There has to be something slightly ironic about the fact that the day I was practising forced landings after engine failure was one of the days UK Airspace was closed due to volcanic ash.
Anyway, after a pre-flight briefing, taxi and takeoff to the North West, the Instructor demonstrated what to do in the event of an engine failure. Basically try and re-start the engine, make an emergency radio call and choose a field or something else such as a disused airfield to land on. Then it was over to me. We were over a disused Airfield to the choice of landing area was easy. The Instructor closed the throttle (to simulate engine failure) and I had to bring the aircraft down safely. I was a bit surprised to see just how quickly the distance to the disused runway I was aiming at increased. However I got the aircraft lined up and would have landed in more or less the correct place. At 500ft I opened the throttle and climbed away. The object of the exercise was to practice a forced landing, not actually make one.
Next was another simulated engine failure and I had to choose a field to land in. The best field was behind me and to my right – so I couldn’t see it, so the Instructor told me where it was. Again I would have landed in the field and at 500ft it was time to climb away.
One of the regular things a Pilot has to do is called a FREDA check. This is basically, Fuel, Radio, Engine, Direction indicator and Altimeter. Unbeknown to me, the Instructor had tripped a circuit breaker so the Engine Oil Pressure was reading zero. This is one of the things covered in the FREDA check. Despite having physically looked at the Oil Pressure gauge, it simply did not register with me that it was reading zero until the Instructor pointed it out.
Seriously scary – I missed the fact the Oil Pressure gauge was showing zero and missed the tripped circuit breaker. Had the Oil Pressure really been zero, the engine would have been about to fail. I think I learned something from that.
Then it was back to Redhill and landing. My landing this time would have made a kangaroo proud – not sure what happened but I ended up bouncing along the runway. Annoyed with myself – missed Oil Pressure reading and then made a bad landing. I can do better than that.
So that was Exercise 16 for anyone interested and my flying time was one hour.