Today is a double G&T day, just a "not-very-good" day of flying.
Marginal VFR. Well, it was. Now I'm in front of my keyboard, the sun is shining through a light haze on it's way to Western horizon. This afternoon, a burst of sun got me on my way to the airport for a few touch and goes just to keep my hand in. When I actually got there, the clouds had rolled back in. ATIS reported 1400 feet ceilings and 5 miles visibility. Not so good, but good enough for a little pattern work.
Pre-flight checks complete, I lined up at the runway, only to be scolded by the controller. It seems I TOLD him that I was going to stay in the pattern for some touch and goes, and he said I should have REQUESTED that I would stay in the pattern. I wrote that off as him having a bad day - normally he is very cooperative and easy to work with. A short silence, then "Roger 49C", and I received take off clearance.
After 4 or 5 circuits, I lined up on final approach with a sense of disquiet. Touching down, I realized that I hadn't heard a radio clearance to land. Glancing at the tower, I saw a solid red light - but I was already in take off mode and quite busy, it didn't register what that meant until I was airborne and realized my radios had failed.
As I climbed out, I pulled out the headset plugs and reinserted them, keyed the radio and heard the transmit static. I called the tower "McKinney Tower, 49 Charlie". "49 Charlie, McKinney Tower. Welcome back". "49C had radio problems, how do you read?". "Loud and clear 49C. You have 2 choices, you can land now or depart my airspace."
I decided to land, and told him so. He told me on final approach that if I wished I could fix my radios on the ground and then take off again, which I did. Once on the ground he had a conversation about what had happened. He told me he had called me several times. I told him I'd seen the red light but too late, he said he'd given me a green light (OK to Land - which I hadn't seen), then the red one (DO NOT TAKE OFF) on the runway, but I had seen it too late.
My problem fixed, I taxied back to the runway, and requested (this time) to remain in the pattern for some touch and goes. On climb out, I suggested that we could both use practice at no-radio procedures, and did a few circuits using the lights (called light guns), backed up by radio calls. I found the green hard to see from more than 3 miles way, but the red was clear as long as I was looking and expecting it. I did another 4 or 5 and called it a day, and the controller seemed to recover his normal personality.
Still, while the actual control over the aircraft was fine, my procedures need work. My first radio failure, and what did I do? I probably didn't land without clearance, but I did take off without clearance at least once. How long did it take until I noticed the Sound of Silence? Did I do it once, or twice?
Either way, Just Not Good Enough.
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