In July the sun is hot
Is it shining? No it’s not!
But on this particular Sunday for the first time in what feels like living memory it was and filled with optimism I was off to take a Licence Proficiency Test. Why this should induce such a state of optimism is down to the fact that after far too long not flying, I’d spent the past few weeks trying to and getting nowhere because of weather and even this small amount of sun (there were some big clouds about too) was enough on it’s own to make me happy to be flying for any reason at all. In any case there was something familiar and comfortable at the prospect of being back in a little Tommyhawk.
I hopped off the bus and wandered up the lane to the field. It had been a long time. The air ambulance had acquired a new paint scheme, the parachute club a new aircraft, a stalky legged Caravan, and the field (a long way from the gate) a gate guardian in the shape of a Hunter awaiting a refit at St Athan at some future date. Less happily the leaky-roofed cafe had been condemned and a burger van sat outside the building instead. The club though hadn’t changed a jot. Even to the “hellos” from the usual suspects who I always suspect must kip on the sofas there because they’re ever present.
And it was all go – instructors and aeroplanes in and out, and everyone who flies at Swansea flying. The cadets, the parachutists, the microlights, the little gyro and flexwing, everyone. I joined the ranks of those waiting to fly and drank coffee and exchanged chitchat and speculation and general thankfulness that we were all well out of this London Affair!
I was down to fly with Chris today and after a quick brief headed out to do the walk around while he gathered up the appropriate paperwork.
I fished for my PA38 checklist and eventually located it at the very bottom of my bag, dog-eared and still with “G-TOMS Leia’s copy” scribbled on it in pencil. In any case my hands knew their own way around this cockpit and we were soon taxing out to do power checks. KiloYankee the mount for the day, and a dead Turn Coordinator on board, something to remember since I couldn’t recall if there was any ‘escape route’ turns on instruments required.
I waited at the hold for 28 for one of the motor gliders of the cadets to land then backtracked, did the last minute checks and rolled. With my last flight the tailwheel signoff I was most definitely pinned to the centreline here and we slipped into the air and climbed away.
Very quickly we were into the test section – climbing turns to start since we were doing that anyway. Up to 3000ish for 30 degree, 45 degree and steep gliding turns both the latter still a bit flaky, steep turns aren’t my strongest area, but acceptable.
The stall and spiral recoveries I was happy with though – by which I mean they were undramatic! A quick PFL then back to the circuit. fitting in was the first challenge as things were still busy, but I joined downwind with just a motor glider ahead of me so our timing must have been fortunate. First landing was okay but off the centreline (in fact I suspect all of them were. (Steep turns and landing in the flipping’ middle. Note to self. Practise. (But not at the same time…))
Second two were similar, though I overshot the turn to final again. (Note to self. Steep turns, landing in the flipping’ middle and accurate circuits even when thinking about what the other traffic is doing…) On the next climbout we did a EFATO drill – which off of 28 as far as I’m concerned means straight ahead alongside the road. Dave found a flatter field for his genuine failure a few months back, but he’s considerably better and more experienced!
Next one was to land and we taxyed in with Chris satisfied and me pleased but simultaneously determined to fly enough next time to avoid the cost if not the practise!