Date: 7/7/2007

Time: 14:40 - 15:25 & 17:15 - 18:25

Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CDRO

Exercise: Ex 17b

Once again (same old story this year), the weather has been rubbish with loads of rain giving flooding in some parts of the country. So once again it seems like a bonus to get a flyable day. Turned up at the airfield to find that there was a PFA (Popular Flying Association) fly-in with planes everywhere. Wasn't expecting that. The wind is a bit stronger that I had expected and really quite variable in both strength and direction.

Steve says that he thinks that despite the high level of traffic, he will just send me straight up solo for my first solo sortie outside of the circuit. The basic plan is to have a fly around the restricted area in which I'm allowed to get some familiarity and also try a few PFL's (power failure landings). The 'playground' extends west to the A34, north to Kingsclere and Hannington mast, not too far East towards Basinggrad and only a little way south of the A303 because of the Southampton airspace.

Take off on 26 and head off to the west - it's a bit bumpy. At first I just want to fly around. It's the first time I have been up solo for over a month and I had forgotten how differently the plane react when you don't have a passenger. OK, this is pretty, but perhaps I had better try a PFL - absolute rubbish and so was the next attempt. To be honest, the choice of suitable landing fields at this time of year is fairly limited and it isn't obvious how high the crop is in them. Still, I'm not impressed.

Decide to head back as my slot is running out, even though it started late. Steve has said that I shouldn't panic about time when rejoining the circuit - if it looks too busy (and scary) then just hang around and wait until it's better. However the overhead join goes well and I'm into the circuit following Rich and Karen who go a fair way downwind, forcing me to do the same. I slow it up for separation and come into land, but as I approach the ground there is a sudden down surge and I elect to hit the throttle and go around. Second time round wasn't much better, but I bounce it into a landing. I'm not impressed, but Steve says it couldn't have been too bad ('cause he didn't hear a 'crump' noise).

Second stint is being supervised by a different instructor, Roy, because Steve has had to leave early. I'm amused during the pre-flight briefing to see the aerial photo map of the circuit pattern in his folder, that I had created ages ago - didn't know any instructors were using that. He said it was useful, but was running out of copies having lost his original, so I have downloaded a copy for him.

Take off and depart towards the west, with a brief sortie towards the south and the back north alongside the A34, but to the east of Whitchurch. Better try another PFL - I decide to choose the landing field before pulling it. OK, I know that it isn't really realistic, but with so little choice and also, not wanting to use sites near buildings (whilst practising) that would be legitimate in a real emergency. Sideslipping some height away and then climb away from what would have been a good landing - quite pleased with that. Later on I do another up near Hannington mast and this too goes OK. I also try a bit of sideslipping practice. Good stuff. Have covered quite a lot of the playground and perhaps already wishing to go further.

Time to head back to rejoin and I find the airfield easily. Joining, circuit and landing all go fine. It's about 7:30 and I park up and find Roy to ask if I can do a few circuit for practice, but he needs to leave, so I put the plane away.

The second stint has renewed my faith, so I'm a bit happier now.

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