Day 6: Lesson 7 – Second circuits lesson

Date: 07/03/2011

Hours flown Dual Command Instruments
This flight 1.12 0.00 0.00
Total to date 7.62 0.00 0.00

Did the second lesson on circuits today. I’m feeling a little more certain that I might just make it as a private pilot one day.

Ride today was Sierra Foxtrot Kilo, which I flew back in lesson 2 (Straight & Level flight). As with yesterday’s introductory circuits lesson, circuits today were on 11 right. Weather was a little easier – wind 080 degrees magnetic at 10 knots so more crosswind to deal with, but less turbulence than yesterday. Cloud bottoms were broken – that’s 5 to 7 eighths of cloud – at 3500 feet (lower than yesterday) but visibility was fine nonetheless.

There were several pretty good things about today. In no particular order:

  • My radio calls were very good (positive comments from John)
  • I remembered (before my instructor) to radio Bankstown Ground for startup clearance before I started the engine
  • I started to line up OK on the runway on finals
  • My takeoffs were better, and
  • I started to feel things were all coming together just a little bit more.

John remarked that today was better (though plenty to work on, which I’ll outline below). His view – to paraphrase him – is that I’m now flying the aircraft safely, what I now need to do is learn to fly it smoothly and in a coordinated, balanced way.

SCORE! High praise indeed from my instructor. He’s not a hard man, but he’s pretty tough on me, so it’s great that he feels I’m showing progress. Today was certainly heaps better than yesterday. Wednesday’s lesson – assuming it goes ahead (weather for the rest of the week not looking great) – I’m looking forward to much more than today’s or yesterday’s. For the time being, at least, my very slight sense of dread has abated somewhat.

Now, what was bad today, and what needs work?

  • Still not using my feet. Got slightly better towards the end of the lesson, mainly because John told me he’d cut my left foot off if I didn’t get better. Lining up on the runway using my pedals wasn’t awful. But pedal use in general needs to be a whole lot better.
  • Landings. Well, they’re terrible. OK, I get that they take some work. I flared way too high on 2 landings in particular today, didn’t have my wings in balance, and totally thumped the aircraft down on terra firma. (Not too worried about SFK – like all our Warrior trainers it’s a pretty sturdy little beast). I’m sure John let me go ahead and dump the aircraft on these landings just to let me experience what it was like. Now I’ve gotta develop a feel for how low I need to get the aircraft before I flare out, and how to hold the right attitude during the flare and let the speed bleed off.
  • Airspeed. OK, it only happened once, but at some point today – I think it might have been on my base turn – I let the airspeed get down to around 60 knots, dangerously slow for that stage of the circuit. Gotta watch the airspeed like a hawk.

Insight #10

Watch the airspeed on base and finals! 70 knots on base and approaching the runway on finals, 65 when over the airfield boundary fence and 60 over the runway.

Apart from that, everything needs work of course. I’m 7.5 hours in to this. I haven’t got good at this overnight. But still, it’s nice to have a “better” lesson after 2 or 3 particularly arduous ones. I’m so hoping that poor weather later this week doesn’t step in and stop flying from happening.

Slightly amusing side story

I called the Shell people today to refuel my aircraft. I told the bloke on the phone that my plane needed refuelling. He replied, “We don’t have any fuel.” I thought for a moment, then tried again. “My aircraft needs filling up to tabs in each tank with Avgas”. “That’s better”, says the Shell bloke. “We provide jet fuel, and we provide Avgas. Helps if you tell us which you need”.

A bit pedantic, you may say. And he was a bit patronising, frankly. But he wasn’t being unkind – he was well-intentioned. Guess I’ll be asking for Avgas from now on.

But the bloke in the fuel truck, arriving 10 minutes later, was at pains to tell me that he was not the guy I’d spoken to on the phone. He was clearly a bit embarrassed by his boss’s phone manner!

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3 responses to “Day 6: Lesson 7 – Second circuits lesson

  1. Pingback: Day 6: Lesson 7 – Second circuits lesson (via MidLifePilot’s Flying Blog) « Calgary Recreational and Ultralight Flying Club

  2. You’re starting to get it, that’s great!

  3. I wouldn’t fault the Shell phone guy. He knows he works at a training airport and is doing his best to provide a little instruction so you’ll remember to get it right next time. Yes it may seem patronizing but face it, you’re the rookie here, it’s just something you’ll have to take on the chin.

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