I was supposed to do my QXC or Qualifying Cross Country on Friday, but because the Air Speed Indicator was under-reading, it was decided that the aircraft was unfit for the flight. I should explain that there is a dangerous way and an inconvenient way for the ASI to read, thankfully it was just the inconvenient way that the ASI was displaying, so when the dial read 70kts, the actual speed was 80kts giving a false reading. You would be travelling faster than you think you are, arriving at your destination sooner and burning more fuel. An under-reading ASI would at most mean you come in to land a bit quicker than anticipated and put your time-planning a bit out of kilter… not a bad thing when you’re training as it keeps you on your toes. Had the ASI been reading the other way round, that it was indicating a higher air-speed than the actual rate, then we have a problem. You’re operating closer to the stall, the speed is lower than anticipated and you face some serious issues, especially when coming in to land, or trying to find the best glide ratio in the event of an engine failure. So there we go, thats the only reason why, on a perfect day I didn’t do my QXC.
Not all bad news though because, at the end of the day another aircraft became available and although there was not enough time to go out and do the course, I was able to get some general handling practice in and just “cock about” for a while. I took a brave pill (it was blustery, a stiff 12kt full cross wind) and went out over Bowerchalk to practice steep turns, spiral dives, emergency brakes, slow flying, and some PFL’s.
AND HOW MUCH FUN WAS THAT I realised as I landed that this was the first time I had gone out, solo and just did whatever I wanted. No charts, no plan, just me, the aircraft and a million miles of blue sky. It was absolutely fantastic. I think probably, to date one of the most rewarding hours of flying I have had both in terms of personal satisfaction and honing my skills. Many of the maneuvers you need to perform purposely push the aircraft and you to the limit and recovering from these moves and doing them on my own really helped focus and pick up on the little mistakes my instructor would normally correct (right rudder).
I have my QXC booked again for next week and hopefully in G-BFNK which has some clever self calibrating instruments, which takes a whole bunch of work off the shoulders of the pilot.