Saturday, November 26, 2016
Stats: 1 hour, 7 landings
We stayed in the pattern and did 7 take offs and landings and one simulated engine out. I landed well every time, but need to fly a more consistent pattern. I’m taking next Saturday off to see family, so hopefully that won’t set me back too much.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Stats: 1 hour, 7 landings, 1 aborted landing
After a week off I always feel like I’m going to suddenly forget how to fly. I don’t know why I feel that way! But, realistically speaking, I think missing a week, or 3 weeks like I’ve done once since I started my training, sets you back A LOT. I think, before you’ve flown, you don’t realize how much of it is muscle memory and just doing things a certain way repetitively, like you do when driving and you don’t think about turning on your blinker, or looking over your shoulder before you back up, but you still do it.
It was 24°F out and the plane, which is in an open hangar, exposed to the air, had its own blankie and space heater. When I did my preflight and climbed up to check fuel levels, I hated to remove my gloves to get a good enough seal to check the fuel! Of course, I did it, because, as they say, the only time you believe a fuel gauge is when it’s on empty. When I put my hand on the plane while checking the oil it was warm to the touch over the engine, as if the plane had been in the sun instead of cold and windy shade under a tin roof. JC had plenty of oil and gas, and the one water droplet pieces of ice were on things other than the plane.
(For anybody wondering why the plane had a blanket and heater, it is because cold starting a plane is not good for the engine, and is the equivalent to several hours of wear. The heater is turned on a little before the lesson.)
We spent my lesson today in the pattern, with me feeling varying degrees of frustration mixed with the happy/ hardworking/ concentrating feeling that only a person who is learning to fly can feel. Mr. King tells me often that I am too hard on myself, and that I “haven’t invented anything new” in the way of mistakes. He also says that “everybody feels that way” and then suddenly they’re doing it right.
My takeoffs were fine, although on the first one, I felt like the plane didn’t want to leave the ground. That was a bit different, as normally it feels to me like you are trying to restrain the plane while it wants to fly, before you achieve your rotation speed. I asked Mr. King about it, since neither of us had suddenly gained tons of weight or anything, and he said maybe the ground was softer than I was used to.
On my first takeoff, I didn’t “relax back pressure” (Mr. King’s words) quickly enough so I lost a little speed. As I know the dangers of that, it was perfect the following 6 takeoffs, and hopefully isn’t a mistake I will repeat. The 55, rotation, 59 best rate of climb, 73 best rate of climb speeds are something I have beaten into my head, for sure. If you are a student pilot and don’t know where to find these speeds for the specific plane you are flying, you should check the Pilot’s Operating Handbook for that specific plane. You need to know these speeds!
FLYING THE PATTERN
I felt a little like I was veering from one small mistake to the next while flying the pattern. I’m flying at a non-towered airport with a left pattern if using runway 9, and a right pattern if using runway 27. I am not fabulous as right hand traffic patterns, which I mentioned in a previous post. I haven’t used runway 9 in awhile, so I’m curious to see if I’m as sloppy in the pattern that direction, because the last time I took off on Runway 9, my pattern was fine. Could the right pattern really be that much of a factor? I don’t know, it’s something to look for, I guess.
On some of my circuits around the pattern I was not reducing the power from 2300 to 2100 RPM quickly enough, so I was gaining excess altitude or speed, depending on which circuit in the 6 I did we want to criticize. This was causing me to be either faster than I needed to be in the pattern, or climbing through pattern altitude of 2450 to about 2550. I corrected that on some of my circuits, but I need to be more consistent with this, as it seems like I was doing it at the same point in the pattern each time. Another thing I did a few times was to creep in toward the runway on the downwind. When I would look to the runway on my right to see when to turn on the carb heat, I would drift in toward it. So, the correction was to look at a point ahead of me and fly straight to that so I would maintain a good distance.
Every time around I remembered to turn on the carb heat opposite the center of the runway when I was on the downwind and to reduce power opposite the touchdown point, so at least I did that right. We practiced an aborted landing also, but most of the lesson just focused on flying the pattern consistently and landing correctly. I felt pretty frustrated for part of the lesson, as I feel like I’m stuck at the same point I was last lesson. I think scheduling two lessons closer together to fix this problem is what I need to do. Next lesson Mr. King said we would do ground maneuvers again and work on flying a rectangle with reference to points on the ground to help me fix the pattern issue.
WHAT I GOT RIGHT
Mr. King said I did well at flaring and landing every time, so at least I was consistent with that. I felt like if I could have done 2 or 3 more I could have put it all together, but the next student had arrived. So 6 so-so patterns and 1 almost right would have to do for this lesson.
PLAN FOR THE WEEK:
Chair fly the pattern, CALL OUT everything step by step!
Review pre-solo info, learn the weak spots!