Saturday, 3 January 2009

My first outlanding and the first aircraft into Pitsford this year!

Engine failures in the Quantum went fine, so late morning I started kitting out for my first flight out of the circuit. I borrowed a radio and headphones from Stew, taped a jotting scrap to my map-board and bungeed a pen to it, to make RT calls easier (runways and QNH/QFE settings have to be relayed back to the tower, and RT itself can be a handful for the nervous novice, as it is), carried a stopwatch and put my phone in my mapboard. I borrowed Flylight's Vario (which shows two altimeters simultaneously) and all kitted out like someone off Top Gun, swaggered off to my fighter in slow motion.

I departed from 05 into a right hand circuit (all RT calls having gone smoothly) and departed the circuit from the base leg and headed for Pitsford reservoir, which I approached a little under 2000'. Previously with Neill, I had landed from the East, but with the wind direction in the opposite direction, I lost height over the water and seemed to just hang there in space, hovering almost! Eventually I had lost sufficient height to make an approach and dropped down smoothly onto the grass strip, with just a bit of a cross wind to contend with....and touched down.

I was elated.

This was my first ever solo out-landing. Granted, it is only 17 minutes from Sywell, but nonetheless, navigating and flying alone for the first time gives you hell of a buzz. I taxyed down to the windsock, parked up and went to sign in. The landowner waved from the house and approached with the landings log and introduced himself as Richard Stanley, a really nice chap whose family happily entertain microlights on their beautifully located and maintained grass strip, despite the fact that they are not pilots themselves. Generously, they charge no landing fees, but there is a voluntary collection tin for the Air Ambulance.

Richard said that I was the very first to land at Pitsford this year! We had a brief chat and then, after Richard had taken a shot for the blog, I texted Neill with news of my landing and then took off, pootled about a bit, then made my approach call back to Sywell and made my first solo over-head join.....and Cath's "nice landing" compliment didn't come with a qualifier :)

I flew again later in the afternoon after crewing for Stew, who took the Alatus out for a check flight and had trouble starting it. My last flight was brief as sunset was approaching. I found what Stew later called "controlled drift" quite tricky. I was being pushed sideways, which is an odd feeling, but eventually turned positively downwind and decided that would be my final circuit as it was getting hard to manage up there. I mentioned this to Neill, feeling a bit discouraged but he put it positively: "The thing is, you managed it".

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