Thoughts at the End of Winter
I was watching my log book carefully as I waited for the weather to clear and then, most frustratingly, waited for the plane to be in good working order again. Although I have to admit I was relieved that someone else found the fault rather than leaving it to me.
I then managed to get a flight in just the nick of time: there’s a three-month deadline for taking passengers and, god forgive me, but I still hate the thought of flying that plane solo.
We flew to Angouleme where I made a complete and utter hash of joining the circuit and then overcompensated for the weight of the plane by coming in way too fast. On the bright-side, I have now come up with a cheatsheet of things to review after an extended amount of time without flying. As I get more experienced I’m sure this will become redundant, but at the moment I think it makes a real difference.
- The order of a standard radio call
Silly, but there’s a hideous blank moment the first time I’m asked to pass my message where I think, “I have no idea what to say” and end up stuttering lots. A quick refresher would avoid one stomach cramp per flight, always a good thing.
- Diagram of a standard join
I always end up twisting and turning a plate to work out the angle I need to join the circuit. The problem is that I assume I know what the join will be like and think that one through without considering the other options. I just need to plan in a few minutes of staring at it, test myself on joins in various configurations using both circuit directions and taking into account coming in from an odd angle. I’m just not quick enough to think this through in the air while I’m desperately trying to get the plane to slow the hell down.
- Review emergency procedures on the ground!
It’s all well and good testing myself in the air, quiet moments filled with considerations of what would I do if …. But when I’ve not flown for weeks, it’s a bit of a jump to assume that nothing will go wrong until I’ve achieved radio silence and had a chance to review. I should be testing myself on the ground first.
I learned this in the PPL and somewhere along the line forgot. Visualise the processes needed. Stepping through the planned flight serves as a refresher and more importantly nudges me on the ground about the things that are a bit hazy in my mind.
The Saratoga is sitting in Elstree, we cancelled our flight home when it began to snow. We’ll pick it up in a few weeks — meanwhile I keep saying I want to re-read my coursework from the PPL. No time like the present!