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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Welcome Back to Gliding

At long last the weather has improved and I have been able to schedule my client visits to allow me to fly again.

My break had lasted since November last year and I wondered if I would remember exactly how it was done.  My instructor looked at my log book and mentioned that it had been quite a while since my last flight, but he would allow me to do most of the flight routines while monitoring me closely.

The take-off was pretty uneventful and my instructor prompted me a few times to keep pressure on the stick in the climb and to remember to keep the wings level.  At the top of the wire we were released and free.  There were lots of thermals and with a fair amount of help we were at 5,000 feet.  I was able to practice co-ordinated turns and keep to a given heading despite efforts of the winds to throw me off.

After 20 minutes I began to relax and my instructor said that it was improving, I just needed to fly the glider and adjust the  trim rather  than fight with the controls .  It was becoming enjoyable again and with the height we had gained there was no panic to return to the airfield. 

The flight was all too soon in the region of 50 minutes and it was time to return to the circuit to prepare for landing.  I have always been apprehensive about landing as there is not so much a process as a judgement call to get it all right and in the right order.  As a Management Consultant processes are second nature to me,  judgement is a little harder.

I was downwind and my instructor asked me if I was happy with our position.  One look at the runway told me that I was not in a good position, too close and running parallel to it.  Clearly I was far too close.   He made the downwind radio call, that I had forgotten, as I moved  further out and made my diagonal turn;  speed was good , height was good, my adrenaline level  was high and I turned onto the final approach.  What had I forgotten?   "Air brakes perhaps" said the instructor just as I deployed them.

We were on a reasonable glide approach and needed just a little less airbrake, the ground was rushing up to meet us as I flared the glider and it just kissed the grass and then touched down.   I was feeling rather pleased with myself when I was jolted back to reality, "keep the wings level, we don’t want to ground loop do we?",  said my instructor as we slid gently to a halt.

The flight had lasted 56 minutes and as my instructor wrote some complimentary notes in my log book, I vowed not allow such a long break in future. 

While we packed the aircraft away in the hanger I reflected on my flight and how my confidence had been restored.  My sleepless night had been unjustified and with a little help from my instructors I will be back and hopefully going solo this year.

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