|Total to date||27.64||2.30||1.20|
An hour or so after my Incipient Spins and Steep Turns lesson, it was back into SFK with Ashley (the instructor who also authorised me for my First Solo) for a pre-Area Solo checkride. If this worked out and weather permitted, I hoped then to do my first Area Solo this afternoon.
Pre-Area Solo Checkride
We got out to the training area via downwind departure from 11L, climbed to 3200 feet and first thing Ashley wanted was for me to demonstrate some stalls. I started to set up for a stall without thinking – and failed to do my HASELL checks. Serious and failable mistake in an exam situation. I definitely learned from this!
HASELL checks are done for very good, real safety reasons. If an instructor asks you to demonstrate recovery from a stall, do the HASELL checks on your own initiative and don’t wait for the instructor to ask for them. If you fail to do the HASELL checks, you’ll probably fail your exam.
A couple of stalls done and recovered (one flapless, one with 2 stages of flap), Ashley then asked me to talk through my responses in the event of a forced landing. Satisfied with my response, he then asked me to simulate one and demonstrate how I would respond. At 3200 feet I closed the throttle, adopted best glide speed and went through my Forced Landings routine. After a downwind, base and final turn I got us down to 700 feet above ground level and well set up for a forced landing in a field. Satisfied that I would have landed, Ash then asked me to demonstrate some steep turns.
These were done well enough, Ash providing me with some valuable additional tips on picking my nose attitude relative to the horizon and watching it to make it easier to maintain height in the turn.
All done, Ash asked me to get us home. I headed initially for the reporting point at Prospect Reservoir, but after some prompting from Ash, I headed instead for the other reporting point, the 2RN radio tower. It’s a little harder to locate and see than Prospect, and I didn’t descend to the required report-in altitude of 1500 feet as quickly as I should have, but we got there. Reporting in from 2RN, we joined final for 11L by heading straight for Warwick Farm Racecourse, then we were down with a reasonable landing.
Ash was satisfied with the checkride and cleared me for my first Training Area Solo flight!
First Area Solo
I took a half-hour break, then refuelled SFK up to tabs on each tank, and headed out by myself. Very excited, probably feeling a bit more capable and competent than when I did my first solo circuit. The ATIS report had changed, but departure was still from 11L.
Run-up and pre-takeoff checks completed, I approached the Juliet 2 holding point and made my call. “Bankstown Tower, Warrior Sierra Foxtrot Kilo, ready for downwind departure on 11 left.” Receiving takeoff clearance immediately, I lined up and off we went.
Climbing on downwind at about 900 feet I had a call from tower concerning a helicopter doing a circuit on 11L and that I should look out for it. I couldn’t locate the helicopter and never did, but at least I was aware of the traffic and was keeping a steady lookout.
Levelling off at 1500 feet and heading for Prospect, I crossed the Liverpool-Fairfield railway tracks and climbed to 2000 feet. Bearing left and well clear of Prospect, once I passed the reservoir I changed transponder to 1200 and radio to monitor Sydney Radar on 124.55. Sighting Tadpole Lake ahead and 3 Lakes off to the left, once over the imaginary line joining these 2 landmarks, I then climbed to 2500 feet as I was now in the training area. I could have climbed higher – bottoms were at 3500 feet – but on advice from instructors I stayed low for this first solo.
And I then kind of just tooled around the training area for half an hour. I kept Prospect Reservoir within sight at all times, so I didn’t go as far as Warragamba Dam or anything like that – might do that next time. I just did a few long turns, being careful not to cross over the Warragamba-Prospect pipeline. I took a few happy snaps with my Blackberry just to commemorate the event (see below). Then once I had been out long enough, turned for Prospect and headed for home.
Descending to 1500 feet before I reached Prospect, I changed the transponder back to 3000, dialled up the tower on 132.8 and flicked on my landing light. “Bankstown Tower, Warrior Sierra Foxtrot Kilo, over Prospect one thousand five hundred, received information Juliet, inbound”. Receiving instructions to join final for 11 left, I turned right and headed for Warwick Farm Racecourse, descending to 1000 feet and completing my pre-landing BUMFISH checks. Lining up with 11 left, I turned and once over the railway tracks made my call, “Sierra Foxtrot Kilo, 3 miles”. Established on final, I received an early landing clearance and all that was left to do was to get down on the ground. With a bit of left crosswind, my landing wasn’t the best I’ve done, but I and SFK got down in one piece, then I was parking on the flight line and shutting down. 0.9 hours in command, and the first time I’d been let loose away from the airport by myself! I was well pleased. 2 more training area solos to follow early next week.