The lesson was going to be a test profile which meant replicating a typical test in so far as the type of things to cover as opposed to the strictness and accuracy of their execution.
I found it quite difficult and what with the weather knocking me around, quite taxing in terms of concentration. The final procedural ILS approach coming as it did at the end of the lesson was a real wrestling match. I won and according to Pete my instructor would have passed the real test but couldn't help feel I probably rode my luck a bit. He did say they wouldn't have done an IMC test in the weather we had.
Startup went fine, as did instrument checks and the initial call for taxi. Taxiing was ok, I remembered initial brake check and instrument scan. Right rudder numbers increasing (HI, Compass, Turn Indicator), left rudder numbers decreasing etc...
I was cleared to holding point Bravo 1 but felt drawn to the Alpha taxiway for some reason. Probably because there was an easyjet plane there and I may have subliminally felt it offered me shelter from the howling wind. Anyway power checks done I called ready for departure and was cleared to enter the runway and due to possible wake turbulence backtrack to the end and line up and wait. Landing light on, compass and HI QDM checked and transponder set to ALT.
When cleared for takeoff I eased the throttle open and monitored full power present, Pressure and Temperatures steady and within the (green) limits and that the airspeed indicator was 'live'. Saying this out loud twice (as is my ritual) I rotated at 75mph and with right rudder kept the departure more accurate than last week where I yawed and hence slightly 'skidded off' the centre line on the climb out as I was not quite in balance.
When getting the radar service from Southend (transferred from Tower) I told them of my intentions as I was getting a traffic service.
G-TF tracking 330 degrees from SND beacon for 8 miles.
I then tracked outbound 330 for about 8 miles before intercepting the 070 degrees TO heading (250 Radial) to the Clacton VOR. Once established on that track, I then called the radar service again and advised them of my new intentions.
Once it was clear I was tracking fine for the Clacton VOR Pete downgraded us to a Basic Service and we did some general handling. I found the limited panel tough, not like the C172 but I put this down to the bouncy weather combined with having a Turn Indicator in the PA28 as opposed to having a Turn Coordinator in the C172. My next lesson will involve some more of this I think. Altitude management seemed to be a challenge as well, I don't know if it was the weather booting me around and exposing my poor handling or what, but I would like another go at this. Despite the headache this was to give me Pete my instructor said in the debrief we can work on this next time but that I never lost control and went into a spiral dive and my recovery from unusual attitudes was good.
Once all that was for done we headed back for a procedural ILS approach via a parallel join. The ILS approach never went beyond half scale deflection but it was a bit of a scrap to be honest. Good experience it has to be said.
At the end of the approach I was not to land but go around and do a bad weather circuit at 600ft. Which went ok. The chief thing here to remember is keeping it tight and not stray too far and maintain good visual contacts with the runway. Something of a minima you have to imagine if the visibility is very good!
So in summary my instructor was very pleased as it was a tough set of conditions to manage. There are things I need to improve on of course but the challenge feels good, and so I will continue to strive hard to get the most I can from this excellent course.
Departure: 13:40 Arrival: 15:15
Total Time: 1:35 | IMC Rating: 1:15
Total Hours = 67:45 DUAL + 21:00 PIC [P1] + 2:10 [PICUS]
Total IMC Rating: 13:05
Total Time = 90:55