As I mentioned in my last post, I have been lucky enough to be assigned to the CFI himself for the remainder of my training. While I feel like I have gotten very good training from his predecessors, in the end the only way I will make progress is by having someone who is more available to me.
It also helps that his philosophy is to train me to the highest possible standard – although I am only going for my recreational (Sport) licence, and eventually PPL, he is bent on training me to a CPL (commercial) standard.
What this means, among other things, is un-learning some habits I have already picked up, and putting more of a polish on every aspect of the flight. Whether I will reach CPL standard is debatable, but I notice that the overall standard of everything I do has been raised a notch… I almost feel a certain amount of … professional pride… when I get a radio call right, or my approach looks really good.
It also makes it glaringly obvious to me when I am flying to a lower standard. But I think because these things stand out so much, it helps make it very clear what I need to work on. I like the way this guy works!!
Today I had a 1230 lesson, more circuits to try and tighten those up a little. It was a pretty hot, breezy day, and we had about an 8-knot direct crosswind. Oh goodie, in addition to trying to clean up my circuits, I had to deal with crosswinds for the first time in a couple of months.
I got through my checks fairly quickly, and even spotted the “mystery maintenance item” that Brett wanted to see if I would find (right main tyre getting worn). My radio calls are getting better, and dare I say I feel like I am “speaking the lingo” to some extent – meaning I am starting to understand what it is I am telling or asking the tower, and what the responses mean. It has been getting easier the last couple of months, but at first I was just parroting the stuff to be honest 😛
Dealing with the left crosswind meant a lot of left wing into the wind with the control column, while keeping right rudder in check to prevent drift. As we reach the speed to rotate, the wings slowly get levelled and we have lift-off! The tiny little Jabiru really weathercocks into the wind, so its a bit of work keeping it on the centreline – you DON’T want to cross over into 11C – the active runway!
Brett being a fairly light bloke, we get up to flap-raising altitude (300 ft) and crosswind turning altitude (500 ft) ridiculously quick. The tailwind from what was a left hand wind, on a right hand circuit, gets us to the point of turning downwind (parallel to the runway, opposite direction) even quicker. Before all that, don’t forget to kill the fuel pump, strobe light, and taxi lights!
Emphasis has been on proper Height, Spacing, Heading and Speed so this is what we work on for downwind, after the turn at 1000 feet and levelling off. I have just about enough time to do my downwind radio call and checks (brakes, fuel pump, temps/pressures, light switches, hatches/harnesses) and it is already time to pull power, add carby heat, and turn onto base to set up for hopefully a good final approach.
As for final up to landing, well… let’s just say I still need a bit of work. I think I am happy with my glide path to the aim point and maintaining speed, but I had a devil of a time keeping it lined up in the crosswind, and there were a few areas of rough air that made the ol’ pucker valve pulse like a strobe.
Of course, it is reassuring to see Brett out of the corner of my eye just sitting there calmly and talking as though this were no more than a parallel parking lesson at a driving school.
As the workload increases and I get out of my comfort zone, I do tend to forget some things such as removing carby heat or cleaning up flaps, so the rule now is he keeps track and if I forget it 6 times, I owe him a 6-pack. I think he only counted 3, but he was being generous.
We also touched on flapless landings and a simulated glide approach as an intro to an upcoming lesson (emergencies in the circuit). I still feel pretty good about gliding, but those flapless landings are going to take some getting used to. Because the approach and everything else is faster, there is more tendency to float and a higher likelihood of ballooning.
So… that’s where we stand… after a thorough debrief, and some more tips to refine the landings, Brett says he feels like I am at solo standard on takeoffs, crosswind, downwind and base legs of the circuit. We need to work on the turn to final and the lining up and landing portions. He says my landings are “safe”, meaning no one would be injured, but certainly not up to a standard I would be proud of.
So… another 1.2 in the logbook, a few more pucker-bites in the seat foam, and still progressing according to plan!
I now have the option of scheduling some lessons during the week – might actually try that so I am not reliant so much on the weekends.
Till next time – more right rudder!!