The plan for yesterdays lesson was to get in as much circuit practice as possible, primarily to work on the landings. With an hour and a half first thing in the morning, the conditions should be spot on. Maybe less wind and of course the opportunity to maximise the number of circuits.
On arriving at Jandakot, it was runway 12, so that meant all the circuit and general traffic were going to have to share. Normally with runways 06 or 24, there are parallel runways to separate the traffic, meaning less hold ups. The wind heading was 160 at 15 knots and a cross of 12. Not exactly what I had ordered. My instructor asked several times if I was sure I wanted to go up, let alone an hour and a half. Primarily because he knew I wanted to work on my landings without cross winds, like every other time. When you wait a week and are excited to get up, a slight variance from perfect is still good.
We had VH-IGX today. So we did the pre-flight, found she had 80 litres on board (full) and but we needed to add some oil. With that all done, we headed straight off. There was already 3 aircraft queuing and 3 more in the run-up bay. In addition, 3 aircraft were already doing circuits.
By the time we taxied and did our run-up, there were 3 in front. It wasn't a long wait though, within 5 minutes were were all airborne. It was straight into the circuits today. This was the first time doing circuits on runway 12 and I wasn't sure of the typical waypoints for turning each leg. After the first though, which on the Google Earth trace, showed was the widest and less rectangular patter, it was straight forward.
We had 3 others in the circuit with a significant share of others departing and arriving into the circuit for their landings. I actually valued the shared runway today, as it taught me 10 times more about situational awareness than any previous lesson. We had all sorts. Arrivals in front, behind, entering from the east, west, north and south. We also had another aircraft who joined for circuits in front who with their twin decided to extend the downwind leg. Its a bit annoying as it extends yours too. Our strategy, slow down and wait for them to come back and still try and maintain our regular downwind leg. However looking back on the GPS log, we had a few irregular patterns. All of which were generally joining behind an inbound aircraft. The other thing I noticed on the GPS track, was I managed to fly through the middle of my brothers house.
The other skill that isn't really discussed though, is spotting other aircraft. It is a bit of a challenge, particularly when they are lower and inbound. With the background of buildings it is often really difficult. The tower tries to help you though, "the twin should be in your 1 o'clock, sorry, your 11 o'clock". I found an aircraft at 11 o'clock and at 1 o'clock. We made a call to the tower to double check, it was the 1 o'clock. It pays to double check when your not sure.
So the long and short of the lesson, how did the landings go? They were ok. Out of the 12, Adam assisted 3 times, being the first 3. After that it was all me. Of the 9 remaining then, 2 were perfect, 1 was good, 1 was a bit hard. The rest, well they all had a balloon. What I was doing when pulling into the flare, was rather than just straight and level, I was pulling back a little too much. I didn't make the same mistake as last lesson and lower the nose, I kept it high. The first balloon we were a little high and the touchdown was a bit harder than one would like. The rest were actually ok. After the first, Adam suggested a little bit of power to help soften the balloon. By the end, all the balloons actually resulted in a pretty good touchdown. Anyway, the post-mortem, when you nail the landing, you get a big smile and you crave more...
Here is the Google Earth map of the lesson.