Neil has put in some real time with me today and it paid dividends because I have really cracked landings! We started off flying to Sackville (on a x-country Nav exercise) then did some circuits at the grass strip there. I did some half decent landings (though I was a bit disorientated by the right hand circuit; hopefully didn't let it show, because I managed to find my bearings turning onto base leg). Having stayed out rather longer than our logged estimate, the people at Flylight were getting a bit worried. We hadn't thought. We'd just been wrapped up in what we were doing.
In debriefing Neil was quite clear that he has really been cranking up his fussiness for accuracy and I have been responding positively, showing real progress each hour. I think he wanted to reassure me because I felt that I hadn't been performing as well.
After a break we went up again to do an hour or so of circuits, eventually doing ten landings of which Neil said only two were dodgy, the problem being my flaring. The best bit was Neil drumming on my shoulders with delight when I got it right...and went on and on getting it right - and my sense of elation, knowing that it hadn't been a fluke and knowing that I'd be able to repeat it. We went over time by about a half hour getting that consistency. I was really grateful for that because I needed to know that I could repeatedly demonstrate the newly acquired skill.
After another break, we did some navigation, with Neil showing me how to use the wizzy-wheel to calculate tracks taking drisft into account, how to calculate the fuel consumption, etc. Bloody nice bit of kit. I ordered one last week, so I will get it next time I am up.
Late in the afternoon, when I was tired, we did some more landings...another 8 or so and they were not as good, but again, Neil was cranking up the pressure and I was doing all the flying, with no inputs from Neil and hardly any prompts. He said he wanted me to feel what it is like being up there alone and he reassured me that I am flying tight, tidy circuits now.
I have now done 19 hours and 58 landings. I was worried about those numbers but Neil says some people don't get 20 hours in a year and then fly as many as 40 before soloing. Many fly well over a 100 landings before solo, so he says I have accomplished a huge amount, which he puts down to my commitment. He reminded me of the time we first talked, when I had told him that I was sleeping in the hangar and he had said that if I was that committed to it, he was committed to teaching me. There's no doubt about it, he has really gone the extra mile for me over and over. We didn't finish tonight until after 8pm. Good man.
A great day.