First lesson of the new year – lets just say things didn’t go quite as well as we had hoped!

I got a phone call quite early in the day asking me to come in earlier for my lesson as the weather was going to play a massive part in the days flying schedule. Having seen that the recent storm was heading our way I was more than aware of the changing weather and was quite prepared to receive the call to say the lesson had been cancelled, however it was still going to be going ahead, but not the lesson I was meant to be covering. Due to the lower than required cloud for stalling, my instructor suggested we started looking at circuit work, more than happy with that I set off.

I arrived at the briefing rooms and was greeted by my instructor, we headed in to the briefing room and talked about what to expect in the circuit, the radio calls, the departure and most importantly the landing! We spent around 30 minutes briefing this and in that time the weather had changed slightly. We headed out to the aircraft, the visibility was getting worse, and got comfy, set the GoPro and audio recorder up and started running through the checklist.

We got the aircraft up and running quite quickly and tuned the ATIS frequency, the METAR was taken 25 minutes prior to us listening so was fairly old – I will add we could see breaks in the clouds which is why my instructor took the decision to fly – as we got airborne it was clear we were going to have to call it a day due to decreasing visibility and increasing cloud coverage.

This is Shoreham Arrival and Departure Information Foxtrot, Time 1056, Runway in Use 20 Left Hand Circuit, Surface Winds 200 14 knots, Visibility 6km, Few 900ft Broken 1100ft, Temperature +9, Dew point +8, QNH 1009, QFE 1009, Recent Rain. Acknowledge receipt of Information Foxtrot.

We called up the tower with our intentions of doing circuits and to get our taxi clearances, to which they said they were uncertain of circuits at the minute, however to taxi to the runway and judge when we got airborne. As we started to moved off, the aircraft was very reluctant to get underway, it needed quite a lot of power – at one point I thought I would have to use full power to start moving. The ATIS had said the airfield had had rain recently and the grass was soaked, the aircraft eventually lurched forward, so power was reduced, in doing so we managed to bury the nose wheel in the grass creating a massive rut – something we didn’t see until we shut the aircraft down. To get out of this we had to use full back pressure on the yoke and pretty much full power. We got out of this rut and continued the taxi to runway 20, on the way I completed the taxi checks, and then at the hold the power and pre take-off checks before informing the tower we were ready for departure.

The rut on the grass that we didn’t see until we had parked and finished the lesson.

We lined up on Runway 20, increased full power and headed on up, as the wind was straight down the runway we reached our rotation speed quite quickly and started to climb dramatically. On the climb out we both agreed the weather was not great to do circuits so we decided to just do the one circuit and land instead of touch and go’s. As I turned to the crosswind leg I was meant to be heading towards the cliffs of Seaford, however could only see around 5km, and the cliffs are a lot further than that so had to rely on a heading.

The entire circuit was done pretty much on headings as there was very little point of reference to the outside. On the downwind leg we could barely make out the airfield, we could see it but not very clearly. As we turned base the runway became visible only due to the lights on it.

Sadly my GoPro fell off on the final turn so for the remainder of the flight showed me nothing apart from the back of my seat. The approach was quite stable, it was quite slow due to the massive headwind we had heading straight down the runway. My instructor had to, a few times, push the control yoke forward to keep the nose pointing towards the runway. I flew the aircraft to the runway and performed the round out and flare, before a not so gentle landing.

As we were only doing the one circuit we rolled out to the end of the runway. As we taxied back to the apron my instructor said that I was doing really well with my flying skills, my radiotelephony and general handling skills. I was really happy with this considering I only have 5 hours (6 hours if you include the trial lesson) under my belt. We taxiied in to our parking spot which is on the grass, as it had been raining earlier in the day the grass was extremely wet and slippy, as we came to a stop I managed to skid the aircraft on the grass – not something I was meant to be doing!

When we got out of the aircraft we managed to see the extent of the rut we had managed to get in to and to see the skid that we had just done in the aircraft – not something I’m proud of, it was a little un-nerving losing the control, even if the aircraft was coming to a stop. The debrief was very short and sweet due to the lack of a lesson, but none the less there was positive and constructive points from the lesson.

The next lesson will be on the 19th Jan hopefully, weather dependant.

Annoyingly CloudAhoy didn’t get a great track on this flight, however the link is here.




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