In which I hang around at the airport for the afternoon, act as ballast in a TravelAir without a headset and do my RA-Aus Certificate flight test.
So, today was test day. Surprisingly the weather complied, with blue skies and only light winds.
I arrived at 1pm to do the first part of the test, the theory Q&A (or so I thought, anyway). I hung around for a bit waiting for K who was out flying. When he got back he said he hadn’t actually realised until this morning that I was doing my test today, usually the FI talks to him and gives a ‘recommendation’ but J apparently hadn’t gotten around to doing that. I was worried that that meant that I wouldn’t be able to do my test today, but K suggested that we go for a fly later and if I did well, then it’d count as my test, and if not we could treat it as another pre-licence check.
While I was hanging around waiting to go for the fly (he had another student before that), C was looking for people to act as ballast for a load check flight in a Travelair. A TravelAir is a Beech twin, and C was doing a load check flight – loading it up to near MTOW (I think). Anyway they rounded up everyone who happened to be around the office at that point to use as ballast. I was rather amused by the fact that C asked all the guys how much they weighed but not me 😛 Chivalry at work? So we all headed out to the TravelAir, climbed in and headed off for a few circuits (without any of the ballast wearing headsets). I’m not sure my ears enjoyed the experience but I definitely want to do a twin endorsement one day now 😛
Once K was done with his student, we started off my test. First was some theory Q&A, just asking me about airspeeds for the Jabiru and the privileges/limitations of the RA-Aus certificate etc. He also asked me to calculate the density altitude for today, which took me a minute to remember how to do, it’s been a while since I did it for my BAK! I passed all that fine, so it was onto the practical part of the test.
K said that the responsibility for the flight was all mine and I was basically to just treat him as a passenger/forget he was there.
I preflighted 5231 and we taxied over to 18L for the takeoff. I realised during the run-up checks that the throttle on 5231 is still acting slightly weird (my heart sank when I realised that) but we worked around it – K said to tell him when I wanted to close the throttle and he’d tug on his side to help me. 18R was technically in use (and we would be using it for the T&Gs) but the north end of 18R is currently under water so takeoffs were from 18L. I took off, departed upwind and headed over to the northern end of the training area.
The first thing I had to do were some medium level turns in each direction. I have to admit it’s been a while since I just had to do medium level turns in a circle! I did one in each direction. I noticed that a climbed a bit during the turns, so I need to work on that.
Then I did some steep turns in each direction. I did the first one to the left but wasn’t totally happy with it so asked to do it again (which was fine). I didn’t totally maintain my height during the turns, so I need to do some work on that as well.
Next was stalling. I ran through the HASELL checks, then did the first stall – a clean, power-off stall. It didn’t really stall properly (it is a Jab after all) but the horn went off, I held it there for a moment, then recovered. The next one was also a clean power-off stall and K said that this time I wasn’t to hold it there, I was to recover as soon as the horn went off, which wasn’t a problem. After that I did a couple of stalls in the approach configuration (half flap, power 2000rpm) and they were fine with no wing drops.
Then K pulled the power for a forced landing. We weren’t in a particularly good spot field-wise but I picked one and started the approach. I ran through the first set of checks (left to right across the panel) then the FMOST checks and, pretending that none of them worked, continued the approach. Then it was time for the Mayday call and I realised that I wasn’t actually sure where we were. I had a vague idea and knew that we were near Healesville but wasn’t sure if the town to the north or to the south of us was Healesville. I was talking out loud to myself trying to work out where I was and in the end just decided that we were south of Healesville so said that in the Mayday call. In the debrief after the flight K commented that unless I’m completely totally lost, it’s generally better not to let on to him that I’m lost. I’d completely forgotten he could hear me when I was trying to decide where I was, I was just talking to myself! So I’ll have to remember that next time 😛 I wasn’t entirely happy with my approach but we would’ve made the field and K seemed happy with it, so it was all good.
We then headed back to the field to do some circuits. It took me a little longer than I would’ve liked to spot the field, unfortunately the sun was right in front of us, which made it rather hard to see. But I spotted it, made the inbound call and headed in. There was another aircraft that was using 36, so we joined crosswind for 36. I have to admit I was rather pleased about this because, although I don’t mind 18, I prefer using 36 without the displaced threshold.
K said to do a precautionary search, so I did the 750ft and 500ft passes, we didn’t do the 50ft pass. After the first I accidentally left the flaps down for most of the circuit (oops!) only realising on late downwind, I was rather displeased at myself for that.
Then we did a couple of normal flapped approaches. The first one was pretty nice, if I do say so myself, nice and smooth (although not quite a greaser). After takeoff K pulled the power for an EFATO. I turned up slightly to the left to avoid the treeline and said that I was aiming for that field. K said that he was pleased that I didn’t decide to head for the trees, apparantly students decide to head towards the treeline more often that you’d think! The second approach was also to be a flapped approach, but on downwind K popped the circuit breaker and said that my flaps had ‘failed’ so I had to do a flapless approach, which was also pretty good.
The next circuit K pulled the power for a glide approach. I turned it towards the field and started the approach. I did some S-turns then, still too high, did a fairly steep (and fun!) sideslip not too far from the threshold to the correct height. I hadn’t done a sideslip in ages so I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I made the field nicely and powered up for the T&G.
The final circuit was a short field landing. When we were on final K used the PTT button to turn on the runway lights on 36R – they didn’t do that much (I assume they’re only really effective in actual darkness) but it did help a bit to distinguish the runway. The landing was fine, although it did land a bit longer than I would have liked, but it was still within the limits of ‘short field’ so it was all good.
We taxiied it directly back to the hangar, managing to avoid getting bogged in the mud along the way! I wandered back to the school while K pushed it back into the hangar. I had the folder but didn’t dare look in it to see if I’d passed or not!
Shortly after, K arrived back at the school and gave me the good news – I’d passed. He did mention that I have some things to work on though – maintaining height during turns, turning the fuel pump off during cruise (I keep forgetting that one, despite my best intentions to remember it), not talking to myself about how I’m lost during a forced landing (oops), better awareness of traffic around me (I’m working on that one) and also being careful of Coldstream when heading inbound – I had thought that I was far enough away, but apparently I was a bit close, so need to be aware of that. Overall though, I passed 🙂
I still can’t believe I’ve done the test and passed, it still hasn’t hit me yet. I booked some solo time in the Jab over the weekend to try and get the last bit of solo time I need to get my passenger endorsement, and I’ve booked my first lesson in a Warrior on the weekend. I’m not sure it’ll hit me until I actually go for a solo fly. I’ve got there, I can’t believe it. Onwards and upwards onto Warriors now, time to get my PPL 🙂