Friday 20 May 2011
Finally back in the air after a 7 month break. Rusty, so had two check flights - one in the ASK-21 and a flight to do spins in the DG-1000 - followed by two short flights in the K21s - basically 'sled-rides', as there was no lift about.
It's autumn, so lots of bushfire hazard reduction burning (burn-offs as we call them) around Camden, and a lack of winds along with a low inversion combined to make it increasingly hazy, with really poor visibility.
Fridays are relatively quiet, but today there was a recently solo pilot bringing two relatives with him for air experience flights, as well as a regular trainee pilot and a club member who had recently got his aerobatic endorsement and wanted to fly a two-seater to take some footage with a new GoPro HD camera. So, busy.
We got out the two K21s and the DG-1000 and no single seaters. Interesting to see all the nice new glass two-seaters on the field - we do have a nice modern training fleet now.
I got an early check flight, followed almost immediately after an end change by a second check flight with spins in the DG. I've only flown the DG once before, at the Cootamundra camp and it was the last flight of the day and a rush. I remember running the length of the field to get my gear and then running back to take the flight, so feeling tored and flustered. I didn't fly well, the plane felt enormous and so this time I felt a bit intimidated by the DG.
My take-off wasn't so good - I applied forward pressure to get the tail wheel off the deck, but apparently the DG only requires holding in tail down position and it flies off nicely. I also struggled a bit with over controlling in the tow before the instructor, Eddie, showed me it can be flown hands off in the tow. It took a while, but as I flew, I became a bit fond of the DG. Did several stalls, spins and a loop and then came down. There was a tiny thermal we came across, but it must have been pencil thick because no mater how we turned or when, we always ended up in sink. I ended up doing a very nice two-point landing though. I figure at some point soon I will need to fly solo in the DG and the K-13 before I can move up to the Junior single-seater (club rules - 10 solo flights, including one in each of the two-seaters). The K-13 I am comfortable with, but the DG's gear needs a powerful arm - I might have to just leave the gear down for a quick circuit...
After this the instructor went off for some instructional flights without signing me off for my check solo (he intended for me to fly, but hadn't filled in the check form), so I ended up sitting on the ground until he came back and could sign me off. By the time I got in the air in the K21 the haze had become quite bad. There was no wind to clear it and in addition, no lift to speak of. So, from a 3,000 foot launch I managed a 28 minute flight including a frustrating 10 minutes trying to centre a small thermal downwind of the treatment plant. Good circuit and landing. I can consistently touch down just after the first cones and pull up before the second set of cones (160m).
After I got back, I lined up for another quick flight, which turned out to be the last launch of the day. Up to 2,000, no lift at all and back down after 13 minutes. I had a bit of a scare up there. I had tracked out to Narellan to see if I could scare up some lift over some construction sites and then couldn't see the field! It was so hazy that i had a lot of difficulty, even from less than 2,000 feet seeing landmarks. For a few seconds I thought I might end up having my first land-out, but then caught sight of the strip and made a beeline for it in time to join the circuit.
I had taken my little FlywithCE logger with me and it worked fine for the first flight, but I must have bumped the button when I was strapping in for the second flight, because there was only one record. Luckily, I had also brought along my Galaxy Tab, which I had loaded with an app called Gaggle (I also have XCSoar on it, but haven't set it up yet). Gaggle logged both flights and I was able to export .kml files for my flights.
This reminds me, i should do an entry on the gadgets I'm using.
So, these flights have taken me out of the 'check solo' stage, onto 'daily checks'. Four more solo landings and I can potentially be checked out for the Junior! That's my current short-term goal - to get into a single-seater. The next is to get my C certificate!