I arrived at the field at about 8.45am. Rosie was already there and had fuelled up MZEL ready to go. Rosie’s idea was for me to go off by myself and build up a bit of solo time this morning, but first I had to do two things. The first was demonstrate that I could effectively carry out a practice forced landing and the second was demonstrate that my flying, and especially my landing, were up to scratch enough to be allowed to go off alone as we both knew that with the clear, sunny weather that we expected today, it would soon start to ‘bubble up’ a bit.
The first two missions were accomplished in about forty minutes, the second not without a minor hitch or two because when we returned to the field, the wind was swinging around quite a bit with some quite considerable gusts from the right on runway 02. So it was a bit tricky keeping the wheels straight on touchdown but although not one of my best I have to say, we both walked away from the landing and the aircraft was re-usable afterwards 🙂
So then I was let loose and I had a marvellous hour and fifteen minutes. I headed off towards Dover and there were the castle on the cliff-top and the harbour with the Cross-Channel Ferries on my right. Then I turned slightly left and headed for the coast which I crossed a few minutes later. The air was pretty calm and I maintained a steady altitude of 1250ft without too many problems. Damn – I had forgotten to get my camera back off Rosie again, so all of this and no shots possible! I carried on up the coastline over the sea until I got to Deal and then I turned left and headed towards the practice field where I had agreed to meet up again with Rosie. Sure enough there she was and I did a couple of practice touch-and-goes, the second of which she was on the ground viewing from next to the threshold.
After the second landing I decided to get a bit more familiar with the local area. The Manston TAF had warned of sea mist early in the day and it had been very noticeable to the north when I was flying out. In fact the first time I saw it I had decided that if it began thickening up and moving south, I’d head for home but in the event it hadn’t been necessary. So now I decided to head a bit further north as the mist and haze had cleared a bit. I had to be careful to keep clear of the Manston zone but that didn’t have to be a problem so long as I stayed south of Sandwich. The Pfizer buildings stuck out like a sore thumb and the wind farms were clearly visible in the sea way beyond them.
All good things have to come to an end though, and it was soon time to head back for home. By this time the conditions were becoming pretty thermic and I couldn’t help but notice how much more accomplished I am now at handling them. It just goes to show, even when you’re cursing and thinking that you’re not making progress because the conditions are thwarting you, in actual fact you are 😉
I had heard Rosie calling up for landing with her other student in the C42 some minutes before and pretty soon I was calling downwind and final. Compared to yesterday, as expected the approach and landing on 02 were much more tricky, but I didn’t manage too badly. I was nicely in balance and lined up over the threshold when I cut the power as usual. Then wham – there was a much larger gust of wind down the runway and swinging round to the right just as I was flaring. Nothing much I could do. I just had to use the controls to keep as straight as possible down the runway and at a good height without ballooning. I managed to do both but because the gust continued, I floated a lot further than I originally anticipated. But no harm done – the touchdown was actually a lot softer than I thought it might have been and as I slowed down and prepared to turn round, I couldn’t help laughing out loud to myself 😀
I had a very enjoyable de-brief with Rosie and we did the numbers. A tally up showed that I now have 5 minutes less than two hours solo, so five more to go if I’m to reach my target. Can I do it in time? We’ll see – only time will tell.
Sunday update. I forgot to mention when I wrote this yesterday that I also dropped into Linton on the way home to see what was happening. Answer – not a lot 🙂
Bob and Paul were sat out in the sun chatting over a brew, one of the many pleasures of microlight flying. Earlier in the day, Paul had flown down to Beachy Head in his QuikR to test out his new video cam which he’d had since Christmas but never used. His first video was pretty impressive and as he had flown over an area that was very similar to the one that I had also earlier in the day and been unable to take any pics, I thought I’d give it a target=”_blank”>LINK to give an idea of what I had been able to enjoy yesterday.
And by way of a compromise, here are a few pics of MZEL taken after I’d landed.
The last pic also shows Rosie’s other steed, the C42 which I mentioned earlier. So far I’ve not had a wild urge to want to fly it, having been used to flying ‘spamcans’ before, but I guess I’ll get around to it sometime 😉