Circuit bashing

Sunday was looking a very nice day (for once, most of the weekends have been heavy rain for the past month) so I headed off to the airport for some circuits. I decided that I would take a 172 up because I wanted to practice some slips. The wind was 180 degrees at 12 knots, straight down runway 18 and fairly brisk, that would make it even more fun.

My first time around there was a bit of traffic so I decided to try a precision approach. I chose a 60 knot approach speed just to get used to it again and went through the checks, aiming point selected, decision height (400 feet) and speed (60 knots) determined, lined it up on final with full flap and our ground speed dropped markedly. It was as if we were hanging in the air. WAM only had around 3 hours of fuel in her so she was quite light and we floated a bit in ground effect before finally settling.

I was determined to try again, but the next circuit was free of traffic so I chose a glide approach, but this time my flaps mysteriously failed as well. Quickly trimming WAM to best glide speed I started my turn to the airfield early because the low groundspeed would be a problem if we were to have too long a final approach. This meant I would be quite high which I wanted to be. When I turned final I increased airspeed to 70 knots, chucked in a bootful of right rudder and left aileron and down we came. Using the PAPI lights as a rough guide for glideslope I rolled wings level when I had 2 white and 2 red, reduced airspeed to 65 knots and flew her down to the runway. Sometimes being tall can be a curse, but when you are trying to land a 172 flapless, being tall enough to see the runway over the cowling with such a nose high attitude is a blessing.

Opening the throttle, the airspeed shot up to 60 knots before I had the wherewithal to raise the nose and by the time the mains unstuck we were accelerating past 65 so I brought the nose up the Vx attitude and the ground seemed to fall away beneath us.

The next approach I chose another precision approach, this time with a 55 knot approach speed. Even with full flap deployed 55 knots has quite a high nose attitude, it was a little disconcerting at first. I nailed the airspeed and we were more or less on centreline when I reached decision height, had it been a small field I was attempting to land on I probably would have gone around, but for the purposes of the exercise and having 750m of runway to land on it was perfectly safe to continue so I did and we touched down precisely on my landing spot.

The final circuit I did another 55 knot approach and it wasn't as good as the previous one, but I had run out of time so I didn't get a chance to improve because the plane was due back.

What I did take out of the trip was how comfortable I felt. I haven't done much flying recently, but I have over 80 hours in WAM from a total of 120 hours on type so flying a 172 around the Hamilton circuit on a nice day doesn't knot my stomach like it used to. It also means I can bring all my brain power to bear on practicing the finer points of aviating rather than having to think about every little action. For those of you who don't fly, think about driving your car. It becomes so second nature that you can concentrate on other things rather than driving the car itself. Well I am pleased to say that I am finally getting to that point in my flying. Its a nice feeling indeed.


ZK-JPY said…
Good to see you're still getting the odd bit of flying :)

How is the 'tron these days? The airport company still threatening to start charginh the GA operators horrendous fees?
Flyinkiwi said…
Hi Jared, I believe the Aero Club has come to an arrangement with the Airport Company for its fleet but not sure about others.