You couldn’t ask for a better day to go flying. Beautifully blue and not a cloud in the sky. CAVOK and wind at 6 knots as quoted by the ATIS.
We headed out to the south again today. This time to practice some stalls. Time permitting, we were going to revisit forced landings one last time to make sure I have the checklist down. Time didn’t allow!
We touched on stalls early on in the piece by practising some power on and power off stalls. If you remember, that was the day that Robert no doubt needed a new pair of undies. I’ve come a long way since then and feel that I understand the aircraft and its capabilities a lot better.
Once out in the training area, Robert tested my memory by making me do a ‘clean stall’ – basically stalling the aircraft with no power and no flap. This kind of stall is the easiest as it is a very gentle and gradual drop once stalled. My first stall went well, about 100 feet loss in altitude (the tolerance is 150 feet). The second was marginally better and the third was great, only a few feet lost. I was happy, Robert was happy so we moved on.
The next stall involved using some power (about 1700RPM) and flaps (20 – 30˚). We started the manoeuvre at 3000 feet. On the first attempt, I was concentrating so much on not using aileron initially (a golden rule of stalls) that I completely forgot to add power and stick forward. The video is hilarious, I have a confused look on my face as I’m wondering why I am still facing the ground. Then it clicks and I laugh at myself. The second attempt was a lot better! I still had a fairly decent wing drop and lost a bit of altitude, but at least I remembered to recover. While we were out there, another plane was conducting some aerobatic manoeuvres, it looked like so much fun. One day I’m definitely going to do an aerobatics course. Anyway, back to the job at hand. Third time’s a charm! Good clean stall, recovered correctly (apart from using aileron a little too soon and being punished with a small wobble).
Now, onto the exciting stuff. Stalls with full power! The little 150 doesn’t quite have the power of an F18 but still fun nonetheless. As with every other stall, nose up until the wings can no longer produce lift and the first wing to stall drops. This time it was quite a dramatic wing drop. Robert makes it look so easy, mine are a little more rough. Still, after 5 or so stalls, they started looking pretty professional.
After a long hour of queasiness, we headed home. Robert allowed me to navigate my way back to Archerfield, anticipating my first area solo which will be coming up in the next few lessons. After the disgrace that was my last landing, I was out to redeem myself. I set up the approach early and ensured I carried a little extra energy through the flare. I floated a little longer than usual and then with a small squeak of the tyres, I landed on the main gear without so much as a bump. I tried to hide my excitement as Robert praised the landing. A terrible landing can really damage your confidence and have you question your ability; it felt so bloody good to have a near perfect touch-down.
I walked away with my head held high after another great lesson. During the initial stages of flying, circuits can get a bit tedious and you feel like for every step you take forward, you fall back two. I have to say now though, I am loving every part of this stage of the training. Every lesson is something exciting and actually being able to fly is simply the best feeling!
Until next time.. (if you can think of a better sign off line for me, let me know).