Flying (Lesson 2)

I recently started taking flying lessons with the Sydney Flying Club based out at Bankstown.

I had been a bit anxious about being able to fly this week as Sydney has been blanked by slightly unpleasant weather lately – we had a storm forecast for Friday which looked like it would hit around 3-5pm.  (2-3pm is usually when I go up).

I managed to get a booking in for 11:30am, so I hiked out to Bankstown, and fortunately, the weather was good enough.

The aerodrome was surprisingly busy. Plenty of helicopter traffic taxing around, and a private jet (looked like an Embrarer, but I don’t know their models well enough to identify which one) taxied past us as we walked to the Piper Warrior I was booked in for (VH-SFM).

(To help follow the rest of the post, here’s a map of Bankstown Airport)

SFM was parked in the flight club’s field parking between taxiways L and P.   After completing the preflight checks to the satisfaction of the instructor, we discovered that SFM’s flaps weren’t retracting when we dropped the flaps lever.

Thinking it’d correct itself under airflow, we set out via taxiway P (near the junction to L) upon which point the Instructor took control, set the brakes and tried to throttle up to force the flaps up with the prop wash.

When that didn’t work, we parked again, stopped the engine, un-jammed the flaps – confirmed that they were operating correctly again (they were, mostly – at least they retracted now under airflow force), and set off once again towards the runways.

I taxied all the way from parking to the A run-up bay, stopping to give way to other aircraft leaving the controlled tarmac for the apron,  ran the run-up checks, then taxied up to the A8 holding for 29R.

My instructor, satisfied with my taxing, instructed me that I’d be conducting the takeoff today, let me line up on the runway, and away we went.

Lesson itself was fairly uneventful – “Straight and Level” – all about maintaining level flight at different speeds/attitudes.

The flight back to the airfield was interesting however – by the time we returned from the training area, the winds had changed and the temperature had increased sharply – we were cleared to land on 11L. The instructor takes over from the reporting point, and everything is in order for a nice landing.

He sets up, deploys the flaps and bleeds off speed for final — and we just float there. Turns out that’s there’s a massive updraft freshly developed in front of 11L and because we hadn’t established our descent rate quickly enough, we’re now gently floating down – with our estimated touchdown point leaving us only 40% of the runway. He calls a go around and we re-enter circuit, and are given immediate clearance to land again (phew).

Fortunately attempt two went better and we touched down happily on the first half of the runway.  He taxis off the runway, hands back control, and I taxi us back to the field parking, where I brought the Piper in to park smoothly.

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