Flying under the hood

After completing the ATPLs, my next step was to complete an IR(R), what some still referred to as the IMC. Whilst it’s not something I needed to complete just yet if I’m going down the commercial route, I knew it was something I wanted to complete anyway to improve my pilot skills.

Something that I enjoyed about night flying was the level of intensity that was required as it was like being in the zone. Everything else down on the ground, any worries or stresses, just slid away and I was forced to focus on the here and now. The taste of instrument flying during my PPL offered a similar feeling and Nick had said that I seemed to adapt quite well to it. So I felt quite positive going in to the instrument flying course. Everyone had recommended Pete and I was looking forward to flying with someone new and another person with such vast experience.

The good thing about starting the instrument rating (R) was that the weather was pretty rubbish despite it being summer which was stopping me building up my solo hours. I didn’t want to take too long building them up as I had a time limit on completing the CPL now I had completed the ATPL ground school exams. It was great to fill the void of studying with actual flying which was going to continue to challenge me and put what I’d learned to practice. The IR(R) involved 15hours (minimum) and a written exam with 25 questions.

For the first lesson, I drove to the airport quite excited and nervous – I could feel my heart racing a bit. I felt like I was throwing myself into something I hadn’t really done any preparation for. The night rating had given me some exposure but I quickly realised that having no reference to an outside horizon had its challenges. I was also a bit nervous about being taught by Pete as he was a commercial pilot and I was keen to make a good impression since everyone had told me how good he was too. I felt like this the first time I flew with Rob as well but I just had to be myself.

We sat down and he started the first brief which involved labelling all the instruments in the right place. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember where each instrument was positioned in the aircraft despite staring at them for over a year now – I felt stupid already! I guess having a bit of blank was just nerves and as we noted them all down it all came back quickly and I remembered how each instrument worked. Sometimes, it just takes different contexts and going over the same information over and over for things to become second nature and that’s what I wanted.

The first lesson was more about adjusting to flying without any visual reference to outside. Pete was keen to have poor weather and joked about wanting it to get worse before our lesson which was funny. It was relatively cloudy and it was forecast to clear up a bit which Pete was very disappointed about! He used a map to cover up my side of my lookout which helped so it didn’t matter that we weren’t in cloud at the moment. Pete have me a heading and a height and part of the first challenge was to try and stick to it on instruments. This was much harder than I thought as there was a lot more going on regarding visual instrument checks. Also, as he gave me different guidance and instructions my mind would get distracted thinking about something else and I’d look back and I’d be off my heading or below my height. Pete would lean over and give me a shoulder to shoulder nudge adding, “Oi, I said 3000 feet”.

We did some climbing and descending on instruments and he explained that “everything was done much more gently on instruments”. Turning on instruments was restricted to 15 degrees and descending was done at a lower rate of descent as well. These were all aimed at reducing the risk of becoming disorientated as I was quickly learning that it could happen fast and out of the blue where I’d have to ignore my senses and trust the instruments. It was amazing how you could convince yourself that you weren’t straight and level and yet the instruments would tell you that you were. This is what made staying on headings more difficult for me. Well, that’s my excuse for now!

On the way back, he started the explain how we would track the VOR and the ADF. This was something I was finding difficult to grasp and after my first instrument lesson, it was difficult to let all the information sink in. I hadn’t done much VOR tracking since passing my PPL. I’d done some with Rob on my night rating but had quickly forgotten it again. I found the VOR tracking OK it combined with the ADF seemed to make it more difficult to understand what I’d done and where I’d flown. Pete gave me headings and I followed them and that gave me some sort of first exposure to flying with the ADF. I started to realise that doing my IR(R) before completing my ATPL ground school exams would’ve helped me with the instruments exam. I’d recommend anyone doing their IR(R) first just to help with the exposure of understanding and applying all the instruments in the air.

As we turned onto final, Pete removed the map and I saw the runway straight ahead of me slightly to my right so I lined up and prepared for landing. It was a long final so I had time to get ready but I was a bit surprised as I hadn’t really understood where we were in relation to the airfield. Suddenly, I saw the runway straight ahead of me and I had to adjust my eyes from inside to outside the cockpit. It was like I’d been in the dark and someone had turned the light on. I slowed the airspeed down, put the flaps down and lined up. Thankfully, Pete had done the radio so I just had to concentrate on landing the aircraft. As we came closer to the runway I flared and waited for the wheels to touchdown. I was so relieved to do a good landing and smiled to myself as we taxied off the runway. “Good stuff” said Pete.

He gave a quick debriefing in the aircraft and showed me where we had flown on his SkyDemon. That helped to make more sense and things started to sink in regarding the ADF. Pete seemed happy with me on my first lesson and I was pleased too. I could feel that my brain had had a good workout and was looking forward to my next lesson!

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💯 hours!

I was so close to a milestone so I made the most of the weather to take advantage of hitting 100hours. I had been invited to fly with another pilot who passed their PPL around the same time as me. They hadn’t been to many airfields so I suggested we fly to Old Warden since I had developed a bit of fondness for the airfield. It was also great experience to land on grass runways with a standard overhead join – nothing too difficult. I suggested I fly there and they fly back. I could tell they were nervous so tried to put them at ease because I wasn’t one to judge. She seemed nervous that I would make critical judgments but as far as I was concerned, flying was about having fun, being safe and sharing a great experience.

When we took off I climbed up to 2500 feet and the visibility wasn’t as good as it seemed down on the ground. It was similar to yesterday and so I wasn’t too concerned. It was just something for us to keep an eye on.

We navigated round the glider sites just in case there were gliders about although I didn’t think it would be busy with this type of visibility. Better to be safe though. We flew towards Old Warden and it didn’t take us that long and it was relatively easy to find but that’s because I knew what to look for. Reassuringly, I could hear lots of other aircrafts flying in to Old Warden so I was pleased about my decision to continue the flight. I joined overhead and made radio calls to the friendly Old Warden radio keeping a good lookout for other aircrafts.

I turned onto final and felt slightly too high because I’d been wary of not landing before the road. I prepared to land but was also preparing for a possible go-around. I added full flap but it was too late and I still felt too high so I said, “I think I’ll go around”. I’d seen a funny meme on Facebook recently which said, “Landings are like farts, if you have to force it, it’s probably shit!” 🤣 which seems to have stuck with me. I felt I was really forcing the aircraft down so I just decided to go around since I didn’t like the look of the hedges down the end of the runway!

I gave myself more room on the next approach and prepared the aircraft early. The approach get much better and I knew I was going to land this one as I swooped in over the road and landed smoothly on the grass trundling along the bumpy runway. “Good landing” Zoe commented. “Thanks, it was worth going around” I replied. I taxied is over to park pulled up. We hopped out into glorious sun and walked over to the shop to sign in. I handed her the aircraft keys and said, “it’s all yours now!” I said, “I can’t fly in the right hand seat”. “Oh don’t say that!” She said. “You’ll be fine!” I said reassuringly.

It felt good to encourage and share my experience with a fellow pilot. She seemed to appreciate it. We both bought a coffee and found a lovely spot in the sun. As we sat down, another pilot I knew walked over to say hello with his friends. “Hey! How’s it going?” He asked. “Can we join you?” “Of course!” I said, introducing them to Zoe and saying hello to his friends. It was a great buzz and such a friendly environment and it was a great opportunity to share the news that I’d just hit 💯 hours! “Congratulations!” They all chimed. We all sat in the sun chatting about flying and how glorious the sun was despite the visibility. We didn’t have long so we had to say our goodbyes and get on our way.

We walked back to the aircraft and chatted to another pilot on our way back. It was such a friendly place and I just loved the social aspect of flying as well. “Which way to I taxi to the runway?” Zoe asked. I pointed her in the right direction and we trundled along to the runway. I waved to a couple of photographers and they waved back. “Oh you’re so much better at socialising” she commented. It was all part of the experience in my view and the more you chatted to folks the more you learned.

We sped down the runway and took off. I could feel the slight nerves from Zoe and it made me slightly edgy. Suddenly, I felt a bit nervous about not being in control of the aircraft. It was tempting to start interjecting but I had to place trust in someone else who was flying. It was a good test for me. I was happy to navigate back and weave us through the glider sites. The visibility had improved which she seemed much happier about.

I hadn’t really been flown around in a Cessna 152 since my first lessons with Nick so I had to sit on my hands to remind myself not to interfere. We joined overhead to land and prepared to land on runway 10. As we turned onto final we were slightly left of the runway but last minute Zoe corrected it and we landed safely. I think I must’ve been holding my breath because I remember giving out a big sigh of relief probably because it was the first time I’d sat in the right hand seat.

I saw Peter on the way back in to the aero club and shared the good news about hitting 💯 hours. “Congratulations! You only hit that once” and then we chatted about the go around while he shared some stories about another pilot he knew. “I wasn’t sure about the go-around but then I did notice how different your approach looked on the second time round” said Zoe. “You just wanted more hours!” Peter joked. “Haha!” I laughed. Today, had also given me, however, a new appreciation of what instructors must go through!

Flying to Skegness and 99.5hrs

When Greg and I flew to Skegness, the conditions looked ideal although once up in the air the visibility wasn’t as good. It was still ok to fly to Skegness though.

I had wanted to fly to Skegness before but when I wanted to the Chief flight instructor didn’t allow me to since my licence hadn’t returned yet and there had just been a crash with one of their club aircrafts. The timing just hadn’t been right. Nonetheless, I was still nervous since people seemed to think hedges could jump out at you! I knew I had to tackle it and I had another good feeling.

We just couldn’t believe how warm it was when we left compared to how cold and windy it was when we landed at Skegness.

Despite the chilly breeze it was quite a novelty to be able to fly across to the seaside and walk to the beach.

It was rather empty when we arrived at the beach – unsurprisingly so given how cold it had turned. We found a sheltered spot in a cafe and I ordered a hot chocolate to warm my hands up. Both of us soaked up the views although it was a shame it was too cold to take a dip since I was all geared up for that! It’s a good excuse to have to return another time.

On the flight back, we were flying pretty much towards the sun on 240 so the visibility was slightly worse. “This’ll keep us awake!” I said as I kept an extra beady eye out for other aircrafts.

By the time we arrived back I was quite tired from the intense scanning of the sky trying to see through the haze. Steve vacated the radio just before 5pm so there was nobody on the radio, but we had picked up the QFE before he signed off. When I reported my position, Steve popped back on the radio and said the wind was favouring 15 and the QFE was 999hpa. “Roger” I replied.

I was low enough to join downwind but I misjudged my position and went round again. “Golf golf whiskey, downwind to land on 15” I reported on local traffic. On final, I felt high although the altimeter read on track and was ready for a go around already. As I came over the threshold, I knew I was too high so didn’t force it – “golf golf whiskey, going around” I reported. Also, I wasn’t about to do a shoddy landing right in front of the airfield cafe (not that anyone was looking as I found out later). I followed the circuit again and prepared for a better and lower approach – this time, I was on track with a good height and landed down safely on 15. “No harm in a go around” said Greg. I nodded.

After my fly in to Skegness with Greg, I added up my hours and was on 99 and a half hours and so I knew my next flight to Old Warden would mean hitting 100hours. I was so excited!

Compton Abbas: Lunching with Mum

It was the holidays and the weather was set to be beautiful – I just prayed that it wasn’t hazy because I intended to attempt a trip to Compton Abbas again. The last few trips had been to visit airfields as well. One was to a new airfield Old Buckenham and because nobody was on the radio, it meant asking the airplane on the ground for the QFE. Seeing him on the runway I was planning to land on gave me some reassurances as well. It just meant that the airport was completely quiet when Greg and I walked around.

The owner drove in as we were looking for the toilet and he let us in but it was so quiet – eerily so.

It seemed strange to be so quiet on such a beautiful day but I think we both appreciated peace.

Despite being so close, Greg hadn’t actually flown into Conington so we flew there on a day when the wind only suited that runway due to a strong crosswind at Old Warden.

I felt my confidence was building as I flew to new airfields and became familiar with them. Going back to Conington a third time made me realise just how much I was progressing. I had a similar feeling at Turweston as well.

I couldn’t wait to fly further afield and was excited to be able to venture out with my daughter. I’d tried to plan a trip down south for quite sometime but the conditions just hadn’t been right. I had a good feeling this time though and spent the night before prepping my daughter on what to expect and how she could help with the map reading.

That morning, we arrived at the airfield and picked up a new map to plot the route. Having a new map meant that my daughter could use the other one. “Aw can’t I use the other one, it’s all neat and less crumpled” she asked. “Ah, all good traits of becoming a pilot!” Phil commented, “and we need more women… and more girl pilots”. I was pleased to hear her receive such positive encouragement from others. “She flew with the air cadets this week – so lucky!” I added. Nick said our route looked good and it was the same route he took to fly to Compton Abbas in the Beech – his favourite airfield. I had such a positive feeling about today and was looking forward to flying together. She helped me fuel up – I gave her a few jobs to do which she enjoyed.

We taxied along to the hold and did the power checks. Meanwhile, 2 aircrafts lined up and we were now third in line – quite a queue to take off for our little airfield!

It moved pretty quickly and I wasn’t in any rush. Before rolling on runway 10, I double checked her door and window and off we went. She held on to both maps as I glanced over while we were climbing into the overhead “Golf, golf, whiskey, departing to the south east, will call when changing frequency” I reported. “Don’t you mean south west?” She asked. I looked down and said, “Oh yeah, so it is!” I was impressed she was getting to grips with the map reading and orientation so quickly and didn’t mind getting it wrong just to know she’d been so on the ball. I was keen to encourage her as much as possible and asked her to keep an eye on where we were as we flew along.

She held it straight and level a few times but she was happy just staring out the window mesmerised by the landscape. “I can see in people’s gardens!” She commented since we were flying at 1500feet due to the slight haze. I kept the Easy VFR on but used the map mostly to keep on track. We tuned in to Wellesbourne for a basic service, then to Kemble to turn in their overhead and switched to Compton Abbas for the final leg. All were very friendly and it was more good positive radio practice. We passed 2 aircrafts and 1 glider on the whole journey down and I was surprised by how quiet it was despite it sounding busy at the airports.

As we got closer to Compton Abbas, I kept a good lookout for the airfield. The land was much more diverse than the flatness in the midlands. It made things more interesting and when we saw Compton Abbas on the hill I realised what everyone was talking about.

There was a busy circuit so I asked my daughter to keep a good lookout again. She was very good at following instructions and seemed to enjoy being given tasks – keen to be involved. “Keep an eye on that aircraft below us” I said as I descended dead-side. “It’s just gone in to land now” she said. “Ok good, thanks” I replied. I had checked the circuit height so maintained 800feet and joined downwind overhead the valley. I gave myself lots of room on final and came into land… greasing the runway! “Welcome to Compton Abbas, golf golf whiskey, have you been here before?” They asked. “Negative, this is my first visit” I replied and they gave me instructions on vacating although I probably taxied a little too long down the runway since I couldn’t see where to vacate. Nonetheless, we taxied round and parked and I said I’d get some fuel later.

As we walked towards the cafe, I saw Mum on the side by the fence waiting for us. She was taking photos of us and waving. It was a great feeling to have flown in, landed so smoothly and walked towards her casually meeting her for lunch! “I saw you land!” She said excitedly. “Aw great!” I said feeling chuffed. My daughter climbed over the fence and I went to the C to sign in and pay our landing fee. They were very friendly and pleased to welcome visiting pilots. When I joined my Mum again the queue was lined up outside the door – it was super busy! I didn’t mind though, it was worth lining up for and enjoyed just chatting to Mum.

The buzz of the airfield was great to soak up. Finally, I’d made it and Mum had been free to meet us as well. It had all gone to plan. We ate our lunch rather speedily in the outside cafe watching all the aircrafts land and fill up the airfield along with a few bikers and we all chatted together. The food came quickly too despite how busy it was – it had lived up to my expectations. But before I knew it we were preparing to leave again. I taxied up to the fuel pumps and parked. I jumped out, picked up the folder, followed their instructions, filled up and returned everything and paid. A quick hug and kiss goodbye to Mum and we were back in the aircraft doing our checks and preparing for take off. Mum was standing by the fence with her phone poised. I lined up on runway 08 and off we bumbled along the grass.

We climbed into the overhead and departed to the north. I made sure I flew widely round the glider sites as they would be out in force today. It made our trip slightly longer and on the way back, my daughter seemed much more tired. Towards the end she even dozed off and awoke when we were overhead Bruntingthorpe. It had been another successful flight and flying down towards Bournemouth with my daughter had felt meaningful since it was where my Dad had learned to fly.

We’d had such a great day – lots of fun but my daughter was tired out from it! I let my Mum know we had landed safely and she replied feeling a sense of pride:

Great it was so lovely to see you. It was a lovely day and I feel so proud of you that it was quite emotional! I’ve only just got home too the traffic was bad! Enjoy the rest of your weekend lots of love 💖 xxx do it again when you can xxx

I was so chuffed and was pleased to fly with my daughter because it meant that people would have to recognise that I was the pilot.

I had to laugh when you both went through the gate to go to the plane this man took one look at you turned around and looked at his friend as much as to say what are they doing because I don’t think they realised you were the pilot! I smiled to myself and felt so proud xxx

Finishing my Night Rating

The weather was causing delays for me to complete my final hour for me to get my night rating. Also, I was rehearsing for some dance shows which meant both deadlines were the end of March. I had to either miss dancing or flying. I looked ahead and decided to miss dancing on a Tuesday and persuade Rob to as well. He agreed again so I was delighted!

He joined me for the first few circuits and said he wanted 3 good landings and then he’d send me off solo. This time, we were back on runway 28 so I had the threshold lights as the additional visual clue although I hadn’t landed on this runway since my first night flight. During one of them we simulated an electrics failure and landed with no lights in the cockpit which meant that I had to go by sounds and feel. It was tricky but I held my nerve and on final I just stuck to routine, listening, a feel and the PAPIs. We landed slightly faster than usual but Rob had warned me that might happen. “Good, off we go again – make his one a good one and I’ll send you off solo!”

I went round again and everything went to plan again. I taxied towards the tower and Rob jumped out, “don’t forget, you need to do 4 FULL STOP landings so if you can back track then do, but if not then you’ll have to go round”. Ahead of me was Steve in his aircraft ready to take off but there weren’t any others in the circuit so I was hopeful that I would be able to back track most of them or else I might not get all the landings in on time. I was quite keen to complete my night rating tonight.

I was feeling slightly nervous since there is a similar feeling of being sent off solo each time by an instructor. There’s a renewed sense of risk. I was focused on getting the job done though so I didn’t hang about on the runway. I waited for Steve to take off and I lined up on the runway, took a deep breath and pushed full throttle. I flew a steady circuit and on final, I was right in line with the PAPIs. I adjusted my height and speed accordingly as the lights turned from white-red to red-red or white-white. I came in to land, flared and made one of my best night landings. I just hoped Rob was watching!

I braked, remembering that I needed to do a full stop landing. I was worried I would go on autopilot and do a touch and go out of habit but I did a u-turn and taxied back “back tracking on 28” I called. I took off again and flew downwind for another full stop landing. This time, my landing wasn’t quite as smooth but I was still happy with it. I tracked back and took off again. When I flew downwind I heard Steve over the radio joining the circuit again. “No back tracking on this one” I thought. As I landed I carried on round making sure I kept a keen eye out for the green lights to guide me off the runway. I spotted them and taxied round waiting for Steve to land. Two more and then I was done.

Once Steve landed I was back in the circuit by myself again and finished two more landings. I was very pleased and felt much more confident than I thought I would. “28 vacated, golf, mike, kilo” I called as I finished my final landing. “Well done for completing your night rating!” Greg relief over the radio. “Thank you! Golf, Mike, kilo” as it slowly dawned on me what I had achieved just in the nick of time before the clocks went forward too!

At the bar, a drink of Prosecco was waiting for me and I bought Rob a drink as a thank you too. “Your first landing was very smooth, I couldn’t even tell if you had landed or not! Just the paperwork to do now” said Rob joyfully. “Cheers!” [clink, clink].

Night cross country flying

The evening of my cross country night flight I turned up early much to my delight to see a couple of Hercules do a fly by over the airport. It was one of those moments when I was in the right place at the right time with a few others. All of us looked on with admiration as they purred past but no matter how close airplanes fly my photos never seem to do them enough justice.

I thought it seemed like a good sign tonight was going to go well. Rob turned up and we chatted about our route to Wellesbourne and then Kettering with a diversion using the VOR tracking. Again, I had had to wait a few weeks for the weather – the night flying seemed to be quite spread out and I felt like I couldn’t get into the flow of it. However, I always looked forward to my lesson – as I drove to the aero club I could feel my heart buzzing with excitement and anticipation.

Again, we had to wait for the right time so we could fit in the cross country flight in time. The sunsets were getting later and later so the window of night flying was getting smaller and smaller. For this reason, I’d asked Rob if he we could fly on a Tuesday since the weather seemed better. Luckily, he was working in the area and obliged – I was so grateful as it turned out to make it worthwhile. Once, it was officially ‘night’ we taxied to the runway and lined up after completing all the checks. We rolled down the runway and I made a positive lift off and climbed away. I checked the QNH and then turned onto our first heading towards Wellesbourne.

Despite everyone saying it was easier flying at night because of the lights, I felt I was still adjusting to the different perspective. It always took me a few minutes to adjust to instruments and to get my bearings in the night sky – more so than at night. Once I was settled I couldn’t help but admire the view at night. It was so magical.

This time, I could spot Bruntingthorpe and along the route I had to make sure we kept clear of controlled airspace. We tried to spot Draycote Water by looking for the light reflecting off it – we could just make it out. Flying at night was a wonderful feeling and I couldn’t help but admire all the lights below.

We had to make a bit of a judgment about whether or not we were overhead Wellesbourne because their runway lights were not on. We had to go by other landmarks but were pretty sure that we were overhead. Then I turned on to my next heading towards Kettering. I felt that my heading was slightly off and as I got closer to Kettering I was able to adjust my heading so we were back on track again. Once overhead Kettering Rob asked me to do a 180 turn and do some VOR tracking. “I bet you haven’t done any of this since your skills test” he said. “Nope!” I replied. Everything went to plan and when Rob was satisfied we turned back towards base.

The interesting bit was when I joined the circuit and flew downwind towards the wrong runway. It didn’t feel right and just as Rob pointed out “hang on a minute…” that I was actually on the ‘dead-side’ I was already making my adjustments. Rob just laughed which made me chuckle too especially when we saw it tracked on SkyDemon.

I joined downwind, completed my checks, turned onto final and used the PAPIs to guide me into land. We landed safe and sound and I taxied us to the apron. “That went very well – I’m happy!” Rob said. “Me too!” I replied feeling very chuffed with myself. A step closer to getting my night rating – just 1 more hour to go. I just hoped I could fit it in before the clocks went forward!

Flour bombing

Every year the club has a flour bombing competition on Boxing Day and this year it was delayed because of bad weather which was good news for me. Usually I spend Boxing Day with my family so this year I was excited about being able to take part in the flour bombing competition. I’d booked the aircraft with the intention of taking my daughter but she changed her mind – teenagers! Instead, Greg said he wanted to come and be the bomber.

The sky looked a bit grey but there were quite few aircrafts in the circuit already. I asked a few of the pilots if they were taking part and one replied, “Oh no, that’s not for me – bit scary” which made me think a bit as we watched some pilots cut corners and fly low circuits. I was already quite excited and wasn’t about to back out now. We had a time slot booked and waited. We collected our 3 flour bombs, signed out and got allocated the call sign “Bomber 15”. I wasn’t worried about winning as I was just keen to get some varied experience in the air, but Greg had other ideas “It’s definitely about winning!” I wasn’t about to put us at risk for the sake of winning. All I focused on was sticking to flying a normal circuit and keeping the aircraft straight and level overhead the bombing target. I have spent a lot of my days surrounded by an ethos of ‘win at all costs’ so I really do just enjoy taking part especially since I feel so inexperienced.

“Bomber 15, ready for departure” as I lined up in between the aircrafts attempting their spot landings. I was most nervous about the spot landing because I had never really attempted one. Nonetheless, off we zoomed down the runway and took off – to our right we saw the target and I flew round to the left to join downwind. Already, I could see another aircraft behind and ahead of us – the pressure was on and I felt my body immediately switch and buzz into high alert mode. I wasn’t about to add more pressure so I gave myself as much room as I could so I could level the aircraft early on. “Bomber 15, on final” I called as I flew down to 150feet above the airfield and line up to the target. “Left a bit… level up there, that’s it” said Greg as I kept an eye on our height. “Opening the window… and dropping the first bomb… NOW”. I felt him push the flour bomb out and then started to climb away. Round 2!

“Bomber 15, downwind” I called as we flew alongside the runway feeling the buzz of adrenaline now. “Bomber 13, downwind”. “Bomber 3, downwind…” we were not alone and we both kept a good lookout as we realised there were 4 of us downwind. One was below us, another was behind us, another in front and one turning onto final. I flew the same circuit and saw another bomber cut in front flying lower and made final. His aircraft was a lot faster so I didn’t need to worry about catching up with him but it certainly was busy! “Second bomb away..” and we finished the third bomb.

“Bomber 15, downwind for a spot landing”. Again, there were aircrafts all over the place and I had to keep my wits about me as I prepared for the landing. I was on track and keeping it steady as level, but psychologically I felt uncomfortable landing close to the threshold. I could feel the resistance already as I got lower than I normally would on final. I added a bit of speed at the last minute which meant I blew it. I floated along the runway and landed past the threshold – a good landing for a normal one but no where near to challenge the winning spot. “A little long” Greg said disappointed. “Ah well,” I replied. I was very pleased to be back in the ground as the aircrafts continued to buzz around bombing the target with their flour packets.

We didn’t get that close to the target which made me realise just how difficult it must be getting the timing right when you’re dropping cargo from an aircraft. I really didn’t care how close we got – it was just such fun and different. I completed my log book and wrote “FLOUR BOMBING” in the notes which made me smile with a sense of satisfaction. Phew!