Ab Initio 26: “Still at it”

In which I spend an hour trying to land twenty feet in the air and refresh some forgotten earlier bits and pieces.

Windy was the definite weather theme. On the plus side, being currently blessed with Swansea’s additional runways, it was almost all headwind on 28. On the downside the cafe was still closed for holidays which brought us back to reality and thermos flasks, almost like being back at Pembrey, except for the unmissed howling crosswind of course.

I had a family escort (and a thus a lift) today and we fought our way through the unexpected Sunday traffic swarming with new year sales shoppers. Putting aside the prospect of spectators to my arrivals, I borrowed a dayglo vest and headed outside to check out SierraBravo as quickly as reasonably possible before my fingers got too numb in the cold.

We had air-ground in the tower today instead of ATC, which removed one layer of complexity at least. The wind was quite happy to make up for that though. The terrain around Gower does interesting things to the wind. There was a very bumpy patch just after takeoff and during turn to crosswind which made keeping the wings at something approaching level a somewhat energetic process. My ears rang with Laurie’s increasingly emphatic, “fifteen degrees of bank, fifteen!” Then at the other end of the runway, on short final, a gentle valley produced a not-at-all gentle sink which invariably grabbed me just as I thought I was nicely set up.

The first landing wasn’t too bad. The second was a big balloon and the third was a bounce. Marvellous–I was getting worse  as the day went on! The headwind was still catching me out as well and I was descending too early, not allowing for the slower speed over the ground we’d be making.

As we climbed away, Laurie took control to demonstrate a point which I was forgetting, I’d been overcontrolling and chasing the needles again.

He raised the nose until the stall warning light flickered.

“Watch the speed.” He shoved the nose down and waited for 70knots. “Now look outside.” Grass dominated the view.

The point of this was that if you just watched the ASI while you lowered the nose until the speed came back you’d end up nowhere near the proper climb attitude. It lags quite a bit. This I did remember from earlier lessons but had managed to forget, or at least not act on.

“Take your time trimming,” Laurie added. “And relax–otherwise you won’t be able to feel when it’s is in trim.” Starting to feel a little mithered, I did my best to manage at least the bit about relaxing.

Next time around was better, although I did find myself trying to land when I was still ten feet in the air. This became the recurring fault of the day as I continued to flare too high for the remainder of the session.

Towards the end I got an object lesson in not concentrating too hard on one thing t the exclusion of everything else. Making my call on final I responded automatically without really having taken in any of what had been said. Laurie promptly asked, “What did he say the wind was?”

Caught out!

Errmmm. Dunno.

This is of course really rather useful information that it isn’t a great idea to ignore. I definitely listened out the next few times around!

Not a bad day in all, still a fair few things to work on.

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