Been a while since I’ve been flying, mainly due to a summer holiday and then the third (and last) part of my cycle trip for London to the Mediterranean – this time from Bordeaux to Narbonne. See http://big-wheel-2012.blogspot.co.uk/ if interested. Also weather hasn’t been great either.
Getting into the aircraft was a bit strange but I soon got used to it and the pre-flight checks, radio calls and engine start all came back with no problems. As it had been raining a lot recently the grass runways at Redhill were closed and the unlicensed runway 25 (which is actually a taxiway) was in use. Taxiing was no problem and after the power checks it was line-up for takeoff. As I’ve mentioned before, the runway is narrow and has a slight curve in it. Still no problems with take off and as I climbed out and turned downwind I felt comfortable and confident in flying so the gap didn’t seem to have had much impact. I hadn’t planned a route but the Instructor got me to fly towards Bough Beech reservoir and then towards Paddock Wood. Visibility was good so I could see my destinations and just headed for them. When in a suitable location, Instructor asked me to do some steep turns. This involved going around 360 degrees at 45 degrees angle of bank in one direction and then in the other while keeping a constant altitude. Considering I hadn’t done this for a while I managed it pretty well and the instructor has happy. Then it was climb to 3000ft and practice stalling when straight and level, with flaps and in a turn. Again I managed it without any problems and it may even have been my best stall recovery yet.
After that it was demonstrating I could fly straight and level at various speeds and that I could handle the aircraft in a stable fashion – again all with no problems.By now it was time to get back and as there was quite a headwind (wind was from the West) I flew back at a higher than normal speed of 110kts rather than the cruising speed of 90kts. I descended to 1400ft at Bough Beech, got in contact with Redhill ATC and was cleared for a direct approach to Runway 25. From approach it looked very narrow and the curve was evident as well.
Still approach was fine and all was going well until a gust of wind suddenly tipped the aircraft at about 150ft above the ground. I did a rapid recovery and got back on track and then landed on the runway. The Instructor said my landing was OK but I had touched down just a little bit before the runway start line so I had undershot slightly. It was then I realised I had no recall of actually landing the aircraft. I obviously had and landed reasonably safely as well – I just couldn’t remember the last stage of it. I think the sudden (unexpected) gust of wind so close to the ground and the need to respond quickly had basically occupied my mind so much there wasn’t much left over for memory. Slightly scary in hindsight. Apart from that I was pleased with my flying and how it had come back after a four month break. Winter is coming so it may be a while before I get flying again.