Flying Lesson # 14 – Revision for Circuit Solo

April 22, 2012

It’s now been 2 weeks between posts, that’s because lasts week’s lesson (15th April 2012) was a no go. Unfortunately in the world of aviation, we are heavily affected by weather. Even the big birds have their limits.

I was actually down the Gold Coast for my sister’s wedding last weekend. Rain had been lingering for most of the week, but luckily it cleared up momentarily on Saturday, enough for the outdoor wedding to go ahead before returning to a shade of miserable later that evening. Sunday wasn’t much better, while the rain had stopped, the cloud was sticking around. On the drive from the Coast to Archerfield, my hopes of getting aloft that day diminished by the minute! On arrival at Gil Layt’s, Robert was far from optimistic about our chances of having a successful flight. At that point, the cloud base was at 800 feet (student pilots require a minimum of 1500 feet and must remain 600 feet below or above the cloud) and my circuits are done at 1000 feet – It doesn’t take a genius to do the math.

After a lot of discussion and pondering, we decided to do some theory for half an hour to see if conditions improved. Needless to say, they didn’t! We called it a day and I headed back down the coast.

This morning wasn’t looking too much better with heavy fog plaguing the south-east from early morning. It started to dissipate somewhat on the drive in and on arrival I was greeted by beautiful blue skies. In the interest of seizing the moment, I said a quick hello to Robert, grabbed the keys and headed out to JOO.

Upon inspection, she was low on fuel! A quick call to Mobil usually fixes that. Today, however, 40 minutes passed before the little silver truck graced us with its presence. My guestimation of 18 litres in the right and 12 in the left turned out to be spot on. While that is enough fuel for the hour (JOO burns around 22 litres per hour), we are required to carry a reserve of 45 minutes. After filling her to the brim, I completed the checks and guided her out to the runway.

The first two circuits I completed were fairly standard. The landings weren’t the best, though I gave myself some slack as I hadn’t flown in 2 weeks. Robert then had me conduct 3 flapless approaches followed by a glide approach with a last minute go-around. I thought these went ok. Robert took the controls for a moment to show me how applying a small amount of power in a balloon will help to arrest the situation. I practised this somewhat unsuccessfully.

Another 2 standard landings would see the end of the lesson. It definitely wasn’t my best effort (to which Robert agreed), however, I’m still learning and I can’t expect to be perfect at this stage.

If my licences turn up this week (which I’m really hoping they do, but know the chances are slim due to the public holiday mid-week), I might have a chance at going solo next week, weather permitting. I’ll definitely get video footage when it does happen and put it online for the world to see!

Until next time…

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