Round and round we go… Circuits

Blog Learning To Fly Video

My PPL (Private Pilots License) training continues and today, all of the lessons I have had came together into one exercise as the subject of this lesson was “Circuits”… and what a brilliant morning it was.

The more I learn, the more I do, the more I fly, the more I love this game. Im looking out of the window now at a crystal clear day, the air is crisp and the sky is almost azure… and all I want to is get up into the air and fly around. On the front page of this blogsite, I wrote a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci and how true it is.

A circuit is exactly what it says on the tin. Its a lap around the airfield to practice every skill learned and all of the skills required to pilot an aircraft in a very short space of time, over a short, uber local flight. You take off (for today’s circuits it was runway 24, Left Hand) you climb to a safe height and raise the flaps. a gentil 15 degree turn to the left onto heading 150 and continue to climb up to 800ft where you level off (Attitude Power Trim) and set up for about 60% power. then, when the tail is aligned with the runway, a 30 degree turn onto “downwind”  and once abeam the numbers, the Golf November Kilo, downwind radio call to let ATC know where you are. Then, its checklist time… and this is a biggie. Its the landing checklist as you’re about to put the aircraft down, or do a “touch and go”

The aircraft I am learning in, are Piper PA28’s, all fitted with a Jet-A1 (diesel) engines and a fixed undercarriage, so much of the following checklist doesn’t apply, but its good airmanship to know it and use it every time as one day, I could be in an aircraft that does, for example have a magneto.

Todays Mnemonic is BUMMMPFFILTCHH (yes, I had a schoolboy giggle too)

  • Brakes free
  • Undercarriage down and locked
  • Mixtures rich (not applicable to my aircraft)
  • Magnetos on (not applicable to my aircraft)
  • Master switch on
  • Propeller pitch set (automatic on the training aircraft)
  • Fuel pump on, sufficient amount and on correct tank
  • Flaps clean
  • Instruments set and reading as required
  • Lights on
  • Temperatures and pressures
  • Carburettor heat on (not applicable to my aircraft)
  • Hatches and doors
  • Harnesses

Once the checks are complete, its a good look out and a 30 degree turn onto base leg, looking out for other traffic on final… 2 stages of flaps (in the white arc or below according to airspeed) and then set the attitude for 75kts. A good look out and 30 degree left turn onto final, setting up the “picture” of the runway adjusting airspeed with pitch and height with power (this is a strange sensation to master as it goes against what most drivers are used to, but it does click eventually) 65kts over the threshold in the landing attitude and at just the right moment, flare (pull back on the yoke) when the ground looks to be just about around your peripheral vision ear height… then once the aircraft is stable and straight using rudder… full power and round again.

My instructor, Charlotte said I would soon get bored of doing this maneuver but I really don’t see how, I love it. Its EXCELLENT fun… it’s all the bits you need to do in one short flight, you can really concentrate and hone your skills… This is finally, proper flying. More please!

Here’s a film of my very first circuit.

In my last update I said that exams were coming, the classroom formality to flying. I have never really been an academic, I am much more ‘hands on’ when it comes to learning, so I won’t deny that the idea of exams freaks me out… Having spoken with almost every pilot at GoFly, the instructors and fellow students, Im confident that the exams, all 9 of them, are nowhere near as scary or difficult as im worried they might be. They are just a formality and they’re not sat in an exam hall, neither do you have to write essays or do anything other than perhaps a few calculations and tick some boxes… it’s all multiple choice. We’ll talk in depth about exams as my training progresses but for now, I do feel a little better.