Today’s been busy. First thing this morning I had my Class 2 Medical at Gloster Aviation Medicals Ltd – a really great chap called Dr Ian Ramsay. Friends had been winding me up all week about what would be involved so I was a little nervous. Suffice to say that it was all relatively straightforward and my pants did not need to come off!
The medical covered eyesight, hearing, height/weight, family medical history (didn’t take long!), my medical history (didn’t take long!), chest/breathing checks and a urine analysis. It was all over within 30 minutes and I walked out the proud owner of a Class 2 Medical Certificate, and £84 lighter.
I had 2 hours before my lesson, so I did some last minute revision for the Human Factors & Performance Exam before sitting the real thing. Biology was my worst subject at GCSE and whilst most people seem to find this exam the easiest of the nine, throughout my revision I had found it rather hard going. Basic GCSE Biology stuff like the parts of the ear, understanding how the eye functions (rods, cones, etc.) was something that never particularly sunk in for me.
As well as the biology stuff, it also covers areas like cockpit usability/design (ideally, the undercarriage lever should look like a wheel and the flap lever should look like a flap so that you can easily distinguish between them) and other more psychology-related and managerial style topics such as understanding how decision making can be influenced by groups etc. This kind of stuff was much more my comfy, familiar territory thanks to the day job so I sailed through those parts of the syllabus.
Time came for the exam, and luckily I found it fairly easy. I passed, had a coffee and then met my instructor for today’s lesson. My previous weekday instructor is off sick with back problems, so today was my first session with my new weekday instructor. We reviewed my progress and talked through the plan for today. More circuits and practicing go-arounds.
After A-checking the plane (probably the most detailed one I’ve done yet – learnt quite a lot of gotchas to watch out for that aren’t on the checklist) we got ready for departure. I’d be responsible for all the radio and checks today, so the workload has been shifted up a notch.
After taxying to the pumps and filling her up with fuel, we were soon lining up on the runway and taking-off. We were on runway 27 again today – right hand circuits – and wind was 320 at 8 knots. I’m not entirely sure why runway 36 wasn’t active, as it meant we had a crosswind on 27. Still, a first for me and a good opportunity to learn how to deal with it.
When landing with a cross wind, on final you need to aim in to the wind, to compensate for the wind drift. This means that when you come to the level-off and flare, the nose of the plane will be pointed to one side (rather than the usual straight ahead). To compensate for this, use rudder and opposite aileron to bring everything back in to line. Today, this meant using left rudder and right aileron.
The first circuit was a little messy whilst I got in to the swing of things, then I started to settle down and improve. Last lesson I wasn’t flaring enough, so today – conscious of this – I was trying to get the flare right, but ended up pulling back too much. Too little last lesson, too much this lesson. Hopefully I’ll be somewhere in the middle next time!
The wind died down about by the fourth circuit but I was still executing a crosswind landing even though there was nothing to correct, which made for a slightly wonky landing, but nothing too disastrous.
We did two go-arounds (we planned to – they weren’t necessary), which basically involve applying full power, moving over to the dead side of the airfield (the left, in our case today as it was right hand circuits) and climbing at the usual climb rate, then join the circuit at normal circuit height on the crosswind leg.
I forgot to run my iPhone GPS so no tracks this time. Next lesson is tomorrow morning – either more circuits or practicing Engine Failure After Take-Off and forced landings.