Another Milestone!

Yesterday was another gorgeous day with not a cloud in the sky and minimal winds – great day to drive down to Wollongong and get some more solo flying in!

As of last trip, my total solo hours were 2.7.  The rules state that you must have a dual session with an instructor after each 3 consecutive hours.  2.7 is close enough, so the first thing was to hop in for a couple of circuits with Bruce.  This is a good thing, as you can tend to forget things if you haven’t flown for a couple of weeks.  I think it also helps build your confidence back up before you take to the skies alone again.

So, we did 2 circuits, one just normal and the last one Bruce simulated an engine failure right after take-off.  Since there was plenty of runway remaining, the drill is just to pop the nose down to the glide attitude and land the plane on what is left of the runway, then vacate and taxi back to start over.  Once that was done and he was satisfied, I went back up.

I needed about 2.3 hours to get to the required 5, but this is alot to do in one go. So I broke it up into chunks – about 3/4 of an hour just doing circuits, trying to nail the landings and other elements of a good circuit.  Once I see brain fade coming in, I land and come in for a break.

After a half hour or so, I had rested and processed sufficiently and decided to go back up and hit the gorgeous training area.  This is the coastal stretch between Port Kembla and Kiama, and is a visual overload for anyone who loves the ocean and coastal scenery in general.

From my last experience, I knew that I needed to really concentrate on just keeping it Straight and Level (lesson one haha) and more practice on my left turns.  Since I knew going in that these needed work, I was able to anticipate issues before they occurred, and kept myself at 2500 feet (ok +/- a little bit if I decided to just sight-see for a minute).  But – buzzing up and down 20 or so miles of even the most beautiful rugged coastline can get a bit monotonous after awhile and again I decided to pull it in before I started just tuning it out – I am not doing this just to “tick boxes” and go through the motions… I have my day job for that hahah 😉

In fact, one of the driving reasons for heading back to the field was that I was getting very low on fuel.  Although I practice engine failures whenever possible, and I am always thinking “where can I land if it goes pear-shaped?” I don’t want to experience a real one – especially if its preventable!

So, brought her down, rested and drank some more water, fueled up and headed back out.  At this time I only needed another .3 hours and, time being money, decided to just do a few circuits to knock it out – besides, the brain was really overloaded this time so best to stick with the familiar…

And that’s it for this weekend, another milestone complete – 5 hours as Pilot In Command towards my Certificate.  This week I’ll contact Brett and we’ll go over What’s Next – in preparation for (hopefully) my Flight Test!

Plenty to go after this (arguably a lifetime) but feeling pretty good about my progress.  There is a real chance I might have my certificate with passenger and cross country ratings by the end of the year!  After that, I will want to parley this into a PPL rating to increase my options of what I can fly and where, but for now this feels an awful lot like “Living The Dream”

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First Area Solo!

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Well this is a month for firsts, doesn’t seem long ago I posted about my first solo and on Saturday April 13, I did my first Area Solo! First did an hour of circuits just to warm up since it had been a couple weeks, then after a break, I finally cut the cord and called a crosswind departure into the training area for another glorious hour of toodling around between Kembla and Kiama (from Wollongong).

Bruce mentioned before I went up after the break that the air was nice and smooth at around 3000 feet, so I headed there.  I think it changed a little during that time and was actually a bit choppy, so I found a nice little pocket around 2750 feet and just tried to keep it steady.

Here are some pictures, I snapped a few quick ones with my phone since it was nice and smooth for the most part:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/k0adhlct4wiqvxp/qw_XokeSgk#/

A couple of things I noticed after all this time in the circuits, it is bloody hard to hold straight and level for a long time!! In the circuit, I guess you only have to hold it for 2-3 minutes, but boy can it wander when you are just buzzing around!

Also – after 1.5 years of mostly right-hand circuits, my left turns need some work! Skid ball was all the way to the right, I guess I was carrying too much tension when giving it left rudder into the turn since I hadn’t had to think about those for over a year!

Anyway, a good solid morning of challenging myself and lots to think about between now and next weekend! Only a couple hours left solo for the required 5, exciting stuff! In fact will have to do a dual first come to think of it…

How was everyone else’s day??