|Total to date||20.94||2.40||0.70|
Fourth solo now done and out of the way! Wham, bam … from 1st solo circuit just 2 days ago to a full hour of circuits today, go-to-whoa. Amazing how fast things can move if you’ve got good weather and the time to fly twice a day.
This morning was clear, though a 12-knot wind from 300 degrees (coming from about 10 degrees to my right as I was taking off from 29 left) gave me some moderate headwind and minor crosswind to deal with, as I’ll relate.
It was NFR (November Foxtrot Romeo) again this morning, my ride from yesterday’s 2nd and 3rd solos. After John arrived at the clubhouse I walked out to NFR on the flight line to check her out. Tabs of fuel in the left tank and a full tank on the right meant I didn’t have to worry about fuel this morning. Oil was good at 6 litres and brake fluid just an inch down from full. The aircraft checked out OK and John signed off the Maintenance Release to record that the daily inspection had taken place.
John asked me to talk him through what I was going to do, so I related my plans for pre-start and start-up procedures (including getting radio clearance for start-up), taxi and the taxi call to Ground, run-ups, pre-takeoff, safety brief (which I gave to myself), circuits, landing and taxi back to clubhouse. Satisfied, John told me to have fun and left me alone with NFR.
There’s not an awful lot to relate in terms of detail. I went through the routine as I’ve learned it (thoroughly, hopefully) over the last 12 or so training hours. Start-up radio call. Start-up. Taxi to Mike 2. Radio call for taxi clearance (Ground asking me whether I’d got start-up clearance, my reply, “Affirm”). Taxi via Kilo, November and Lima to run-up bay for runway 29L. Run-up and pre-takeoff checks. Safety brief. Taxi call from run-up bay. Call to tower from runway holding point. Clearance to line up. Clearance for takeoff, and away we go.
The wind really gave me an extra dimension to deal with. Climbing almost straight into it, and with only myself on board, I climbed like the Millennium Falcon and was ready for my crosswind turn almost before I knew it. I reached 1000 feet on crosswind and was already at circuit height turning downwind. And the 12-knot wind, nearly 100% behind me, gave me an absolutely mothering-fast downwind leg. Precious little time to throttle back at start of downwind and run through my BUMFISH checks before I’m at the runway threshold needing to pull back to 2000 RPM and put out flaps.
The landings were actually really very good. Of the 4 or 5 touch-and-gos, all but one were lovely light landings, straight and aligned with the runway. (I so wish John could have been in the plane to experience these … my afternoon lesson, as I’ll relate in my next post, featured much rougher attempts).
Repeated glances at the VDO (forget what this stands for, but it’s basically the meter in the cockpit that measures how long the engine’s running – it’s the basis on which they bill you and you log your hours) showed that my hour was nearly up, so I radioed for a full stop landing with a request to land on 29R (“north side”) to land closer to the clubhouse and minimise taxiing time. Not getting clearance for 29R, I landed on 29L having been granted permission to make a right exit across the other 2 runways. Holding short of these both until cleared to cross by the tower, I quickly made it back out of the manoeuvring area, made my final taxi call and got over to Schofields and parking. Parking her on the grass, I shut down and allowed myself a moment of congratulation on getting through my first completely solo sortie!
Endorsement on type
Having completed my mandatory 1st through 4th solos, John had Ashley (my instructor from first solo on Tuesday) retrospectively stamp and authorise my logbook with an endorsement to certify that I am now competent to fly by day, in VFR conditions, on PA28 type aircraft (that is, Piper Cherokee Warriors). My first endorsement and I couldn’t be prouder of it!
Video of a landing from 3rd solo
John got some video of my final approach and landing during my 3rd solo yesterday afternoon at Bankstown. It’s taken from his iPhone, so there’s no zoom and it’s a bit shaky, but should you care, at about 29 seconds in to the 1-minute footage, you can see me in NFR make my final approach and landing.