Saturday, 13 September 2008

Wearing my instructor out

Neill paid me the dubious compliment of saying that unlike any other student he had ever taught to fly, I had completely worn him out. He stuck his hand out and smiled warmly. We had flown for four hours!

What a terrific day Monday was. After a Sunday when a waterlogged airfield had kept us grounded and studying navigation using a whizzywheel, which I got pretty quick at operating, Neill said that he would have a chat with Jeff in the tower and, notwithstanding the NOTAM, get a dispensation for microlights (as we are generally too light to do too much damage to the grass). He came down from that with his poker face on and I commiserated with him; it's all right, it was worth a try.

Then he cracked a smile. He had pulled it off. We just couldn't do touch and go's, so would have to fly off to a different field for that. We flew a navigational exercise in the morning, which included a circuit of an ex-USAAF base, then went on and landed at Neill's field, Sackville.

We repeated the exercise in the afternoon and I got much better at keeping my bearing, identifying way-points and generally not getting lost. We did a bunch of landings and an exercise in keeping airborne near the ground.....what the RAF called beating up a field.

It is incredible and something I'd like to do more of - getting really accurate in balancing power over attitude. "You're losing height, more power, more power"....."now, hold her off, hold her off!" Fantastic! I had a go at keeping her at 40' right along the field, and trust me, that is bloody close to the ground. It may seem a long way up when you are looking up, but when you are sinking fast, calling for rapid reactions, things can go horribly wrong if you don't get it right at 40'.

I am finding that I land more accurately if I lean forward. Neill gave me the option to call it a day several times, but I kept pushing on, trying to perfect it. I did 13 landings, all of them safe, some of them really good, but none of them as good as I'd like....but Neill, who is really turning the screw, racking up the learning curve, expecting more and more from me, seems to think I am making progress.

I have now flown 23:20.

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