Friday, 19 July 2013

Lesson Number 12 - Circuit Bashing

Today, conditions were perfect for a bitta' circuit bashing - High cloud, excellent visibility and low wind!

I arrived at the flying club at around 15:35hrs with my dad and we headed on in to the club restaurant 'Cloud Nine' where my dad ordered a coffee, we then proceeded to outside to one of the several picnic tables to wait for my instructor Michael to arrive in from a student flight.

Outdoor Siting Area at the Ulster Flying Club

It wasn't long until G-UFCL was taxiing on the apron to refuel for it's next flight. My dad and I waited about 5 minutes before going in to see him -just to give him some time to fill out his paperwork.
We headed in and got speaking to Michael, to start with, my general training so far, if I had my medical done, what exams I'd need to go solo, etc. I'd explained that I haven't got my medical done yet, or my first exam, but that I would be getting them both done shortly so that I can go solo in December when I turn 16.


G-UFCL was parked up on the apron now, refuelled and ready to go for it's next flight, so I headed out to the aircraft carried out my checks to make sure everything was in order and ready to go, then I proceeded to get in to the aircraft, bring my seat to the right position, harnesses on, and I begun my internal checks awaiting Michael to arrival, which he did, just before I was ready to carry out my 'Pre-Engine Start Checks'. He got in, fixed his seat up, got his harnesses on, and awaited me to finish my checks, making sure I was doing it all right, we put on our headsets, turned our avionics on, only to realise my headset wasn't working, luckily there was a spare in the back!

Me: "Newtownards Radio, Scrabo 68 requesting airfield information and radio check"

Control: "Scrabo 68, Readability 5, runway 22 in use, QNH 1024"

Me: "Readability 5, runway 22 in use, QNH 1024, Scrabo 68"

Me: "Scrabo 68, taxiing to runway 22 hold"

We had a Cessna 172 in front so I slowed the aircraft and pointed it into the wind behind the aircraft first in line and carried out the 'Pre Take-Off Checks"

With the Cessna 172 away, I released the parking break and slowly taxied to runway 22 threshold.

"Scrabo 68, ready for departure, lining up runway 22"

Pushed throttle to full after lining up with the centerline;

"Scrabo 68, taking off runway 22"

And away we went. After hitting 50 knots, I began to pull back on the yoke and we began our climb, I used the compass to make sure my heading was 220 degrees and that I wasn't drifting of course. 

Upon reaching 300ft, I put the flaps up, continuing to climb at about 65/70 knots, reaching 500ft I began a 15 degree turn to the left until we were heading 310 degrees (An exact 90 degree turn to the left) and we had the runway directly adjacent to our left, still climbing to 1000ft, I lowered the nose, let the speed build and then brought the RPM down to about 19000 to keep our speed at about 85/90 knots, when Michael made a radio call to the ground asking one of the firemen to take my dad down to the side of the runway to get some pictures/videos! We were now flying directly parallel to runway 04 heading 040 degrees, I waited until we passed the 04 marker then made the radio call that we were downwind for runway 22:
"Scrabo 68, downwind runway 22"

I then started my downwind checks:

Fuel - Right Tank
Mixture - Rich
Altitude - 1000
Engine T&Ps - All in the green
Canopy - Secure

Etc, etc, etc!

Courtesy of Matthew Cooper 

While carrying out my checks, I let the aircraft climb to about 1100ft, so I trimmed it out, and continued heading 040. We passed the runway 22 markers and Michael told me that I should begin my turn on to base when the threshold of 22 was 45 degrees (Roughly) from the back of the wing. 
When I thought it was about right, I began our turn onto base at 30 degrees until I was heading 130 degrees, I waited until our speed was under 90, took our first stage of flaps and slowly took away all of our power, and pulled the carb heat to cold, holding the nose at 1000ft until the speed dropped to about 65/70 knots, and began descending, I turned onto finals (220 degrees) at about 750ft and kept the descent going at 65knots, making the radio call:

"Scrabo 68, finals for runway 22"

The speed was in the 'White Ark' so I took full flaps and at 300ft I turned the carb head to warm and carried out some last minute checks such us undercarriage down, speed right, good height, harnesses secure, etc. When I was looking straight ahead at the runway, all I could see was my dad and the fireman running to the side of the runway to get pictures, it was funnier than ya think! At about 100ft, I kept the descent going, it wasn't until about 20ft of the ground that I centralised the control column, flying level over the runway and then slightly flaring the aircraft for touchdown, and of course my dad and one of the firemen were standing at the side of the runway to get pictures/videos (A rare opportunity!) Michael told me to look at the camera and 'Cheese', and I did so... Flaps up to take off, and throttle to full - Away we went for another circuit.  

We did that exact same as last time, everything was fine, speeds right, height fine, I was actually quite impressed with myself! When we turned onto finals again, I could still see my dad and the fireman standing by the side of the runway so I wanted to make this s good landing, I was a bit high this time so when we landed we didn't really have much time to 'cheese and smile' flaps up to T/O again and away we went. 

The third time was again, good, infact pretty good if you ask me, and I had the aircraft under control, okay, perhaps a mistake or two, but it was all rectified before it was serious this time when we landed, my dad and the fireman had left, but upon landing, I spotted a fox on the runway, luckily we didn't hit it, and as we passed, it just stood there and watched us go by, Michael reported it to the airfield manager incase it was on the runway again. 

During the first three circuits, Michael did prompt me through it, just to make sure I knew what I was doing and that I didn't make a complete muck up of the whole exercise, from the third circuit onward he told me he was going to keep silent and not say anything, and to be quite honest, I felt as if I was only ever getting better, less mistakes, feeling more in control, taking all my training into account and flying the aircraft and not letting it fly me - Personally, I think I done pretty well, and Michael even said my flying was perfect and that my circuits were great, which is always a good thing to hear as well as a personal boost. 

So, after the fourth circuit, I continued to do another two, everything was fine really, my only thing that needs more practise is my touchdowns... I can get the aircraft down okay, but I could just make it a bit more streamlined on the touchdown, by that I mean, get the aircraft to a few feet of the runway, then take full power away and flare it. Instead, I was getting it low enough, but kinda rushing the actual touchdown stage. I think it's something every pilot has had to learn upon, and it's my time to learn it - Practise makes perfect, honestly it does, by my sixth circuit, I had almost got it, not got it, but almost!

Michael, after my last circuit, done a very short 'circuit', at about 300ft and demonstrated the 'perfect touchdown', it looks fairly easy, but it does take some practice and that I'm not afraid to admit - But I'm certainly getting there!

So, after today's lesson lasting exactly an hour (1.0) combined with my previous circuit experience, I work it out that I have 1 hour and 54 minutes, circuit time under my belt (1.9) not bad!

Looking forward to my next lesson already, but more to it, my solo in December which I'm eagerly awaiting!

Thanks for reading and get in touch if you have any questions:

Twitter: @JakeLewis23