Regional Flying Competition - Saturday 29 October 2005

This was held at the wonderful town of Te Kuiti. Their little airfield was just north of the town and consisted on a main runway with a thin sliver of seal running for 500 of the 900 meter length. The landing grid was set up on the right hand side of the chosen circuit (runway 34) and there was a dusty limestone chip taxiway the local council had prepared the day before. I decided to save money and drive down to compete, and Susan decided to accompany me (although I think it was because NZs best cafe is in Te Kuiti which was added motivation to go). The drive south took about an hour and we arrived in plenty of time to catch the pilots briefing and then the individual competition briefing.

I was competing in the Airways Cup Student Manouvers as described in an earlier post, and I found I was to be the last student to fly when I browsed through the paperwork I was handed when I registered. This gave me plenty of time to wander around the field looking at some of the interesting aircraft and talking to some of the pilots from other aero clubs. I found out I was flying against pilots from the Waitomo Aero Club, the Taupo Aero Club, the Taranaki Aero Club, the Taumuranui Aero Club and the Tauranga Aero Club.

My air judge, an instructor from Tauranga called Jules, came over and asked me if I was ready to go up a little earlier than scheduled. I glanced over at the flightline and ZK-JAF was sitting there so I said sure why not. After popping over to tell Susan I was going up I did a brief visual walkaround and dipped the tanks before climbing in.

Jules gave me some final briefing points about how the judging was to take place and that he wanted to see a medium turn, a climbing turn and a descending turn followed by the obligatory overhead join. We did a brief checklist before lining up behind 4 other aircraft at the hold point. I did the pre-take off checks and when I looked up all the other planes had departed and it was my turn. Jules said we would line up and do a rolling take off so I gently taxied us up onto this narrow strip of tarmac and opened the throttle. The takeoff went well, Jules had asked for a straight track out along the runway centre line and me being somewhat crafty had noted a slight crosswind from the left so had turned into it by a couple of degrees and that seemed to impress Jules who made a scribble on his clipboard. We then did a nonstandard right turn and headed away from the chaos of the circuit into the quiet of the NZ countryside where I was to show him my stuff. I thought my medium turn wasn't too bad. I lost about 50 feet but the rollout was bang on my original heading. The climbing turn was a bit sloppy to be honest. I had been asked to nominate a climb and descending airspeed and I had gone for the safe option for JAF at 75 knots. But it seemed JAF didn't want to play ball so I had to play with the controls to get the airspeed where I wanted it. That threw the turn a bit out of balance or slightly overbanked at times but I made sure I nailed the level out. Then came the descending turn, and time for a bit of a brain fade. I couldn't remember what the standard angle of bank is for a descending turn, so decided on 30 degrees. I had nominated 65 knots for the descending airspeed so I did the usual things and got JAF down to the right airspeed before commencing the turn. Jules said the climbing and descending turns were all to be 180 degree turns regardless of altitude so it was good not to have to worry about that. Once in the turn I maintained 30 degrees angle of bank and 65 knots and was amazed at how tight the turn was, and once again I made sure I rolled out on the correct heading.

The overhead join I think I rushed slightly because I didn't strictly do everything by the book but I think I scored some discretionary airmanship points because I did things like switch the lights on and accurately picked the circuit height and the overhead join height. We came in to Te Kuiti from the south east and I picked 4 aircraft in the circuit. I quickly stated which circuit was active, that we should announce overhead and that I was going to circle once before starting our descent on the non traffic side. We came around to the non traffic side and I started a 500 foot per minute descent which meant we would arrive at circuit height in 60 seconds so I had to plan the turn accordingly. We crossed the threshold at circuit height (thanks for the tip Sue) and we saw someone climbing in the upwind leg. Jules asked me what my intentions were and I said that we were joining a circuit so we had to give way to traffic already in the circuit. Then I noticed that the aircraft was climbing out of the circuit and told Jules. He got onto the radio and asked the aircraft its intentions which were that they were climbing above the field to do a FLWOP. That meant I could join the circuit and land, which I did. The landing wasn't too bad considering my recent attempts and we taxied clear where the two guys who were going up to do the life raft dropping were waiting to take the door off!

I hung around the field for a while and watched the other club members compete, but Susan looked like she wanted to go and I certainly was ready to go home so I said goodbye and we left. I thought that although I had done all the manouvers within their parameters I couldn't help but think that my sloppiness had cost me and I didn't expect to come anywhere significant.

The next day I received a phone call from the Aero Club. They asked me if anyone had spoken to me about how the Club went. I honestly replied I had not heard a thing. They said that the club had performed strongly in some events and were unlucky in others. They then asked me how I thought I went and I said that I felt I had flown better in the Club competition than the Regional one. They then said that I had won the Student Manouvers competition and I am going to represent the Central North Island in the National Flying competition next February in Whitianga! Needless to say I was speechless.


Oshawapilot said…
Congratulations Euan!
Euan Kilgour said…
Thanks Mark
MyFlightBlog said…
Congratulations! Good luck in February.