Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bloggers Fly-in

We're level at 1,200ft overhead Enkhuizen and the warm and fuzzy meter is well into the green. Ouen is at the controls and doing a very nice job at keeping "Nippy" straight and level, tracking course nicely and listening to me explaining the FREDA check (Fuel, Radio's, Engine, Direction, Altitude). This is a check I was taught, and continue to use today, whenever I'm doing a cross-country flight. 

We're on our way over to Texel to meet some fellow flying bloggers for one of the twice annual get togethers they organise. This is the first time I've been able to attend myself, with either the weather or life getting in the way, so I'm looking forward to it.

The weather has already started to brighten up, with the sun poking through a layer of haze. Ouen was quizzed by his wife before leaving because it was drizzling when I picked him up in the morning. But the TAF's for the day matched the weather picture we saw on the trip up to the airfield.

Ouen is sitting in the P2 seat, and he's jabbering on about how he cannot feel the rudder. In his opinion, the rudder is very light and non-responsive. But I keep reminding him that he's not yet got the feeling, and that given time, he'll figure it out. I was the same in the beginning and the important thing to check is the ball in the Slip Indicator.

His take-off was good, keeping centred on the centreline and he applied constant and steady back pressure to help get us airborne. But he started tracking right of the runway, which I had to help with some application of rudder, so I'm not surprised about his comments on the rudder...he's just not gotten used to it yet.

On the way over the water to Enkhuizen I asked Ouen the "what if.." question my instructors asked me ALL the time. "What of the engine quit right now, what would you do". He's a quick learner, because he said he'd set-up for best glide speed (which he remembered from our last flight), aim towards the dike (the Houtribdijk) and then try and land. So I expanded on that and said once he'd set-up for best glide, his next priority should be to look for a field, then run through the "Engine Out" checks, and while doping that to get out a Mayday call.

We were doing quite nicely as went "Feet Wet" past Enkhuizen on the next water section towards the Afsluitdijk on our way to Texel. I'd been walking through the idiosyncrasies of getting the plane trimmed. Using the simple acronym of PAT (Power, Attitude, Trim) Ouen was beginning to get the hang of applying small gentle inputs to the controls to feel-out the plane, letting her settle and then adjusting the trim wheel.

The fun, speed and flurry of checks soon arrived when we begin our Pre-Landing checklist. runway 04 is in use today, which means after the reporting point ALPHA we'll need to avoid the town of Oosterend keeping it on our left to join the DOWNWIND leg halfway. I asked Ouen to feel me through on the controls for this landing so he can get a feel for the control inputs. By the time we turn final, I'm still a little too high. So I explained to Ouen that I'll side-slip to lose some height and then put in the last few stages of flaps once I know I can make the field.

When we landed, Ouen remarked on how impressed he was at how quickly we had lost the excess height and were still able to pull off a very gentle landing. So I explained the aerodynamic principles to him over lunch. Our fellow bloggers arrived and we had a lot of fun chatting with them and exchanging stories, but time was ticking and we both had to be back in Amsterdam by early evening.

I taxied the plane to the run-up area and Ouen handled the take-off. When he got her airborne I said "My Plane" and kept her in ground effect until the speed built up to 90kts, and then I said "watch this" and pulled straight up at about 60 degrees. The speed dropped as we climbed altitude and when we were at 65kts I said "Your Plane" and he continued the climb-out....albeit a little giddily :-)

On the cruise across to Lelystad Ouen had pretty much mastered keeping "Nippy" trimmed and was doing his FREDA checks every fifteen minutes or so. There was the funny moment though when he confessed that he was using a sailing boat as a reference point to try and determine the wind effect....we both let out a chuckle.

This time I am quite happy to let him set "Nippy" up for the approach and see how he handles it...maybe he'll get a landing today. He takes her nice and steady to BRAVO, turns inbound and gets the "Pre-Landing" chacks out of the way. I show him the reference points for turning DOWNWIND, and explain the power-settings he needs to set when abeam the threshold and again for turning onto BASE. We start descending a little when we turn BASE and adjust the power again for FINAL. We're a little high, not much, but when I said "Throttle to FULL idle, we're a little high" he said maybe "you should do this one? Your plane". So I slipped a little and got the speed right back. I was teaching Ouen to aim for a specific point on the runway (the threshold, the numbers etc) and try to keep that spot in place on the windshield during the entire descent and to aim passing the threshold with 60kts and ready to flare. I landed on the numbers and slowed us down all within 180 metres. I still think that Ouen could have managed his first landing. Maybe our next trip will be across the border and we can do some touch and go's so he can pop his "landing" cherry :-)

All in all a really great day....we met some nice fellow pilots, enjoyed some gorgeous Texel sunshine and had a very good training session. 

And I'm looking forward to the tulip fields returning to their full splendour in a week or two :-)

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