Flying Lesson # 42 – C172 Familiarisation (Circuits)

September 7, 2014

With all of my PPL navigation training out of the way, the only task remaining prior to my solo cross country was to be signed off in the Cessna 172. Initially, we decided to see if I could just pick it up in my nav training, however my landings weren’t coming together as quickly as I would have hoped. After nav 4, as my solo nav became imminent, it was apparent we needed an hour of circuits to get the landings down. Which is how todays lesson came about.

It’s been a while since I did a circuits lesson and the lack of preparation required felt strange initially. No flight plans or weather briefings, simply rock up to the flying school with my headset and kneeboard in hand.

Robert set the lessons expectations early by stating that he needs to see 5 good consecutive landings to sign me off. Pre-flight and cockpit checks done, we headed out. Let me tell you, in a solid 15 knot head-wind, the 172 suddenly turns in to a helicopter; 500 feet by the end of the runway, no worries. What was once a gradual climb now saw me having to extend the up-wind leg well beyond the standard 500 foot turn.

Excited to be doing something I know and not being overwhelmed with navigation tasks for once, as soon as I turned on to down-wind, I got on the blower and excitedly announced, “HWC, down-wind for touch and go”. Simple stuff.

The first landing, whilst not perfect, was pretty close to it. I think one reason is that the seat was set really high which gave great visibility. I really wish I had known it could extend this high from the start. When learning to land, Robert always taught me to sit up tall in my seat. I now know why. The improved visibility gave me a better feel of the height above the runway and the amount of sink. Continuing through the circuits, my second was great and my third was near perfect. Not only was Robert happy with how I was flying, for once I was really happy with my landings. There is a huge difference between being able to land a plane and being able to land one well.

As we got closer to the 5th circuit, I though for sure I would at least stuff one up, being under a fair bit of pressure and all. But I didn’t, not one. Before making my downwind call, I asked Robert if it would be a touch and go or full stop. He somewhat left it up to me saying he was happy, though if I wanted to do some more, I could. Content with what I had done, I called a full stop.

Thats it! There are no more dual lessons left before my 1st solo nav. It’s an exciting and scary feeling all in one. I guess I would say i’m apprehensive though confident in my abilities. I think with thorough planning and preparation, I shouldn’t have any issues. See you on the other side of my first solo nav!

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