The impossible mock skills test!

The title of this post says it all, impossible due to weather not my abilities! Before doing the actual skills test I wanted to complete a mock skills test to go over the everything that will be covered in the real test and so would give me the chance to practice everything I have learnt to date and fly with an instructor I haven’t flown with before, again to recreate exam conditions. This was a very useful tip given to me by a commercial pilot some month’s┬áback.

Plenty of bookings were made but each one over the course of 2 weeks were cancelled due to rain, fog, low cloud and wind which was becoming frustrating as I had to keep re-booking and making bookings with an instructor I hadn’t flown with before or for a long time. Eventually I was given a date and the weather was forecast to be great, once again plenty of revision was completed and a route to the south from Cheddar to Crediton before turning towards Barnstaple, along this route would be a diversion to Dunkeswell for circuits before returning back to Cheddar with some general handling along the way, the plan was set.

The mock skills test was on Friday 31st March 2017 and the day started sunny and warm but some clouds started to bubble up but the forecast showed nothing much to worry about, after arriving at the club and completing my route with wind calculations and checking the weather again we were set to go, the only slight issue was the wind speed as the windsock was fairly straight but I was happy to continue and so were the instructor.

I completed the usual A Check, walk around, startup, taxi and takeoff and we were soon heading towards Cheddar reservoir where I would start my navigation routing towards Bridgwater before crossing the Quantocks and continuing to Crediton. The last time I flew this direction I had to turn around due to poor visibility and low cloud and today was starting to look the same, after crossing the Quantocks low cloud was approaching so I descended to remain underneath the cloud base, within a few minutes we were in rain and the visibility was very poor just about visual with the ground, the decision was made to divert to Taunton which was heading away from the low cloud and allowed me to practice a diversion.

Within a few minutes we were at Taunton and the weather was still looking rubbish, it was impossible now to head South as it was very grey and overcast with low cloud so again the decision was made to divert to Dunkeswell to get some circuits in, once again using my diversion ruler we headed off towards Dunkeswell and within a few miles from the airfield the weather had closed in there with low cloud and murk making it not suitable for circuits so again we decided to head back to Cheddar and see what we could do along the way.

Back at Cheddar the weather was brighter so some stalling practice was able to be done, after climbing to the safe altitude to complete them I managed to complete 2 stalls before the weather was closing in yet again, to be honest I was properly annoyed now and just had enough so agreed to head back to Bristol before we got shut out as the clouds were moving very quickly. If we couldn’t of landed back at Bristol we would of had to limp under low cloud to another airfield and land, would of been a nightmare. This mock skills test was turning into a complete disaster and waste of a session, no ones fault just the rubbish UK weather.

I rejoined the Bristol frequency and entered the circuit and set myself up for a crosswind landing which was pretty strong by this point, at least I could practice something else and I will admit I was pretty pleased with my crosswind landing and even ended up with the nose wheel near enough on the runway centre line after kicking the nose straight with the rudder. After taxiing in and shutting down I headed into the club house to work out a plan as the reality dawned on me I wouldn’t be able to practice anymore now and the test was first thing on Sunday.

Pretty keen to get some decent practice in before my actual test and practice stalling with flaps, stalling in a turn and recovering from a spiral dive I spoke to both the operations guy, head of training and the examiner to move the test to the afternoon and book a session with my current instructor first thing on Sunday morning, I was using my resourcefulness to get the result I wanted and needed. I felt a lot better knowing I would fly before the exam and hoped that would work out quite well, just one day and it will be the day of the skills test! Arghhhhhhh