Back into things

Well I've really found myself in uncharted territory. I got a letter from the examiner stating that I had failed the exam three times and am now subject to a 3 month standdown. This means my goal of getting my license before Christmas is toast. I will devote my spare time to re-learning the entire Nav syllabus from top to bottom. I decided to drown my sorrows by having a couple of flights, after all, I am competing next week.

I had already booked time with an instructor for Saturday and decided to use this time to practice for the competitions. We went up and did medium turns, steep turns, compass turns, climbing and descending turns and to cap it all off, a standard overhead join. For the most part I did quite well (and this was from Sue, who took up a marking sheet and marked me for the entire flight). When we returned I got to experience the new ATC setup they are implementing at Hamilton. I contacted Hamilton Tower on 122.9 and got clearance to enter the zone for runway 18. Once we were in the tower said we were to switch to 125.9 which we did and got given another runway, 08 this time. Now I said that I needed crosswind landings practise but it had been some time since I had done one and it went a little hairy but I made it down.

Once we were back at the Aero Club I was making good use of the watercooler when I noticed a youngish looking guy with an instructors uniform was sitting around. He introduced himself to me as Dave, a recently hired instructor that the Aero Club had brought in to ease the workload (the current waiting list for flying instructors is 3 weeks). He had only just been put on the books so didn't have any bookings. The plane I had just returned in had no bookings so I asked him if he would like to go up for a flight. He said sure so I dipped the tanks (75 useable liters) and off we went. He asked me what I wanted to do so I suggested Forced Landings Without Power FLWOP). He said he would chuck some stalls in for good measure and I said great because it had been almost a year since I had done basic stalls.

We went up. Dave is still learning the area so I had to point out where the boundaries of Hamilton airspace are and where Te Kowhai airstrip is so we could avoid it. We did some clearning turns and he asked for a basic stall. I remembered the checks quite well I thought and I put ZK-JAF into a clean power off stall. Good old JAF being a 172N has great stall characteristics, and is very gentle. We had about 1.5 seconds of buffet then the nose dropped vertically and we flew out. Dave said that was good and asked for a power and flap stall. He said that we might get wind drop but I replied that getting JAF to drop a wing is nigh on impossible without using full rudder in one direction. The stall went like the first except I put the controls a little bit too far forward and we ended up in a dive which I pulled out of. Dave chuckled and suggested I not push too far forwards on the stick, to which I agreed wholeheartedly. Then he wanted to see a wingdrop stall so I repeated the power and flap stall procedure, but as predicted JAF resolutely refused to drop a wing. We recovered and Dave asked for a repeat. We were in the buffet when I noticed the nose starting to drift left. When I automatically started to feed in right rudder I noticed pressure on the pedals and realised Dave had put some left rudder in to get the nose to go. JAF just sort of waffled around in the stall and I recovered again. I told Dave that WAM is better for wingdrops simply because it will, albeit in one direction. The Clubs 152s are much more temperamental animals and will drop wings suddenly and sharply.

We then did some FLWOPs. The first one was a bit of an abortion. I ended up way too high on finals and even with full flaps we were not going to make the designated field. Dave told me to go around and we climbed back while he debriefed me on what to work on. The main issue I had was being too tight in on the downwind legs. I commented that it had been some time since I had done some glides and I made a mental note to do some glide approaches next time I am in the circuit. The next one went very well. I remembered all the checks up to the finals checks (even did the passenger brief) and had the plane on final in the correct glideslope with no flap deployed. Dave called for the go around and we climbed again. He said that one was pretty much textbook, except he queried why my passenger brief was so long winded. I replied that I had pretty much memorised the speech (it takes about 2 minutes to say) and that I was just being thorough. Dave said he would have said something like "hang on buddy, we're going down!" and that I had sounded like an airline captain talking about the weather. I said it helps keep everyone calm if I speak calmly, to which Dave agreed, but he said it should not detract from flying the plane.

Sure enough, it was time to return. We were cleared into the Hamilton CTR and were told to pass overhead the tower at 1700 feet and make lefthand downwind for grass 26. I followed the instructions and was expecting to be cleared to desend by the time we were downwind. When it was not forthcoming I piped up that we were downwind 26 at 1700 feet. The controller who had obviously forgotten we were there hastily cleared us to continue approach number 1. The landing was poor. My crosswind landings need work because I didn't detect and control the sink well enough and we bounced. Dave cheerfully said that the plane was still in one piece and we came down on the mains so all was well. He did mention that I shouldn't have pushed forward when we bounced which I already knew. Not sure why I did that but it was one of my biggest bounces I have ever done.

So another days flying over, and 1.9 in the logbook. I had a great time!