Ab Initio 30: “Back Home”

In which I get back in the circuit and carrying on bashing at those landings.

I had a silly smile on my face before even going near an aeroplane today, just turning off the Pembrey road onto the airfield was enough to do it. It may be smaller and muddier, and crosswindier than Swansea but as far as flying is concerned it’s come to seem like home and it was wonderful to be back.

The usual suspects were out enjoying the sunshine and a couple of nice-looking new residents had also moved in since I’d last been. A blue and gold Rallye (G-BHWK) and an orange and white Robin (G-BAYR) were parked up alongside the school aeroplanes.

I had already spent a very pleasant weekend being the loopiest grownup to my littlest cousin and he’d come along to watch. We had a bit of time in hand before my lesson so I took him out to show him the aeroplane and explained what everything in sight was for, in response to the near-constant stream of questions which a six-year-old can maintain more or less indefinitely. “What’s that for?” “How does it do that?” “Why’s that man putting petrol in the wings?”

Next pilot in the family?

Next pilot in the family?

Eventually his stomach won over his curiosity and he headed off for a toastie sandwich, with my mum, her partner, and the dog who’d also decided a run in the car to the airfield on a sunny day sounded as good a way to spend an afternoon as any.

I headed in the other direction to check out HotelUniform and get myself strapped in to go. Iwas trying not to think too hard about how rusty I was likely to be after something approaching two months since I last had my mitts on the controls. The only symptom so far was a tendency to stumble over the checklist, almost missing a whole section at one point.

Once we were taxying out though the silly grinhad returned and we backtracked and lined up under the gaze of a large bird of prey looking for his dinner somewhere in the grass past the end of the runway. By the time we left the ground the silly grin was firmly fixed.

The white water frothing against the shoreline was a reminder of the wind and a warning of the accompanying turbulence over the woods. The wind was reasonably strong and was to quote Keith, “playing tricks”, changing direction and strength quite abruptly.

The first approach was a little low and the landing was decidedly on the firm side (Instructor comment–“Don’t just drop it once you take the power off”) but not noticeably worse than many of my others and I was starting to be reassured that I hadn’t in fact forgotten everything.

The only thing I did particularly notice was it took a few circuits for me to remember the usual level of the horizon in straight and level. I kept dropping the nose too far when levelling off and spending the whole downwind leg slowly sinking.

Next approach turned into a go-around for the practice as it had been a while. (Six-year-old commentary from the ground reported to me later–“Why is she practising landings if she doesn’t land?”)

The less said about the next landing the better… (Six-year-old commentary from ground–“It is supposed to bounce like that?”)

The one after that was a bit of a balloon but recovered okay and the actual touchdown wasn’t too bad. It did leave us a little long though and I very nearly had second thoughts about putting the power on for the take off. I did wonder afterwards if it might have been more prudent to have stopped and backtracked for that one. Keith didn’t seem too worried, though did comment that it’s just as well we weren’t a carrier aircraft with a hook on the back or we’d have taken the fence with us! Moments later his comment was seconded by the air-ground bloke, who announced to the frequency at large, “Golf-HotelUniform, ten foot over the hedge there…”

Whoops. We laughed, but next time I’ll hit the brakes!

It’s always nice when the last landing of the day is a good one, and I seemed to have settled back into things by then and I was quite happy with it as we settled back onto the ground and taxyed in.

Back in the portacabin to a box of chocolate fingers and coffees all round (via a kettle-run to the main building, as the school portacabin is electric-less while having some structural work done).

There were a lot of trial flights, and new starters on lessons one or two around today so many smiling excited faces were wonderful to see. The weather had turned out better than expected too, more of the sunshine than the showers actual passing over the field, so plenty of reasons to be grinning.

A few more like that please!



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