wanted to check. The knob of the left on the actual radio was the volume control (easy enough). The knob next to it adjusts the standby frequency and to move between the two frequencies there is a little button underneath with two arrows on it. Next to the radio is the control for the intercom which controls volume and squelch – if there is no squelch, then the headset mics will be constantly live, if squelch is turned all the way down then the first word spoken will be clipped as the mic wakes up – ideally you want just enough squelch that the background noise is eliminated but the first word isn’t clipped.

We got sorted, then taxiied to 18. 18L was out of action today so everything (including full stop landings) would be done on 18R. I did the takeoff and we headed off on our first circuit.

Shortly after I’d raised the flaps after takeoff, J pulled an EFATO on me (the joys of flying dual again! :P) I lowered the nose and decided to head towards the field just to the right of the treeline. We powered up and continued the circuit.

During downwind, J pulled the power for a glide approach. I turned to the runway and held the nose up with full rearward trim to try and get down to 65kts. I ended up chasing the airspeed for most of the approach though, either I was too fast or too slow but couldn’t seem to get it on 65kts – actually heard the stall warning once, it just shows that you can stall in any configuration! (especially since the nose was pointing down somewhat at that point). We did make the field but since it was 18R I attempted to stretch the glide so we’d reach the touchdown zone which meant that we ran of speed and landed with a fair thump. It was a pretty stupid thing to do really, if it was a real glide approach you wouldn’t be worrying about things like touchdown zones, you’d just be glad you made the field! J said that I need to remember that airspeed during a glide is related to attitude – I need to hold the attitude (which is nose just slightly higher than S&L) and let the speed settle, rather than trying to chase the speed by adjusting my attitude.

The next landing was a flapped full stop on 18R. The landing was fairly smooth and I just managed to avoid giving 5231 a pat to celebrate – shows how little I’ve been flying dual recently doesn’t it! 😛

I dropped J off at the school and went off to do some solo circuits. The first two, one flapped and one flapless were pretty uneventful although not my smoothest landings. The third was also going to be a flapless landing but as I was coming towards touchdown I felt that the approach was pretty unstable so I made the decision to go around instead. That was completed easily and the 4th circuit was a successful flapless full stop on 18R.

The main problem I was having with my solo circuits today was trying to hold my altitude – for some reason I kept on constantingly ending up between 50-250 feet too high, then when I corrected it ended up somewhat low so had to correct that and ended up too high again… I can usually hold my altitude better than that (although I still have been ending up somewhat high at some point on my solo circuits but not as bad as today). I think I really need to work on this next mission and work on holding my altitude steady around the entire circuit.

I now have 2.6 PIC hours out of the 3 hours I need. The plan for next mission is to do some short field landing work in the first half of the mission and then let me go solo later so I can get the last 0.4 I need. After that, we’re finally out of circuits and off to the training area! 🙂


4 Responses to Circuits and Solo circuits

  1. Nick says:

    I’m surprised that your school didn’t have covers on the pitot tubes to begin with. I recall being taught the importance of that in my first lesson.

    0.4 must be the magic number because that’s what I’ve got to go too. It’s a nice feeling hey?

    Like you I’m Looking forward to finishing off circuits and getting back out to the training area this weekend!

  2. Darky says:

    The problem with the pitot tube covers is that when you go to take them off, the pitot tube comes with it 😛

    I think I’ve forgotten what the training area looks like by now! 🙂

  3. GraemeK says:

    Sounds like another good day Darky!!!

    On maintaining height on downwind – I think maybe its like chasing the ASI. I still have the same problem – and it’s when I don’t do my ASPT right at the start so then I spend the rest of downwind chasing things and oscillating between high and low (usually ending up low at the base turn). So I try to set the attitude to S&L, wait for airspeed to get to 95, power back to 2900 and trim – if I can nail it then, the rest seems to follow.

    After forever in the circuits …… what’s the training area??

  4. Darky says:

    I’m not sure what the training area is either, I’ll get back to you when I’ve found out 😛

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