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June 5, 1999, 8am
(1.4 hrs) 9.5 total
A broken overcast and very breezy. A very good chance of soloing today
shot to hell. So we stayed in the pattern and got lots of touch and
go work done. Concentration on rudder control on final and during the
flare. With the breeze today, I needed extreme concentration on final
and lots more power to keep positive control and correct airspeed.
45 minutes we headed over to Pickens to relax a bit and try some touch and gos on 16. The wind was
just as bad, if not worse at Pickens. I touched down a couple of times
fairly well considering the crosswind after the first awful lineup (and
one very nearly sideways final all the way down), then we headed back
We joined the pattern on the downwind behind another student from the
flight school next door to Randalls. He was in a wide pattern
and long downwind and I had to follow him and make the best of it. On
the second lap with him, there was another plane preparing for departure
on 4 and instead of aborting and executing a go round, he pulled a 360
on final! No radio call, nothing. Karen about had a fit and radioed
him asking his intentions about midway through his 360 (as he was headed
directly for us). Then on a later lap he did it again! We had to turn
the pattern into a 2 mile final just to stay clear of him. Karen was
fit to be tied. So we came to a full stop, feeling the safest thing
to do was call it a day and leave the sky to him.
June 10, 1999, 7pm
(1.0 hrs) 10.5 total
Thunderstorms were threatening all afternoon and a 16 knot crosswind
from the south made soloing today out of the question once again. So
we stayed in the pattern again and did touch and gos. Crosswinds
are actually becoming somewhat fun now even though they require a lot of work.
Keep a bit of more power final on to maintain a slight airspeed cushion
in case the wind shifts and steals some knots from me. My rudder work
is definitely improving. It is becoming more and more frequent that
just as Karen mentions things like a bit more power or watch
your bank, Im already in the process of correcting it. She
seems a bit anxious to get the solo out of the way and I think Im
as ready as Ill ever be, but of course the weather is not cooperating.
On the other hand, my crosswind lineups on final and landings are getting
a good workout and she likes that.
an hour of touch and gos, a large cloud had moved over the runway
and played havoc with our last final approach. I porpoised a bit with
an overcorrection on the flare, but it came down surprisingly smooth
after holding it steady and just letting the airspeed bleed off.
June 13, 1999, 10am
(1.6 hrs) 12.1 total
A beautiful sunny day with a few puffy clouds scattered throughout the
sky and temperatures in the mid 80s with a very slight breeze.
It seemed that there would be a good chance to solo this morning, but
when we got airborne, the thermals were already starting to get pretty
bumpy. Not too bad, but it seemed that whenever I would get over the
threshold, one would be waiting for me and give me a kick. And as the
morning wore on, they only got worse.
the day for idiot transmissions on the radio. We can hear Winder Airport
on the radio and they were landing on runway 13. We were practicing
touch and gos on runway 4 at Cherokee. Suddenly I was making every
radio call and referring to runway 14 - and confusing everyone within
50 miles. People were asking where was runway 14 and Karen was keeling
over with laughter while watching me make an fool of myself and creating
havoc near and far. We were mistaken for a control tower by another
plane and someone called up another tower and requested a sandwich be
ready for them when they landed. But my landings were adequate for the
conditions and after we were done Karen asked if I could come back later
in the day to possibly get smoother air and solo if I was hitting my landings. Hmmm, what do you think?
June 13, 1999, 5pm
(1.7 hrs dual/.3 hrs Solo) 14.1 total
It was still sunny and a few medium sized clouds were floating around
in the steady breeze. And as it always is in Atlanta in the summer,
humid and hot. We hit the pattern again and after a few touch and gos
I finally realized that when Im barreling down the runway for
takeoff, I really have no need for the left rudder pedal to keep on
the centerline. Just a slight tap every now and then on the right pedal
will do. Up until now Ive been tapping back and forth: left, right,
left, right and the left pedal was always an overcorrection fishtailing
me down the runway. So now without touching the left rudder, Im
straight as an arrow all the way into the air. Ha! Now I can concentrate
more on keeping the nose down and watching for liftoff speed. Sure enough,
everything goes much smoother after that. My landings were smoothing
out and I was even centered on the runway better on final. Up until
now Ive been landing like I was driving in the UK, always on the
left of centerline.
My transitions to pattern altitude are smoothing out too. Now, just about
the time Im turning downwind, Im about 50 to 100 ft from pattern
altitude. Before this, I was always halfway through the downwind leg
before I was leveled out and steady. Now Ive have more time to
concentrate on setting up for the transition to landing configuration.
Well, after about an hour of touch and gos, we came to a full
stop and Karen asked if I was ready to do it by myself. Instant butterflies.
But really only for a moment and I nodded. So she signed me off for
3 full stop circuits as we taxied back to the hold line. She jumped
out, unplugged her headset and with a thumbs up and a quick reminder
about my airspeed on final, walked away.
Holding at the side of the runway, I looked around the skies for a moment since I would have to wait for
the Piper ahead of me to take off. I also wanted to be sure that there
was no one else in the pattern that I had not seen. It wouldnt
do to taxi onto the runway in front of a plane on short final. Then
the Piper was past me and it was my turn.
breath and punch the mike:Cherokee County 019 SOLO on backtaxi
to runway 4. No butterflies now. Nothing. Just a slight disbelief
that this was it. Add a bit of throttle and turn around at the end of
the runway, and line it up perfect with the centerline. God, why was
that so much easier than when Karen is in here? OK, down to business.
The mantra: Oil gauges in the green, primer in and locked, mags on both,
carb heat cold, mixture rich, flaps up, gas on both, takeoff trim. Cherokee
County 019 SOLO ready for departure on runway 4. Full throttle
and Im moving forward.
later, Im in the sky, alone, and a big dumb grin on my face. YES! Up
to pattern altitude in no time flat and suddenly its time to turn
final. Jesus, this is going by too fast. A good lineup and please God
dont let me screw up. Airspeed on 70 knots and the runway is right
where its supposed to be. Unbelievable. When I have the runway
made, throttle back to idle and flare. Chirp! A greaser! HA! Not too
many of those up until now. Im having too much fun. Careful, dont
get cocky and do something stupid. You still have two more to do.
As I taxi
up to the hold line Karen radioed, That was pretty, can you do
another one? I can see her and nod, sure. OK, so the next one
wasnt a chirp, but it was only a very small bump and then down
for sure. It counts.
and once again into the air and after a short while, for only the third time
Im looking down at runway 4, all alone, lined up perfectly and
the airspeed pinned at 70 knots. Throttle back, flare, and CHIRP again!
Three of the prettiest and smoothest landings I have ever done! And
over much, much too fast.