On arrival I helped Alis get the gliders out, and noticed the hangar looked a bit bare. Alis pointed out that the Ka-6 and the Pilatus were out, the Ka-6 having its Form2 done and the Pilatus in the workshop for repair after a heavy landing the previous week. My mate Vic turned up and was keen to get his first solo cross country done today, after a couple of false starts last month. I helped Vic out with Jantar Std EE, getting it DI'd and doing some maintenance - someone had managed to install the harness in back-to-front and this needed re-fitting, and also the incorrect fuses had been installed, causing them to pop when the radio was used. After the briefing for the day I spent some classroom time with John, as he quizzed me on the previous lessons we'd done. We went over thermal entry again and also got the maps out so I could point out some of the features in the area. Then it was out to DI the Peewee, and while John attended to some maintenance issues I gave it a good wash and chamois.
|Ready to tow the PW-6U out to the lineup|
After lunch we hooked up for normal launch to 2,000' however at 1,300' we hit a nice surge of lift during a left turn over the runway. John called for me to release into the thermal, and as I did so I screwed up our chances of catching the thermal properly. We had been turning left at the time of release and up until now I had been taught to make a right hand circle immediately after release to ensure the towplane is clear. So, I reversed my turn and circled right, flying right out of the thermal. John explained that while what I did was technically correct, it was permissible to continue the turn in the thermal on release - in fact the tug pilot would have been expecting it and would have powered on straight ahead when he felt the release. Despite a very quick search I was unable to relocate the thermal and we were now down to under 800' and well and truly had to land. We were not properly placed to fly a full circuit so had to join downwind right where we were and make the call that we were entering circuit for landing late. Despite this, I flew a reasonably good landing, with the only problem being that I had shortened the downwind a bit too much and was so focussed on controlling my speed that I nearly overshot my aiming point so had a very steep descent that needed full spoilers to get down in time to make my landing point. Nevertheless, John was pretty happy with the landing.
No sooner were we down than we were hooked back up and launching again. This time we went to the full 2,000' despite a couple of nice bumps on the way up. Nailed the release - straight into a 6kt thermal which we took to 5,000' while slowly drifting WNW with the wind. At the top of the thermal we were a little to the W of the airfield and John asked me to run through my HASLL checklist... Height, Airframe, Security, Location and Lookout. Plenty of height, airframe ok with controls working fine, loose items secure and harness secure, clear of the airfield and houses and do a couple of half turns to clear the area for traffic above and below. Once complete he asked me to demonstrate a spin entry and talk through what I was doing. Did this and got it right first time, so did two more for practice. John was happy that I was able to recognise the symptoms that were exhibited before the spin occurred and that I could both prevent the spin from occurring and get out of it safely after the spin developed. He announced that he'd sign me off for Spins at the end of the day and that he was impressed that I could remain calm thoughout as I was still a fairly low-experience pilot. He also made me do a couple of stalls to show that I could recognise when these were likely to occur, even though I was already signed off for those. I caught a thermal just below 2,000' and rode it well to the top, around 5,200'. At the top of the climb John announced that even though I wasn't solo yet, he was confident that it was time I learned more about flying cross country - so... we were going to fly a task.
|Thermalling near the airfield.|
|On track to Tammin, over the salty pans of the Mortlock River system|
The wind was blowing generally in the direction of our track so I stuck with the thermal as far as I could, to about 4,300' then headed off towards Watercarrin. We picked up two really good thermals enroute which enabled us to make to whole 39km leg without going back below 3,000'. Rounding Watercarrin, John explained the next bit of cross country theory that he wanted to get my head around - Final Glide. He pointed out that we were nearly 30km from the airfield and that we appeared to be flying with a glide ratio of about 30 or 32 - meaning that every 10km we flew we would lose around 1,000' at a similar glide ratio. So, we needed about 3,000' of height to make the airfield, but we also had to allow for flying a full circuit and a little more to allow for sink, so to add another 1,500' for 4,500' above ground needed. At this point we had begun to head back towards Cunderdin but were at 3,500' MSL, overall altitude or 2,800' above the airfield (Cunderdin is 700' above sea level). So, I was going to need to find another 1,700' in the next thermal to make the pattern. This proved easier said than done, and after a couple of disappointing weak and scrappy thermals that only yielded a few hundred feet and probably just as much sink, it wasn't until we were nearly 12km from the airfield that we got into a decent bit of lift and looked like we would make the airfield. John instructed me to leave the thermal when I was comfortable that we would make our target and I pulled out with a couple of hundred extra feet to spare, allowing for a bit higher speed as we headed back in.
|Back at Cunderdin after a 91km first task|