Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Flying Solo at last !!

Trusty Microlight
I have only mentioned a couple of times before about learning to fly a Microlight aircraft back in June when instead of flying to France we ended up flying to the Isle of Wight.

Truth is there's not been much news to tell.

I've continued to fly round and round in circuits round the airfield, not really getting much better, and seriously thinking of jacking the whole thing in.

And then the Chief Instructor at Bedford Microlights took me under his wing and I've been flying with him for the last couple of months; and have finally been making progress.

A couple of weeks ago I had some really good landings in the morning but couldn't fly in the evening as the instructor had hurt his back. Then yesterday I was flying really really well but it got too dark, and then this morning it all came together, we did some more circuits, I landed it without any help from the instructor and when we taxi'd back to the clubhouse he announced he was going to get out and let me go off on my own !!

Ulp ..

I'd been warned that the aircraft would take off and fly much faster with only one person on board instead of two and despite having a big container of sand as ballast behind me it certainly made a big difference to the handling with just me onboard.

Did my checks, lined up at the end of the runway, taxi'd along and then I was off - beyond the point of going back.

The Microlight shot up in the air like a rocket with just me in and before I knew it I was at 500 feet circling the airfield.

Round the airfield circuit once, twice then a third time, having to reduce the engine revs as with less weight I kept on climbing higher and higher.

Third time round I lined up for landing, aimed at the runway and down we went. Everything lined up right on the centreline and the aiming point, cleared the trees and then shot past where I was intending to land. With less weight on board I'd mis-judged how much more the aircraft "floated" and I wasn't where I wanted to be to land.

Put the power on and climbed up to 500' for a second attempt.

Second attempt the same happened, I mis-judged the weight difference and had to abort the landing again.

Third time lucky I deliberately aimed short to take account of the different flight characteristics, and this time I was in the right place at the right time. A bit of a bounce on landing which I thought wasn't perfect but those that were watching said it was a fine landing.

Anyway I was able to walk away and the aircraft wasn't bent so I call that a success !

Taxi'd back for the obligatory photos and a grin from ear to ear.

Even now (some 12 hours later) I'm still really excited about having gone solo for the first time. We of course had to have the champagne at the end of the day and I'm looking forward to my next flight which unfortunately won't be for a couple of weeks as I've got work and a visit up North in between times.

Still some way before I fully qualify as a Microlight pilot. I've got 4 exams to do, more practice at the core skills, cross country navigation to learn, plus a "fitness to fly" practical to pass with an examiner, but at least I'm on the way now.



  • Congratulations on the solo flight. Wish I had to guts to try flying microlights but I have a problem with heights! Good luck with the future exams

    By Anonymous Bob Toovey, at September 28, 2009  

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