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By SmoothFlyer
#1106605
I went flying with a friend of mine last weekend. It was a beautifully day with only a few clouds and light winds. Visibility was fantastic. You could see for miles and miles. One couldn't have asked for a better day to fly. What could go wrong?

As it turned out, things could go wrong.

First we had booked a C 172 for our flight. The plan was that my friend would fly to our destination and I would fly the return. Every thing was prepared. NOTAMS checked, weight and balance done, PPR completed, paperwork completed. Just as we were about to walk out the door, the CFI asks my friend if he had completed his checkout on the 172? No? Well, it didn't matter that he had 16 hours on type as they were not as P1. And no, we couldn't take the 172.

Ok, fair enough. But being the nice folks that they are, they moved the schedule around a little bit and offered us a PA-28, which my friend was ok to fly. the aircraft would become available in 30 mins. Fantastic!

But now we quickly had to do the paperwork again. Our destination had to be advised, recalculate the W & B, check fuel, etc. My friend, a fairly new PPL was feeling under pressure. I told home to relax and to take his time. He was getting the figures wrong whilst doing his calcs. I asked him to take his time and not worry too much a bout being a little late. Better to arrive late than not arrive at all. Finally he calmed down, worked his numbers and we proceeded with our flight.

He soon admitted to me that he felt relaxed about being in a familiar plane rather than flying a type he had not flown recently. I thought later that perhaps he might have been uncomfortable with the C172 but was not admitting it. In any case, first proper decision (by default) of the day - Do not fly anything you are not comfortable with.

The flight to our destination went smoothly and we both enjoyed it immensely. I was in the RHS, quietly monitoring the flight. Gently reminding about checks along the way and helping with the frequencies enroute. We reached our destination without any mishap and had a quick bite to eat. We were aviators and really enjoying our flying privileges.

On the return flight I was P1. This is when the second "incident" happened. Although I had completed the pre departure checks, we may have missed a smallish one. The door became unlatched in the first five minutes of our flight. For those who may be unfamiliar, the PA 28 has two latches: one on the side and the second on the top of the door. It was the second one that had not closed properly and was now letting in a lot of air and was making the cabin uncomfortably noisy. Although the door being slightly ajar did not affect the flight dynamics of the plane, it was not possible to close it in flight.

it was time to make a decision. I asked for an immediate return to the airport, explaining the minor problem. I was immediately given a downwind join instead of the usual overhead and we landed without mishap. Second good decision of the day - Recognise and deal with issues before they become a real problem.

On our return leg, one of our turning points was overhead a gliding field. This was the third and most disturbing event of the day. Despite being in radio contact with the field and keeping a good look out, I was taken by surprise at the number of gliders that popped out of nowhere around us. We remained well clear of the gliders, but I had never been around so many of them. Is this something that glider pilots get used to?

In any case we were soon clear of the zone and I decided that never again will I fly directly overhead a gliding site. One of my biggest fear about flying is the risk of mid-air collision and I had, like a complete novice, put myself in a risky situation. What was I thinking?

Major lesson learned from the day was that small things going wrong can potentially lead to larger errors. I should have anticipated that there would be loads of gliders on such a lovely day, but I didn't. The field could easily have been avoided and I felt most embarrassed not to have avoided it.

We soon landed safely at our home airfield. Whilst reviewing the day, we both decided that we had been lucky that day. It doesn't take much for small issues to get out of control and become big problems. A few things to keep in mind for next time. Always- Safety first. Perhaps it isn't all that obvious!
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By Keef
#1106609
Sounds like you had a good learning day out!

I don't go near gliding sites any more if there's a chance they may be active :) I know they all fly round happily in gaggles, and circle in the same clouds and all that, but I'm a nervous type. And then, there's the thought of that cable coming up to slice my wings off...
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By dublinpilot
#1111377
Sir Morley Steven wrote:There is a procedure for closing a PA28 door in flight. I should know! But it has never worked.


The door in our Arrow used to pop open on occasion (been rectified now). There is a proceedure in the manual. In sort, close all the air vents, slow the aircraft down and use rudder to put the door directly into the windstream.

It works a charm and easy enough to do single pliot, but the air vents being closed are important. Slow out of balance flight probably while trying to close the door isn't recommonded for a new PPL though I suppose.
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By Jim Jones
#1111412
dublinpilot wrote:
Sir Morley Steven wrote:There is a procedure for closing a PA28 door in flight. I should know! But it has never worked.


The door in our Arrow used to pop open on occasion (been rectified now). There is a proceedure in the manual. In sort, close all the air vents, slow the aircraft down and use rudder to put the door directly into the windstream.

It works a charm and easy enough to do single pliot, but the air vents being closed are important. Slow out of balance flight probably while trying to close the door isn't recommonded for a new PPL though I suppose.


That's useful to know, happened to me on 2nd solo cross country, I carried on with the radio turned up. Probably best I didn't know the procedure at that stage though.
By profchrisreed
#1111587
I don't know why people think that glider pilots are happy flying close to each other. I get quite uncomfortable if my wingtip is less than a wing length (in my case 8.85m, call it 9m) from the other aircraft's wingtip. You need a margin for error.
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By jollyrog
#1111616
Bloke in pub... suggested that you can get the PA28 door closed at the start of a stall. Never tried it, but it makes sense.
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By Sir Morley Steven
#1111629
jollyrog wrote:Bloke in pub... suggested that you can get the PA28 door closed at the start of a stall. Never tried it, but it makes sense.

Eek! Bloke in pub has death wish. You will find out your door is open very shortly after take off and you will be distracted by it. The last thing you want to do is have the stall Warner blaring at 1000ft while reaching over to recluse the door.
There is a procedure in the POH but it doesn't always work as in some cases the top latch gets stuck in the closed position in which case you should either carry on noisily or land for a cup of tea and a squizz at the checklist.
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By KNT754G
#1111640
There is another 100% successful method for closing PA28 door that has opened in flight.

1. Land
2. Close door
3. Depart again.
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By jollyrog
#1111659
Eek! Bloke in pub has death wish. You will find out your door is open very shortly after take off and you will be distracted by it. The last thing you want to do is have the stall Warner blaring at 1000ft while reaching over to recluse the door.

I don't think this is a one person procedure!
By NickA
#1111679
I'm with Keef. Avoid gliding sites, unless gliding.