A combination of scheduling nightmares and the horrendous British weather meant that until Friday, I hadn't flown for over a month! It hadn't really been bothering me if I'm honest, but having been flying again, I'm once again intensely addicted and desperate to do more!
It was my first ever flight with the ever-lovely Steve, the instructor who has been running the RT groundschool sessions. I'd been looking forward to flying with him for a while - his calm yet authoritative teaching style and insanely positive attitude gave me the impression that he might be quite good in the air (he also has a good sense of humour - essential for anyone who has to cope with me!). I was right - he's a brilliant instructor to fly with, and I hope to have the opportunity again in the future.
Anyway, the weather was actually pretty good in the afternoon (I spent the morning on a rooftop in central london, getting very very wet and miserable), so Steve got me airborn flying circuits.
I had kinda been hoping to finally do my first nav flight, but circuits actually were a much better idea bearing in mind how long it had been since my last time at the controls. Anyway, they started out pretty badly. I wasn't concentrating properly (still lots of work stress on my mind) and probably gave off an air of utter incompetance. Thankfully the calm guidance provided by the long-suffering chap in the right seat meant that after a couple of touch and gos I was getting back into it and beginning to focus properly.
My speed control was good, as was my altitude control, trimming and turning (well, the turns got sorted out after a while - Steve wanted me to be doing 30° turns when in the cruise, rather than the gently 15° turns I had been doing with James. I'm actually happier with the 30's now - it makes far more sense for a nice tight circuit pattern).
Lining up base - reduce rpm to 15000 (cruise was 22500), keep the nose on the horizon and put the flaps down - airspeed will reduce, trim at 65kts (20° flap) and turn onto final at leisure - this should be a nice gentle turn of no more than 15° because you're slow. Once lined up, make final call and then land. Simple...
...I need to work on my landings - my flare isn't exactly brilliant. I need to land on the rear wheels, not the nose!!!
Ok so I did 5 circuits of varying quality with Steve, then he got out. I really wasn't expecting to fly solo again so when he told me he wanted me to do one on my own I was a bit surprised (especially as I hadn't exactly been brilliant to start with).
Anyway, once again it was an awesome feeling. I annoyed myself by 'ballooning' horribly on my landing (stupid, stupid, stupid - get your flare sorted woman!!!), only to find that Steve and a couple of others had been watching me. Cue the sarcastic round of applause - so embarrasing but brilliant at the same time...
An excellent afternoon was had, all in all - I even had help washing the aeroplane for a change!