Thursday, 12 February 2009

Going solo!!!

Sunday 30 July was my fifth day at the Moonrakers Gliding club and I was looking forward to flying again. So far I had flown with four different instructors and they all seemed to have a magic touch. When I had to work hard all the time to keep the glider flying level or turning smoothly, they could take control and everything instantly become smooth and perfect.

Today I was back in the T31 and flying from the front seat with Dennis instructing from the rear.

One of the most exciting phases of flight when learning to fly a glider, is the take off. We were using a launching method whereby a cable is attached to the aircraft at a special hook point just under the front of the fuselage. Once this was attached and checked to ensure it would release correctly, a helper held one of the wings of the glider, and the cable (about 3 or 4 thousand feet of it) which was attached to a winch at the other end of the air field, was rapidly wound in, pulling the glider with it. This gave us the speed to fly and we climbed rapidly, rather like a Kite on a string to about 1000 feet where we released the cable and went on our way.

There are two main emergencies that as budding pilots we had to learn to cope with. One being the risk that the cable would break during the launch, and the other being the winch loosing power. Either of these events could lead to disaster if not properly handled. So part of my flying experience in the T31 included the instructor (JW) dropping the cable without warning at 300 feet into the launch. I do not remember this specific event, but must have handled it satisfactorily. For my next flight Dennis took the back seat, and so for my 24th flight I flew a normal circuit without any drama. I now had 3hours and 5 minutes total flying time in my log book.

We then prepared for our next launch with me in the front seat as usual. Dennis then went to the back seat and fiddled about with the seat harness, then said to me that he was not coming this time, and just to do a left hand circuit of the airfield and land in the normal way. So I did as I was told and completed my first solo flight!!!!
I remember being told when I landed that I should stop my side slip a little higher when coming in to land, and was sent off to to complete two more flights, so ending a most exciting day. Magical......

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