Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back in the saddle

Wow....what a difference a week makes. Last week it was torrential rain, 45kt gusting wind and visability of only 1km. But today the weather Gods were smiling on me. I had re-booked my check-out flight at Polder Aviation for today and I was worried that the weather would be more of the same. But a check at the weather sites showed that Saturday would be hot and miss and Sunday was sure to be a good one. And Lo and Behold....they were RIGHT!!! :-)

I have been studying the flight manual for the C150 like mad all this week. Revising the emergency drills and memorising the V-speeds. But one of the things that has had me worried all week is my performance during emergency drills like engine failure or the engine out gliding approach. I arrived at the airport with plenty of time before take off and met Rubden, my instructor for the day. This was my first time in the C150, and the plan behind it is that when I want a quick and cheap bimble, then I'll rent the C150, and when I want to take friends for a spin, then I'll take the bigger C172. Since I learned on the C172, they figured if I did well on the C150 then they'd sign me off on both.

Ruben took me out to the my steed for the day...PH-HIL (I've nicknamed her Hilena) and I did the walkround. The C150 is definately more snug than the C172....or as we say in's GEZELLIG. There's not much room from each other and the seats only adjust back and forth. But in I got, settled on my belt and got used to the layout. The panel is pretty much the same, although the engine instruments are way over to the right in front of the P2. And the flaps are annoying. It's a switch that you have to hold until the required flaps arrive where you want them. Not like the 172 which you just select and forget. AND the flap indicator is in the most awkward the frame near the door on the P1 position, which makes it hard to spot. That said, we started her up (having to prime her a good bit first) and then taxied out.

Lelystad is a new concept to me.....a busy uncontrolled airfield. I've been spoilt with having ATC at the fields I flew in in the States. So it was a bit weird having all this traffic doing what they were doing on their own bat. But I wasn't really daunted. We lined up and took off and departed to the West heading over towards the Ijsselmeer. We then tracked NE along the coast of the Flevo polder (this is all reclaimed land from the sea done in the 1950's) and climbed up to 2000ft into the class D airspace. Ruben then asked if I wanted to do some steep turns to get a feel for the airplane. So I did, starting with one to the right and then one to the left. I noticed that very little power was needed given it's so cold here. In San Diego I needed to belt in the power to maintain height, but because the engine is more efficient in the colder weather it maintains height at almost the same power setting as the cruise. We then headed SE and I did some engine failure practices and a PFL (Practiced Forced Landing) and had to halt the descent at 500ft so as not to break the law. Climbing back up to 1000ft, Ruben then pointed out some useful landmarks to use when transitioning to and from the airpot and also the gliding strip which I need to know about in order to avoid it.

We approached the airfield and descended to 700ft agl (standard circuit in Holland) and went for VRP Sierra which is the approach point for joining the circuit. But some clown in a PA-28 also wanted to aim for Sierra. He drifted about 200 metres off my left wing and I turned tight to join the downwind leg. I kept my speed up as someone was flying quite wide circuits and when I turned left for base leg, there was the idiot in the PA-28 again, off my left wing, also at 700ft and buzzing in front of me. It looked as though he was going to cut me up on the circuit and Ruben was going nuts. But eventually he kept flying past the turn for finals as though he was carrying on to the west. We called "Finals" and I did a flapless landing.

The first landing was quite good (for someone out of the saddle for 2 months) and we powered up and did another circuit. This time it was a full flap landing. Not so good this time and I was getting used to the strong wind in the crosswind leg. The nose attitudein the 150 is different than that of the 172 also. It's more nose up than the flatter approach of the 172. A roughish landing and off again. This time the next one was better and we decided to do a glide approach. But someone was flying wide circuits ahead of us and so we had to improvise a little. The same idiot who was flying wide circuits was also using up the ENTIRE runway when he landed. The runway is 1200m long, and there's no way he needs that much. We did a go around and tried again. This time we had an empty circuit and I executed a fairly good glide approach. Finally we did one more landing, a normal one. Everything was looking OK, but on final, the speed started to drop rapidly. So I had to lower the nose down a lot....but then the ground was coming up fast, so I flared.....a little too early, and I heard the stall warning as the wheels kissed the ground. We called it a day and Ruben said he was happy with my flying.

So that's it.....I'm signed off to use Polder's planes and have now flown in de land of dose crazshy Dutch. Hopefully next weekend will be good weatherwise too so I can finally take my friends up for a spin. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

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