Today I had a solo flight to Lydd planned as it had been cancelled last time due to strong winds. Today the wind was OK but the clouds were low and it was raining at Redhill when I got there. Looking at the weather report at Lydd the clouds were at 1000ft but the forecast was for the clouds to rise and the weather to improve. I would need a cloud base of 2500ft before I could fly solo.
While I was waiting the instructor went through my flight plan and approved it. We continued to watch the weather but it seemed to be getting worse rather than better and it soon became obvious that it wasn’t going to improve enough for me to fly to Lydd.
The Instructor then suggested some circuits as I hadn’t done any for a while. By now it was raining quite heavily at Redhill and as I started up the aircraft and asked ATC for taxi permission they said the circuit was only just flyable and they were considering closing it. However they gave me permission to fly. As it has been a while since I’d flown in the circuit I found it quite busy - a lot to do and not much time to do it. The heavy rain reduced visibility and made things a bit more difficult – then the instructor told me to do a “touch and go” without flaps as he wanted to check I could manage that. This means is the approach is flatter and faster but I did a reasonable landing and then took off again – no problems.
Next circuit I had to do a glide approach. With this, I closed the throttle on base leg and glide to the airfield without power – this simulates an engine failure in the circuit. This time I was able to use flaps to control my descent and aimed for the middle of the runway rather than the start of it. Again, a good landing and another touch and go. As I climbed out, the Instructor closed the throttle simulating an engine failure on Take Off. As I was close to the ground and there is no time to do anything - it’s pick the best field or area for a crash landing. I picked a suitable field (it had trees in it but had no choice) Instructor was happy and then opened the throttle and we climbed out.
As we were downwind the instructor asked if I wanted to fly solo despite the bad weather conditions. He said I was flying well and while he would not normally allow a solo in this sort of weather he was happy that I was more than capable of doing it safely. I thought about it for a few minutes and then declined. It was raining heavily by now and I didn’t think it was worth the risk. Instructor agreed so it was on to landing (another good one) and taxi over to refuel. Then back to the hanger and shut down.
Hopefully the weather will be better next time and I’ll get my flight to Lydd – third time lucky.
So Exercises 12 and 13 with one standard landing, one flapless landing, one glide approach and one practice engine failure after take-off.