Circuit Revision

In which I fly some circuits, manage to remember how to do a precautionary search, and deal with a stack of engine ‘failures’

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After heading out to the airport twice in the last two days for theory stuff and having the actual lessons cancelled, I was hoping today the weather would actually be kind and I might actually get near an aircraft. Happily, it complied and I got to fly today. The plan for today’s mission was to do some circuit revision, focusing on circuit emergencies, and basically polish up my circuits.

After preflighting a muddy 5231, we climbed in and taxiied to 36. I had to be careful when taxiing today, it was very muddy and there was a risk of doing power slides across the taxiway (which sounded rather fun really). However, while it definitely was slippery, I tried to avoid the major puddles and managed to avoid doing any proper power slides across the taxiway.

I did the takeoff from 36L, managing to avoid sliding all over the runway, and flew the first circuit.

The first approach was just a normal flapped approach. However, on short final, J pulled the power to idle to simulate an engine failure. I’d never had the engine ‘failed’ on short final before, so it was a new experience. It wasn’t too difficult to deal with, it was gliding nicely on the right approach path so I basically flew it normally and flared, and ended up with quite a nice touchdown 🙂

I powered up and started off on the next circuit. When we reached about 700ft (AGL), just before I turned crosswind, J pulled the power again for another engine ‘failure’. I immediately lowered the nose and picked a field (bet it would’ve been a muddy landing if it was a real failure!) and we powered up and continued the circuit.

Instead of landing, J told me to do a precautionary search. As you might remember, this is where you do three passes over the runway (or field or whatever, wherever you intend to land), each one at a slightly lower height, to assess the field and look for any potential obstacles. I couldn’t exactly remember what heights the passes needed to be flown at, I thought it was 500ft, 250ft and 50ft, but had a slight feeling of doubt. I nearly asked J then decided that I was doubting myself uncessarily and if it did turn out that I was wrong about the heights, then J would point it out to me. So I flew the 3 passes at those heights and, since J didn’t correct me, I’m guessing I was right!

After the 50ft pass we didn’t do a final landing circuit, but just continued on our normal circuits. J pulled another EFATO and I just dealt with it like the previous one, nose down and pick a field.

This circuit was meant to be a flapless approach, but on late downwind J pulled the power for a glide approach. I turned it towards the field and did a few S-turns to lose hieght. As we got closer I could tell that we were definitely too high, but couldn’t decide what to do to fix it (I need to become more decisive!). I lowered the first stage of flap, but it was clear that we were still quite high. We definitely would’ve made the field, but if we had landed we wouldn’t have had enough space to do a touch & go, so powered up and went around. J commented that I need to become more proactive when doing glide approaches (I know, I need to be more decisive!) but other than that, he didn’t really have much to comment on since we would’ve made the field, which is the main objective of a glide approach. So, basically, I just need to practice being decisive.

The next circuit was the final one for the mission, a short-field landing. Since we were using 36, we couldn’t aim for the actual threshold of the runway since we had to make sure we didn’t take out any cars on the road that runs just before the threshold. Happily, I managed to both avoid cleaning up the cars on the road and also put it down nicely in the place I wanted to (and without a thump either!). I also managed to avoid skidding off the side of the runway in the mud, which was rather nice 😛

Once again, I used the app on my phone to track the path of the flight today. As it was circuits it is, unsurprisingly, not the most exciting map, but still, it’s nice to see that my circuits are actually rectangular like they’re meant to be.

Excitingly, next dual mission is going to be a pre-licence check. This is basically a mock test with J, going through a bit of everything. As it needs to be a double lesson (there is a theory component before…more studying alas), I have to wait until Sunday to do it. I did have two lessons booked on Friday and Saturday and rather than cancel I figured that since I had the plane booked, I’d just do some solo time. I need 4 more solo hours to get a passenger endorsement and I figured that it didn’t really make any difference whether I did them before or after the test. Assuming that the pre-licence check goes well, I’ll be booking in with K, the CFI, for my test! My goal is finally in sight, it seems a little scary really. I think once I get my certificate, I’ll start navs quite soon after, I may as well keep my training going at a good pace. Now I just need to hope for good weather on Sunday 😛

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