The weather forecast here in the South-East for the remainder of this week is not good so as the TAFs for Manston and Lydd were both excellent, I decided to get another flight in today. The signs were not too hot, though as I approached Canterbury. Although it was supposed to be broken cloud at 1800ft and unlimited visibility with a light but variable wind from the south-west, there was actually a huge bank of thick clag looming up with vis reduced significantly by a misty haze! Shows how quickly things can change when you are near the coast.
However, things had improved by the time I arrived at the field and after fuelling up, carrying out the usual checks etc, pretty soon we were airborne and flying in sunny skies with broken cloud. And that’s when the problems started. Again.
It was about 1.45 pm when we took off so at that time of day, you must expect to get bumps and lift when the sun is out, but nothing like this. It was impossible to trim the AX3 for anything like level flight but that was nothing compared to the approach problems I had. There were huge amounts of lift over the copse of trees on finals coupled with bubbles of turbulence that made it impossible to get the aircraft set up for landing and then hold it right the way down. Now that’s fine when you’re an experienced pilot with a good few microlight hours under your belt, but it’s hopeless for someone in the learning phase, like me.
So I’m becoming very frustrated. Admittedly I’ve had a break of 6 months over the Winter but I really don’t think that I’m making the progress I expect. Part of it is me, of course. I’m a lot older now than I was first time around so I have to expect that re-acquiring physical and mental skills will take longer than it did to acquire them from scratch when I was young. But undoubtedly the conditions in which I’m invariably flying are also playing a major part. It seems whenever we get good weather and the sun comes out, we get these horrendously turbulent conditions. It can’t just be coincidence because it has happened every time.
So what’s the answer? At the moment I don’t know. I can’t carry on like this because constantly struggling to maintain control of a bucking aircraft with crossed controls and goodness knows what is doing nothing to help me regain the skills I’ll need to get my NPPL Microlight Licence, which is after all, the point of it all. I’m fed up with having ‘challenging’ approaches the whole time. I just want to have the flying conditions that will allow me to redevelop and perfect the skills I used to have, to consistently produce a glide or powered approach, on demand, time after time. That’s been impossible up to now. How can it be when you’re set up on final at say, 300 feet with the throttle closed for a controlled landing and suddenly the aircraft becomes a bucking bronco with first one wing up, then the other and then you’re suddenly 50, 100 or even more feet above the correct approach path.
So where do I go from here? At the moment I don’t know. If the conditions are a feature of the area because of the large number of fields and woods and the influence of the sea, then it would make sense to try somewhere else and see if it’s better there. Anyway, I’ll give it a few more tries and see if things get any better, but it’s not doing me any good having a flight and coming away every time feeling annoyed and frustrated. I expected regaining my Licence to be hard work, but enjoyable as well. At the moment. the fun seems to have gone out of it and I don’t think it is meant to be like that.