First Local Area Solo Flight
The plan for my lesson today was to head over to Headcorn to do some solo circuits. However, the winds at Headcorn do seem to have something against me (given my luck over the summer) and today was no exception! There was a steady 8 knot crosswind which might have been too much for my first solo circuit session. Richard therefore suggested that we go out into the local flying area and practice some approaches back to Deanland to get used to the local surroundings. If these went well I would be allowed solo into the local flying area.
Engine Running Rough
After pre-flighting one of the C42s, we headed off towards the South Downs where I did some basic flying manoeuvres, mainly level turns. I find that for the first 15 mins of each of my lessons, I am too aggressive with the stick, gripping it for dear life. Afterwards, I begin to relax more which is how it should be. After a while I was doing some beautiful turns – even if I say so myself!
The engine had been running slightly rough at low revs and particularly at idle, so we headed back to Deanland where Richard looked under the ‘hood’. On inspection, one of the plugs was loose and had to be pushed back in. I was told that this would never have been a serious issue due to the Rotax 912’s dual ignition system.
Let Loose Into The Local Flying Area!
Plug back in place, we headed off once again to fly in the local area and approach Deanland from a different direction. In preparation for me going solo Richard explained a good way of finding my way back to the airfield; basically follow the A22 north out of Haisham until you reach a factory and a caravan park, then turn onto finals for runway 24. OK, that seems a good way to remember the way back to the airfield. I just hope it is that easy when I go off on my own!
I landed back at Deanland once more and Richard asked how I felt about going into the local area on my own. Of course I wasn’t going to say no! I have to say that I did feel a little bit of trepidation, but figured that if Richard was willing to let me loose in one of his C42s, then I must be good enough.
This was actually it! Going solo for the first time 2 weeks ago was absolutely amazing. However, that was just once around the airfield. Now I was going to be flying on my own into the local area – proper flying!
As I taxied to the runway holding point I became a bit obsessed by the fact that I’d forgotten my sunglasses. The late afternoon sun was low in the sky and I was worried that I might be blinded during take off/approach for the in use runway , 24 – facing directly into the sunset. Anyway, it was too late now. I carried out the pre-take off checks, lined up, took a deep breath and applied full power.
The Moment Of Disbelief
Apart from my 10 min solo 2 weeks ago, I hadn’t flown properly since 1998. A lot has happened in my life since then and I never imagined that I would ever have the opportunity to fly again. After the take-off work load had subsided, I relaxed and was able to appreciate this surreal, almost spiritual moment – that I was actually flying again. I flew over to the South Downs and did some turns, watching the ground spin beneath me through the cockpit door. I climbed and descended and basked in the glory of feeling free 1000s of feet above the Sussex countryside. And then I woke from my dreamlike wonderment and realised that the sun was now really low in the sky and that it might be time to start heading back to the airfield in case I had trouble finding it!
Back To Mother Earth
I was right to worry about leaving my sunglasses behind earlier. The setting sun made it really difficult to pick out the A22, my sign post back to Mother Earth. Luckily I had been loaned an iPad for the flight which had Sky Demon on it so I was able to track my way back to Deanland. In the slight frenzy I felt when thinking I might be up until after dark, I totally forgot my pre-landing checks. My approach was spot on but I was disappointed with my landing which was rather bouncy. It was, however, safe and it still felt fantastic that I’d flown around in the local area and managed to find my way back before sundown.
Until next time, go slip those surly bonds!