Monday, December 10, 2007

Day 6 – Seventeen circuits! And great frustration

I really monopolise the aircraft today. A perfect day for circuit bashing. Cloudy, but very stable air with little wind. After a promising start – two good circuits with pretty good landings onto zero-six, things start to go pear-shaped. I’m messing something up in the final approach and one of my landings is pretty heavy. It doesn’t help that there are a few bumps at the end of runway 06 that can punt you back into the air, or give you a shrewd thumps if you hit them early in the landing run. In any case, I was landing short then long. I couldn’t seem to get any consistency. I took a break for a couple of hours to see if I could work out what the hell I was doing wrong. This was a low point for me. Up until today, I thought I had coped with everything that was thrown at me. I had been challenged and frustrated by the aerotow, but I had been able to master it piece by piece. But this problem seemed insurmountable. The more I tried to get it, the worse my landings seemed to be (or rather, when I thought I was controlling things and working it out, I wasn’t).

I could judge my entry into the circuit, manage my speed and height through the downwind leg and identify when to turn to base leg, depending on wind and height, but at this point I was seemingly getting overwhelmed and confused. What I subsequently found I was doing was not watching the aiming point properly to judge my speed and descent. What I was doing was focusing on the boundary fence – not wanting to land on it, my eyes were drawn to that boundary fence and so I was all over the place with brakes, stick and hence speed.

To their credit, my instructors didn’t give up on me, though I nearly gave up on myself. Halfway through the day I took a break and sat on the grass trying to make sense of what was going on and feeling incredibly frustrated with myself. After the break, things didn’t get much better – the problem was consistency in the final approach and landing. Some landings would be good, others would be bad and the instructor would need to prompt me with brakes or speed.

My roundout was actually pretty good but getting there was the real problem.

That night, I slept badly and each time I thought of the next day’s flying I felt a knot almost of dread in my stomach. I questioned whether this was as far as I would get in gliding.

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