During the ground checks I read the wrong dial and thought the fuel tank was empty but when I got round to the filler I saw fuel was pouring out of the vent. So I reported what I had found even though a gauge showing empty did not make sense with the obvious expansion of a full tank in the heat. A bit embarrassed when it was pointed out I was looking at the fuel pressure gauge instead of the level gauge next to it. Lesson 1; Make sure you do the checks, not just pay lip service to them.
Once we had drained off the access I taxied and took off – on the ground it was perfect weather, clear and sunny with little wind – going up it was bumpy as anything with thermals bouncing us around.
As I was levelling off at 3500 to continue the stall training the engine seemed to stutter and loose power then pick up again – not good but all appeared well. We did a stall and then regained height ready for the next one. As I was turning, banked over at 30° the engine stuttered again – time to head for home – as Frank said ‘once is a warning; twice is an indication to land and get it checked’
So back to the airfield cutting short the flight – disappointing but at the same time absolutely the right thing to do. Lesson 2 – Don’t push it thinking it will be OK.
OK so I am lined up to land but, whether we hit a thermal or I didn’t keep the nose down (more likely) I am not sure but anyway I was too high and it became obvious that we would touch down too far up the runway for a safe landing – lesson number 3 of the day – when in doubt go around and try again.
OK second time around we landed – It turned out that one of the sparkplugs was playing up.
So, overall not a good day I seemed to get a lot of things wrong on top of the engine fault and that made it hard work. Hopefully next Wednesday will be better.