Ab Initio 19: “Five million landings”

In which I land an aeroplane and land an aeroplane and land an aeroplane and land an aeroplane and land an aeroplane and land an aeroplane…

I wondered if the weather had finally taken pity on my weeks of ranting and complaining, but more likely it had just decided to tease some other poor mug. Doubtless there was another student sitting somewhere looking at the clearing clouds and cursing the downpours from earlier in the day.

In any case it was the tail end of “sunshine and showers” by the time I reached the airfield. Rainbows, gold and purple clouds, the whole works. Gorgeous evening. The wind, such as it was, was dead across the runway but so light it hardly made a difference.

Having a choice of runway I picked 04 for a change. It’s right-hand and I hadn’t flown that circuit since the first few times, months ago, but quite like it as it has rather clearer landmarks for aiming points.

It does mean facing the fence just before the threshold though. It’s about 2m high and separates the airfield from the racecar track the other side. Now 2m isn’t that tall really and barring crisis and catastrophes you are, in theory, well above it at that point. But nevertheless, coming down final it looms there looking like the Great Wall of China and I had a certain amount of trouble keeping my eyes off it.

I’m sure there’s a more technical reason than Sod’s Law but of course the more I stared at it the more I found myself heading straight for it. Preoccupied with this I neglected both the ASI and the height, arrived far too fast and flat and ricocheted back up into the air the second the wheels hit the runway. Not at all dignified.

“Let’s have a bit of a flare next time shall we, instead of flying straight into the ground?” Laurie suggested. “Where were you looking?”

Not where I should have been. Sheepishly, I went around for another go.

The next few attempts were better. Gave the punters on the racetrack less cause for concern at any rate. The weather continued to behave and we were able to get a lot of attempts in in the time.

Laurie’s actual intervention on the controls seemed to have become inversely proportional to the volume of the running litany of “Hold it off, hold it off!”. But every time that intervention wasn’t needed and he kept his hands in his lap I climbed away with a silly grin and a ludicrously over-inflated sense of self-satisfaction, thinking, hey look I just landed an aeroplane! It still seems hardly believable and I’m still wondering whether such glee is remotely normal and whether I’ll grow out of it or get used to it.

When it all goes to plan it’s so perfectly simple I wonder what on earth I’ve been doing up until now to complicate things so much. Then the very next time around I’ll be all over the place and the speed will be everywhere and we’ll be low or high and there’s that ruddy fence again…

So it’s practice and practice and a few more days with such cooperative weather would be nice too…

Fingers crossed.


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