Thursday, July 24, 1997

Introductory Flight at Hopedale (1B6)

It was cool and cloudy for July, and I would not have guessed it was VMC, but I called up HAS and it sure was (visibility was something like 20+ miles – I could see Boston and Providence from 3000' MSL – a lot of high clouds). Drove about 40 minutes from Framingham to 1B6 (new office will be much closer). Flew with Jason (don't these guys have last names?) in a Cessna 172. I liked him better than Kris or Kelly, and I liked the C172 better than the Cherokee, oddly enough. This was the most comfortable or relaxed of three intro flights, to the point that I felt more "there" and able to observe and react to what was going on and even enjoy the view a bit. Some miscellaneous points to maybe flesh out as time permits (while ideas are fresh).

· Turn to final hard to judge in FS95, "real airplane too!" (sez Jason)

· I did "OK" with typical new student tendency to over-correct on the controls – with emphasis on light touch (trim) and visual (look outside) orientation, I think Jason will teach good habits

· Cross wind landing, wind from NE, substantial crab angle, slip? Fair amount of bank correction in close (turbulent), judging sink rate, line up, position, getting awful close to those cars on the road at the S end of the runway – landing does NOT look easy, and of course it is not, so it's why you practice that stuff a zillion times before you solo

· Stratus clouds 12K+ (I have a lot to learn about weather!)

· Visibility about 20+ miles despite the look of very solid (high alt.) clouds and impending rain (even felt a few drops)

· Reference points for turns - landmark on left wing moves to nose for 90 dg, moves to right wing for 180° turn – gotta learn to pick out landmarks quickly for ground reference maneuvers – also rolling out on correct heading and not too early (shallowing out the bank) or too late (overshoot)

· Better ground SA from high wing – Jason starts from basics, I claimed little knowledge, asked about ground references, other questions

· Lift wing on turn side first to clear traffic, then turn (main concession to high wing) – I liked seeing the ground below to the left, and I liked how roomy the C172 felt (also liked having trim wheel in the panel rather than between the seats on floor)

· Taxi and radio– still weak, pedals and brakes not real distinct feel, just squishing around down there – keep hands off that wheel (except for wind compensation)

· Jason – easier to communicate with, patient but tells you stuff, says it takes a few hours to get the feel for even the basics of level flight and coord, generally comfortable feeling (important to feel relaxed in airplane)

· Preflight brief – he did one based on the 4 fundamentals, climb, glide, straight/level, turns – I thought he was setting up for an hour lesson, but he said since I flew before, may as well have a plan, and I liked this – no shame if he explains how an airplane turns, even if I know it pretty well. Back taxi 360° to visually check the pattern for aircraft to the west (left pattern for runway 36). Throttle seems backwards (in for full power – HOLD IT IN on takeoff, keep hand on throttle much of the time, especially when low).

· Visual attitude reference for level - top of compass on horizon

· For climb - dash on horizon? Glide - need a reference (two thumbs, 8° my guess) - need to pay attention to correct amount of right rudder against torque in full-power climb (leads to drifting off course if you hold too much or too little)

· Tried rule of thumb! 4° below horizon, etc

· Preflight trick – he sometimes tapes a coin on a flap or something to see if student is really inspecting everything in preflight (thorough, checklist based – Jeff must have told him my comments from Kris) – suck on the stall warning port to test it (has a reed like a clarinet)!

· Still no joy on finding airport despite spotting landmarks (including Boston for east) – though overall SA seemed better when he pointed out big picture landmarks like Boston (east), Providence, Woonsocket, Worcester (we could even see mountains of S NH beyond Worcester's buildings), all from 2500-3000 feet MSL

· Turn coord so-so

· Trim works! Fly with 3 fingers, light touch - let go of the wheel and see where the nose goes

· Got an actual pilot log book with one entry of 0.6 hours – cool enough!

· Power off stall – hard to enter, faint buzz of stall warning, gentle recovery (nose level, power full) – not the least bit scary

· Fly at least once a week - he's there maybe 8 am most mornings – general impression: an American "airport bum" (flew on his daddy's lap from a young age) – slightly reserved guy, a bit scruffy – I can relate better than to foreign CFI's trying to build time here in the cheaper American skies (unfair generalization based on 2 of 7 CFI's I've spoken with or met having strong foreign accents – guess I prefer American CFI's for whatever reason). His verbal patter (e.g. talking his steps on pattern/approach/landing) was smoother than Kris's

· Some say 70% out the window, Jason says 99% -- less reliance on instruments and airspeed and more on attitude/pitch (reference cage for attitude indicator kept slipping - vacuum problem)

· I want to start the real hour-long lessons soon.

Time: Dual 0.6 hrs, TT 0.6 hrs (C172)

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