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May 10

Effects of Controls (2)

Today both the weather and my health (I developed a cold over the weekend which meant I cancelled the lesson I had booked for yesterday as I wouldn’t have been fit for it) came together and I finally got another lesson.

When I got to the airport I wasn’t sure if the lesson was going to happen as while the cloud level was OK, the wind was a bit gusty, however in the end my instructor (Anthony) decided it was good enough.

After the (slightly reduced as it had been checked for the previous lesson but not flown) pre-flight checks, we got in to G-SHWK, I started the engine (I did initially get this slightly wrong trying to put the mixture rich before it had caught), did the pre-taxi checks, made the radio call for taxi clearance, and off we went to the hold.

Taxying is definitely getting more familiar, though I did notice I was close to riding the brakes a few times which is a no-no (I need to remember that I use my toes to slow down and my heels to steer – overcoming instincts from a car which says to use your toes on the pedals only is quite hard). I did find it slightly more tricky taxying with the stronger wind – I need to revise what I’m supposed to do with the ailerons in this situation I think.

After the power checks, I took us to the hold, and radioed ready for departure. Unfortunately we had a bit of a delay as there was a small jet doing some circuits, and because of wake turbulence we had to wait for a short time after it had landed before we were cleared. Fortunately ATC was able to fit us in before another light aircraft that was coming in on a long final or we’d have had an even longer delay!

Once we’d climbed up, Anthony handed over control to me, and asked me to hold the datum attitude (this was harder than it has been previously due to the occasional gust of wind trying to blow us around). He pointed out I had a tendency to be a bit rolled to the right (apparently this is quite common, but if I can stop doing it at this stage in my training it will make things easier later on) – I think the reason for this is due to the layout of the instrument panel and the fact I sit on the left it’s more obvious when you’re rolled left than right, so I’m perhaps over correcting.

We then went through the main part of the lesson, which was about the effects of power (i.e. different amounts of throttle), flaps, and how to lean the mixture. Things were quite bumpy at times, but I didn’t feel worried at any point or start to feel sick or anything which is good to know.

Once we’d covered everything, we turned back towards the airfield – I noticed we seemed to be making rather slow progress getting there despite a normal indicated airspeed, and this was a good example of how the indicated speed is affected by the wind and can be vastly different to the ground speed.

Anthony took over to take us in to the circuit once we reached the field and did a crosswind join. The downwind leg of the circuit went rather quickly (due to the wind now being behind us!), and we were informed of some traffic on final and asked to report when it was in sight.

When we turned on to final, we could see the traffic ahead touching down, and were advised by ATC to expect a late clearance. Anthony expected it to be fine given the wind meant it would be quite a while before we got to the runway, however he then spotted the traffic ahead had gone past the taxiway he was expecting it to turn off at, which meant it would have to turn round and backtrack along the runway.

ATC asked us if we could change to the parallel grass runway, which Anthony agreed to as were far enough out (if we’d been too close then we would have had to do a go around and another circuit).

Anthony explained he would be landing with slightly higher airspeed than normal, as otherwise there was a small risk that if the wind suddenly dropped, we would lose a lot of airspeed quite quickly, which made sense. Likewise once we had touched down he immediately raised the flaps to avoid a strong gust lifting us up into the air again.

This was my first experience of landing on a grass runway (it’s quite nice that Cambridge has both grass and tarmac) – it was a bit bumpy, but apparently it can be more forgiving of heavier landings (though today’s was fine).

We taxyed back (parking outside the hangar rather than on the grass as the aircraft would need some more fuel before the next lesson – I was paranoid about hitting the wing in to the hangar, but it was all fine), shut down and that was that – total time in my logbook is now 2 hours 45 minutes.

I managed to book another lesson for first thing tomorrow morning as they had a space, so if the weather’s alright I’ll be doing Straight and Level (1). I also picked up the first theory textbook (Air Law), so I need to start studying this when time allows.