Thursday, April 29, 2010

Air cadets

28 February 2010

Further to being a useful gliding club member, I volunteered to help some of the club members (ex Air Force and/or Air Force Reserve) operate a flying day for the local Air Force Cadets. About 20 cadets would have flights in a club two-seater through the day and there was a call via the usual email contact for members to help out.

I arrived early as usual and helped get the aircraft ready and listened in to the briefing of the cadets, I was offered (and accepted) a quick first flight in the K-21 before the cadet flights began (about 10.00 am). The day started as still, with a misty sky and high cloud. No thermal activity at all and so perfect for circuits. Tow to 2,000 feet was the smoothest I’d ever felt. I could have flown the tow hands-off I reckon.

No lift, but no sink either once I was up there. I worked on judging the break-off point and angles to the strip. I flew my circuit a little wide and still ended up a little high (turned in a bit too early), had to get a fair bit of brake out, then was able to put some away and come in on half brake. I felt more comfortable managing the brakes to keep the aiming point where I want it than I had for a while.

I lost a little directional control on the ground though and end up slewing a little left in the landing run. Not sure what happened. But man, the wheel brakes are good on the K-21, unlike any other glider I’ve flown.

After this first flight (14 minutes), I helped out with getting cadets strapped in, briefed and launched, including making sure each of them participated in a launch – retrieving the tow-rope, signalling the required tow height to the tug pilot, hooking on and waving off etc.

There was lots of this and as the day progressed the weather heated up and the unmistakable signs of an afternoon thunderstorm could be seen in the west (unusual, the usual direction for summer thunderstorms in Sydney is the south).

There were other club members flying in addition to the cadets and at one point, later in the afternoon, the club’s DG-1000 was without a taker. I quickly took up the offer (though I found the DG a handful on my last flight in it, in Cootamundra) and took a tow to 2,000 feet for more circuit practice. Not a remarkable flight and I was happy with my circuit, approach and landing. My instructor wrote “General flying good, work on circuit.”

After a few more launches for the cadets, we’d got the last of them off as lightning started to flicker and a wall of black cloud built up. There was a dramatic storm later, which I raced ahead of down the M5 Motorway home.

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