Learning to fly

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Flight #36
Sept 27, 1999, 7pm
(.4 Solo, .9 Dual) 54.5 total

Overcast all day long, but by evening the ceiling had lifted enough that flying was legal again at Cherokee. A slight crosswind to make things interesting and keep me honest. I was a little early, so Karen and I did some prep work for the oral. I really need to study more, but it is hard finding the time to fit it all in with flying as much as I am and work. I’ve told all of my freelance clients that there is a 2 week waiting period so I won’t have to worry about cartoons for a while at least.

I took off for a little solo work on short field/soft field stuff and after 4 laps, Karen had me pull in so she could join in the fun. We stayed in the pattern and worked on short field/soft field some more, but after it got dark, the short landings were too difficult to judge, so we stayed away from them and concentrated on soft field. Not too bad, but the timing on the flare needs a little work. The dark made my flare a bit higher than usual and I really only did one that would have been considered passing. But at least we were getting night landings and time taken care of.

Flight #37
Sept 30, 1999, 7pm
(.9 Solo, .7 Dual) 56.1 total

A clear and crisp fall day with hardly a cloud in the sky. A fairly stiff breeze from the north. Karen told me to head out of the pattern and do Constant Altitude Turns and S-turns, so I did. They weren’t too bad, but could have been better, especially the S-turns. I was holding too much bank and my semi-circles ended up being too small. But my altitude maintenance in them was fairly good. The CATs were just the opposite. Not enough bank, but passable I think, and poor altitude holding.

Just about the time I headed back to the airport, Karen called me back in anyway and I entered the pattern to set up for a soft field landing. It was fairly dark by this time so I flipped on the landing light and proceeded to make one of the worst landings I have ever done. Ballooned it from the flare and dropped it very hard and a bit sideways onto the asphalt. Nothing broken, but I was embarrassed and am very frustrated with the quality of my night landings. And of course Randall and Karen were both outside watching me come in and saw the whole thing.

Karen hopped in and had me do one more landing to boost my confidence back. Then I put the hood down and we headed towards Cartersville while I redeemed myself somewhat with a fairly good instrument session. I held my altitude and the VOR needle real close even with the crosswind. Then we turned back and flew the ADF approach into Cherokee but Karen had neglected to change the radio to 123.00 and we had to abort the approach when she realized it. There was traffic on the runway and we were too close to them by now to continue. So after they took off and departed, we entered the pattern and landed. Again, a lousy landing, but nowhere near as bad as my earlier one.

Flight #38
Oct. 1, 1999, 7pm
(.9 Solo, .6 Dual) 57.6 total

Another sunny day with no clouds and mild temperatures. I preflighted 78T and did a short field takeoff to start. I stayed in the pattern and did short field/soft field landings. Most were OK, but one short field would have had to abort into a go-round if it had been during the checkride. I’m OK as long as I don’t have to do this stuff at night, which of course I won’t. But it’s getting dark earlier now and evening is about the only time I have to practice.

After awhile, Karen had Darrell get in with me since she was with another student, and practice engine failures. I think I made a good impression on him with my pattern work and landings, but I sure need more engine failure practice. I let my airspeed get way below 80 mph a few times and still have trouble with nosing over just before applying flaps. They are fun now, so it shouldn’t be too long before I get it down pat. Establish best glide, turn toward the landing spot, check instruments, try to restart and make call on 121.5, when the runway is assured nose down and apply 30 degree flaps, slip left to runway. Remember to maintain at least 80 mph until over runway.

We did some short field landings too, and I guess I have been making it hard on myself by visualizing the 50’ obstacle very close to the runway threshold, which is not exactly the way the approach is designed to be flown. Picturing the obtacle a little farther back makes the whole thing a bit easier mentally and in reality.

Flight #39
Oct. 2, 1999, 10am
(2.0 Dual) 59.6 total

A cool sunny morning with a hazy sky and light crosswind. We took off from 4 and headed out to the practice area for stall practice and more. I had the hood on and as soon as we left the pattern, Karen had me put it in place and turn toward a heading. Then after we got to altitude, we tuned into a VOR and tracked it. Then came some fun.

“We’re lost”, she said, “tell me where we are.” I grabbed my sectional and plotter from the back and took a real long time trying to get it open to the right place and hold the airplane straight and level. She just laughed. Finally, she grabbed the map and helped out so we stayed under reasonable control. Then I tuned in a couple of VORs but forgot to flop them so they became the active frequency. Oops. Flopped them and then found where we were.

I pushed the hood back down and then it was time for unusual attitude recovery. I really don’t have any problem with them. Just level the wings and center the attitude indicator. Listen for the engine at the same time for indication of dive, then when level, look at RPMs and vertical speed. A few of those and suddenly my stomach wasn’t feeling real good. Fortunately I hadn’t eaten much, so I was in no danger of losing any breakfast. But we flew straight and level some on the way back to the airport to help settle it.

After a few minutes, she called for a simulated engine failure and I picked out a marginally decent field within glide distance and established best glide, turned toward it, simulated instrument checks and radio call, and then she called it off before we got too low. Then we climbed back up to altitude where we did a few S-turns. Turning toward home and back over the airport we simulated another engine failure. Passable, but the landing wasn’t real smooth. Back up for another try and this time at the last second, she also called a soft field landing. No problem, which kinda surprised her I think.

Flight #40
Oct. 16, 1999, 11am
(1.1 Dual .9 Solo) 61.6 total

A strong breeze from the east in hazy sunshine. Due to bad weather, it’s been two weeks since my last lesson and I was wondering if it would have any effect on my flying.

We flew through pattern altitude to 3500' and headed east to practice maneuvers. Stalls and slow flight to begin and then S turns and Turns Around A Point. There’s still lots of practice to be had on stalls and I think I need to just take more authoritative control of the plane after the stall begins to minimize my altitude loss. I’m so used to doing everything slowly and deliberately that when I do stalls that way, I lose a hundred feet in no time, which is not good enough for the checkride.

After practicing about a half hour, I kicked her out at Cherokee and headed back out to practice some more of the same. Before I knew it, Karen was calling me back in because I was 15 minutes past due. I was concentrating so much, I had forgotten completely about the time. Back in again with a passable landing considering the crosswind.

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