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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Post solo

Ow yes! The enormous first-solo experience is in the pocket :) But that does not mean it's over... Better yet: now it's really starting to get serious business. I have the part "vehile control" well enough down, now we focus on navigation, and expanding my solo experience. Ultimately resulting in a solo overland navigation flight. ("overland" means from one airport to another). Plus, we'll polish the special procedures (emergency landings, steep turns, that sort of special moves).

So, the next flight, we went a little further away. Even abroad! Stadtlohn (EDLS) lies just accross the Dutch-German border. If you fly the pattern too wide, you'll cross borders! As the flight to EDLS is therewith an international one, it requires a flightplan too, which is something new for me (actually; Stadtlohn has a special arrangement with Dutch Air Traffic Control authorities, exempting it from the flightplan rule, but we just pretended that did not exist). One of the items in a flightplan is the time at which you expect to cross the border. That "forces" you to think a bit about "What route am I going to fly, and how long is it going take me"; a navigation plan.

Underway to Stadtlohn we'd pass the low flying area south of Teuge, so we practiced emergency (forced) landings there. Plus, we added something new "steep turns". Turns of more than 30 degrees bank angle are considered steep, and in the Netherlands, 45 degree bank angle turns are the maximum that are required to be performed during examinations. In the USA, the maximum bank angle is 60 degrees, and as my instructor had his initial training in America, he also wanted me to experience 60 degree bank angle turns. That is quite something different! You will pull 2Gs if you perform the turn coordinated and level... So far, flying focussed on comfort, but this is more something you'd do to avoid oncoming traffic :D
The planning was to do some solo circuits at Stadtlohn, but by the time we got there it was already getting kind of late. So we skipped those, and headed back to be home before dark.

For homework, I got to prepare some more overland flights to Leer (also in Germany, but more to the north, near Groningen), Budel (near the Dutch/Belgian border), and Hoogeveen.
I cancelled my next flight, because I did not feel well that day. That meant my next flight was more than a month after the Stadtlohn one. When the day came near, the weather gods appeared to have other plans. Fortunately, exactly at the time I was going to fly, there was a small but distinct improvement in the weather. But all the rain of the last couple of days meant that Hoogeveen (grass runway) was too wet to go there. And there was still a weather front over the eastern part of the country, including the south-east, so also the Germany flights, and Budel could not take place. Instead, we went to Seppe (Breda) to stay west of the bad weather. Down side of that is that I did not really have a navigation plan prepared. I only quickly drew some lines on the map, named the waypoints, and added course information. No distances, no times, so not a good navigation excersize. Further, I noticed I was a bit sloppy keeping altitude (a +/- 200 ft window is not acceptable), and I forgot to do my flow checks every so many times (or at least I did not show what I was checking).

I did get to fly some solo circuits at Seppe. It became 5 in total:
The circuit at Seppe is narrow at the North-East end, due to built-up areas to be avoided, so base leg is shorter than usual. In fact, a glide-in from turning base was needed to not overshoot the threshold rwy 07 too much. The runway is shorter and narrower than at my home base Lelystad, but in about the same ratio. That means the optical effect of being on the glide path is pretty much the same. It's just that you reach the end of the runway much sooner (which can foul up your landing if you have a long flare). So it is very important to close the throttle soon enough, or you will end up approaching high or fast; both will result in a "far" landing.
The other end of the circuit is rather spacious, so turning to the crosswind leg can be done at circuit altitude (730 ft) already. No climbing turns, so 30 degree bank angle is OK. That makes life easier again.

Landing #2 resulted in a go-around, without touching the asphalt (I ended up not having to pay for that landing either; kind folks at Seppe). There was a northerly wind, which is pretty much perpendicular to the runway. From the right in the above picture.All those trees on the right cause some turbulence and windshear on short final, and on that particular landing I was still (over-) correcting for that when it was time to make the call - push on, or go around. So I decided to go around. In retrospect, I probably could have landed OK, but I'd rather be safe than sorry! And, there's one thing worse than not going around, and that is to break off a go-around. That's a sure recipe for a faulty landing. Especially in this phase of my training.

KML files:
Lelystad to Seppe
solo circuits
return to Lelystad (started only a few minutes after take off)


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