At last it has stopped raining (at least for a day) and I have a lesson booked at Redhill with a new instructor. I could see from the Redhill website that the grass runways were closed and the unlicensed runway 07 was in use. This isn’t really a runway but is part of the taxiway – so it is short, narrow and has a slight curve in it. In all my time at Redhill, this was my first experience of a take off from this runway. Anyway, circuits were out so I had completed a Wind Star and suggested to the Instructor we practice diversions which is basically flight planning in the air. Just to make things more interesting there was a 90 degree crosswind across Runway 07 and it was just below the maximum permitted crosswind at Redhill.
So after usual checks, it was taxi out to Runway 07. Sitting ready to take off it looked really narrow and the curve to the left was very obvious. The cross wind was also buffeting the aircraft so this looked interesting. Take off was into wind aileron and very careful steering on the rudder pedals to try and keep the aircraft straight in the gusting wind and to follow the curve of the runway. Soon got to flying speed and it was a great relief to lift the aircraft into the air so I could stop concentrating on the take off run. After take off climb out, turn downwind and depart via Godstone.
Instructor asked me to route to Bough Beech – which was easy as I could see it so just pointed straight at it. At Bough Beech he asked me to take him to Bewl Water so it was calculate a heading and set off. A little way on Instructor pointed out I hadn’t calculated the distance, estimated time of arrival or fuel consumption. I quickly did this and he seemed satisfied. I’d got my heading slightly off but was within tolerance and soon could see Bewl Water. Over Bewl Water, Instructor marked an X on the map near Gravesend and asked me to plan a route there. He took control of the aircraft as this made it a lot easier for me to work out where to go. Anyway, with heading worked out as well as ETA and fuel consumption it was take back control, turn over Bewl Water and set course. By this time we had decided Farnborough East Radar service wasn’t working so it was keep a sharp lookout en-route. We soon passed over Paddock Wood which was a half way point and continued to the destination. I was very pleased when we passed directly over the target exactly to time – I think the Instructor was even slightly impressed.
Then he asked me to return to Redhill so I headed off to Bough Beech and from there to Redhill. Having spoken to Redhill they told me the runway had changed and was now 25 so I had to make a rapid turn towards Godstone was I was basically heading towards departing traffic. Approaching Godstone Redhill ATC told me to hold as the circuit was busy so I headed slightly east of Godstone and started a slow orbit (basically flying in a circle). Fortunately before I’d got too far I was cleared to join downwind and to land on 25. Circuit was OK but approaching Runway 25 it looked incredibly narrow and with a reasonable curve to the right. I said to the Instructor I wasn’t happy with the approach but he seemed to think it was OK and told me to carry on. Approaching the runway it was obvious I was a bit short so a quick burst of power to keep flying and then set the aircraft on the runway. Well my landing was OK despite my nervousness but I was then directed by Redhill ATC to a holding area I had never heard of. Instructor said he would sort it out and we headed off down a dead end. There was another aircraft on the taxiway and it was too narrow to pass so we had to move off then turn around and come back once the other aircraft was clear.
In debriefing, Instructor had a few comments about my take off procedure (which I already knew) but was reasonably complementary about my flying in general. I mentioned this was my first time on that Runway and he told me it was his second time!
For next time he wants me to go through a “mock” flight test to see how I get on so this must mean he thinks I’m close to my licence. Hope so after all this effort.
Flying time one hour and Exercise 18 (Navigation)