Getting back into flying after a long break

Eyeing over my logbook, it’s been nine months since my last solo flight, and that was just a quick jolly in the training area to do some aerobatics. My last solo nav flight was over a year ago.

I’m currently working towards getting a Commercial Pilots License which I’ll hopefully attain sometime next year, but work and personal commitments this year have kept me away from the airport. A CPL is something that I’m still very keen to pursue, but I’m still two exams and around 30 hours command nav behind where I need to be. So I’m spending the next few months getting back into flying and building the hours I need by doing a bit of airborne exploration.

But with a year in between flights, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I undertook a solo nav flight today, feeling rustier than my front gate and choosing a week that has seen New South Wales hit by severe thunderstorms for the preceding three days, and more severe weather forecast for the remainder of the week.

I had a recency check with our CFI a week prior, proving to myself that I could still get the thing off the ground and back again, and providing a good laugh to anyone waiting at the holding point as I almost touched down on the displaced threshold.

Today though, checking the ARFOR and TAFs for Bankstown and a few aerodromes out West, it seemed like I did have a window of flyable weather before the storms hit. So it was time to finally stop living vicariously through the other pilots I follow on Instagram and get out there myself.

I’d planned a short nav, with a stop at Bathurst. But as I got to Bankstown and gave the weather another final check I decided that stopping at Bathurst would be cutting it a bit fine with the storms due to build around 1pm. So I opted to overfly Bathurst instead and come straight home, so I could still log the hours I needed and be safely indoors before the light show began.

After departing Bankstown and setting a heading for Warragambah Dam, it wasn’t long before I was out of Bankstown CTR and finally stretching my flying legs (or wings) again. There was, as there often can be, a fair amount of bumps over the Great Dividing Range and due to the low cloud cover I could only head West at 4,500′ and East at 5,500′ making for a lumpy ride over Katoomba.

Low cloud base over the Great Dividing Range

Tracking to Lismore I kept practising my CLEAROFF checks and was happy with hitting my timings and headings pretty accurately all the way round. As it was a long time between flights I opted for large navigation waypoints and shorter legs, so after reaching Bathurst and turning around I came back via Lake Oberon and Katoomba.

 

Lismore to the right of the Dashboard

Then it was the familiar leg back over tiger country and tracking to Prospect Reservoir before that happy feeling when you call your home airport up on radio and touchdown on the runway you’ve spent most of your flying life on.

Landing RWY 29R at Bankstown Airport

If you’re reading this because you’ve also had a break from flying, the one piece of advice I’d give is definitely take a flight with your Flying Instructor first before you jump back in. I had to do that to regain my recency on type with our flying school anyway, but the confidence boost is worth it alone. Plus it’s better to shake some rust off and make mistakes with a professional sitting next to you rather than heading out straight away and going it alone.

But if you’re sitting there reading this thinking “I really should get back into flying again”, then guess what, you’re right! I kept making excuses, I never had enough time or money to fly. But then I realised, there will never be a time when I do have enough time or money. And the best times to fly were the times that I was sitting at home wishing I could fly, which was all the time!

Good luck with getting back into flying, hope to see you at the airport.

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2 Comments

    1. Thanks Adam! It's a nice aircraft to fly but as a 2-seater aerobatic aircraft it can get a little cramped after a couple of hours (especially when you're over 6 feet tall). But it's nice to fly, and rated to +6 -3 G so you can have some fun in it too.

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