>Lesson 9: Flying circuits

>Saturday just gone was my first lesson for 2011.  It was mid-arvo and looking back at the ATIS notes on my clipboard the winds were from the South West at 18 knots with cross wind of upto 10 knots.   It was still earlier in the day, so maybe morning lessons could be a better choice.

This lesson was the second for circuits.  It was literally a repeat of the first lessons, but focusing considerably more on all the checks, flying a clean pattern and the main bit, nailing the landing.  So this lesson involved 2 go-arounds and 5 landings.  Blow by blow, this is how it played out…

Pre-flight was a quiz, Adam drew the circuit path on the whiteboard and my job was to fill it out with everything we would need to do.  That went pretty well.  Just quietly I’ve had the acronyms pinned up at work and have been glancing at them for the last couple of weeks for this exact moment.  Still I managed to get two things wrong, but nothing flying 7 circuits wouldn’t fix.  This week, the pin up is going to say “Carb Heat, Carb Heat, Carb Heat”.  I forgot it on the whiteboard and 6 times in flight…

What you forget after a few weeks out of the cockpit is how fast it all happens, the 3d movement and the smile 🙂

All I’ll say about flying the circuit pattern itself was:

  • to the female pilot in her own 2 seat Van’s kit aircraft, you own Adam and I beers!  (due to her long up-wind and down-wind legs, we had to follow and/or slow down as a result)
  • the base leg was fun with a 20 degree yaw to compensate for the drift
  • remember to turn on that damn carb heat, its not hard…

The first landing I was a bit high, so I called a go-around.  We have to do one anyway as part of the circuit training.  Cool, easy, until the tower called us a short upwind leg and asked us to turn early.  That was new…  The second circuit, the tower called a go-around on us.  This was due to an aircraft needing to make an emergency landing on runway 12 (which cuts across the end of our runway.  Meant was had a birds eye view of the stricken aircraft coming in to land safely.  That was a relief and I’m sure for him too.  Perfect glide landing without engine, sweet…

The rest were all touch and go’s.  I progressive improved, with a few no-no’s learnt on the way.  Ok, I just hadn’t got the flare well understood, but have it figured now.  Back off power, pull straight and level at small building height, cut power to idle and hold the nose attitude up as the aircraft sinks using a reference point at the end of the runway.  So, I managed to pull the nose up too quickly and ballooned us, then proceeded to drop the nose and only just pull us back up just above level for a “firm” touchdown.  Oops.  So the second to last was ok, but needed a little assistance as a cross wind gave us a sweep during flare.  Then the last…

On the way in Adam said there was no help coming regardless (he has said that before, but is always there to help when needed :).  Cool, as he sat back I asked if he was nervous.  We were on finals, maybe 400 feet and agreed the area was clear and we were going in.  The radio call from the tower confirmed our approval.  The track was sweet, the centre line was through my bum, he answered, “no its looking perfect”.  2 seconds later a gust pushed us well wide of the runway, he quickly piped up, “but I am now”.  Anyway, his good instructing paid off, I brought us back with 250 feet in hand, that centre line centre again.  Anyway, over the threshold, eyes on the other end of the runway, power back, flare, progressive attitude and sqreech, touchdown!  Got a good one, short roll and onto the taxiway.    Yay, it felt good to finally nail a good landing.  Oh yeah, this was the one circuit that the carb heat was done right too…

Debrief was good and apart from the flare and carb heat discussions, Adam was happy.  He reckons another hour together, an hour with Peter and it is likely Peter will send me up for the first solo.  Can’t wait!  The catch, remember the blog post on forms, well CASA have still to process my ASIC and Student Pilot license application which will take 6 weeks.  It didn’t help that they were sitting in the bottom of my bag waiting.  Tip, get your forms processed early early early!  Anyway, just means we move onto advanced circuits (no flaps etc)…

Below is the 3D flight path of the lesson (Google Earth Gadget) or click here to download the file to view in Google Earth…

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