Date: 7/9/2007

Time: 10:25 - 10:45 & 12:20 - 13:40 (P1/S)

Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CDRO

Exercise: General Skills Test

All excited and very nervous this morning. Wish I hadn't had chilli last night.

Today is the big one - my General Skills Test (GST) with the Chief Flying Instructor (CFI).

Things didn't start too well. Got to the airfield a bit later than I would have liked. First of all I couldn't find the key to the aircraft on the keyhooks so I went down to the plane and no sign of it there - by the time I get back to the clubhouse it had mysteriously reappeared. However the biggest problem is that it is still very hazy with low cloud which means I can't even go up for circuits. I have to settle for a few low-hops but I really could do with more practice.

When I get back I meet John Wilson, the CFI. We start by going through a daily inspection of the aircraft, where I have explain all the checks I am doing - this goes OK.

We then hide in a quiet room for a bit of a lecture and question session. Initially I'm quizzed on first aid, which you may not think is part of flying skills, but may be required if there is an 'incident'. Then we talk about joining techniques, control systems and many other associated subjects.

Next I have to check the weather along with the aircraft weight and balance. Well the weather is still hazy but the cloudbase is slowly rising. Weight is slightly over with the fuel already on board and balance is OK.

We take off 03 and after getting to 2400' we do some straight and level keeping steady headings. Then move on to doing stalls in different configurations after doing the appropriate HASELL checks (height airframe security engine location and lookout) - these go OK. After some more general exercises we do the HASELL checks prior to some steep banked turns - after my recent practice these too go OK. Then onto Power Failure Landings and my first one doesn't go too well. I choose a field that I think is OK, but make the mistake of loosing height before reaching the field. THEN we notice the power lines across it! DOH. Probably could just clear them, but go around and we then demonstrate how a direct approach (literally) would have been much better. At least I did all the restart drills right. After a couple more better ones (including some serious side-slipping) we do unusual attitudes which also goes OK. Then it's back to Popham for a rejoin and landing; then another takeoff, circuit and landing. Then a short-field takeoff where during the climbout, John pulls an Engine Failure At Take Off which I handle OK and we go around and then on the downwind leg, yet another engine failure - given the low wind I elect to land crosswind onto runway 08 which works out well. We then park the plane.

Apart from the poor first PFL, I am relatively pleased with my flying, given the examination nerves I have been suffering.

Back in the clubhouse I book-in and nervously await the debrief. The good news is . . . . I'VE PASSED !!! Inevitably there are some pick-ups such as radio work, the PFL and keeping it simple. Hooray! - it takes a while to sink in. I'm also extremely relieved not to have trashed Steve's 100% record.

I think a beer with the others to celebrate is in order. Whilst I'm waiting around (and doing a bit of revision), Melvin invites me up in his 1939 Rearwin Cloudster G-EVLE. He calls it the Big Red Bird, but we tend to refer to it as the Big Red Turkey. Apparently I am his 203rd passenger since it's rebuild. Also the first time I have been in the right-hand seat of a cockpit.

He has pre-arranged with a balloon pilot just taking off in the back field that he can beat it up, by flying around it. As it drifts off to the south, we are flying around it with tight steep banked turns and the 8 litre radial engine throbbing away, whilst the passengers in the balloons basket are waving madly. Incredible! After a few minutes of this we head off to the north and Melvin lets me have a little go at the controls - these are much lighter than the C-42, but it seems to have a lot more inertia. Brilliant.



To round off a fantastic day I sit my Human Performance Limitations (HPL) exam and get 100% (it's fairly easy) before going off down the pub.


Just the navigation exam and two solo qualifying cross-country flights to go before I can apply for my license!

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