Circuits10 months, 2 days ago
This week at Liverpool Flying School, I took out G-LFSH for my first go at circuits (at Liverpool John Lennon that is). My instructor had previously told me that we should do a ground school before we get stuck into circuits, but we both felt we shouldn’t waste such a beautiful day (cross wind of around 6kt from the North). I had already read the exercise so came with some prior knowledge of it, and had already started circuits in the microlight before swapping over, including the stuff about engine failures and what to do if one occurs…we would have to be using runway 27 too which doesn’t leave you with many options since the river is directly at the end of it!
I started by doing my pre-start checks externally, then internally and getting the plane checked over before tuning ATIS for information. I radioed ground for taxi clearance and departure, letting them know I was doing circuits. We were cleared through Kilo to report and hold at Alpha 1, I reported and we were pretty much cleared straight away, so onto 27 we went and onto my first circuit at this airport. I was doing left hand circuits, but had to do 1 right hand due to traffic along with a free (YES FREE) go around due to heavy traffic.
After reaching 500ft I made a shallow turn onto crosswind, aiming for the cooling tower to the south of the field. Leveling off at 1000ft, waiting for speed to build back to 90kt, power back to 22,000rpm, trim. Then I’m turning due east towards the lighthouse which is south of Hale, after reporting that G-SH is downwind as I’ve just turned onto downwind, we do our BUMPFLIES check which stands for…
Brakes off, we never apply the brakes during flight.
Under carriage down, they aren’t able to go up on a Tomahawk.
Mixture rich, we don’t lean the mixture unless we get up to 3,000ft+ for safety reasons.
Propeller pitch, which is fixed on our aircraft.
Fuel, we check the fuel pump is on, that the tanks are balanced and we have sufficient fuel for the approach.
Location, which is both a physical one to the runway plus our position in traffic, when we reported downwind we should’ve been told about any potential orbits we may need to do or to watch for traffic to give way to.
Instruments, really ensuring our altitude is staying at 1,000ft, set at QFE and temperatures and pressures look stable.
Engine is checking for carb icing, we put the carb heat on, to double check, then switch it back off.
Safety, harnesses secure which we never remove.
Next is the level turn onto base, sometimes I got told to report base, so I would report base to tower. Once on base now is the time to start preparing the aircraft for landing, first by dropping power to 15,000rpm, waiting for the airspeed to drop below 80kt at which point we hold the attitude level and apply 2 stages of flap, then to maintain the speed increase power to around 18,000rpm and attitude down (compared to straight and level flight this should be 4 spread fingers) and of course trim the load off to maintain around 65-75kt and a descent rate of 500ft p/m.
Now I slowly turn onto final, with my turn angle no more than 15° nursing it round the corner over Hale village with the airfield straight ahead, I had to account for that northerly headwind though, trying to imagine the center line and my nose being over it, controlling the rate of descent with power and speed with attitude. On my first go I got 3 white lights and 1 red on the Approach Lighting System (ALS), this is the minimum my instructor will allow! I hope next time I get all 4 white.
It’s times like this that really makes all the reading worth while, it was so exciting and reminds me that I really do love flying!