Well now. That was a different kettle of fish. Where to start...
New instructor - big thumbs up for the teaching style. And another circuits session which I was pleased about as I felt there was a lot to rectify from last week.
It was a lovely flying day, high base, slight breeze straight down the runway and miles and miles of beautiful visibility. Clear as a bell. And as it turns out, I could see the airfield much better without my sunnys, so they remained in my bag.
Did a thorough brief and unloaded my flying worries onto my new FI - told him about my taxying woes, being overloaded on base, so we decided to tackle those things specifically.
Did the checks, and then a little bit of taxy practice to get over that hump and it turns out my taxying isn't that bad anymore, had a good play with the rudders and diff brakes driving the plane around the apron and I think that's what I really needed.
Got lined up, and up we went. The first circuit was a bit ropey, just getting the feel of the plane again and remembering all the things. But we took it slowly, talked through the radio calls and by downwind I was back on it. First landing wasn't too bad, but safe. Ultimately what really shifted today was the basic flying felt more second-nature, I had more time, and I started to get a real feel for judging rate of descent and height during the base leg.
It all seemed easier this week and I'm making more positive decisions now. But something else changed this week... up until now I've been taught yoke for speed and power for height on final. This week we flipped it, and it seems so much more intuitive. Kept the runway aspect steady using the yoke and controlled speed with the throttle.
The rest of the circuits were mostly fine, still occasionally forgetting carb heat, but getting configured much quicker, sometimes still too high approaching the turn to final in the last 4 or 5 circuits I was nailing my final turn more.
My landings were a mixed bag, I'm generally flaring too early. 10 more with the FI today. #3 stalled too high and dropped onto the mains with a hell of a thump.
#4 was a floater, thought I was down, thought I was down, thought I was down.... I wasn’t down... plane started rising, so I made a go-around decision but in the rush forgot to raise 2nd stage of flaps at 100 ft and took a wee moment to realise why I was at full throttle with the speed stuck at 60.
All the approaches felt shallower and calmer today. For the last five, my instructor told me he was keeping quiet unless something went wrong, so suddenly I was just doing it, correcting things when they went wrong, making the radio calls and just doing all of the flying things. It was magic.
The wind had veered a bit by then and there’d been a steadily building crosswind that wasn't helping my landings at all. Quite nervy, found it tricky to get lined up straight and it took a bit of playing with the rudder to get the hang of keeping it lined up. I think on one approach I was crabbing and about 10 feet to the right of the actual centre line but as we got closer I kicked it back over we were down, albeit with a screech.
On one we were perfectly lined up and stabilised and the plane suddenly ballooned at about 50ft as if hit by a gust, then dropped back down. One was an absolute greaser. Even my instructor cheered.
Finally, we pretended the engine had blown up on the climb out. I followed him, then second time around he pulled the power and I had to quickly stick the nose down and find a field. (Picked one with lots of cut hay).
"Right", he says. "How do you feel about doing one on your own?"
Nearly filled my breeches. Argued a bit about how I wasn't ready to land on my own, but he showed me 10 ticks against 10 crosswind landings in his notebook. And that was that. Safe enough, apparently.
So off I went into the blue. And it was one of the most MAGNIFICENT experiences of my life!!! Proper bucket list stuff. Took my time on checks, got it lined up dead centre, and, well, I flew a near as dammit perfect circuit. I think because I knew there was no-one to stop me spiralling to my demise I was that much more focussed, so I nailed my heights and speeds, descent on base ended up little high so glided her down a bit, hit my base turn at exactly the right height, fought the crosswind a bit on short final but then the wind just dropped away over the threshold and the plane kissed the tarmac, straight down the line, like a baby. Even my taxy back to the fuel truck was spot on.
The handling was so different though. Had to really catch the climb out and I hit 500 and 1000 very early and the plane was cruising closer to 100 than 90 at 2400 revs. I got nervous on downwind - I had a few moments spare and looked down, saw the ground in relation to the main wheel and realised where I was and how alone! And on final, there was a brief moment realising that I had to get down, quickly quashed by the work of doing it.
WOW!! 11 and 11 in all. First as P1S and ex14 logged.
(Sorry, that was a long one)