Tuesday, 5 November 2013

It’s all about the socks

Aviatrix (whose blog I follow) has some interesting ideas about improving your landings. Basically it comes down to buying new socks. She is; however, very quick to point out that this absolutely doesn’t work for students.

Boooo! That’s a real shame because I could use something to blame last lessons three-attempts-to-find-the-fricken-runway on.
I’ve already said that it wasn’t exactly a great flight and those aborted attempts at finishing the flight were just the icing on the cake.  I set up the first time, joining the downwind at perfect circuit altitude, turned base, made my radio call and set up on the most slanted final you have ever seen, it was already getting ugly.

On final I trimmed for a decent speed but as soon as I was over that runway it just felt fast. Fast and screwy, I wasn’t lined up properly and the runway was disappearing beneath me at a, quite frankly, alarming rate.
Not good, let’s try again shall we? Power in , resist the urge to fling up the flaps and around we go.

Second time around, pay more attention to my approach speed this time, obviously I let it get away from me last time. I take a look at the wind sock on final, maybe there was more of a crosswind than I thought. I look at it but bizarrely can’t quite seem to make sense of what it is telling me. I set up for landing , flaaaaaaare and BOOM! We’re airborne again.
DAMN! Bounced! No time to think, Overshoot.

On the climb out I chastise myself, I’m already irritated by my general performance and not being able to land is just, well, stupid. I run through my options in my head. This morning, when I thought the winds were going to be from the north, I had a plan. I’d try a couple of attempts on 08 and then request 33 if it was all going wrong.
Problem is now there isn’t a more “into wind” runway. I’m stuck with this one. I really need to land. Try again.

Set up for final, nail that 65 knots. Don’t turn too early, traffic being overshot by ATC in front of you. No problem, I want the full stop, spacing is fine. I’m too high, 20 degrees of flap, then 30 and a slip. Look at the wind sock, ailerons into the wind; now play with that rudder until you are straight. Keeping the rudder in, I slip her down to the runway, sweet as anything. Still a little long but easily down by Foxtrot. The stall horning just squeaking as one wheel touches down then the other.
Relieved I taxi her in and shut down, noticing with some amusement that despite a near empty apron; dispatch have sent someone out to marshal me in!

Bob’s already left at this point, as requested I call him to debrief. I instantly confess my less than stellar landings (plural!).
“Hmm”, he commented “that tail wind catch you out then? I noticed the windsock on my way out of here.”

Suddenly the light bulb lit up in my head. That’s why the windsock didn’t seem to make any sense. That’s why I seemed to have no time on final. That’s why the runway was disappearing at a rapid rate. That’s why I bounced my landing; I always bounce if I carry too much speed.
The only thing more irritating than the fact that it took my three landings to figure this out , is the way that Bob knew what I’d done wrong without being at the fricken airport, let alone in the sodding plane.

Instructor ESP or what?
Aviatrix is right though, landings are all about the socks. Windsocks.

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