Thursday, 2 January 2014

Shaking off the rust.

According to my PTR it has been 4 weeks since my last flight, a combo of work and weather conspiring against me. So I jumped at the chance to fly when I got a text from Bob enquiring as to my availability.

We initially planned for a hop out to the practice area, some instrument work (anything to avoid that simulator!), some air work and just generally get back in the groove.

Of course the weather had other ideas with ceilings predicted to be at 2000ft and the upper winds a whopping 39 knots! Still I wanted to fly, strangely nervous about having been out of the cockpit for so long, we agreed for a “knocking off the rust” circuit lesson. Just a handful of trips around the pattern, until we were certain I’d remembered which bit pointed forward!

I did my usual-bottle-out-of-the-first-approach-because-its-gone-a-bit-squirly. I probably could have salvaged a landing from it to be honest, but I’d come in a little low (misjudged the winter performance), was a little slow and over the displaced threshold rather than the runway, with the stall horn peeping at me a little too early for my liking. So I overshot. No big deal really.

I coped with the less than ideal conditions, hazy horizons and reduced visibility well enough. I handled some unusual ATC stuff. Initially having to hold short at Charlie and getting my takeoff clearance while still taxiing to the runway. I coped with late landing clearances while they departed intersection traffic in front of me. I managed a 360 for spacing with no discernable horizon reference and re-established nicely back on the downwind as requested, spotting the traffic before Bob.

I realised in the downwind that I was going to need to waive the wake turbulence in order to get my touch and go in. I managed my spacing well by dropping some flaps and powering back in the downwind in order to avoid ending up halfway to Scarborough.

I even won the “guess the airspeed” game when Bob picked the WORST possible time to decide to cover my ASI. I was on a horrible extended final and had already powered back 500 or so rpm and was still getting the feel of how the plane was handling in the winter conditions. I aimed the nose for a point that felt about right and desperately tried to peer around the card to gain a clue as to how I was doing.

No such luck! I tried to glean clues from my VSI and the twitchiness of Bobs hands by the controls. Bob didn’t seem too concerned and asked to me let him know when I thought I was stabilised at approach speed. When he uncovered the instrument I was about 3 or so knots off the magic 65. Not too shabby at all.

Overall my flying wasn’t too bad. Lacking a little polish maybe but it would seem that lurking underneath all that rust there still lies a fairly decent pilot.

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