Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tip – Do not cook kippers in the microwave

My wife is away on holiday (well I did go off to Florida for 3.5 weeks of flight training so now it is her turn) and I am looking after the dog. Being rather partial to fish of all varieties I bought some frozen kippers. On the cooking instructions it said you could either boil them in the bag for 20 minutes or for a more speedy meal you could microwave them. I chose the microwave method being in bachelor mode at the moment. The fish were overdone and the whole house smells of kippers and the microwave stinks of them. I should have closed the door of the utility room (where the microwave is located) while they were cooking. My wife is due back in a week so hopefully that should be time to get rid of the smell, although my wife does seem to have a very sensitive sniffer. I have thoroughly cleaned the microwave but it still smells. What with a rather large backlog of washing and house cleaning to do, I suspect I will be somewhat busy over the next couple of days.
I have been doing some flying. In fact I had a couple of lessons to polish up my technique for the skills test. The trouble is that on the second of these two lessons I was practising the various types of landings and had suddenly developed a problem where I started pulling back on the flying controls as the aircraft approached the ground. In effect I was flaring too early and losing airspeed too high above the runway. Having developed this problem I had a two week wait before my next lesson. I was quite demoralised about the problem and this made me feel fairly negative about my flying ability. Last Tuesday my two week wait was over but as I drove down to Blackbushe for my 9:00am lesson, low cloud was arriving from the south-west. Farnborough were reporting that the cloud was as 1200 ft but the Blackbushe tower were saying 800 ft. Who was right ? We decided to give it a try as circuits were what I needed to iron out the landing problem. I checked over G-BMTB and later we took off on runway 25. My instructor had said that if the cloud was low then we would do one bad weather circuit at 500ft and land. As I climbed away from the runway by the time I got to 500 ft we were almost in the cloud and on the crosswind leg we found that the cloudbase was 650 ft. So I descended below the cloud and did just the one circuit and kept the runway in sight with difficulty. Because the circuit was tight, I needed full flap for landing and the landing was very gentle. This raised my confidence immediately, but of course we had to taxi back and that was the end of my flight for that day. Maybe I had got so used to the tight circuits and full flap landings from 1000ft used at Naples, Fl that I had been struggling with the extended circuit pattern and 20 degree flap landing from 800 ft at Blackbushe. This just sounds like an excuse and as long as I concentrate on airspeed and glide slope on the approach and then moving my focus to the far end of the runway once over the numbers I should be OK. Time will tell but I feel a heck of a lot more positive about it now.
Back at the air-school classrooms we spend an hour going through in detail the radio telephony procedures as I have still to take the oral RT test. So now I have some things to study at home and feel back on track.
I have my next lesson booked for the coming Wednesday and on Thursday my wife returns from 3 weeks in Barbados.
Should be a good week.

Time to get back to studying CAP 413 and cleaning the microwave again.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Crosswind component

My flying lesson was booked for 1:30pm today and it did take place.
On arrival at Blackbushe I had a look at the windsock and it was showing a significant crosswind from the north west on a day when I was due to practice different types of landings and takeoffs. When I checked in I was advised that I would be flying in G-BLWV but to wait as Christian as currently flying. I sat in the lounge area and watched the runway activity and the windsock. I was feeling quite nervous about the conditions.
After 15 minutes Christian was back at the club offices and I was given the keys and asked to check out Whiskey Victor.

My ferry for the day.

As I was leaning into the cockpit I could feel the cold wind blowing around my legs and hear it whistling through the partially open door. Oh well, let’s just get the external checks done. 5 minutes later I climbed into the cockpit, adjusted the seat and got strapped in. It was much warmer with the doors shut but the aircraft was shaking about in the gusting wind. I did as many of the internal checks as possible until I got to the point of starting the engine where it was sensible to wait for the instructor. Christian arrived and got strapped in. I soon got the engine started and taxi information. After taxi, power checks, etc we took off in the short field configuration on runway 25. This was with 10 degrees of flap and holding the brakes on whilst applying full power. As soon as we had three greens I released the brakes and after a short take off roll we were in the air. I was a bit surprised at how much the aircraft was getting affected by the gusting crosswind but this reduced once I took out the flap. There was only a maximum of one other aircraft in the circuit throughout the 55 minute flight so we were able to practice glide approaches, flapless landings, normal landings and a go-around. The crosswind was varying significantly and on a couple of occasions when calling final the wind was something like 350 at 17 knots. As the runway heading is approx. 250, Christian said that if I was taking the test I would need to go-around as the crosswind component exceeded the allowable maximum for the C152. I landed anyway and the wind was probably not as bad as reported. Christian did say that I should pay more attention to the reported wind and direction from the tower.
My last approach was to be a glide approach. I was put off a bit by an aircraft back taxiing down the runway just as I reduced the engine power. The aircraft turned at the runway threshold and took off, but I had extended my approach a bit and needed to apply some power to compensate and certainly did not need any flap. The resulting landing was rather poor as I flared too early. It just goes to show how one can be put off by unusual circumstances. Christian said that I should have continued on the correct glide and if I felt that there was going to be a problem with the departing aircraft to go-around.
Back at the apron we went through the list of things I had improved upon and also the inevitable list (getting shorter) of things to think about. These included thinking about the crosswind component and ensuring that I used the correct combination of aileron and rudder when landing in the crosswinds.

I had enjoyed the lesson, despite the tricky conditions and a dry mouth.

My next lesson is in a week.

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