Lesson 7. Basic Stalls 9.00am 22 August 2004

Well Sunday looked like it was going to be as good as Saturday. Which would make this weekend a unique one as far as this diary is concerned. Firstly, it was the first time I had lessons on consecutive weekends, and also the first time I had lessons on consecutive days! This time I was going up with Roger, the Head Instructor. I was determined to put my best foot forward to show him that I had learnt well off Ryan. I made sure I asked questions during the briefing and Roger made sure he answered them. I did a thorough pre-flight (actually starting to know what to look for/at!) and Roger got in. I managed to get through the pre-flight ok (forgot to turn on the transponder), did the taxi clearance and got us to the warm up area (a little fast for Rogers liking, but I was worried about carb icing like what happened on Saturdays taxiing). Did the warmup, then I did dumb moment number 1, saying the wrong thing to the tower, which Roger fixed for me. The take off went fairly well (I feel I really have cracked takeoffs, but there are still gaps in my memory which need filling), the wind had well and truly picked up and we were getting bucked from pillar to post, almost a complete reversal from the previous day. We went through a couple of stalls with Roger at the controls, and I was absolutely amazed at how docile the Cessna’s handling is near the limit. It is not nearly as violent as I expected (try throwing a paper dart and you’ll see a good example of a violent stall) and required minimum control forces to stabilise the aircraft. So I did a couple of stalls and recoveries on my own which went OK. I think I am still a little timid on the controls. I mentioned to Roger that I thought I needed more time to get used to controlling the aircraft, and he suggested that I have a consolidation lesson and go over things that I thought needed revision. Mind you, the weather wasn’t playing ball, we had a couple of large bumps caused by updrafts from clouds. Roger said it wasn’t my flying but its quite hard to distinguish the difference between nature moving the plane around and your attempts and it really rocks your confidence.

All too soon it was time to return to Hamilton Airport, and this was where the best action started. About 3 miles out we were at about 1400 feet when ATC called to warn us that a Helicopter was on a similar approach below us. That brought us both to instant attention scanning the sky for any telltale signs of other traffic. When after about 30 seconds of not seeing anything, Roger took control and we flew an S turn in order to clear below us. When we still couldn’t see the helicopter Roger reported this to Hamilton tower who told us it was flying low level over the airfield. Then I saw it at our 9 o’clock about 2 miles away flying right over the control tower on a parallel course. So much for a convergent heading. Roger then announced a left base join for Grass 26 (we would fly anti-clockwise around the airport and land from the opposite side) and around we went. I then was introduced to circuit flying properly, flying a certain airspeed at a certain height, then lowering the flap and maintaining speed by lowering the nose. I have a tendency to raise the nose on approaches which is not a good thing. You add power to slow descent and raise or lower the nose to change your speed. A bit counter intuitive I guess but it all makes sense when you sit and think about it for a bit. We got down to the round out and I brought us level, then I was again a bit slow on the back pressure for the flare and we came down on the main gear only just before the nose wheel. Then I learnt that you must vacate the runway BEFORE the after landing checks. Another piece of good airmanship which I have committed to memory. I am looking forward to next week because I want to go over transitions between different manoeuvres like going from a climbing turn to a level turn, revising the basic stall, doing some slow flight profiles (something which I haven’t had properly demonstrated and I think I need to know about). Well, at least I got 1.3 hours in and I am now 4.3 hours all up.