Debrief – Tuesday 20th June

Day one of my week of flying is over and it was an eventful one! I got 2.2 hours of flying time in and covered a lot of stuff.

The first flight of the day involved my first solo adventure out of the circuit as I wished; a flight around the Isle of Wight. I checked the weather and NOTAMs. There were two things of interest: south of the Isle of Wight there were oil spill trials being flown; at Sandown airfield there would be parachutists being dropped. Both of these would be in my direct path. I discussed talking to Solent Radar with my instructor. I would be asking for a basic service as I would be flying around the island. I was quite nervous about this part of the flight and I practiced my calls a few times before heading down to the plane.

I started up “G-BUJP” as normal and prepared and taxied out. My Dad – who was also flying – noted that my voice went from confident to nervous pretty quickly on the radio, something that I also noticed. The cause of my nerves was definitely the thought of talking to Solent Radar.

I ran through my power checks and sat there practicing my radio calls. When I was ready I made a move for runway 05 and was off.

I departed to the south and as I was climbing over Cowes I said goodbye to Lee-on-Solent radio and then changed Solent Radar. I listened to the radio for a good while before I could get a word in. I sounded very nervous compared to the cool calm and collected voices of other pilots. As I tootled around the island I took in the view: rolling hills on my port and a threatening blue murk that was the Isle of Wight to my starboard. I approached the south-east side of the island and made a turn to head north. I checked in with Sandown airport to see if I might encounter parachutists as I passed by; I had a five minute window before the drop.

As I passed by Sandown a Cessna appeared out of nowhere almost directly in front of me. I made an abrupt turn to port to give us some more space, but thinking back I believe there was enough space between my aircraft and the Cessna. There was no chatter on the radio to indicate anyone had seen me; but shortly later I heard an aircraft make a landing at Sandown. It was a close enough call to make me a tad worried. I have spent some time thinking back and tried to work out what might have happened.

  • I changed from Solent Radar to Sandown to check on the parachute drop. I stayed on the frequency long after I needed to. I wonder if the other aircraft may have been talking to Solent Radar and if I had gone back to the channel I would have heard the other aircraft’s position.
  • The weather was hazy and often there was no horizon. I wonder if I missed the other aircraft as it approached me.

Whatever the situation I quickly decided to head back to the airfield and get to terra firma. I cut between Sandown and Bembridge and across the solent. I said hello again to Lee-on-Solent as I passed over Newport and headed towards Fawley and made a standard join to land on runway 05.

Once I was landed I had a quick debriefing with my instructor and we then began planning a quick navigation exercise. The navigation exercise involved me flying a route with my instructor from Lee-on-Solent to Andover, Fleet and back. I spoke to Farnborough Radar a lot on the trip and it helped improve my confidence a little bit more.

It was interesting going from using my whizzy wheel in navigation ground school lessons to now using it for real to plan an actual flight. It was a lot of work to maintain my heading, speed and altitude for extended periods of time.

All in all, it was a great first day of flying for the week and I’m looking forward to getting more into navigation. It turns out that flying for a total of 2.2 hours in a single morning can be quite tiring!

The week ahead

A month and a half ago I booked a week off work with the aim of getting some serious flying time in. So every morning between 20th-24th June I will be getting up early in the morning and prepping myself for a morning of flying. I have been checking the weather non-stop in the lead up to this week and I have a week of sun and warm weather – I seem to have got pretty lucky!

What do I want to get out of this week?

The first day of this week will see me leaving the circuit solo for the first time and going for a flight around the Isle of Wight. I want to practice some straight and level flying and get a few snaps of the island.

 

The end of the first day and the next three days will see me getting some navigation practice in: I will go for a navigation exercise with my instructor (I have a free landing at Thruxton); a solo navigation exercise somewhere over Petersfield and possibly another navigation exercise over Bournemouth in the direction of Compton Abbas.

 

I hope that these three days will put me in a position to attempt my cross country navigation exercise on the fourth day. The fourth day will be a saturday, a warm and sunny saturday, so I would expect a lot of general aviation traffic to be clogging the skies over southern England. It would be a brave move to do my cross country on that day but it would be a day of valuable experience.

 

 

Debrief – Saturday 10th June

Taken during the pre-flight walk around

There isn’t too much to report about this flight other than I spent some more time around the circuit. I hadn’t flown for two weeks so it was a good way to refamiliarise myself with how to fly.

During the flight I practised a combination of: normal approaches; flapless approaches; glide approaches; short field approaches. There was a steady wind of about 14 knots blowing down the runway which meant I would climb quickly and descend quickly. In my normal approaches I only had to use two stages of flap to get myself down. I enjoying my flapless approaches and the shallower approach was very noticeable. I also practiced a couple of flapless glide approaches which was fun. My first short field approach may not have counted as I only used two stages of flap when I should have used all three! I improved late on in my session by approaching high and dumping the final stage of flap later in the final leg and increasing my rate of descent.

 

There are a couple of things I would work on improving after this session. I need a bit more practice with my straight and level on the downwind leg as I am sometimes flying at 1100ft rather than 1000ft. There could be two reasons for this: not trimming correctly as I come out of my climb on the crosswind leg of the circuit; gaining height in my 30° turn at the end of the cross wind leg to the downwind leg. My straight and level has improved a lot from where it was so I am confident I can work this out next time I fly some circuits. The second thing I need to work on is my application of differential braking once on a short field landing as I applied more left brake than right and ended up uncomfortably swerving across the runway on one approach.

 

This will be my last session flying circuits for a while now. From June 20th-24th I have a double session booked in every morning. Weather dependent I believe I can get up to fifteen hours of navigation in and – with some luck – my qualifying cross country flight.

This is something I could have added to an older post, but here is the AIP chart for Lee-on-Solent where I fly from.

Lee to Sandown

After many, many hours in the circuit it was finally time to head out again and go on a bit of a road trip. My Dad is nearing the end of his license and needed to get some instrument practice in and I needed to get in some tight turn practice. We convinced our instructor into letting us do our own segment of flying and then stop at Sandown on the Isle of Wight for a cup of tea.

What a view

The day was warm and there were a few layers of puffy clouds – perfect for my Dad’s instrument flying. He took the first shift and we headed east over Portsmouth and Chichester. He covered his head in the infamous instrument visor and flew solely on instruments. Our instructor made a call to Solent radar requesting a traffic service and we headed into some clouds. As my Dad sweated keeping the plane straight and level I got to enjoy watching the plane be swallowed and spat out by the clouds around it. It was amazing!

Clouds surrounding our PA-28 over a natural harbour and land.
Into the clouds

After that exercise was finished we set off for the east side of the island. My Dad made a descent and began an approach to the Sandown; we approached from the dead side of the airfield and crossed runway to enter the circuit on the base leg. After a few bumpy circuits and a a good deal learnt about landing on grass runways we parked up and headed into the airport café for a cup of tea and slice of cake.

Parked up at Sandown

Once we were topped up on tea and cake we wondered back out to the plane and it was my turn to take control. This would only be my second take-off from a grass strip and I was a bit nervous, especially as I looked along the runway and saw what can only be described as a hill in the middle of the runway. I lowered two stages of flaps and opened the throttle. Keeping back pressure on the yoke I could feel the plane trying to get airborne on top of the bumps on the runway. Soon enough the wings generated lift I was climbing out of the runway. I had a shock when I heard the stall warner chime in the background; I pushed the nose down and kept climbing away.

I practiced a few circuits, getting in some practice landing on a short grass strip; my short-field practice is really starting to pay off! After my circuit practice I said good-bye to Sandown and climbed to 4,500ft above Thorney Island.

Finals at Sandown

My instructor demonstrated tight turns: flying circles with a 45° bank. The key is keeping back pressure on the yoke and increasing the power whilst passing through the 30° angle of bank. The primary reason for knowing how to execute a tight turn is that you may find yourself flying head on to another aircraft and you will need to take quick and fast evasive action.

If you don’t execute the turn properly you could find yourself falling into a spiral spin. This is a nasty situation where you will accelerate quickly to the aircraft speed limit. To recover from a spiral descent: close the throttle a tad; level the wings; climb to bleed off some speed and then return to straight and level flight. We practiced a few spiral descent recoveries which I really, really enjoyed them! I do have a thing for aerobatics or anything that feels like aerobatics.

After almost an hour in the air we decided to call it a day and head back along the Solent towards the airfield. As we descended I threaded my way through dotted clouds; enjoying the view as the towered above and fell on below us. As I approached Fawley I said hello to the Lee-on-Solent radio and joined the circuit and made a nice landing in the afternoon sun. Whilst making that landing it really hit me that I am nearly a pilot and can actually take-off, fly and land a plane fairly competently.

Debrief – Saturday 15th May

A good chunk of my last eight hours in the air have been spent flying around the circuit and I have finally gained enough solo time that my instructor has the confidence to send me up on my own; from start to end.

Agenda for today

  • Practice short field landings
  • Practice glide approaches
  • Land on the centre of the runway 

In the past I have been up with my instructor and he has done a few circuits with me and he has then jumped out and let me do my solos. Today was different as I did my walk around and jumped in the plane all on my own. I started up the plane as normal and began taxiing, this is where I was struck by how weak nervous I sounded on the radio, and that in turn made me actually feel nervous as I was taxiing. I took my time running through my power checks and allowed myself to get my head straight. When I was ready I headed out onto the runway.

As I took off my nerves disappeared and I felt comfortable. I knew what I was doing up in the air; even if I am on my own. I settled in for a good forty-five minutes of flight.

Not much exciting happened during the flight, which was a good thing! I did get to practice short field landings as I hoped and I was able to stop on the runway in less than 400 metres every time.

I don’t feel like I managed to improve the accuracy of my landings and had to correct my position on the runway with some aggressive ruddering. I think my problem here comes from not making enough corrections on the final leg. In the future I will attempt to make some corrections whilst on the base leg and see what happens!

I practiced a few more glide approaches but I haven’t quite worked out the best place to cut the throttle yet.

Other than above I don’t have too much to report other than I made it through my first entire solo trip. I didn’t run into any issues whilst starting up and taxiing. My nervous voice eventually disappeared and was replaced by my best confident pilots voice. It was a great hurdle to get past and I am excited for my first solo trip outside of the circuit.

Key take-aways

  • Practice glide approaches
  • Land on the centre of the runway

Debrief – Saturday 6th May

Sky above Lee

On the morning of the 6th I woke up with nothing planned for the day other than reading and watching a film. My phone starts ringing and it is my instructor – interesting!

“Jordan” he says “Do you want to go flying?”.

“Of course!” I say.

Two hours later I am walking across the apron ready to head off.

Even though I had a short amount of time to prepare I knew what I wanted to achieve in this weeks flying time.

Agenda for today

  • Land on the numbers

One of the consistent problems I have have had with my landings is that I would often aim for a point that I wanted to land on and would then float a bit further along down the runway; not going to be helpful when I am landing on small grass strips! I don’t quite know what the symptoms of my inaccurate landings were but I was going to have a good go at working it out.

I flew two circuits with my instructor before he jumped out and let me go and fly some solo circuits.

My forty minutes flying solo started off with what I thought were some displays of dodgy airmanship on my part. When my instructor left me I was parked up on the apron just in front of the control tower. The apron is connected to the runway via a thin taxiway and a hold point “Alpha One”. Across the runway is a nice round piece of taxiway that is used for our power checks before take-off. It can be accessed via a hold point Bravo One or another hold point called Bravo Two which is a little bit further up the runway. I noticed another plane crossing over the run up area on the other side of the runway and heading towards hold point Bravo One. I began taxing towards hold point “Alpha One” and noticed pretty early I was going to be blocking the aircraft that needed to cross the runway and vacate it via Alpha One as there isn’t enough space to pass side-by-side. Realising my error I made an improvised radio call:

“Golf-Hotel Alpha. Alpha One to cross, I need to make sure I’m out of the way of the aircraft crossing Bravo One now.”.

It felt a bit like a distress call on my part and I was a little concerned that I came across a little bit harsh and snappy. The controller on the other side of the radio told me to cross and leave the runway at Bravo Two. Now. I might have told you where Bravo Two was up above, but at the time I didn’t have a clue. In my haste to get past the other aircraft and off of the runway I just proceeded to Bravo One and gave the other aircraft a wave of thanks.

I am sure that the controller cursed me and threw a few complaints in my direction and I don’t blame him as I definitely confused a situation that didn’t need to be confused.

What could I have done differently? When I saw the other aircraft taxing across the power up area I should have realised that we were going to come face to face someone was going to be blocked. I could have stayed waiting on the apron for a couple of minutes and I would have prevented any issues. The other aircraft stopped at the bottom of the runway to let me through; if another pilot was on their final leg they would have had to go around as there were two aircraft crossing the runway. That would have been my fault because I was unnecessarily blocking a taxiway.

The second thing I could have improved on here was my failure to identify where Bravo Two was. Instead of carrying on to the exit I knew, I should have just asked the controller where Bravo Two was. He would have told me it was just up the runway and I would have known where to go. The saying “If in doubt, shout!” is very relevant here; remembering it during stressful situations is another thing.

My second display of what I thought was poor airmanship was during my first solo circuit. I found myself closing in behind another plane on the downwind and base legs. I had decided that due to my closeness I would fly a go around without descending for the approach. Because of this I found myself quickly overflying the aircraft and lost sight of him. I send out a radio call “Golf Hotel Alpha, on finals but flying a go-around and passing above the aircraft on finals”. I think it was the right call to make, but it was quite nerve racking flying over an aircraft so close below me. I was also concerned about and wake turbulence I may have been producing, even though I am in a small plane.

If I see another event like this developing in the future I will probably decrease my cruise speed and stick a bit further behind the descending plane to avoid any potential close calls that may occur.

Other than those two incidents my session was fairly straightforward. I practiced a lot of normal approaches and attempted a few glide approaches – which had to be turned into powered approaches on final! Towards the end of the session I was getting closer and closer to the numbers. Looking back on my previous landings I think I was aiming at just past the numbers which caused me to overfly and land further down the runway but now I was aiming for the numbers I was touching down more accurately. I did notice that my obsession with looking for the numbers caused me to fly some accidentally slow approaches, so I will need to keep an eye on my airspeed on final.

Whilst it was nice weather with blue skies there was a lot of haze whilst airborne; I could only just make out the Isle of Wight in the distance. A side effect of this was me not being able to see the land marks I normally use to visually judge my circuits. This meant I got some good practice judging turning points and headings based on visually looking at the runway I was flying around.

Very quickly my session was over and I taxied back to a very busy apron, parked the plane around and shut it down.

Key take-aways

  • Watch my speed on final
  • Be more aware of other aircraft and think about how I should act
  • “If in doubt, shout!”

Debrief – Ground School – Tuesday 2nd May

Every week I attend an evening course to help me get through the studying required for my PPL ground exams. Debriefing each session should help me with reinforcement of what I have been taught.

We are currently studying navigation in preparation for my that exam. In previous sessions we have been working with the whizzy wheel this day was the final navigation session we focused on radio navigation.

Some basics

When you fly away from a point you are flying a Radial and when you fly towards a point you are flying a Bearing.

Here is a quick example: If I am flying 180 degrees away from from a point am flying the Radial 180. If I were to turn around and fly towards the point I am flying the Bearing 360.

A radio transmits information in the form of waves, which has a few properties: wavelength, the length of one wave going up and down and back to its starting point; frequency, how many waves are fit into a one second period and amplitude, how tall is the wave.

Some nitty gritty about radios

There are three types of radio:

  • Low Frequency / Medium Frequency (LF/MF) – They aren’t reliable at night and are susceptible to costal refraction, static interference can happen due to thunderstorms. The waves follow the earths curvature. LF operates at 30-300kHz and MF operates between 300-3000kHz.
  • Very High Frequency (VHF) – The radio operates with line of sight. Is susceptible to propagation errors, dead spots and waves reflecting off of buildings. VHF operates between 30-300MHz.
  • Ultra High Frequency (UHF) – Operates on line of sight and it operates between 300-3000MHz.

Types of radio

There are a number of different radio aids that can be used to help with navigation whilst in the plane.

VHF Direction Finding (DF/VDF)

DF is used to find your position relative to the transmitting beacon. It uses radio transmissions to identify your position. ATSUs that can offer the VDF are noted in the AIP. As it works in conjunction with radio transmissions only a single aircraft can be located at a time.

There are four helpful ‘Q’ codes that are helpful to know:

  • QDM – Magnetic bearing from the aircraft to the station.
  • QDF – Magnetic radial from the station to the aircraft.
  • QUJ – The true track to the station from the aircraft.
  • QTE – The true track from the station to the aircraft.

There are multiple classes of VDF accuracy:

  • Class A +/- 2°
  • Class B +/- 5°
  • Class C +/- 10°
  • Class D Accuracy worse than Class C

Primary Radar

The primary radar is a UHF transmission and works based on line of sight, so the higher the better. It transmits a pulse that can be reflected back by an object. The distance of the object is calculated using the time between sending and receiving the pulse.

Primary radar is commonly used by Radar or Approach ATSUs.

Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR)

A secondary surveillance radar is very similar to the primary radar except the transponder returns a coded pulse back towards where the original pulse came from. The data returned from the transponder will appear on the same screen as the location of the plane.

Non-Directional Beacon (NDB)

NDB’s operate in the low frequency range and have a maximum specified range, this will change on a per station basis. When within the specified range there should be no more than a 5° error.

VHF Omni-Directional Range (VOR)

VOR is the trickiest of the different radio navigational aids to explain and it is also one of the most helpful.

Using a VOR a pilot can fly a bearing or a radial from the station. A VOR might be found at an airfield or just placed somewhere to aid with navigation.

The bearing or radial a pilot wants to fly is set using the Omni-Bearing Selector (OBS). A “to” or “from” flag is also set to tell the VOR whether the pilot wants to fly a radial or a bearing.

With the important information set the Course Deviation Indicator (CDI) will move to tell the pilot what direction to fly to get back onto course.

There are a couple of other important pieces of information about VORs to keep in mind. The VOR instrument is completely independent of the actual heading of the aircraft. The heading points on the VOR on a map won’t appear to be straight; VORs use magnetic headings so North is actually in Canada and not the North Pole.

Whilst I do not know the specifics of how it works, I can tell you that VORs work by measuring the phase difference of two different waves (black magic to me).

Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)

A DME is used to measure your distance from somewhere. They are actually in the UHF frequency band but are listed as VHF as they are commonly co-located with VORs.

I should end this blog post by saying that I have written the above based on my messy notes. I am also learning this as I am writing; if I find something wrong I will update the post.

Debrief – Saturday 29th April

Another Saturday and another morning in the air! The weather was slightly overcast with some gaps and a light breeze blew from the north.

The agenda for today

  • Get better at checklists
  • Crabbing on the Downwind
  • Watch my speed on the Base & Final legs
  • The airfield was nice and quiet at 08:30 in the morning and I had a quick briefing with my instructor in which we discussed glide approaches.

    A glide approach is when the power is cut early on the base leg and it requires use of “ my skill and best judgement” to get myself onto the ground without using any power – particularly tricky in the low wind conditions!

    Compared to my flight the previous week I had a good handle on my radio calls; no messed up lines and I spoke with a bit more confidence.

    I was able to get through my checklists a lot smoother than before, it helped that I had spent sometime imagining what I was going to be doing before heading down to the airfield. The only hitch was the engine taking a few goes to get started; only working on the third try when my instructor tried – he pumped the throttle a lot so I will have to keep that in mind.

    Due to the low winds we climbed very shallow and it took us a while to get up to 1000ft. We turned onto the cross-wind leg at 300ft rather than 500ft and hit 1000ft just before turning onto the downwind leg.

    Getting the plane down was a bit of a challenge, I was using the third stage of flap very early to increase my rate of descent. Early in the session there wasn’t much in the way of wind and I didn’t have to worry about crabbing into the wind on any leg – I didn’t get any crosswind practice today.

    I did end up flying a consistently weirdly shaped circuit when I checked back on Sky Demon after the flight. I was flying an extended cross-wind leg; possibly due to the low angle of ascent. On the downwind leg I seemed to fly to the mouth of the River Meon which meant I ended up closer to the airfield at the end of my downwind leg; there was no reason for me to do that! I ended up with the same result as the previous session in a crosswind. I will have to continue working on my downwind leg in the future, a big improvement will come from me keeping an eye on my heading and flying parallel use of, not at an angle to, the runway.

    Whilst taking off for my first solo circuit of the day I noticed that the wind had changed direction from a headwind to a tailwind. This meant that the runway in use was changed from 05L to 23R. All whilst I was airborne! Not a disaster though; I flew a turn on the end of my original downwind leg and flew back down the downwind leg.

    I had misheard a couple of communications between the tower and aircraft on the ground and thought that an aircraft about to depart would actually be changing runway before departing. In reality they hadn’t and were flying along behind me. I had a bit of a nasty shock when I saw them flying towards me after my turn. I made a quick radio call to let them know where I was and they had already clocked me and luckily they were climbing away from the circuit, flying harmlessly above me. The big lesson learned here was to listen and make sure I understand everything that happening – important when I fly into more controlled airspace.

    Other than a bit of the cockpit falling off on me, I was able to complete some good solo practice. I flew some normal and glide approaches hoping to hit the numbers every time, which I didn’t!

    One thing I did have to keep an eye on was some lower level clouds making their way over the airfield; flying through clouds is a big no-no, especially in the circuit.

    All in all it was a very enjoyable session. I greased some landings and had some less greasier ones. It’s really sinking in that I can fly a plane all on my own now!

    Key take-aways

    • Fly a more uniform downwind leg of the circuit
    • Pay more attention to the radio calls going on around me
    • Focus on landing on the numbers

Reinforcement – Learning From Others

Learning to fly isn’t easy; additional time should be spent reinforcing knowledge outside of practical flying sessions or ground lesson. Right now I am not doing enough of this, but as I do I will demonstrate what I have done In a series of blog posts I am going to call “reinforcement”.

Learning from others is probably the best way to reinforce and learn new skills. Someone has done what you are doing before and they may have shared that knowledge on. If you can find that information make good use of it rather than make that mistake again. I’m not going to pretend I do this now and have always listened to advice from people who have been through what I am learning – because I haven’t. But I know this is solid advice and I will be doing it now.

It is hard not to spend time on YouTube watching aviation related videos and not come across Swayne Martin. He is the whizz kid who flew solo before he could drive solo. He started a great blog on how to go from private to commercial pilot (sound familiar)? He also writes for Bold Method which is an invaluable resource for helpful information. Oh and he has some fantastic YouTube videos. Here are a few for you to enjoy:




So, why do I mention Swayne Martin? One of my favourite articles on Bold Method is published by him and is very simple. It is called 8 Ways To Keep Your Flight Training Costs Under Control. Keeping costs under control is a hugely valuable skill and it is something I need to get better at. Wayne posts a lot of helpful tips that I think will save costs and actually improve your flying skills; I am going to expand on some of the key points he has made and how that can be helpful.

Plan Your Next Lesson

This is a great one, if you know you will be practising manoeuvres I can spend the evening before reading up and practising them as an armchair pilot (see below). I am just beginning navigation and will soon be planning my journey’s to other airfields. If I can plan my journey the morning of my flight I can spend my briefing validating my logic with my instructor and we will be up and off the ground quicker. This could save me a good half an hour which could be spent flying circuits at the end of the day.

Review Your Airplane’s Cockpit and Study Your Checklists

These two come hand in hand together, if I know where every switch and dial is in the cockpit I will be able to get through my checklist faster and be airborne quicker. Swayne mentions flows which isn’t something I have looked into yet, but will definitely be looking to implement in the near future. These two points are something I am looking to work on as my start up procedures are slow and my power checks could be faster – on a number of occasions my instructor has taken over to hurry me up when we have a short booking. This isn’t just about making better use of money but it is about making better use of my time.

Watch Examples Online

This doesn’t just apply to practical flying, but also to the ground school work too. There are many videos and tutorials online that will help you get up to speed and learn everything you need. One thing I have done in the past is watch pilots fly circuits of my home airport, Lee-on-Solent, to help me visualise approaches and think about where and when I will need to make radio calls. It’s also nice to watch videos of planes!

Armchair Flying

I did this a lot when I started flying in the circuit and I need to keep it up with other manoeuvres. Sitting down in a chair and then picturing everything you need to do is so helpful. Learning acronyms such as FREDA (Fuel, Radio, Engine, Direction, Altimeter) and BUMFICHH (Brakes, Undercarriage, Mixture, Fuel, Instruments, Carb Heat, Hatches & Harnesses) as an arm chair pilot will make things easier for you in the air.

Like I mentioned above I am not yet a devoted practitioner of each of these principles; but I will be. I can see the value of them and how they will will result in a better use of my time and money as a student pilot, and make me a better pilot into my future.

Debrief – Saturday 22nd April

This was only a short session and I would have about an hour in the air. It was a nice day; clouds about at 4,000ft and a light wind blowing across the runway.

The agenda for today

  • Circuits
  • Cross-wind landings
  • Solo circuits

As I turned up at the airfield my Dad was just heading off for his first solo adventure outside of the circuit; a flight around the Isle of Wight. I wasn’t jealous at all!

I had a quick briefing with my instructor, started up the plane and headed off to join the circuit. As we taxied out my Dad actually returned from flying around the Isle of Wight to do a couple of touch-and-go landings and I had the pleasure of flying in the circuit the same time as him. I was literally flying around behind my Dad, how cool is that?!

I did five circuits with my instructor two circuits on my own. I didn’t get as much time as I would have liked due to the short booking on the plane. I can improve on this by being quicker with my walk around and checklists. I should spend a few hours a week reading it over and over and making sure I know what I am doing.

As I have mentioned there was a light blowing wind across the runway which meant I was finally getting in some cross-wind practice. I got the hang of taking off and pointing the ailerons into the wind, however I found myself flying away from the runway after take-off. To improve I will need to keep an eye on the runway below me and ease up on the aileron after take-off.

The cross-wind had an impact on my downwind leg; I was being blown back towards the airfield because I wasn’t crabbing into the wind. This is something I knew I had to do and I was annoyed at myself for not doing it multiple times!

The result of the above is that I found myself turning onto base leg closer to the airfield which resulted in less time to descend and I found myself to high when approaching on finals – this led to a couple of go-arounds! To improve on this I will need to make sure I crab into wind on the downwind leg of the circuit.

Key take-aways

  • Spend more time revising my checklists – I will save time on the ground
  • Try not to be too aggressive with the aileron on take-off and keep and eye on the runway below me
  • Crab into wind during a cross-wind to make sure I have plenty of time to descend on the base and final legs of the circuit