Learning to fly

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November 2, 2003, 5 PM
An unusually warm 80 degree day with wonderful clear skies and no real wind. We planned on practicing VOR entries and holds over Nello, but when we got there, the Choo-Choo VOR wasn't giving good readings at 4000'. So we climbed to 5000' but it was still over 7 degrees off compared to our 2nd VOR. So instead, we opted to practice the GPS approach and holds at 47A.

Partial panel again for almost all of the flight with the DG and AI covered. So I had to time the turns and screwed up occasionally because I forgot to figure out the total heading change *before* I entered the turn and could time it properly. But my aircraft control was pretty good and I was ahead of the plane almost the whole flight. I need a little work on holding a standard rate turn better and prompt timer start.

All of the approaches were GPS and I didn't screw up any of the headings or bust altitudes, so again, it was a confidence builder. But then again, we were VFR and didn't bother with ATC, so that helped by taking away that mental pressure. On our next flight ATC will be in the mix and give my mouth a chance to screw things up, but for now, I made a smooth night landing to top off this lesson.

November 9, 2003, 7 PM
Clear skies up to 10,000' and a slight breeze. We started a bit later tonight because Steve had taken the Arrow to Florida to visit Ryan. Once he was back, we hopped in and took off from 4 and headed to Chattanooga on an IFR flight plan for a DME arc lesson. Atlanta Center cleared us as filed to Chattanooga at 4000' and then handed us over to Chattanooga Approach.

We asked for the arc from Choo Choo VOR and they approved. We got there and turned ourselves and the VOR needle to 90 degrees and looked for the 7 mile DME indication. Then I turned 90 degrees to 180 on the arc and set the needle to look for the 100 radial. When the needle centered on the 100 degree radial, bump the setting 10 degrees, add 10 degrees to our heading, then wait for the needle to center again. The object is to work the needles and headings around in 10 degree increments and maintain within the 7 mile arc distance until intercepting the localizer course.

I was all over the place on the intial try and was playing catch-up because my arc intercept had been slow. The second try was much better and I kept us within 2/10 of 7 miles. A little course wobble when we hit the FAF because my radio work was off. Not enough keeping my head in it this week, I was a bit slow on most calls and missed one call completely.

After we went missed on the 2nd run through the arc, we asked for vectors home, but I had forgotten to file IFR round robin back to Cherokee, so we just opted for flight following VFR instead of going through the hassle of trying to file in the air. After I trimmed us out, we started to play with the autopilot. Adjust the heading bug on the DG, center the correction knob on the autopilot, then turn on the buttons and watch it fly on course. After awhile, we slaved it to the Nav radio so it followed the GPS needle. A little tweak at one point when it seemed we got a burp in the signals, but when we hit a touch of light turbulence you could see how useful it would be in a tight spot.

I took the hood off for a few minutes to look at the full moon and view, but even with Andy's permission I felt guilty and a little nervous about ignoring my scan. An odd feeling for me to want to be under the hood. Back at Cherokee we decended after passing over the foothills and setup for downwind on 4 and I put it down gently on centerline even with about a 10 knot crosswind.

November 16, 2003, 5 PM
Warm with clouds at 5000' and a 5 knot breeze at altitude. With the threat of rain and closing weather later in the evening, we decided to stay close to 47A and practice the GPS approach, partial panel, entries and holds. Except for a few small deviations in altitude, today was a real good day. With no ATC to worry about, of course things went very well. Even with partial panel, I held everything fairly close and my first GPS approach was nearly perfect without any coaching from Andy.

On the missed we did the published hold and then he had me set up for a random hold on EDVIH: "Hold North of EDVIH on the 360 radial, Right turns." I turned toward the fix and proceeded to do a correct parallel entry. Outbound north for one minute, then left turn towards the protected side and timed to intercept the fix. We can program the GPS to an OBS setting and it draws the radial for the inbound course, making it easy to visualize the hold. On the second approach into 47A, I got ahead of myself and busted altitude before MOMEY, but even so, Andy was impressed that I had been so far ahead of the plane today. A lot of control and well ahead at nearly every step.

Worried about the clouds coming down, we called it off early and setup for downwind of 4, and although I forgot to call 3 green on final and realized I need to add TIRES to my 5T's, I put it on centerline with just a chirp.

November 23, 2003, 4 PM
Randall's brother-in-law Mike needed to be back in Jacksonville, Florida this afternoon and Andy was chosen to fly down and back with him. He called me up and asked if I'd like to fly back IFR from Cecil Field as my lesson and I said sure.

Mike flew left seat down and we were in and out of the clouds pretty regularly at 5000'. With the flight taking over 2 hours, I thought I'd be pretty tired and sloppy on my leg back, but that turned out not to be true.

We opened our plan on the ground and took off northwest for home. With the hood on and climbing to 6000', ATC put us in the clouds nearly all the way back until we asked for a higher altitude to get us out since it was getting dark and Randall frowns on night IFR.

I held the needles real close all the way and only missed one radio call that Andy caught for me. I took off the hood a few times to see the clouds and how pretty it was looking down through them. Over the runway at 47A, I landed a bit high and stalled it onto the pavement. I guess I was a bit tired by then.

November 30, 2003, 5 PM
A cool day with no clouds and a light and variable surface wind. At 3000' it was a different story and was blowing about 25 knots.

We took off from 22 and headed to Rome for the ILS and a makeshift DME arc. I had a little rust on the approach, but once I was established at the FAF, I held a bullseye with the localizer and glideslope needles nearly all the way down.

Then it was missed to the makeshift arc around the Rome VOR, but the winds were pushing us back in toward the VOR too much and with no approach plate in front of me, it was really sloppy. As we wound that down, we went over to Cartersville for the VOR and I did fairly well.

Our groundspeed back into the approach was fairly high, but I was right on the money for altitude over the FAF. I even remembered to set the timer for everything.

On the missed, we headed east to call Approach and get set up for the ILS at McCullum. But the glideslope there was out of service so we settled for two partial panel localizers. My radio work was passable, but I would have preferred to have done better. I remembered to time my turns to headings and they worked out pretty good for the most part. The marker beacons didn’t seem to be working, but we were GPS at this point, so that was no real problem. Plus the Atlanta VOR was tuned in so we could have used that if need be for the Siera WPT identification. After two good approaches, we went direct to 47A and I greased the landing for the first time in a long time.

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