Monthly Club Competition - Sunday 4 December 2005

Another bright and sunny day dawned over Hamilton as I woke. I realised that today was the Xmas BBQ and final club competition for the year. I got out to the Aero Club a bit late but there wasn't a great deal happening despite the great weather. I found out that they had changed what we were going to compete in from Aerial Golf (a long explanation which belongs in another post) to crosswind circuits. The catch was that the second one was to be flapless.

Its been sometime since most of the competitors had done crosswinds and I was quite nervous, as the wind was blowing pretty much perpendicular to Grass 18 so there wasn't much headwind to speak of.

Eighteen months into my flight training, another first. The recent sale of ZK-JAF and the sudden unserviceability of ZK-WAM meant that the only 172 available was ZK-JGP. JGP is of a similar vintage to JAF, except that JGP is a 180hp 172 rather than the 160hp engines in JAF and WAM.

With a light fuel load and two up JGP handled like it had more than 20hp of what I normally fly. I set a nose attitude for what would normally be 80 knots and was surprised to see 100knots come up on the ASI. I was having problems keeping it in balance too because even banking into a climbing left hand turn the turn coordinator was indicating more right rudder!

So here we were, downwind on a crosswind circuit in an unfamiliar plane and then on top of that the tower orders us to make a short approach. That was too much for me and my brain started to fade. The first good thing I did was open the carb heat and close the throttle, but from there things started to go downhill in more ways than one. I started a turn to base immediately without bleeding off my airspeed so I ended up very high on finals. Air judge Dave said he would like to see me attempt the approach even though I had written it off as a go around. Full flap, zero throttle and down we came, and even then the airpspeed had crept up to 80 knots. I picked my landing spot and got the airspeed under control as we rounded out. I don't quite remember doing it but Dave told me afterwards that I had lifted the into wind wing just a little too much and we started to veer off the center line. I got it back under control but we bounced and I made a cardinal error - pushed the controls forward. We got into a porposing motion and Dave told me firmly to ease back on the controls and we landed. I got everything back in order and opened the throttle and got JGP back into the air. It was about then that I noticed that we were not climbing and were straight and level at a rather static 70 knots. Then I realised that the flaps were still fully deployed. JGP is unlike the other 172s I have flown in that it has a raise/lower flap switch rather than the staggered flap setting switch with positions for each flap position. This meant I had to take my right hand off the throttle and hold the flap lever in the up position while holding the aircraft steady with my left. Having that extra power meant there was no way we were going to lose airspeed and it quickly built up. Dave then reminded me to raise the nose which I did and off we went! Back into the circuit he said that this time round he wanted to see a flapless crosswind landing. And then it all clicked in my head and I flew the best crosswind landing I have ever done. I think this was probably because I treated it like a flapless landing except for the position of the aircraft on finals. I did all the checks like clockwork, brought the speed under control and set 70 knots, extended the downwind leg to give me a longer final, and held 70 knots until I was on short final when I raised the nose to give 65knots and cut the throttle. Then I pushed in the left rudder to straighten the nose and used down aileron to lower the right wing into the wind and flared. We touched down beautifully and even some of the other competitors watching noted that I had made it look easy. The landing would have been perfect except for a bit of nosewheel shimmy but it wasn't that bad. Dave said I had done pretty well and told me to keep up my currency because it doesn't take much to lose currency in crosswinds. I took that to heart and will practise some more of those dual in later lessons.

0.3 in the logbook and a Xmas BBQ afterwards to boot! A great afternoon had by all!


Chris Nielsen said…
Yep, that JGP's a beast mate!
Euan Kilgour said…
Heh, yeah we had a touch under 60 litres in the tanks so 180hp + light plane = a hell of a ride