I know it’s been a while since my last blog (and you’ve all missed my witty writing style, I know) but I had a ton of school work to do, and AS homework is no picnic- at all. So sorry about that.
Cranfield Flying School has some cool content on Youtube, Twitter and I subscribe to their video and audio podcast via Itunes which has excellent content for student pilots and qualified pilots.
But I’m back now, and I had my next lot of flying lessons this week and I have one word for you- AWESOME! The first time I went up this week, the weather was getting a lot worse. I walked out to the plane to do the usual checks- wings, propeller, fuel, etc- and I heard thunder in the distance. The sky was almost black, with clouds surrounding the aerodrome. Ed (my instructor) came out a few minutes later and I asked him ‘Are we seriously going up in that?’ and he was like ‘Yes, we are.’ ‘But it’s thundering!’ Then I decided to turn the negative to a positive and I thought ‘Hey, this could be fun… I hope.’
We were supposed to be doing circuits that day, as well as a high glide approach, which is a little tricky to get right. It’s all about aiming points on the runway and maintaining the same angle as you turn onto the final…
But first things first- circuits. Taxi out onto the runway (why are there birds on the taxiway!!!??? Fly off before I run into you) after making doubly sure that you have obtained clearance to proceed! (I really should pay attention my own advice, shouldn’t I?) So, once clearance is obtained, roll onto the runway, and don’t waste it! As the book says (cue monotonous repetition) ‘The most useless thing in aviation is the runway behind you.’ Then, line up on the centre line and increase power to 2000 RPM (making sure the brakes are on), mixture fully rich, temperatures and pressure are all in the green. Release brakes, smoothly increase power to full and keep the plane on the centre line until you’re at about 65 knots, and start gently putting back pressure on the control column (note to self: must stop calling it a steering wheel!)
AND WE HAVE LIFT OFF! Climb to 200ft, quick check of mixtures, fuel, etc, etc (you know the drill), keep climbing to around 400ft, lookout, 150 climbing turn (remembering that 150 is definitely not the same as a 300 angle of bank). Then keep climbing to 800ft, and level off (Attitude- Power- Trim). Trimming is extremely helpful if you lack strong arms (like me). It just minimizes the amount of pressure you have to apply to the control wheel, which can be seriously tiring.
Turn onto the downwind leg, make appropriate radio calls once you have passed parallel to the threshold, and do downwind checks. Then turn again, onto base leg and start descending, apply flaps if you need/want/care for them. On final, you should have two reds and two whites- if not, you’re overshooting/undershooting. Get clearance to actually land (its best to get this before you’re only a few feet above the runway!) Crab into wind to avoid being blown off course- it’s a bit hard to visualize.
Oh I found a picture for it! (Thank you Wikipedia)
If you’re doing touch-and-go’s, pretty much as soon as you’ve touched down, you should smoothly increase power (without losing control of the aircraft in the same motion), until you reach 65 knots and take off again! Whoopee, you just did a circuit!
High glide- same as before, except you climb to 1000ft on the upwind leg. Remember to periodically lower the nose to check for any other planes that you can’t see when you’re in the climb attitude. Keep climbing, keep climbing- 1000ft! Then you do a continuous turn onto the downwind leg; do radio calls, complete checks. Then you do a continuous turn onto the base/final leg. Descend to normal height, and land the plane!
Standard overhead joining procedures:
You might be wondering what happened to those storm clouds from earlier- did they conveniently disappear? Well, I’m sad to say that they didn’t. Instead, the storm started moving in over the aerodrome, so I had to land and cut my lesson short which sucked big time.
One final check once you get out of the plane- kiss the ground and thank God that you made it!