Forced Landings Without Power 1 – Saturday 5 February 9.00am

Forced Landings. What to do in the unlikely event of an engine failure. For interests sake I looked up the CAA accident reports and could only find one report of a forced landing due to engine failure in 7 years of reports. This is such an important part of the syllabus that no less than 2 dual lessons are scheduled before they will let you go out solo and practice and trust me with so much to remember and do it takes a lot of time to get it all sorted in your head.

A bit of cloud and wind around, a few dark shower clouds at 2500 feet but Greg thought the weather would be good enough for us out to the eastern practice area. I decided to have some idle chatter during the runup and pre take off checks to add some distraction in to test my memory. Sure enough, I missed something off the list - lowering the flaps 10 degrees. The second mistake was that I didn’t notice this until we were airborne after using most of the runway to get there. Greg said that he noticed but didn’t say anything because its perfectly within the aircraft and runways limits to make a flapless takeoff. We flew out east over Cambridge to practise forced landings. We made one which was terrible. I fluffed the checks, missed the 1500 point and was high on final approach. This was because I had incorrectly assessed the wind. We picked another paddock which had more of a upwind direction and I did another one. This time I was too far downwind but we were also high and with flap we would have made it. We went around slightly too low but it was good enough.

Climbing out, Greg suddenly took the controls at about 2200 feet and put us into a medium right hand turn. Looking out of our left window I saw the white shape of an aircraft, and for an instant I couldn’t tell if it was coming towards or away from us. A second glance confirmed indeed it was coming towards us and was on a convergent heading. Similar to nautical terms those on starboard tack have right of way so he had to change heading to pass behind us. After muttering a couple of expletives in the planes direction Hamilton tower came onto the radio to announce to the both of us that we were occupying the same spot and altitude on radar. We both acknowledged and we continued on to Karapiro to do another FLWOP. Greg said that he would file a report to the CAA about the incident when we got back.

The next one I did I picked a field which had some tall trees surrounding the threshold (another no no as it really cuts down your landing area). After that I flew too close to the field and ended up high on final. I made a mental note then and there to practise some glide approaches. The flight back went OK except I got us too high on final again and we had to glide in. I definitely need some circuit practice and will do some when I solo next.