Lesson 11. Circuits 9.30am Saturday 11 September 2004

Wow! Lesson 11 and we have more firsts. A new Instructor, Greg Walters. Really nice guy and we get on very well. Really makes you feel at ease. We started a bit later than planned because a nice couple (about my age) had taken a Trial Flight with Sue (one of the other instructors) in ETA but I was happy to wait and go over the pre-flight checks a few more times. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to ask them how it went because when they got back they were deep in conversation with Sue and I had to get my pre-flight done. I finished fairly quickly and already had the checklist filled in and was reading up the maintenance manual when Greg finally arrived. The pre start, taxi and runups went like clock work (hooray no mistakes!!). Time for the next first. We were taking off on the tarmac runway in the opposite direction to Mondays lesson!

After today I have achieved the curious feat of having taken off from all 6 runways at Hamilton, despite not actually landing on all 6. Flying around the circuit is a very busy affair, you need to be ahead of what you are doing but after a fashion I did OK.

It was all a blur for me at this stage but the landings are still balking me. I think we got one nice landing on the main gear but all in all some improvement over Monday. Having said that, I was being assisted by Greg in the landings.

Oh yeah the next first, touch and go’s. Simple, just land the plane, raise the flaps to 10 degrees and give it full power and right rudder and take off without stopping. No problermo (well, not exactly). Instead of 3 circuits we had in the previous lesson I think we doubled that. Its also good to get used to other aircraft in the circuit as well. Another student was up as well and we went round and round keeping a watchful eye on their progress as well as responding to the tower.

I think my best moment came when we were downwind and couldn’t report downwind due to radio traffic. I knew we were at the turn in point so flew the plane and reported in, “Echo Tango Alpha is late downwind Grass 36. Request touch and go.”

That got a compliment out of Greg.

We ended up coming in a little low so I kept a bit more power on and we cruised in straight and level until the picture looked good and then proceeded as usual.

After our final landing I got us off the runway and did the post landing checks. Taxiing back to the Club, Greg told me that had he not known what my hours were he would have sworn that I have had more time in the circuit than the 1 or so I have completed. He said I am very good at my approaches and recognising what is good and what isn’t but also doing the right thing to rectify the problem if we are too high/low/deep/shallow. I am trying not to let it go to my head. My problem is that I am still white knuckled when I fly and I need to relax. I never gave it any thought at the time because I was having fun (I even commented on this to Greg) and I meant it. I treat circuits like a challenge, try and fly the perfect circuit. I bet the instructors can but I have a long way to go before I can do this. Oh well, tomorrow is another lesson and another chance to nail that circuit.