Competition Practice and Solo Circuits - Saturday 18 November 2005

I was rung during the week and told I had some subsidised flying hours allocated to me to prepare myself for the National Competitions, which was great. When I woke up a little bit late on Saturday morning and realised I was never going to make it to the airfield in time but the instructors did a bit of a shuffle and I ended up flying with Sue. I decided to take the opportunity to use some of my subsidised time to do some competition practice so we took WAM out west to the training area and went about going over the manouvers. I won't go into too many details because I've been harping on about what the competition entails but I flew fairly well, and we just ironed out a few details for me to work on.

When I got back I realised that WAM wasn't booked for the next 45 minutes and reading through my logbook I saw the last time I had soloed was in July!! Since the weather was great (winds variable at 2 knots, cloudbase at 3000agl) I took WAM up for half an hour of circuits alone. After a long wait due to another aircraft with a solo student getting lost within the Hamilton CTR and ATC having to nursemaid them to the airfield, I got into the air. The first thing that struck me was how busy circuits are when you are on your own. I had completely forgotten about this and it came as a bit of a shock because some of the little things were missing and my first circuit was one best not mentioned. The landing was a bouncer and I got WAM back into the air pronto. The second circuit was better but I was told I was number 3 for the seal runway behind one aircraft in the circuit and one on a right base for the grass. Now the last thing pilots like to be told is that they have an aircraft closing with them on an opposite track. My eyes went outside and I was scanning the sky looking for the third plane. I picked him up on short finals as he had made a rather crooked right base and was quite a distance away and would land at least 30 seconds before me. But that didn't matter because I could land on the seal. I was given clearance and again fell into the trap of rounding out too early but since I was quite fast I just rolled off the throttle and held it nose up until ground effect caught us and the landing was not too bad. Back up into the air for another circuit which was my best one of the day. Although coming down on finals ATC had not cleared me to land I was getting awfully close to the markers so I decided to go around (I asked the instructors about it and they agreed I had done the correct thing and complimented me on doing it). Downwind I noticed that the hobbs had hit .5 so it was time to land. I thought a glide approach would be the best way to end the flight. I was cleared to land and cut the throttle. Everything looked good until I foolishly decided that I was high and deployed full flap. Then the sink hit and I realised my mistake and had to feed in throttle or I was going to land in the lucerne short of the threshold. The landing reinforced my impression that I need to do more circuits! All in all a good days flying with 1.5 hours in the logbook.