Flying Circuits At Headcorn Aerodrome
My upper air flying is great. I can fly at accurate altitudes, have the aircraft trimmed perfectly, maintain a good lookout and all the other necessary tasks of a standard flight. In the circuit things are in pretty good shape too and I have a good awareness of other traffic and make all the right radio calls in the right positions. However, things get a bit beyond me as we get closer to the ground!
I guess my previous flying experience has really helped me with my upper air work. Landing is undoubtedly the most difficult phase of flight to get to grips with. It involves flying with pin point accuracy, at low speeds close to the ground – a potentially dangerous situation. Landing is a fine art and I know it will all come together for me soon.
Meanwhile, here are three errors I seem to keep making.
Drifting off extended centreline
My first landing at Headcorn Aerodrome today was rather messy. The active runway was 10 and there was a slight crosswind from the right (southerly). As I approached I was being blown north off the runway centreline and made the error of using into wind rudder. This further exacerbated the situation. I’m not really sure why I was using into wind rudder!
So what was happening? The wind was blowing from the right striking the empennage (also called the tail assembly) as this is the part of the aeroplane which is the most exposed to the wind. This causes the nose to cock into wind. As I was using into wind rudder it was exacerbating the situation.
Once we landed at Headcorn, Tom put me straight. As you can see from the diagram, wind is blowing from the right, so use left rudder and bank into wind. It always makes much more sense once back on the ground, rather than on short final!
Not enough into wind wing down
The winds at Headcorn were most definitely of the crosswind variety so I was continually being blown off the runway centreline. Here is where my previous training in the much heavier Cessna 172, wasn’t helping much at all. A 172 has an MTOW of around 1100kg, while the Ikarus has a MTOW of around 450kg. As the Ikarus is much lighter, the into wind wing has to be kept in that position, essentially landing on one wheel, while flaring at the same time. Failure to do so is likely to allow more drift off the runway centreline.
Flaring too high
My other recurring issue with my circuits today was flaring too high. I have a tendency to pull back after I cut the power. What I should be doing is cutting power, then continuing to allow the aircraft to come down, then flying straight and level – trying to arrest any sink with slight back pressure. Flaring too high results in ballooning which is a common mistake when learning to land.
Considering these were all crosswind landings, I don’t think I did too badly today. I needed to get this blog post out as soon as I got home, as I am fully aware of the errors I keep making. Hopefully writing it all down will put me in a good position for my next lesson!
Go slip those surly bonds!