On the way to the airport, the tree’s were swaying, flags at full stretch and my hopes of doing an hour solo were low. With an 8 knots maximum cross wind constraint of the flying school, it was not looking good. Often the air traffic control prefers to use the parallel runways even when runway 12 would be best. This allows better support for the high traffic. On the other hand it doesn’t help when you have constraints for flight as a student.
Out of air traffic control hours, runway 12 is the standard use runway, so it is usually the runway in operation when the tower starts. The wind direction was gusting at 15+ knots from the South East, so runway 12 was likely to stay in service and it was pretty much straight down the runway. This was a good thing. I got the aircraft ready, dragged it out to the apron and gave Wilson the hurry up.
We did have to wait to get a slot in the circuit briefly and were listening out on the handheld radio. It came through quickly and we headed out. On startup we tuned the radio into get ATIS information. Nothing, just static. F#@$… We fiddled with it and as 5 minutes became 10, my hopes of flying were dropping away quickly. This was the second time in three weeks this happened and I was rather pissed. Before finally giving up, we tried one last time and it started working, perfectly too. Go figure. Oh well, with the handheld tucked into the back of the seat, we headed out.
After getting taxi clearance we did the run-ups and pre-flight safety brief. With 4 other aircraft in the run-up bay or waiting, we taxied the 30 metres to the threshold. “Jandakot Tower, Cessna 152, India Golf Xray Ready Runway 12 for circuits dual”… Clear for take off. Mint. Wilson did his usual, fly your circuit and I’ll say nothing. So I did. The ATIS information said there was upto 10 knots cross wind, although in effect it was more like 4. You could feel the gusts, but was largely all good.
Feedback after the first circuit was considerable. Right, you are drifting on the upwind after takeoff, you forgot to put your flaps straight down to 20 degrees after turning base, rushed your downwind checks and should have more height when it is gusty. “I think your getting complacent” he said.
Knowing Wilson was spot on, it was time to regather oneself and put the wind, radio and everything else back of mind and focus. The next circuit was much better, although Wilson pulled power at 500 feet after takeoff. I jumped straight into the procedure, found a ditch point and ran through the checks. All good, power back on and into the circuit as usual. On downwind I got the instruction to approach flap-less. That was good, better height and the landing was not too bad.
The next circuit I was asked to do a glide approach. The glide was ok, heaps of height, but again, got a talking to about being complacent in the safety checks since it is a simulated engine failure. On the landing I did balloon and used a little power to help soften the extra height. Ended up ok. With that, Wilson took the controls and pulled us up and off the runway. We taxied back to the hanger. With that Wilson said, ok you can go up yourself, but you have to be back here at 10am sharp, no later! Woo hoo 🙂 An hour!
So I did the usual, fire up the camera, reset the voice recorder and savour briefly what I was about to go and do 🙂 Taxi clearance and out to the run-up bay. Run-up, safety briefing and out to holding point Bravo. “Jandakot Tower Cessna 152 India Golf Xray ready runway 12 for circuits solo!”… “India Golf XRay line up”. Out I go as the Boomerang climbs back off the runway into the sky. “India Golf Xray clear to takeoff”. Pushing the power in, you zone straight into the routine that you have learnt and 20 seconds later, I’m following the Boomerang into the sky.
The wind seemed to be gusting more, but I didn’t care in the slightest, I felt comfortable in the conditions. One circuit, two, three, all good and I was having fun. I’d taken Wilson’s earlier comments on board and felt well in control. Over the radio, the tower said cross winds now upto 12 knots. Felt fine, although there was definitely an increase in low level turbulence on the way in. Another circuit and the call of 16 knots. Still 20 minutes before I needed to head back so I kept going. Applying the cross wind technique I’d already learnt earlier, the skittish little 152 was handling fine and the landings felt good and went up for what would be the last circuit. Around again for and in for a full stop.
What was the best part was that the air was really busy. I always had an aircraft in front and several behind. New aircraft joining the circuit and landing too. It was fun maintaining correct separation with the other aircraft, including helicopters and holding my place. One of the other students flying circuits was taking a wide arc and it meant having to slow a little as I kept to the correct circuit pattern. On the last circuit another aircraft had been cleared in straight in from Adventure World in front of me. This was more challenging as she was approaching from 500 feet higher and the tower asked me to continue downwind until I had visual with her. Spotted and I turned in behind her. It meant having to adjust the approach, but all good.
On pulling up at the Air Australia apron I shutdown and no sooner had the next student and instructor open the doors. I gave them the heads up on the radio and they borrowed the handheld too. In the end the radio being fine, but was weird. It ended up being fantastic fun and the conditions meant using and developing the cross wind skills.
The synopsis, Wilson said that he was going to instruct Adam to now move on from the Solo circuits and being preparation for the area solo. Ye ha, let the next stage of fun being 🙂