I can’t quite believe that it has been so long since I updated my blog but that’s down to the mix of weather that has reduced the exploring and kept me local.
With the Arrow giving us a bit more speed we decided to try some airfields in North Wales and the North West. Our first port of call was Hawarden. It was the first long flight in the Arrow and we could settle down with it away from the pressures of the circuit. On the way up there all was well, but as we approached the higher ground around Shobden the cloud came down much lower than expected and it was a bit murky for the rest of the flight.
The long runway of Hawarden meant that it was easy to find and with a leisurely join on base leg I could take my time with all the checks that are not quite second nature yet. More on that later!
It took quite a long time to get around all of the taxi ways to parking but Hawarden Air Services gave us a good welcome and directed us to the cafe. It had a rather airport terminal feel about it (not that odd when you think about it!) but seemed very popular, with great cakes. Because of the unexpected weather enroute, and short daylight hours, we decided to head home quite quickly. I paid me fees and had to show my pilots licence, which was a first. My buddy then flew us home in what turned out to be beautiful clear weather. A good flight all round and a much quicker flight time than the Warrior.
Then the winds came! Each weekend we tried. We wanted to go to Llanbedr and Caernarfon but if the visibility was good, the headwinds for the return journey almost doubled the flight time. Then one day, all was calm. Wales was about the only clear spot across the UK but phoning for PPR we found that Llanbedr appeared to have stopped allowing landings at the weekends and Caernarfon were expecting high gusts so warned us off. Instead we went to Bembridge Airfield to try The Propeller Inn which has been refurbished.
I have been trying to get my tail wheel training finished but weather, instructor availability etc, meant that I was having long gaps between lessons so I had put it all on hold for the Christmas break and booked a block of lessons. I managed to fly the Warrior in the local area but then the fog rolled in for several days and once again I only got an hour in the Cub. I flew with the highest pressure setting I had ever had, though, 1045 hPs. Frustration set in though, with some decent weather coinciding with the numerous bank holidays when the airfields were closed.
Finally, just before going back to work, the weather improved slightly and we found Lee on Solent were open on a bank holiday – so may airfields were closed. So down to the beach for a stroll in the crisp winter sunshine.
I flew on the way back and completely mucked up the circuit upon my return. Wrong speeds, flaps deployed at the wrong time. I ended up with a battle to pull off a rather bumpy landing.
I couldn’t work out why it had been so bad until I had time to reflect at home. Within the last 2 months I had done very little flying in 3 different aircraft. Somewhere along the line I think I had managed to mix up the stages of flap for the Cub with the Arrow, 2 aircraft that I am not yet fully comfortable in.
A lesson learnt. When flying a different type of aircraft, take time to really think about the actions that almost become muscle memory in the familiar ones. 10 circuits in the Cub at one airfield and then 1 in the Arrow at my home airfield, even with a break, meant that I was concentrating on the differences – prop and gear – and not the timings and speed of a normal PA28 circuit. Switching between aircraft types is a new problem for me to sort out.
Stay current in all the aircraft you fly!