A little later than planned on releasing this blog entry…
With 9 months to the day gone since the last time I flew, I knew it would be like the first time I flew all over again! Except this time I knew what I was doing, I knew what to expect and I had experience this time. I was booked in for a lesson on the 29th March, and to my suprise and relief the weather was perfect! The wind was straight down the runway, and not very strong, brilliant for my first flight back.
I headed down for around 1pm, checked in and met my instructor, Nick, we had a quick brief about what we would be doing, this included departing to the west, practicing some manoeuvres, such as stalling, turning and straight and level before heading back to the circuit for some touch and go’s. After the briefing I headed out to the aircraft to do the preflight checks and set up the camera, audio recorder and flight tracking software. I’ve recently purchased a new GoPro, and this was the first time i was able to try it out for the reason I purchased it. Nick booked the aircraft out and we both hopped in.
I got the departure information, and taxiied out to Runway 20. The weather as mentioned was brilliant
Shoreham Departure and Arrival Information Juliette, Time 1350, Runway in use 20 Left Hand Circuit, Surface winds 150, 3 Knots, Visibility 7km, Few clouds at 3200ft, QNH 1027
we departed off of runway 20, and when we got to the coast we turned westbound towards Worthing, we initially climbed up to 2000ft where I did a few 360 degree turns, one to the left and one to the right, before climbing up to 3000ft to practice stalling. I performed a HASELL check, a safety check before any manoeuvres are commenced. The first stall was a power off stall in a clean configuration (no flaps and power at idle), I then recovered from it and we put her in a landing configuration, 20 degrees of flaps, no power and stalled her again, this had a much lower stall speed, and made us virtually hang in the sky before she stalled and I recovered, the next was a take off stall, clean flaps but full power, it requires quite a bit of nose up pitch, but she stalls as normal and I recover. In the next stall my instructor takes over and shows me the effect of rudder in the stall, swinging the aircraft from left to right before putting her in to a 90 degree bank and starting a spin. He recovered and handed control back to me, he was happy I could remember the manoeuvres and we headed back to the circuit.
We returned to the circuit and performed a deadside join which involves flying and reporting overhead the airfield, for us it was at 2000ft, we then turned to cross the runway at the midpoint to start our descent, only once we were across the runway could we start our descending left turn to circuit height (1100ft agl) and cross overhead the numbers of the runway, before commencing the crosswind join and complete the circuit. A
I completed the first approach, touch and go and departure in the circuits, of which i thought I was going to be rather rough at, however it all seemed to go extrememly well, we completed another 4 touch and gos, before moving on to simulated emergency touch and gos, the first one consisted of a flapless landing, where the speed is a lot harder to get rid of due to the lack of drag on the aircraft, the nose up attitude is also higher on the approach , which seems very unnatural compared to the standard approach.
The following 2 approaches we completed a power off/glide approach and landing. On the downwind my instructor took the power away and said that if I were to loose my engine in the circuit, what would i do? Obviously the answer is to turn towards the airport and land anywhere but ideally on the runway. So he killed the power and said point the nose of the aircraft to the runway, this is to gauge as to whether you will make it or not, as you get closer to the airfield you can start to maneouver the aircraft on to the final approach course. Its quiet unnerving to be gliding towards the airfield, yes the engine is still running but the idea is to be able to judge the gliding distance of the aircraft should the engine fail during flight.
We landed off of this approach and taxiied the aircraft back to the stand, we then shut the aircraft down and secured it. We headed back up to the school to debrief the lesson, and discuss what I need to read up on for the next few lessons.
For my first lesson back after 9 months, I thought I would be really rusty, however getting back and getting some general handling in, followed by some circuits really helped. My instructor said that if I flew like I did in that lesson he would send me solo in my next one provided the weather conditions were acceptable.