Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Fabulous flare

The WARNING sign in the cockpit, incidentally, says, "This aircraft may contain nuts".
It was produced by Flylight themselves.

On my final landing Neill said I had done a "fabulous flare", and naturally I was elated. I went into the club-room and repeated it to Cath, who said, "yeah, that's what Neill told me".

"Really, he told you it was a fabulous?"

"Well, he said it was good . . ." then with a grin, ". . . I don't know if he actually said it was fabulous."

I am learning to always wait for the other shoe to drop with Cath's compliments. She later said that I should write more, I am really good at fiction!

Well, it was a great flare, but my flying had been pretty awful. But for that "fabulous" I'd be pretty depressed really. Neill told me he was just along for the ride - He would say nothing. If I was going to kill us, he wasn't going to stop me.

So I did the checks, take-offs, circuits, RT and landings in silence. I was really tense, however much I tried not to be. My power control was erratic, I gained too much height and lost it by flying too slowly, my banking was far too tight etc etc.

I took notice of criticism and my own observations and finally got in a circuit where I flew a perfect height/speed, ...only to land poorly. Utterly frustrating.

Later I discussed progress with Neill. Why was I not landing better, when I thought I cracked landing ages ago? He said that you could think of student landings as being in three bands: beginners, intermediates and advanced...and then with his hand he said I was "here" - somewhere around 8/10 advanced. At the start of each band you land safely and feel good. You are complimented on it...and everyone walks away safely. He said you could send a pilot solo at that stage and that if that was all you needed, you could solo at 6 hours, as some schools do. But Neill said that his aim is to make me as good a pilot as he is.

We are fine tuning, he says. Solo needs to be a positive experience. It isn't enough just to have done it and got down alive. Neill says he is putting everything else in place to see to it that once I am solo, it is just a short burst away from completing the training, navigational exercises included. Unlike other schools where you can do endless circuits and they can unburden you of hundreds of pounds while you make little apparent progress, we are doing engine failures, nav exercises etc...building up all the skills, while improving the landings.

Neill says that I am now able to fly all the aspects well, but it is just a matter of bringing it all together and making it fluid.

Fluidity and finesse were what I lacked last night, effing fabulous flare or no effing fabulous flare.

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