Ab Initio 38: “Could be Tidier!”

In which I work on some recurring niggles and make a daft mistake or two while enjoying myself hugely!

It seems to be a developing theme that I make at least one daft mistake per session at the moment. Today it was managing to leave the mags on ‘left’ once I’d done the after-start live-and-dead check. I noticed something was peculiar as I did the power checks, when there was no drop as I switched to right.

“Did you have that on both?” asked Keith who’d also noticed.

Peer at rotary switch. Um. No.

Try again.

After a normal completion of the rest of the checks out we taxyed to do one circuit before dropping Keith off for me to continue solo.

It was lovely and still, just a slight crosswind and the cloud, although lower than forecast, was still reasonable. The visibility underneath it was fabulous and as we climbed out we could see Lundy Island, some 35nm away.

On my own again and I knew I had a couple of things to work on.

One was a tendency to end up higher than intended on downwind. Probably due to not trimming properly at the top of the climb with the result the aeroplane ‘wanders’ the minute I take my eyes off the horizon to do my checks. Been a niggle all along that one but I would like to crack it.

A few approaches in, I managed overkill in the opposite direction and applied far too much back trim with the result my airspeed dropped away alarmingly while I shoved the nose forward and hastily retrimmed.

Spent so much time fiddling with the trim on the next one that I forgot to put in any flap at all until it occurred to me that I really should be going down with rather more alacrity by now. Got the flap in, took off a lot of power to regain a more sensible approach angle and completed it without too much drama.

Wretched trimmer! If I haven’t ranted about the Tomahawk trimmer before I shall now! Instead of being of the ‘proper’ type with a moveable tab on the elevator, it works by tightening or loosening a spring attached to the control column. It is not exactly fingertip sensitive!

In spite of these excursions the actual touchdowns weren’t too bad. I still haven’t managed to cure the tendency to land to the left, in spite of some very determined manoeuvring to line it up properly this time. I wonder if I’m actually ending up off centre after touch down and not rolling out straight. Or if it’s related to the fact that the crosswind at Pembrey is invariably from the right, and maybe I’m letting a bit of drift creep in at the last minute. Or maybe I’m just misjudging where the centreline actually is in the first place and not lining up my approach straight! I think I may ask an instructor to sit in for a few more circuits next time and see if he has any suggestions.

I think I also want to aim a little bit deeper into the runway. I had to add power to keep from landing short quite a few times which tends to lead to me adding too much — going too fast and ballooning a little bit. Not massive alarming ones like I have done on occasion but a bit undignified! Could be smoother.

I’d got almost an hour in and had decided to do one more touch and go then stop.

Well it was an atrocious touch and go! I came in too shallow, added power to compensate, accelerated instead, bounced when I did touch down, then failed to get all the flap away before I took off again.

Rubbish! I promptly decided to do one more touch and go, a tidy one this time, and then stop.

It was actually very nice to be the one making the decisions, to be able to choose to do that. Quite made up for the frustration at the dodgy landing itself.

There were still quite a few of the ‘regulars’ around when I landed, and everyone hung around chatting for a while. Plenty of hands on deck to get the aeroplanes tied down and covered up, then off to the pub!

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