Monday, 3 March 2014

On the same page.

For once everything came together nicely for my flight and everyone was on the same page. I’d mentioned before that I had a bit of a dilemma over my next flight. I was due to go solo, to practice some of the airwork that Bob and I had previously practiced during our last dual flight. However, I also wanted to nail those power on stalls that had been causing me such issues. I wasn’t sure which would be the best move for my next flight.

For a change the weather made the decision for me. We had an unexpectedly large dump of snow overnight but the forecast cloud base looked good. Even the winds weren’t too strong, a manageable 10-15 knots. The problem was the direction. Straight from the north.

Normally this isn’t a problem, runway 33 is a viable alternative. But after the snow dump it hadn’t been plowed yet. I got a weather briefing from Flight Services and ascertained that the ceiling was good , but they confirmed the expected winds were 10 gusting maybe 15 from the north.

Last solo flight, I was happy to give a slightly sporty crosswind a go, knowing that I’d always have 33 as a backup. Without this, I wasn’t so sure. I got to the flight school early, chatted with one of the instructors about the wind and came to a conclusion. I wasn’t happy to solo. I didn’t feel bad about this decision. I felt like I’d made a command decision, that I’d evaluated the conditions and found them outside my personal limits (as well as outside the school’s)*.

Bob phoned me (missed the ferry again!) and we chatted while he waited. I explained my take on the weather. I was nervous about 33 being unavailable (or unploughed) and wasn’t comfortable soloing. Bob asked if I had any other thoughts about flying. Basically I said that if he didn’t have another student booked at the same time, I’d like to go up and hammer out those power on stalls, get that monkey off my back and sort them out in my head.

It turns out that was exactly the conclusion Bob had come to as well. This makes me all kinds of happy. I practiced what I needed to without feeling that I gave upon my solo time but more importantly my weather judgements are matching Bob’s completely. Seeing as I’ve always been a  little tentative with the weather, this shows I’m gaining that much more confidence in my own judgements. This is important. Gradually I’m getting towards that “command” part of Pilot in Command. 

* The school has a crosswind limit of 10 knots for solo students. Instructors have some discretion in this.

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