Sunday, March 29, 1998

Going in Circles (Lesson #6 - End of Phase 1)

Bjorn was back from Sweden and the weather looked good for the weekend (unseasonably warm, in the 70’s), but Saturday afternoon was too gusty to fly. So I rescheduled for Sunday morning at 8:30. It was still a little windy and picked up through the flight, though above 3500’ it was pretty smooth. I was late in rotating on the takeoff (watching for 60 mph for Vr, but the nose wheel started to shimmy – it was actually a crummy takeoff, and a sign of things to come!). I thought I would do a little better because I had spent about an hour on Saturday sitting in the cockpit of the 172 to be more familiar with the instruments and controls. It didn’t help!

When we got to 3000’ (over Woonsockett, which I incorrectly guessed to be Mendon! No SA either!), Bjorn had me start doing some steep turns, 45° left and right, trying to return to my starting point in heading without losing altitude. I sucked at this! My big problem was overcontrolling and using jerky, fast inputs on the wheel. Second, I was not really aware of what the “sight picture” should be out the window, and I kept looking at the attitude indicator. I applied control movements sequentially rather than simultaneously, and I failed to notice when the nose was going down from insufficient back pressure in the turn. Sometimes I would overbank (30° normal turns don’t require much opposite aileron, if any – but at 45°, the airplane wants to keep rolling into the turn, so you have to apply some opposite aileron to hold the 45°, plus jimmy the wheel around to keep the wind from knocking you out).

The big problem with the nose dropping was caused by not applying smooth back pressure at the same time as I moved from 30° to 45° in the bank – then I would have to roll BACK to 30, apply back pressure, then go to 45 again and try to hold it. I felt like a one-armed juggler – I just could not keep all these things in mind at the same time! Grrrr!!! Bjorn did a couple of demos and made it look easy – on the first one, we felt a little bounce of turbulence as he returned to the exit point he started and went through our own wake.

I need to ask him to get the black disks to cover some of the instruments to force me to be more “eyes out of the cockpit.” Maybe I also need a sort of review lesson of basic stuff – standard turns, straight and level, setting up for climbs and dives. This three or 4 weeks between lessons is pretty frustrating, but that’s life as we know it. The budget will not take much more than this.

On the way back to 1B6, we went through a simulated emergency landing setup, cutting power and using the airport as our emergency field. The one thing I did well was setting up for best glide speed at 75 mph. But I let the wind drift me all over the place, and we were way too high and fast for the landing, so I did a go-around (probably my first – maybe 200’ above the runway, apply full power, establish a climb – I forgot to raise the flaps, of course!).

I really do need to go in a day or two before each lesson and sit in the airplane and rehearse the procedures we will do. Next up is slow flight (again!). At this rate, I’ll be doing landings, oh let’s see, when I’m 63?!?!

Time: 1.0 hrs dual TT 8.0 hrs (C172 at 1B6)

Editor's Note: With the divorce and other stuff going on, money and time just got too tight, and I didn't take any more lessons with Bjorn - in fact this was the last lesson until May 1999! This was the end of my "phase 1" attempt to get my pilot's license (1997-1998) - there would be another brief attempt in 1999 and the big push that finally succeeded in 2000-2001.

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