The night before my scheduled Saturday morning flight, we had a massive front pass through the area with lots of thunder and lightning and very heavy rain, so I was not very optimistic about my flying prospects.
I did not get to fly the previous week and I knew I would be away for the next two weekends, so I needed at least a few circuits to make sure my skills did not deteriorate. Actually, I needed circuit practice regardless as I spent too much time enjoying acro flying and not enough time doing circuits.
Ready to leave for my 5 min drive to the airport, I checked the METARS for airports north and south of my field and all of the airports reported very low ceilings, embedded TCUs and rain, some heavy. It was also started to rain a bit outside my house.
My hopes very low, I decided to drive to the field anyways, thinking that I’d take a look. Arriving at the field, I saw that one of my school’s Cessna’s was in the air and raised them on my handheld radio to ask about the ceilings. They reported that right over the field it was over 3,000 ft but looked low all the way around it. That was all the info I needed – I decided to go up and just do circuits for 0.5 hr.
As it happened, I also had my own personal photographer with me, who took lots of pictures of me prepping the plane and practicing.
The plane is tied up in a grass field during the summer, so I normally check fuel and oil and, in case more fuel is needed, I them start it up, do a quick mag check and then taxi to the fuel pump. We had some magneto troubles lately, so I usually also do a quick mag check while on the grass so that if it drops too much, then I do not even need to move the plane.
This time, the check went fine and soon we were off to get some fuels. I did my walk-around as plane was being re-fuelled. Conscious of the heavy rain the night before, I made sure I checked all the fuel drains for water. Everything was fine and soon I was in the run up area.
Turning from x-wind into downwind and not having to keep my eyes on a Cessna in front of me, I finally had a chance to look around and was surprised to see that I seemed to be flying in the middle in inverted hole. All around my airstrip were low hanging clouds, but they seemed to have parted right over my field leaving my circuit completely open with very decent ceilings. It was amazing.
I worked on my landings trying to make sure I do a nice 3-pointers with no bounces and also tried to stay right in the middle of Rwy. This mostly worked. The Rwy 26 that I was using is upsloping with a couple of bumps in the end that seemed to have gotten bigger over time. I would typically land and roll early enough to be airborne before the bumps, although one time, I was not airborne, but was above the flying speed, so that when I bounced off the bump, I just stayed in the air. I believe we also got that on camera.
I had the circuit for myself for a couple more approaches and then a helicopter announced his downwind as I was in the crosswind. My field is owned by a helicopter company, so we have more helicopters than planes. I quickly scanned the sky, located the heli and told him that I was behind him x-wind turning downwind. He flew a fast circuit and I did not have to extend mine at all.