A catch up

I haven't been idle, just quite busy with real life stuff which has no place in my blog. But I can report I went on several flights which were both fairly relaxed affairs, which I thought was a good indication of my growing experience.

The first flight was a hop across to Tauranga airport for a $200 coffee (or in my case, hot chocolate) with work colleague and student pilot Andrew. Andrew is yet to go solo but has started circuit training, so I thought an example of the cool things you can do once you get your PPL might be a nice piece of motivation for him, as it certainly was for me.

We picked a heck of a nice day for it. From memory the HAMILTON ATIS had cloud few at 4000 feet and a variable wind of 4 knots, temperature of 9 degrees C and a dewpoint of 7 degrees.

Andrew helped me push DQV out of the hangar and I preflighted her while he organised his cameras. We started her up, gained taxi clearance for a Scott Departure off Runway 18L and taxied out to the runup area. Once we were airborne I set climb power and headed northeast out to the Scott Sector and the maximum cruising altitude of 2500 feet.

Once clear I reported clear of the zone, set climb power again and started a climb to 3500 which would be our cruise altitude, albeit only for a few minutes or so before the descent. I dialed up the Matamata MBZ frequency to make a position report and to check on any glider activity, but there was nothing at that time. Once we had leveled off I set course for our waypoint, Ruahihi, set cruise power and handed control over to Andrew while I tuned in the Tauranga ATIS and jotted down the details. I thought he flew very well for such a low timer. The thing about the Arrow is that when you are hurtling towards controlled airspace at 140 knots you get the perception that you have less time available than you actually have.

We crossed the edge of the Kaimais and I was surprised at the lack of turbulence, although as we descended we picked up a few bumps. I called up Tauranga Tower and was cleared for a Racecourse 1 arrival. I pushed the nose over and we started our descent because you need to be at 1500 feet by the time you enter the control zone. We had a slight head wind at that height because the GPS was showing only about 146 knots ground speed while the plane was indicating 150 knots. I think I managed to coax 160 indicated out of DQV before we leveled off at 1500 feet, and the ground was whizzing past beneath us.

I reported west of the hospital and was cleared to descend into the circuit to join downwind for Runway 25. Although my approach was less than stellar, the landing more than made up for it and we taxied over to park outside Bayflight. A short stroll later and we were enjoying a light lunch and a hot drink at the Classic Flyers Aviation Museum cafe.

We had a slight hiccup because when we went to leave, DQV decided she didn't want to start. After a flurry of phone calls and some discussions with senior instructors I wandered over to the Classic Flyers hangar and borrowed a battery cart. With ground power connected DQV turned over after half a revolution of the prop and we were back in business. At this point I wish to thank all the helpful staff and volunteers at Bayflight, Classic Flyers and the Waikato Aero Club for helping Andrew and I get back into the air. The fellowship of aviators never ceases to humble me.

We had a fairly uneventful flight back, although I went around because I was not certain we had been cleared to land, and we were at short short final when I realised it. Talking to the club members later they thought I had nearly done a wheels up landing but I distinctly remember mentioning to Andrew that we could see the shadow of DQV as we came down, and I remember seeing the main gear's shadow, and I have a habit of checking the gear is extended 3 times at various stages of the approach before committing to land.

The second attempt was a nice landing, right on the center line of 18L. Andrew has kindly given permission to use his photos on my blog so they'll be incoming shortly.

A couple of weeks later I went out on an equally nice day to get some 172 time in. I wanted to practice slipping and gliding mainly. Unfortunately for me, the circuit was busier than I had hoped and I was sharing the circuit with up to 6 other aircraft. In the middle of this, two Mount Cook ATR's decided they wanted to leave so I had to land and taxi clear for wake turbulence separation. In the end I got about 5 circuits in, but only 1 was a glide. I was happy with how I went though, because I was straddling the center line more often than not, and I tried different approach speeds to get a feel for the plane and how it responds. My first approach was at 65 knots which is the max weight approach speed, then I tried 60 knots, 55 knots and finally 50 knot approaches. I was flying JGP which is the clubs rocket ship. I did a Vx climb at almost 40 degrees nose up and she was still accelerating. I love that plane! Next time I do solo circuits I might try exploring the back end of the power curve, I've been told that when one up 45 knot approaches are possible in the landing configuration. It will be interesting to finally explore that aspect of the flight envelope on my own.


PropellerHead said…
Hi Euan
Hope you don't try the 45 knot approach in DQV!!! Could be messy (LOL).
Re: your challenge - senior landings or "forced" landings? Have to see how I am fixed re: netball, etc next weekend. Wonder how the weather will be? Can't fly on the reserve weekend as I am on call.
Cheers - Barry
Flyinkiwi said…
Long range forecast looks all bad. Rain on Saturday and low cloud on Sunday.

And no I wouldn't be so silly as to try such a slow approach in the Arrow, on the other hand JGP has more than enough power one up to pull you out of a mess if things get a bit sticky on approach.
PropellerHead said…
Hi again Euan - agree on the weather forecast - I'll probably sign up when I'm next at the club on Thursday (again, weather dependent!!)
I hope you realise my tongue was firmly in my cheek mentioning a slow approach in the Arrow - definitely a no-no!! WAM is pretty good for getting out of trouble, too, but nowhere near the grunt of JGP. That reminds me, haven't flown the "Millenium Falcon" for a while.....
Cheers, Barry
Flyinkiwi said…
I doubt DQV would be flying at 45 knots, unless you call dropping like a stone flying. :)

I should/could write a big essay on the performance difference between JGP and WAM which supposedly both have 180hp on tap. I thought it was because of the prop on JGP being slightly bigger than WAMs but now I think its the significant difference in empty weight that is the main reason JGP outperforms WAM in the climb.
PropellerHead said…
JGP vs WAM; has to be the power to weight ratio, assuming similar prop pitch, etc. WAM should be heavier (about 20Kg or so for the fuel injection gear, plus the fancy seats and belts and the servos, etc. for the autopilot). Very subjectively, I think WAM is better performance-wise after its recent engine overhaul/rebuild - have you flown it recently, Euan?
Flyinkiwi said…
The last time I flew WAM was my BFR back in May.