Arrow 2, Hangar door 1, Euan 0

It was a day very much like my first Arrow lesson, a dull grey sky and a generous helping of showers blown through by a forecast 2000 wind of 40 knots. I got out to the Club rooms early to sort out a few things for the upcoming club comps when I recognized fellow blogger Jarred, who had popped down from Auckland accompanying his instructor who was getting instruction from the Waikato Aero Clubs IFR instructor. Nice to finally meet you Jarred!

When I had a good half hour before my flight I was handed the checkout sheet and keys to DQV and walked over to preflight.

The first thing I did was forget the combination to the gate. Then I was surprised when I opened the hangar where DQV is stored that the rather old and dilapidated but interesting Republic RC-3 that shares DQV's hangar was gone, replaced by a much newer but just as interesting AS350 helicopter. That posed the first problem, DQV was parked on an angle and it meant extra care when pushing it out after my preflight to make sure that you didn't hit the door on one side or the NZ$1 million dollar helic0pter on the other.

Once I had DQV outside, the second problem was the hangar doors. The wind on the ground according to ATIS was 030 degrees at 15 knots gusting 25. I had no end of difficulty closing the doors, and it was during one of these attempts the wind grabbed one part of the door and slammed it into my face. I was fortunate enough to only suffer a cut lip. After confering with my instructor we decided to close the doors (together) and would park DQV on the flightline until the wind died down.

After taxiing around and filling the fuel tanks we climbed aboard and taxied to the runup area. After all the fun and excitement of trying to remember all the run up and pre-takeoff checks which I actually did better than I thought I would have, we were lined up. The tower instructed me to line up on runway 36 but did not actually clear me for take off. When my instructor asked why I had not taken off I replied that the tower had only instructed us to line up and had not cleared us for take off. They were just about to key the mike and request take off when ATC suddenly apologised to me and cleared us.

I cautiously opened the throttle and away we went. We got hit by a wind gust after I had advanced the throttle about 30% of the way open and to my surprise the Arrow tried to weathercock away from the wind (when I reflect on this later I think I read some literature somewhere outlining that particular tendency of Cherokee's). I had to apply a lot more right rudder than I am used to just to stop DQV from veering left off the runway. Eventually she settled down as she accelerated and I eased her into the air at 65 knots.

Got the gear and flaps up, trimmed and climb power set, all more or less when they should be done, and set about flying the circuit. As you would expect on a fairly windy day, the ride was not the smoothest but it was no where near as bad as I had expected. I climbed to circuit height, turned downwind, went through my checks and was cleared for a low approach and overshoot over the new parallel tarmac runway very close to its official opening.

I was told that I would probably get the worst of the turbulence on the approach, and we sure did. I used the trick of holding more airspeed and not deploying full flap on finals to try and smooth things out. I got a good dose of sink and bumps at short finals which took a bit of man handling the aircraft to keep her steady on the approach, which was my objective of the flight. At 100 AGL we went around for the second circuit. To the chargrin of my instructor the promised crosswind was negligible and although I fished around a bit there was no drift and we eventually settled on the runway and I took off again.

From memory we did 4 circuits and my instructor asked me if I was happy to continue on my own. I had settled into flying DQV at this point and was fairly happy to do a couple more so we requested a landing with "student to continue solo".

I decided I wanted to try some glide approaches, but due to conflicting traffic I only got two attempts in. Both times I would have failed to make the field due to strong headwinds and the fact that with gear down the Arrow glides like an anchor. With the club comps coming up I won't be able to fly DQV again until next month, but I definitely will be practising those glide approaches when I do.

See you on the other side of the comps!


ZK-JPY said…
Nice to meet you too Euan. It's only taken what... about a year or so? :P

We're heading back down on Sat... hopefully we will go for a ride in DOK if the wx is suitable :)
Euan Kilgour said…
I'll probably be out at the club at some stage on Saturday. See ya there!