As feared, my first day “grounded” came quickly – today, on my 2nd scheduled flying day.
Weather in fact was slightly better today than Monday when my first lesson took place. From a point of view purely of getting up in the air, there was no regulatory or safety reason that we could not have gone up for dual training. Unfortunately, though, today’s first lesson was to be Straight & Level flight, and for that, my instructor (reasonably) informs me, you need a clear horizon. And that, in today’s humid murk with bottoms just 2500 feel AGL, is what we did not have. And you can’t substitute another lesson – you need to have got straight & level sorted before you start doing climbs, descents and all that follows.
Straight & level flight, as I understand it from my training manual, involves picking an attitude relative to the horizon that is suited for the configuration in which you want to fly (be it fast, medium or slow flight) and trimming the aircraft out so that it maintains that attitude with minimal variation of altitude and vertical speed. Naturally enough, for the lesson to have proper effect, the student pilot needs a reasonably distinct horizon from which to take visual reference. We just never would have got it today.
So. Back tomorrow for another go, although I’m not super hopeful as the weather for flying seems frustratingly mucky for the rest of the week.
No point in being pissed off about it. Frustrated, yes. Disappointed, yes. Annoyed that my precious 8 weeks off is already being eaten into by non-flying days, yes. But not pissed off. It’s the way it is. Instructor made the right call.
(In addition to 2 scheduled hours for each of tomorrow and Friday, I’ve also pencilled in an hour for Saturday and Sunday. Surely we can manage one hour in the next 4 days at least? Please, o gods of flying? This is Australia for heaven’s sake, the weather here is great!)
However, all was not lost today. I started to get myself into the daily routine of arriving and getting ready for flying. I checked the ATIS for local weather (starting with update Bravo around 0830, checking every half hour or so. Unfortunately 3 1/2 hours late we were on update Golf and bottoms were still at 2500 feet, the cloud just would not budge). And I got out to the training aircraft – Warrior SFK, which I have booked for tomorrow as well – and did my first unsupervised check of aircraft lights and external inspection. Quite a buzz, actually, even just to be doing this stuff for the first time. Worth getting it right. It’s dead important to fly in a safe aircraft. I had to call the Shell truck out to put 12 litres of Avgas into the right tank to full to “tabs” – the fuel bloke very pleasant, understanding and patient with a newbie like myself.
I grabbed the Pilot Operating Handbook and procedures manual out of the aircraft and took it to the clubhouse for a thorough review. I have to fill in a kind of questionnaire with all kinds of technical information about the Pa-28 Warrior, so it was very informative to have a look through aircraft limitations, emergency procedures, weight & balance requirements and the like.
Ah well. Back tomorrow for another go. Before I left today, though, I took a quick snapshot of Warrior Sierra Foxtrot Kilo – which I am bound to fly, sooner or later, in the coming weeks.