Crosswind Circuits At Headcorn
I thought today’s lesson went pretty well. It was another intense session of circuits at Headcorn. It was an absolute scorcher of a day, so by the end of it I was drenched in sweat.
Headcorn is a pretty mad aerodrome to fly circuits at. There are parachutists jumping out on the dead side of the runway (rather unfortunate name) and there are all kinds of light aeroplanes arriving and taking off. In today’s session there was a Tiger Moth in the circuit flown by a British Airways pilot. If you’re thinking about taking up flying as a hobby, come down to Headcorn on a summer’s weekend sometime. It is a microcosm of the British general aviation community.
The Errors From Last Week Are Disappearing
I am pleased to say that I’m not making the same mistakes as I was making last week. My approaches were way more accurate, despite there being a crosswind. The runway in use today was 28 and there was a southerly crosswind. So wind cocks nose to the south which I then corrected with right rudder. After adding a little bit of into wind wing to offset the tendency to be blown north off the centreline, I was able to fly a much more accurate approach.
On my first landing I kept making too many corrections with the control column. But on subsequent landings I overcame this tendency, and towards the end I felt I was really getting the hang of it. However, there were a couple of things I kept doing, which need to be looked at for next time.
Being Blown Off Centreline On Upwind
My tracking post take off could be better as I was drifting slightly to the dead side where the parachutists were. And we don’t really want one of them crashing through the cockpit window! Tom’s advice; apply a little into wind aileron on take-off then gradually reduce once airborne and then allow the aeroplane to naturally crab into wind. Also set your visual reference point ahead, to make tracking easier.
Another issue for me in the take-off phase, is allowing my airspeed to increase to above the VFE of 63kt. This is because I prefer to climb out at 70kt as I have a better view. I need to remember to keep the initial climb to 60kt, retract flaps then continue climb at 70kt.
Allow The Energy To Dissipate After Landing
There is a reason why they are called microlights – they are very light! The C42 has an MTOW of only 450kg. It is therefore necessary to land as slow as possible, because any excess speed will cause the plane to start flying again if you inadvertently bounce. My return to Deanland resulted in a rather bumpy landing. When you bounce, the trick is to not get yourself into trouble by keeping the stick back and stalling too high off the runway. Bleed off the excess energy by pushing the stick forwards slightly, then counteract any sink with gradually increasing back pressure.
All in all I was pleased with how things went today. My approaches were pretty accurate and I was managing to maintain a fixed point on the runway throughout the descent. I just need to improve the accuracy of my flying post take off and manage the touch down better by getting rid of that excess momentum after passing the runway threshold. After landing another pilot suggested simply to try and fly straight down the runway. I will try and remember that for next time.
Go slip those surly bonds!