Awesome weather = good flying weather

New Zealand is experiencing a fantastic Labour Weekend weather-wise. Here's Hamiltons current ATIS (now available over the web which is awesome!):


RWY: 18L
I went flying yesterday in JGP and since then the wind has died from a steady 5 knots at 270 degrees magnetic to calm, the forecast 2000 foot wind has swung around 10 degrees and the pressure has dropped 1 hectopascal. We expecting the weather to turn bad but thankfully the last 3 days have been glorious.
Since I had waltzed out to the Aero Club casually to see if a plane was available I couldn't do too much more than circuits. We nearly had the rare occasion that all 9 planes who live on our flightline out flying at the same time so I consider myself lucky I got JGP for an hour!

One of the good things about circuits (are there good things? :-) ) is that there are plenty of different things you can practice while you fly so this time I chose max performance takeoffs and precision approaches (can't call them landings because I was doing touch and goes). It had been a long time since I had done a precision approach but thankfully all of the checks (I did a quick look at my training manual afterwards to make sure) came back to me. Downwind - assess runway distance available, select landing spot, designate approach speed and decision height. I chose a 60 knot approach, I could probably have done a 55 knot approach as JGP was quite light but as I said its been a while and I didn't want to push it too hard.

I was operating in the Grass 25 circuit which those of you who fly at Hamilton or have bothered reading all my early posts about the circuit will know that 25 has a perculiar characteristic in westerly winds of giving you a ton of lift early in your final approach and once you pass the terminal building and are over open grass you fly into a large sink hole. I remember this terrifying me when I was pre solo but when you reintroduce yourself to it you adjust automatically so I didn't do too badly the first time round.

Once on the ground, JGP like all 172Ms accursed flap selector switch had me cursing and wishing for an extra hand. You must hold it in the up position or it won't raise the flaps and you wonder why you can't accelerate past 60 knots. I eventually figured out I could use my large hands to good effect and hold the throttle open with my thumb while I held the flap selector in the raise flaps position with my fingers. I still needed an extra set of eyes to glance at the flap position meter to determine when they were at 10 degrees, but to be honest, JGP was climbing so well I didn't really need to bother. One touch and go I got to 300 feet AGL before I crossed the boundary fence. She really IS the Millenium Falcon of our fleet!

I got a few more approaches in, with my last one being a 55 knot approach which went fine up until really short finals where it got a little loose but I held it together and we rolled to a stop before the first taxiway.

Today I am heading out to take some pics at Te Kowhai airfield, which is hosting a celebration of 50 years of operations. My heartiest congratulations to the operator and users of that fine airstrip (which includes me :-) ). Will post a report on that later.


Rodney said…
Nice :-) I've been for circuits a couple of times recently and it's good fun [no student pilot out there will understand that!].

At WN we are supposed to keep 90 knots until 300 feet... easy in an archer, could be fun in a C172.