Circuits – Feel like a pilot

Today’s first question: “Have you ever heard about “Circuits”?

Yes – it’s what you learn at the beginning to understand where the wind comes from and how to line up to land. You should of course be able to fly it properly at the exam. Afterwards, in real life, no one flies a circuit but just destroys the remaining height with some aerobatic figures over the airfield and lands. That’s why you would always try to come in very high. Or, I mean, that’s what we always did when paragliding in the Alps – is it different with Helicopters?”

I think this was the first time I saw my instructor making a face. I was not sure if it was something like slightly angry?

Well, my remark was not meant to be serious anyway. Of course it cannot be the same – on paragliding landing sites no one takes off and all approach and land with more or less the same speed.

Until now, unless we stayed in the aerodrome for airfield work, we usually took of and directly left the circuit for the training area for some altitude training. And, coming back we joined directly on the downwind & final approach. Therefore, my awareness of circuits was not yet there. But I had heard about circuits – indeed.

From this day, I heard the term Good Airmanship almost every day. It comes up over and over, through almost every stage in every book, exam, briefing, flight etc.

Flying circuits is actually really cool. At the first step, I started to see a connection between the different parts we had trained in by now. Obviously, hovering and then accelerating to take-off, climbing, holding a direction & height, proper turns at the right spot, avoiding certain areas, then descending and going back into hover exactly where I started the exercise.

Back on the spot for the first time –  I really started to feel like a pilot.

But now I started to wonder why I may be able to fly a full circuit yet landing was still almost impossible?

I apologised to my instructor after this exercise as I approached him seriously with the question, ‘had he accidently mixed up the order of the training?’ Of course he hadn’t – it makes perfect sense. Some parts just need more time and practice than others.

But, I felt that this was really weird so that’s why I have dedicated an extra post to “Finally Landing”.

Added Note & FREDAT-Check

The circuits are not only puzzling together many of the first moves, but, also come along with the first check that from now will be asked to be verbalised at every approach, during flights etc.

From here the FREDAT-Check should get ingrained in the brain. Just repeat FREDAT by driving in the car for example. The sooner the better – All checks.

Circuits are a big step from which all my flying got way more structured, I started to get more and more responsibility and get aware that at a given point I will fly without my instructor. Still a very scary idea.


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