Pre-PPL Training Area Solo

January 9, 2016

With my little break from flying over, Robert suggested that before heading out on a nav, it’s probably a good idea to get some training area practise under my belt. So I booked a 172 for a solo flight out in the training area.

My usual plane (HWC) was retired shortly after I stopped flying last year (sob!), so the plane I’ll be flying now is VH-TKJ, a 1978 C172N with an upgraded GPS. Unfortunately, TKJ wasn’t available for this flight so Gil booked out VH-DBB for me. A 1980 C172N on loan while VH-BGK is in for a SIDS inspection.

DBB is a very pretty little lady, she has a nice paint job and even a set of wheel spats. The cockpit instruments are exactly as I’m used to however, Gil advised that there were some quirks with the radio that Steve would need to take me through.

On arrival at Gil Layt’s, I was welcomed by Gil who signed the plane out to me and let me know that Steve was just finishing up with another student. I headed out to the plane to get set up and check her out. Just as I had finished my pre-flight check, Steve appeared to show me the radios. It was quite simply, I basically just couldn’t use radio 1. Everything else was in good working order.

After Steve left, I did another quick lap of the plane to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. Oil cap on tight, fuel caps fastened, drains complete and tie downs off. I jumped in, set myself up and contacted ATC. With approval, I started my taxi toward runway 28R. At the run up bay everything went to plan with no issues to speak of. There was quite a bit of traffic around but I was used to negotiating built up run up bays and taxi ways. Once I finished, I taxied out behind another C172, waited for them to begin their take off run then moved up to the hold short line and made my call. Approval for take-off came quickly and I started to make my way onto the runway.

As I was moving over the threshold, a small white figure caught my eye. Yep, an ibis decided to meander across the runway. Without a care in the world, the little fella stopped midway to take in the sights of Archerfield. With a slight chuckle in my voice, I contacted the tower to advise them of the cheeky visitor. I veered around him and continued my take off roll. Once airborne, tower asked “DBB is the bird alive or a carcass”. “Definitely alive”, I responded.

After making a left turn onto cross wind, I started a lazy turn down wind to take up track 135° toward the Southern training area. On the way I heard plenty of bird talk between the tower and other pilots. It seems my ibis friend decided to stick around for a while. One pilot even appending “copy the ibis” to his take off clearance. Once clear of the Archerfield control area, I started a slow climb to 3000’, making sure to stay clear of the inbound track past Park Ridge. I arrived at 3000’ over Jimboomba Township and began practising some manoeuvres. I started with an easy power off clean stall. Then moved on to practising stalls in all different configurations, power on, power off, flaps, no flaps etc. Once I was confident with my stall recovery abilities, I moved on to steep turns. This is one manoeuvre that I’ve never had an issue with. And, just like riding a bike, it all came flooding back to me and I was performing 45° turns in both directions without losing height.

Forced landings were next. I think this is one area where you can never have too much practise. As with the other sequences, I was very happy with my performance so I decided to call it a day.

For me, this flight wasn’t just about the manoeuvres, it was also about getting confidence back in my flying. So for the last 5 minutes or so, I simply flew around and practised the basics. It felt great to be out and about by myself again.

Once I was satisfied that I’d achieved everything I set out to, I turned around and headed for home. The return to Archerfield was very uneventful and easy. Once over the Logan Motorway, I got clearance to enter the control area and join base for runway 28L. My landing was text book and I taxied back to Gil’s line.

On reflection, I was really happy with how the day turned out.

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