Flying Lesson # 38 – Circuits (Revision)

May 25, 2014

I thought moving up to the bigger aircraft would be easy. It’s still a Cessna, it’s just a bit bigger. As it turns out, it’s not that easy at all. I mean the fundamentals are the same, but the take-off and landing are quite different. Hence the need to do a few hours of circuits to get up to scratch. Initially, I decided not to worry about the circuit training in the C172 and head straight out for the navs. I thought maybe the landings would just work themselves out, I mean I can fly a plane. Though with only a couple of landings per nav, I haven’t yet been able to master them.

I decided that before embarking on my next nav, I would try and get these landings down a little more so I booked in for an hour of circuits with Robert. It’s funny, I remember a time when the thought of completing a circuit was scary, now the circuit itself is second nature and now it’s just about fine tuning those few seconds before touch down. Robert suggested that it would be a good idea to bring someone along for the ride to get a feel for having more passengers in the aircraft so I set about convincing my lovely wife to jump aboard. Initially she was quite nervous about the idea, not because she doesn’t trust me, but because of how small the plane is and the fact that she often gets ill even in large jets. Finally she agreed so I booked in for an hour of circuits with Robert.

On the morning of the flight, I looked out the window to beautiful blue skies. Not a cloud to be seen. What a great day to go flying! The flight bag was packed and my new passenger briefed. When we arrived at the flying school the doors were locked. This isn’t uncommon as on the Sunday Robert is the only instructor on so if he has a student, he needs to lock the place up. We took the opportunity to do a little plane spotting at the 28 end of the Archerfield runway. We noticed VH-JOO doing some circuits and assumed this was Robert with his student so we waited for it to pull off the runway before heading back to the flying school.

Back at the school, Robert greeted us at the door. I straight away grabbed the keys to VH-HWC and headed out to the plane with my flight bag in one hand and my wife in the other. It was strange walking out to the plane with Katie, I felt like a little kid showing his mum around the grade 1 classroom and was riddled with excitement as I completed the pre-flight checks with Katie watching on. Before long, Robert was in the plane and ready to go. As this was Katie’s first flight in a small aircraft, Robert gave her a briefing to help ease her nerves. Basically telling her to be sure to advise us if she is feeling sick, before she is sick. He said at any point of the circuit, it’s a maximum of 6 minutes before we can be back on the ground so just let us know and we can end the flight at any point. Katie was comfortable with this so we all buckled in, shut the doors and started our flight.

As expected, the first few landings were a little wild. Nothing terrifying, though just a little bumpy. Each time I touched down on the hard black stuff, my landings got a little bit better. I’m usually not nervous when in the air though this time I was very conscious of the fact that my wife was in the back watching. Robert was great and kept checking to make sure Katie was ok. I think this helped to ease Katie’s nerves. Katie did a really good job, she didn’t get too ill and managed to capture a heap of great photos. Towards the end of the session, my landings were really starting to come together and I feel a lot more confident now. Hopefully this will be reflected in my next nav.

‘til next time…

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