After having four lessons in a row cancelled due to bad weather – low cloud and thunderstorms, today was bright sunny and very warm. Indeed it turned out to be the hottest day of 2013 so far. Wind was from the south so Runway 18 was in use at Redhill. This runway points directly towards Gatwick so need to take care to avoid infringing Gatwick airspace.
As this was general handling I hadn’t prepared a flight plan so after usual checks it was take off and bank left towards South Godstone, climb to 1400ft and follow the railway line to Bough Beech reservoir. Visibility was fantastic and there were great views of the city of London and all across the Kent countryside. After reaching Bough Beech I transferred from Redhill ATC to Farnborough East radar and climbed to 2300ft. Once past the built up areas of Tunbridge Wells it was time to practice instrument flying. Instructor handed be a pair of goggles which prevent me seeing out the window and all I can see is the instrument panel. First stage was flying straight and level, no problems with that, then it was turning onto headings and finally doing a rate 1 180 degree turn in both directions. Again no problems at all. I was quite pleased with this as I hadn’t practiced instrument flying for about two years
Next exercise was tracking a VOR radial to Lydd – again no problems at all. Then the instructor dialled in a different VOR radial and asked me to intercept it. I thought about it for a moment to make sure I turned the correct way, the VOR indicator was over to the left so I banked left and subtracted about 60 degrees to fly in intercept heading. I had deliberately chosen a steep intercept and once the VOR pointer started to move I reduced it to a 30 degree intercept and as I approached the radial I turned to fly exactly along it. Instructor seemed happy so we moved on to a clear area east of Bewl Water to practice stalls. After a good look out I closed the throttle and slowly raised the nose to maintain the same altitude which causes the speed to drop. The stall warning went off and the aircraft started to descend at about 500ft per minute. Stalls in the Katana are a bit uneventful, the aircraft certainly sloes height and there is a bit of buffeting but it is not very dramatic at all. Lower the nose, apply full throttle and recover – all without problems.
Then the instructor closed the throttle and said the engine had failed – what was I going to do about it. I had been looking at the emergency procedures that morning but still couldn’t remember all of them. I had a go and managed to get most of them. First I stabilised the aircraft in a glide at 70kts with one stage of flap and selected a field for an emergency landing. Next step was a practice attempted engine restart and follow the emergency drill. I forgot about the mayday emergency call as I had noticed there were electric power lines in my chosen field and I had to select another. Instructor told me to go around as I would have made my new field. On climb out the instructor closed the throttle again to simulate an engine failure on take-off. As the aircaraft is low there is no time to do anything other than quickly pick a field in front of the nose and head for that. Instructor seemed happy and asked me to return to Redhill. I could see Tunbridge Wells so headed for that and then onto to Bough Beech for a re-join to Redhill. I was cleared for re-join over Godstone for Runway 18. I joined on base leg and even managed a reasonable approach and landing. All in all a good day’s flying and I was pleased with my performance.