We were pleasantly surprised by some more good weather today. So I managed to get over to Sherburn for an hour of flying instruction. It was time for some more practise of precautionary procedures today. It’s a lot to take in all in one go but very enjoyable stuff and as mentioned before, essential to a pilot’s arsenal of skills.

A precautionary landing is a simulation of being low on fuel or some other similar emergency, and it is flown with power, unlike a forced landing which is a simulation of engine failure (or other catastrophic failure) and therefore flown without power.

I took a quick picture as we were about to depart for the runway. This is from the Captain’s seat in the cockpit, looking down the wing towards some other aircraft parked.

Parked and Ready

Parked and Ready

The precautionary landings were first. It involves doing a circuit of the runway, imagining that it is a field or small landing strip. Because we have power (for now), the procedure for getting down to earth is a little different. We do some circuits of the chosen landing area. Starting at 1000 Feet, then one at 500 Feet, then one at 100 Feet. (These figures are heights above the airfield ground level not above sea level). At all times trying to keep the landing point in view and checking for obstructions – sheep, cows, dogs, bears, streakers and any other things that could impede a smooth landing.

Flying around the runway at 100 Feet was quite a daunting task. The ground moves fast! And any deviation in height seems much more extreme. You can clearly see birds on the ground from 100 feet, which is very cool.

We then went out of the circuit and did two more Practised Forced Landings. Followed by a glide approach on the final actual landing. This is where Jonathan the instructor pulls back power and says “get it onto the runway.” So with no power at all you have to control speed and descent and get to the runway and land in once piece. I managed to get the aircraft down. It wasn’t the smoothest landing ever but safe enough and we walked away shortly afterwards which is always a good sign.

I knew it was going to be quite intense today. There’s a lot of quick thinking involved, especially if you want to be realistic and imagine that you really can’t touch the power on a forced landing. Plus it was quite windy so there was a greater need to concentrate on trying not to get blown off track. Which meant that it was unlikely I would be able to get any other pictures or video.

However, I had my trusty iPhone with me and decided give Motion X GPS a go. It’s a GPS tracking application. I just started it before we set off, put it in my bag and left it there. I didn’t realise at the time that, not only will it track all areas of the flight – course, speed, altitude etc. – quite accurately but you can also save the track and view it in Google Earth. Then to add more indulgent fun, I found a great little WP Plugin that will display the track in a post.

So here it is – I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Note to pilots: Obviously the speed below is Ground Speed in Knots not Air Speed. I don’t think a PA28 would be very happy doing 200 Knots IAS!

Altitude AMSL
Ground Speed

Wicked! You can clearly see the circuits followed by the trip out to do two PFLs and then the return track is very straight because we were heading straight back to Sherburn.

I know this is probably not of great interest to everyone but I hope some will agree – It’s amazing… Another little piece of mind blowing technology in the palm of your hand. I can already see how useful this will be for future training and will probably be doing this much more often.

Thanks ever so much for reading.