All entries for December 2004

December 28, 2004

Crosswind Circuits – Lesson 14

Coventry circuits again today – should have been straightforward with nice clear skies. However there was a strong crosswind ~ 12 kts coming from the right of the runway. So today I had my first go at a crosswind circuits.

Crosswind Take Off – wind direction right of runway

  1. Aircraft is lined up as normal then ailerons moved in the direction of the wind -> control wind moved to the right
  2. During take off aircraft wants to move into the wind (called weathercocking) so apply a bit of left rudder to maintain runway centre line
  3. As speed increases during take off run should start to centralize control wheel until at point of take off wings are level.

Crosswind Circuit – wind direction from right of runway

  1. After take off need to point nose to right to avoid drift
  2. On crosswind leg wind is behind you – so this leg is v quick
  3. On downwind leg need to point into wind (left)
  4. Base leg wind is against you should have more time on this leg

On the above legs my positioning was pretty good – did account for wind direction

Final Approach and landing

I found this very difficult and even after the third circuit hadn’t got the approach right.

  1. On final leg the aircraft nose should be pointing into the wind – i.e. right
  2. Only when you are about to land should the aircraft be straightened (need to check this with instructor)


  1. The crosswind was at 12kts was a the limit for crosswind circuits – for my level of expertise – a bit too much
  2. How to calculate limit – look this up – angle between runway and wind direction in this case (270 – 230 = 40 deg) Then calculate the crosswind component - (Need to look this up)

Action points

  1. must read chapters 12 and 13 again
  2. next time need to talk through actions to ensure that no steps are being missed out
  3. watch altitude on circuit – must keep at 1000ft (+/- 50 ft)
  4. must try and relax – mark and wes (chief instructor) both think that it tension that making me nauseus

December 18, 2004

Lesson 13 – More of the Same

Had a really good lesson today so feeling v buoyant. Doing circuits again but for once beautiful clear skies. Every landing was a good one – and definately feeling its coming together. There was a strongish 9-10kts wind along the runway (good for takeoff) however wind direction was a bit variable and there was quite a bit of turbulance on the climb and landing phases.

Learning Points

on turning to final – should make sure that you are not below 700ft – if altitude approaches 700 ft need to increase power (possible up to 2200 rpm) to ensure that height doesn’t drop. Should only descent below 700ft after turning onto final

training news

Got a letter from Coventry Flying School stating they are changing aircraft from next March – so I could be flying in either a Piper PA28 Warrior 111 or a Robin 2160.

The Piper

Piper Cockpit

The Robin

Robin Cockpit

Both are low-wing aircraft so are very different to the Cessna 152. Also the Robin has the added complication in that it has a stick rather than control wheel. The Piper is a standard training aircraft and is theoretically easy to land so hopefully the transition period won’t be too long

December 15, 2004

Wellesbourne Circuits Again

Coventry wouldn’t let us do circuits today so rather than abandon lesson decided to do circuits at Wellesbourne.

The weather forecast stated broken cloud at 1500 ft- However it proved to be more like 1100 ft – just at circuit height. So visibility was poor.

Found our way to Wellesbourne and had to do a rather complex right hand circuit (standard circuits are left hand). Complex because we wanted to fly round the back of a town (noise abatement rules) which put us at a awkward angle onto the runway. There was some low lever turbulance which made climbing and landing a bit more difficultHad a better idea of controlling power for approach and managed to fly down the runway a bit instead of plonking the plane down.

Unfortunately (probably due to not enough lunch) after about 1/2 hours I began to feel really nauseus. Managed to fly and land at coventry but was very green by time got out of plane

Also tried a powered landing with full flaps (normally landing is with no power and two stages of flap). Having full flaps gives you much more drag so you need to pitched more nose down to maintain airspeed – result is a runway has a different perspective. (Steve you should try this one)

December 11, 2004

Lesson 11 – Doing much better

Saturday 1:00pm – just had another lesson – circuits again. Weather was good – could actually see the runway all the way round the circuit.

Although my approaches were variable – managed to correct them myself and the landings were much much much better. i.e. didn’t land on nose wheel – landings were not too rough and I think I’m starting to get the idea of flying ~ 1ft off the runway to allow for a gentle touchdown.

Golden rules of approach
  • too high (overshooting) reduce power and and pitch down to maintain airspeed
  • too low (undershooting) increase power and pitch up to maintain airspeed
Interesting? Occurrences
  1. On one of the landings we had to abandon because there was an aircraft still on the runway. Air traffic control had told him to take off immediately but he was still sitting there. At about 300ft we had to abort landing -> so full power -> raise nose and away we went (not forgetting to set carb heat to cold and put flaps up one stage at a time).
  2. Conversation overhead on radio (well the gist of it anyway)
    Aircraft: Coventry tower this is G-xxxx can you direct to runway
    Air Traffic Control: G-xxxx follow heading 023
    Aircraft: Coventry tower I’m at toll bar roundabout (less than 1/4 mile away) – still can’t see runway G-xxxx
    ATC: G-xxx I promise you its there
    Unfortunately didn’t catch rest of conversation – hope they made a safe landing
Things to Remember
On the base leg – getting ready for descent
  1. Carb heat to hot
  2. Power to 1500 rpm – keep nose pitched up to allow speed to drop
  3. When airspeed decreased so that it is in the white arc then 2 stages of flap
  4. When just above 70 kts then, and only then, pitch down for descent

Aborting a landing
Always fly to the right of the runway


A great lesson – felt like I’ve made real progress – maybe just maybe its starting to fall into place

Note to any flight simmers – Its much more internesting and realistic if you allow for other traffic to be on the circuits

Lesson 10 – Hazy lesson on circuits

Firstly before getting into the lesson – answer to Steve’s question on Headng Indicators

The Heading Indicator uses a a gyroscope to give a direction indication. Generally it does not have a auto north-seeking sensor so you have to align it manually with the magnetic compass before flight. This is what the instructor was doing on your trial flight. The heading indicator reads the same as the compass but with the trailing zero removed i.e. 36 = 360 deg.

Apparantly is much easier to use than a compass so is the primary instrument for setting headings. Having read up a bit on the instrument – I now feel a bit more confident about how to use one!

The lesson

Once again the weather was difficult for circuit flying – there was a temperature inversion (condition in which the temperature of the atmosphere increases with altitude in contrast to the normal decrease with altitude – this is ideal condition for trapping pollutants). This meant there was some smog-like haze on the circuit which meant that it was very difficult to see – so once again I felt disorientated. Only did two circuits – both approaches were too high and – needed help with both landings.

too high – reduce power and pitch nose down – maintain 70kts

Learning Points
  • Apply rudder when applying full power on the runway – otherwise can veer to the left
  • Use heading Indicator to help keep idea of direction
  • need to almost raise nose to full extent to stop landing on nose wheel

Heading for left hand circuit of Coventry Airport. However these are ideal headings – if I overshoot on one of the legs especially the base leg – the heading could be different to get back on course

December 01, 2004

Addressing the balance

Follow-up to Lesson 9 – Totally Dejected Again from Christine's Flying blog

Just realised that a lot of my comments have been a bit negative. On the positive side I think I have more of an understanding of what I am supposed to be doing. Trying to make turn more coordinated, correcting for yaw etc

Also I am really happy with Coventry Flying School and in particular my instructor. Living in or around Coventry – want to learn to fly – this is the place to go

Lesson 9 – Totally Dejected Again

Had another flying lesson doing circuits

Lessons starting off badly when I took at least 5 minutes to fasten seat belt!. Also I put my instructor in the embarrasing position him having to tell me that 22 is between 21 and 23 (when trying to set the heading indicator) Doh!

Started off by me doing the radio – but as I was absolutely useless had to abandon – so instructor had to take over. Now got a crib sheet so I will practice before next lesson – Saturday

Also I realised I was taxying on the brakes – so must correct next lesson

Runway in use was the opposite direction to what I am used to . (Flight simmers you should try this – not as easy as it sounds) Also thick haze so not a nice clear horizon to work with.

Basically I have 2 main problems
1) When flying I’m usually lost
2) I can’t land

which added together is a bit of a problem

1) Getting Lost I’m getting disorientated very quickly. After we have taken off and make first left hand turn. I lose sense of where the runway is. So it hard to make accurate turn in relation to the runway when you can’t find the damm thing. Coupled with the above – I have no idea of how to use a heading indicator – (I never used a compass as a kid). So I couldn’t make turns onto a heading

2) Landings Out of six attempts none of them were even remotely ok. Approach was all over the place. Rasied the nose of the aircraft far too early and then just came down to earth in a great thud. One attempt was so bad we had to abandon it.

So summing up a long long way to go – wish I could just enjoy the learning experience and not get so dejected when it all goes wrong

Coventry Airport

December 2004

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Most recent comments

  • Good blog! Glad you got back in the air again. I am also doing circuits at the moment (at Southend) … by Dave on this entry
  • I think I left a comment back when you were still flying in 2004; glad to see you back in the air! by Fred Woodbridge on this entry
  • Good luck with the lessons. Ciruits will soon become a matter of habit and will give you a chance to… by Tony Harrison-Smith on this entry
  • too scary for me :–) by Christine Smith on this entry
  • Hello. Go for the wingsuit – … by Paul on this entry

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