Sunday, November 12, 2000

Mooney Zooming (in Germany)

This was an unusual lesson flown in a Mooney M231, Augsburg, Germany, with 1.0 hrs dual.

This worked out really nicely.  Friedrich Karl is a CFII/ATP pilot with 6000 hours fixed wing and 600 hours in helicopters.  He holds these ratings both in Germany and in the USA.  I contacted him through Julius Muschaweck, ORA’s new LightTools rep in Munich.  Mr. Karl first suggested moving thr flight to Saturday morning but had to fly to Frankfurt on business that morning, so it went back to Sunday afternoon.  The other change was that the C172 was down for service, so we flew a Mooney M231 instead – very cool!  The Mooney is a complex single – it has retractable gear, a 200 HP ingine, variable pitch prop, and even an auto-pilot!  So it was quite different from the C152 I normally fly, but I did OK and really liked it. 

The first strange thing (apart from the fact of flying in Germany at all) was that ATIS and ATC were essentially all in English!  Although I heard some German on the radio, it was mostly English.  I still had the CFI handle the comms since I had more than enough new things for one flight (airplane, airport, airspace, terrain, CFI all new for me!).  We also had no headsets so we used the speaker and hand mike for comms.  Preflight was fairly informal, and I handled taxi and run-up with some guidance from Fritz (let’s just call him Fritz here).  We had to wait for a lot of landing traffic before taxi into position and hold on runway 25.  Takeoff was OK (rotate at about 65 knots), though the control forces were more than I expected and it took me a few minutes to get used to the electric trim on the yoke, so I was really pulling hard on the yoke to try to get the nose up to a climb attitude for about 80 knots climb.

We then turned right to a northern heading, climbing to around 3000 feet and steering around a TV tower with airspace restrictions (I got to keep the 1997 sectional that we flew with), then looping around the airport to head south toward the Alps and the Ammarsee, a large lake close to Starnberg (where J and I later had a customer meeting).  Once out of restricted airspace for Munich and a couple of smaller airports (Dornier’s airport for new aircraft, plus a Luftwaffe base), I did a few maneuvers, mainly steep turns and a bit of slow flight.  I also had Fritz take the airplane a bit several times while I took some photos of the Alps, lakes, airports, towns, etc. (not sure on this – a bit of haze.  All the while he was entering GOTO points in the GPS (Garmin 100 I think) and setting the heading bug on the DG for me to steer too – not much navigation practice for me! 

Finally we headed back to EDMA and for this, Fritz gave me vectors to steer and had me follow steering cues and DME information until we intercepted the ILS glide slope.  Then I steered (small corrections!) to line up the glide slope and CDI indicators on the attitude indicator, looking outside very little (but no foggles).  Lined up with the runway, I did a simulated instrument approach and landing, which he logged as 0.3 hours of simulated instrument time – cool!  The flare was quite different and final approach speed was about 75 knots, bit of a hot landing, and my lineup with the centerline was only fair.  By mid flight and approach I had finally gotten the feel for the electric trim (I like it!) and was holding altitude pretty well.  Turn off and taxi to fuel pit for the next renter (with very few instrument rated pilots in Germany, a good weather weekend in November has every pilot at the airport). 

I liked the Mooney and the fact that it could cruise at 140 or 16o knots or more, but it really felt like driving a Cadillac or something, with similar good and bad points – nice to have the power and the bells and whistles, but it felt like I was isolated from the controls somehow, like power steering or something.  I could get used to this, but since I don’t anticipate a lot of long cross country or business travel trips, a slower airplane doesn’t seem so bad to me.  But who knows in the future?  I’m glad I got a chance to try a Mooney, and he only charged me the Cessna rate, so it was $150 for the whole flight ($30 for CFI, $110 for plane, $10 landing fee).

The cool thing is that Fritz might be able to help me finish my PPSEL – he flies several months a year in Texas and Oklahoma, next in February or March, and I could perhaps go there for a week or so and finish the license if I don’t get the time to do it before then with Mario at ORH.  This could require greater than a C152 – Fritz is a pretty big guy, and I’m sure we would be cramped and over gross weight in a C152!  We shall see [note from 2009: I did some planning for this, but it never worked out and I finished my lessons in New England, with a few done in Los Angeles, mainly some night lessons].

Thursday, October 26, 2000

Peaceful Easy Feeling (Solo Practice)

I looked at the weather and decided I better fly sooner rather than later – took off at 1 pm and went to ORH for my first solo out of the pattern.  It was great!  I really enjoyed being up there on my own, and though I did try a few steep turns and a bit of slow flight, I mostly just flew around, looked at the scenery, and then flew back home.  This was my first taste of the “freedom of flight” and it was quite nice!  Flying solo in the pattern is work, as is flying with Mario – enjoyable work sometimes, useful work, but work nonetheless.  This solo was really fun!

I checked the ORH ATIS and also called the ASOS at Orange airport to get a reading on the Quabbin area where I planned to fly.  It was sky clear, visibility 10 miles, light winds.  Real VFR, though when I finally got up there, it was actually quite hazy (but certainly 10 SM or more).  Getting up there took a little work.  First I had to have the tanks topped off in 69L, and discuss the solo endorsement issue with Mario (turns out he didn’t change anything except the wind allowances on the previous solo endorsement, even though it specified traffic pattern!).  Then I pre-flighted the plane, got in, started it up, and as I went to change frequency for ATIS, the fractional frequency knob fell off!  So I had to shut down and ask Jim if he could fix it (he had been fixing it on Tuesday!).  But there’s a lesson here:

•    Carry some tools!  Something that could be used to turn a metal dial shaft if the knob came off in flight!  And get a flashlight back in there too.

Actually I had a small screwdriver tool with variable heads that I bought in a dollar store recently.  I found that one of the socket attachments would rotate the radio knob with some effort.  GET SOME SMALL PLIARS FOR THE FLIGHT BAG.  Now I see why flight bags get so heavy after a while!  This was quite an eye-opener for me, the idea that I could be in a no-radio situation due to something as stupid as a plastic knob!

Jim fixed the knob and I was off, right at about the same time Mario taxied out in 661 for its first flight test with the new engine (he got permission for a special request to orbit over the airport at 3000 feet for 30-45 minutes to break in the engine within glide range of ORH).  I requested a straight-out departure to the west, took off, spotted Spencer Airport off the right nose at 2500 feet (as usual).  I was more aware than usual of the need to look for emergency landing spots and to know what to do (the ABCDE thing) in case I lost my engine.  I got up to around 3500 feet and headed for the Quabbin, keeping a careful eye out for traffic, but once I got to level cruise, I also got out the GPS.  It was not tracking (it had been on inside my flight bag), so I finally cycled the power and punched in a GOTO for ORH, giving me a continuous readout of distance and bearing to the airport, though I didn’t really follow this (I did check the heading indicator against it – I mainly wanted to see that it worked on a flight away from the airport, and it did fine).

I got to the NE Quabbin area and did some clearing turns, followed by some steep turns, maybe 3 in each direction.  A couple were pretty good, the others gained or lost more than 100 feet.  Practice!  That’s the name of the game.  I also did a little slow flight, though I was careful not to stall – not that I can’t recover, but on the off-chance of a spin… well, let’s not go there!  I will practice stalls on future solo flights, and I will also do a little touring around to approach the airport from different directions.  This time I just looked at the chart and where I was w/r/t the Quabbin, estimating a course of 135 deg. back to ORH.  When I got part way there, I tuned in ATIS and got “kilo.”  When I had ORH in sight, I realized it was less than an hour, so I did a couple of 360 deg. turns just west of Spencer, then realized this may have been in ORH’s Class D already (4 NM radius), so maybe I shouldn’t have been doing maneuvers there (this was not a steep turn, maybe 30 deg.).  So I cruised over to Spencer (town) and made my call, “Worcester Tower, Cessna 4669L, over the town of Spencer, inbound for landing with information kilo.”  Tower told me to report left downwind entry.  I entered the downwind at 45 deg. as I have done several times, descending from 3000 feet to 2000 feet (TPA) along the way.  The pattern was good (OK, I got a bit slow on turn to base, DUH), but the flare was a bit late and I bounced pretty hard, but kept the nose up and kept good control.  Taxied back to Amity and secured the airplane – done!  Very cool to take an airplane out by myself like that!

Note: the picture here shows the town of Spencer but not on this day - this was fall 2004 when I was doing some Piper Cub lessons. More on that some other day!

Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Good Lesson!

Finally some good weather and a good lesson!  I took the morning off for this, and yesterday’s wonderful weather thankfully continued into today.  There was a little snag when I started preflighting 69L before Mario arrived – the mechanic (Jim) was fixing a knob on the radio and putting a placard on the pilot’s door, “no push” – need to open window and unlatch from the outside!  No biggy, but when I opened the door, I felt something drip on my head.  It was fuel from the wing tank, right near the drainage port.  I called Jim back to check it, and he said it was a real leak, and we couldn’t fly 69L!  The good news: since it was a weekday, 261 was available (and 661 is finally back on line with its new engine).  So we flew 261, even though it made a horrible grinding noise when the flaps were lowered to 30 degrees (we decided to fly and not use more than 20 degrees of flaps).

Takeoff and climbout were uneventful – I held the centerline quite well.  I decided to go out to the practice area and do some steep turns and other maneuvers visually, for review, then do some more under the foggles.  This worked out pretty well, though I lost over 100 feet on 2 of 3 steep turns.  Need to practice!  But now I can practice on my own, since Mario says I can solo to the practice area, in part because I did well today.  He did hear some “hangar talk” about my little ATC problem on the last solo lesson, but it was distorted – Bill told him that I said I had the traffic (on base) in sight, then flew right past them – this was not the case.  I told the tower 2 or 3 times that I had the landing traffic in sight and was looking for the turning traffic, understanding I was #3 for landing, but I never saw #2 – they ended up doing a 360 and letting me land ahead of them.  I think the tower should have handled the spacing better in this case, or I could have asked to do a right 360 myself for spacing.  I was maybe a little fast on downwind, but I didn’t do anything wrong.  Today we had close following traffic again, reporting mid-field left downwind at about the same time as me!  It was a Cessna 310 twin, very fast.  He must have slowed down or extended his downwind after I turned base – he landed after us.

Anyway, the maneuvers went pretty well, though my altitude control on the steep turns was mediocre, and I did much more than 90 degrees on my clearing turns.  I did much better under the foggles this time, keeping up a reasonable scan and not letting anything get too out of whack.  A couple of my climbing turns to headings were dead-nuts – this is where you climb 500 feet while turning to a specified heading, wanting to arrive at the heading and altitude simultaneously.  I ended up with 0.4 hours of IFR this time, and felt pretty good about it, though at the end I did start to have this mismatch between the attitude indicator showing a slight bank and my brain saying nope, this is level!  Have to remember that in case of engine failure above clouds, the non-vacuum turn and bank indicator is my friend, NOT that attitude indicator, which will tumble when you lose vacuum!  Partial panel!  Yikes!

Speaking of loss of power, Mario pulled this on me near the Quabbin, and I did very well, establishing best glide, picking out a nice farmer’s field, judging the wind, entering base, and turning for line-up and doing a forward slip to kill some altitude.  Only thing I forgot was my ABCDE emergency procedures list – airspeed, best place to land, checklist (for possible restart or errors), D I forget now (DISTRESS!), and E for exit preparations (turn off fuel and mags, but leave master switch on until flaps are out, and also unlatch doors).  I did this OK, and I also navigated back to ORH pretty well.

All in all, a nice lesson, with nice weather to boot!  Mario got laser eye surgery so he is now 20/15 uncorrected – cool!  $4000 for that!

Saturday, October 21, 2000

No-Fly for P-51 at Chino!

This is a "supplemental" post about two non-lesson flights that didn't happen, alas. In 2000, I was a member of the Chino Air Museum ("Planes of Fame") in the Los Angeles area, mainly so I could qualify for some war bird flights (you still had to pay, but members got some priority or something - hard to remember as I write this in fall 2009). I was in LA on business, added some weekend time for flying as I sometimes did even for lessons, and booked demo flights in both an AT-6 and a P-51 Mustang! I was psyched! But unfortunately even Southern California can have crappy weather ...

This week I've been in Los Angeles on business, and we've had some of the ugliest non-winter weather I’ve ever seen in LA — I went to Chino and hung around for 4 hours (looking at airplanes, not so bad), but my P-51 and AT-6 flights were canceled because it never got beyond about 2000 foot ceiling and 4 miles visibility.  You don’t want to zoom around at 300 mph if you can’t see better than that.  Bummer!  At least I got to sit in the cockpits for some photos and talk to some of the pilots at Fighter Rebuilders.  These lucky guys fly these war birds all the time, and work on restoring them the rest of the time.  John Hinton was going to be my P-51 pilot, and Matt Nightingale the AT-6 pilot (he’s been working at FR since he was 12!).

I looked over their German Me-109 which is in their shop — Steve Hinton (John’s brother), the head honcho, had the Me-109 in England for a Battle of Britain commemoration, and he lost one of his brake lines on a landing — he ground looped it to avoid running off the end of the runway, damaging the wings pretty badly, but he was not hurt.  It’s so cool the airplanes they have just sitting there, almost all flyable.  On the ramp today were the P-51D, TBM Avenger, P-47B (razorback version), B-25, AT-6, L-5 Sentinel, and Japanese Zero!  In the active hangar just behind the ramp there were two Hellcats, two Wildcats, a Corsair, a Skyraider, another P-51D, P-40, and some I forgot.  Just awesome.  They sent a number of aircraft to Hawaii recently to fly in a new Disney film about Pearl Harbor.  They were shrink-wrapped in plastic and put on a “garbage scow” for a slow two week cruise to Honolulu.  I think the film will be out soon (so this must have been last year).

Sitting in the planes was actually a lot of fun, and I got a few good photos of myself in the planes (and other plane photos too, of course).  The AT-6 has original instruments, while the P-51 has been upgraded to a more modern panel.  I had to be careful climbing in and out of the Mustang not to catch my foot on the landing gear lever—that would have been embarassing to collapse the gear on the ramp—I don’t think I can put a P-51 on my American Express!  So I went zero for five on flights this week—these rides and three C152 lessons I had scheduled at EMT with Bryon.  Oh well—I’ll be in LA again in the next few months.

Tonight I’ve been hanging around the hotel (packing for early UAL flight tomorrow) and feeling sort of overwhelmed about the near future – trying to keep everything in balance with family, work, travel, and flying.  If I don’t make flying a priority, it just won’t happen – weather and travel and kid-scheduling just wipe out most of the chances to fly.  Sometimes it feels like such a rat-race, but a lot of the time it’s fun, and I just have to remember how lucky I am to have all that I do have and to be able to fly at all.

Sunday, September 10, 2000

Dual: First Cross-Country (ORH-PSF-ORH)

This was my first official dual cross-country (greater than 50 nm from home). It was a good one, with a lot of points to remember, so I better write it down while it’s still fresh in my mind. The cross-country planning went pretty well – I got all the airport info (just PSF and ORH, 64 nm, no third leg this time), estimated based on 90 knots airspeed, and did approximate calculations with zero winds. When I called 1-800-WXBRIEF and got the standard weather briefing with winds aloft, the 3000’ and 6000’ winds were both 6 knots, and the interpolated direction for 4500’ was 25° -- so not much wind and a gorgeous day all the way around (I actually called for a briefing at 8:30 am and was told ORH-PSF was “VFR not recommended” due to low ceilings and fog, so I briefly considered flying to Concord, NH instead – but when Mario arrived, I called again, and PSF was clear, so we stayed with plan A – I should have called the Pittsfield ASOS weather phone line directly – when I did later, it was clear).

The first big problem was that the plane wouldn’t start (it was N47261 – plan was for 661, but it was in the shop for a new engine). The battery was dead – someone had flown a night flight with the alternator light on, apparently (you should look for this and cycle the alternator half of the master switch in this plane). We spent half an hour trying to hand-prop the plane, and it finally turned over (with help from Bob Karman and another CFI, Bill – Mario hates hand-propping but he was the one who finally did it after maybe 20 tries). So we were off at 10:30 a.m. Next challenge was getting to runway 11 – only two taxiways were open (construction), so back-taxi on runway was required, slowing everything down. We back-taxied only part way (tower said expedite, traffic on base!), then turned around and did a short-field take off (stay on brakes, 10° flaps, full power, release brakes). We flew left base and departed downwind to the west (magnetic compass heading 297° according to my nav log). My timer and yoke mount worked well, as did the knee board with my nav log and sectional chart. Mario had his GPS mounted but I could not see the screen – he cheated a couple of times, confirming or correcting my assumed positions (though it was really pilotage, holding a heading, timing, and VOR for 90% of the flight).

Once clear of ORH air space, climbing up to 4500’ cruise altitude (west-bound, even thousands plus 500) we called Bridgeport radio (122.2) to activate the flight plan I had filed on the phone (a first for me). Then we called up Bradley Approach (119.0) and requested flight following (yet another first for me – we were near Tanner-Hiller airport and reported this). Good thing I had recorded all those frequencies on my nav log! They gave us a squawk code and new frequency, which I wrote down and entered (only advantage of 261 is the dual-frequency radio, so you can queue up the next needed frequency). Flight following showed its value very soon, over the Quabbin Reservoir – they called out traffic at our altitude, crossing in front of us, 3 miles – we looked but Mario and I could not see the traffic (I missed my chance to say “no joy” on the radio!). Bradley said “if you don’t have a visual, suggest you expedite descent to 4000 feet” – Mario said “my airplane” and dived us down there pretty fast. We then looked up and saw a 172 passing left to right, just about where we had been, maybe ½ mile away. Close one! We had a good view of Westover ARB to our SW at this point.

I had easily spotted Spencer Airport and the Quabbin south dam, and my next check point was Amherst, Mass – but we also had to avoid Northampton airport, just 4 nm away, due to parachute activity (jumpers away at 8500 feet). I diverted a bit north of my planned track and flew right over the UMass campus – I spotted Becky’s dorm area and took a quick picture.

We had trouble spotting the airport, which is right at a bend in the (Connecticut?) river. I spotted what I thought was the airport, though it looked like a dirt strip ( says it’s asphalt, 14/32, 3500 x 50 feet, oh well).

On the outbound leg, I tended to gain altitude up to 4600 feet or so, but Mario reminded me that holding the planned 4500 and planned heading are especially important with flight following – you must report any altitude changes. Visibility was pretty good from 4500’ though there was a lot of low haze. Our next check point was Albert Airport, a small private strip in the Berkshires. I never saw it, but as a backup, I tuned in the Chester VOR and established that I was on the expected 022° radial. I also spotted a carrot-shaped lake with a dam at its S end about 10 nm SE of our position and noted this on the chart (distinctively shaped lakes or lakes with dams and radio towers seem to be the best landmarks).

Now we were only 17 nm from Pittsfield, and I spotted a large town just over a hill with a radio tower – the chart confirmed that this was Pittsfield, and I spotted the airport just to the SW of the town, but very faint. I think Bradley terminated our flight following at this point, and I tuned in the ASOS to get winds and altimeter setting for PSF. I then called up the CTAF (122.7) and gave our position, requesting the active runway. It was 26 with right traffic. As we got closer, we could see the reason for right traffic – two hefty mountains that would be right in the way of a left pattern for 26 and 32. I swung to the NW, passing over downtown Pittsfield and a high, wooded mountain ridge to enter the pattern on a 45° to the downwind (TPA 2200 feet). With reminders from Mario, I called my position on each leg to Pittsfield traffic (which was nil at that point). I lined up and made a rather long, sloppy touch-and-go, climbing up over the hills that seemed to pop up rather quickly off the west end of the runway. Climbed back to TPA, then turned right to take up my course.

At this point I tuned in and called Bridgeport Radio (Flight Service Stations are called “something Radio” in flight) to close my flight plan to Pittsfield. Two strange things – I got Burlington FSS, and there was a mix-up on whether I had filed out and back (I had not, though I thought I did when I told the weather briefer that I was coming right back, only a momentary stop at PSF – Burlington FSS closed my flight plan for me). So we flew back without a flight plan, but we contacted Bradley on the last-used frequency (good thing I wrote it down!) and resumed flight following.

I got the Bradley guy a little annoyed when I made several course changes over the next few minutes, trying again to swing a little north and avoid the parachuters around Northampton. He had to call me out several times to other planes because my course was changing. We also missed one or two calls for us – bad move – but we were busy and Mario was telling me stuff. We again flew over UMass and I tried to take another couple of pictures, but Mario got annoyed with this, because we also were trying (and failing) to spot an airplane that radar had told us was nearby (our 11 o’clock, climbing through 4500 – we were at 5500’ on the way home, as high as I have ever flown on my own).

Again I got my main checkpoints (Amherst, Quabbin dam) and we soon spotted ORH, a little patch of white just below the haze line to the east. We got Bradley’s OK to switch frequencies briefly to monitor ATIS, then we shortly asked to discontinue flight following so I could call up the tower. We requested a straight-in approach from around 10 miles out (since my return heading was 109 and runway 11 is 110), another first for me. We were told to report 3 mile final (Spencer airport is a good reference for this, it’s about 4 nm west of ORH). It was hard judging my descent from that far out, and I needed to keep my speed up because of following traffic. Tower said to land long (to avoid long taxi on runway) and turn left at taxiway Bravo, way down at the far end of 11, “no delay” due to following traffic (a 172 I think – the C152 is always the slowest thing in the pattern). I tend to land long anyway, so this was no problem!

All in all, a pretty good flight. I did most things right, kept track of my position, flew the airplane well (held 90 knots cruise and was right on 5500’ on the trip home). Now I’m ready for a three-leg cross-country next Sunday in Los Angeles (EMT-F70-CNO, El Monte, French Valley, Chino). Some things to keep in mind for future flights:
• For making minor course corrections when your hands are busy elsewhere (writing notes, tuning radio, etc.), the rudder pedals do a real nice job – smoother than yoke corrections! Of course you have to be trimmed well for this to work.
• It’s important to hold the planned course and altitude if you are on flight following – you want to be a predictable target.
• Call the local weather at the destination to get current conditions, don’t just rely on the weather briefer.
• If you want there-and-back flight plans, you have to tell the briefer this, it isn’t automatic, even if you tell them you are just doing a touch an go.
• Remember sunglasses, especially for the LA flight next weekend!

Time: 2.2 dual, 0.0 solo, TT TBD hrs, C152 at ORH

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Supplemental: Several August Flights

Wow, I’ve gotten behind in documenting my flights. It’s not that they are routine or anything, but I’m short of time tonight too! Briefly

8/19/00 Dual with Mario, 1.1 hours – Filling in my syllabus items with power-on and power-off stalls and 0.4 hours of simulated instrument with foggles. This was turns to headings, climbs, and descents. This was a pretty good lesson.

8/27/00 Dual with Mario, 1.6 hours – We got carried away! Plan was to practice forward slips at altitude, and we did a little, lining up with some power lines near the Quabbin as if they were a runway, but very high. Forwards slips to lose altitude fast (20 degrees of flaps, though Mario does them with full flaps too, usually not recommended). We also did a little VOR and pilotage practice – it was good visibility but a lot of low haze that made it hard to identify location. If I will go solo to practice area, I have to be able to get back easily! Also tried “Dutch rolls” as Jason had showed me once, cross-control exercise, keeping nose on point, fishtailing with opposite rudder. Ended up talking about and going to the hook-shaped 2500’ runway at Palmer (PMX), and it took me three tries to land on it. Landing illusion from narrow/short runway, you think you are high. I’m spoiled by ORH’s wide 7000’ runway!

8/29/00 Solo landing practice, 0.7 hours in pattern. Frustrating session. Two fairly good landings in left pattern, then passing Hood blimp caused tower to put me in right traffic, and I got flustered and flew downwind too tight and didn’t reverse wind correction. This led to rushed base and high final. Overshot turn to final each time. Grrr! Need more work, and still getting slow on base!!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2000

Dual: Pattern Practice

I've decided to lose the "lesson #" or "flight #" designation since there are now both dual and solo flights, plus some semi-documented flights, so I'll just mark posts as Solo, Dual, or Supplemental.

Mario was out this week because his wife just had a baby (their third, a baby girl). I planned to do some solo landing practice, and although the sky was clear and beautiful, the winds were outside the limits Mario set on my solo flight endorsement (8 knots, 4 knots crosswind) – they were at 300 degrees, but 16 knots, gusting to 23 knots. I was out of luck, but it looked like Doug Rio was just hanging around, so I asked him to fly with me. He said OK. He’s a young Brazilian guy, working on his MEI right now. We took the third C152, one I had never flown, 69L (six-niner-lima in the trade). It’s newer than the others, pretty nice, red-white-and-blue paint scheme, pretty sharp.

The wind gusts blew my around a bit, and it was fairly turbulent. I decided to use only two stages of flaps and tried to fly base and approach at around 70 knots rather than 65 on final. I got slow on one approach, got down to 1800’ on one base leg, and got down below 500’ AGL pretty far out on one final. Line-ups were fair, I’d say. All my usual problems, but slight improvements – I really held 70-75 kts from the numbers to final on all but one approach (on one I was up to 80 kts on part of the final). Still playing with power too much because I’m not consistent and I’m not nailing the 65 or 70 or 75 airspeed I need. ALSO – the view was lovely (not that I notice much in a landing session!), but the sun in the west was BRUTAL flying off runway 29. I need sunglasses, even some clip-ons for the flight bag for now, get Rx sunglasses soon, though! I quit after 4 landings because the sun was just too blinding, especially on climb-out.

It frustrates me that I plan to notice more things in landings – speed, trim, landmarks to hold headings and to turn toward, crosswind correction. But I get this tunnel-vision thing going and focus on 3 or 4 things (it used to be one or two – I read my account of lesson two with Mario, the June 5 evening landing session with two after-dark landings, which MiGMan just posted – man, I was CLUEless back then, just about 10 weeks ago, so I guess I am making progress). Doug was nice, he told me to watch my airspeeds, especially in gusty conditions, and also to watch pattern altitude (usually I’m good on this). Nothing to blame on Rio, though I wish I could have been sharper flying for another CFI.

I received my Jepp knee-board and the timer and yoke mount I ordered. Ready for cockpit management on cross-country flights!

Time: 0.6 dual, 0.0 solo, TT 31.8/1.1 hrs, C152 at ORH

Tuesday, August 08, 2000

Solo: All By Myself

Remember that Eric Carmen song, the one he stole from Rachmaninov? That was me, tonight. This was the first TOTAL solo, and it went OK, though I still can't figure out why I always pull the airspeed back to ~60 kts on final rather than the required 65 kts. Not a big safety issue since the C152 stalls at 35 knots with full flaps, but it's frustrating. When I arrived at 5:00 the ATIS said that wind was something like 260 degrees at 12 knots, gusting to 18 knots. This was outside my 4 knot crosswind limit that Mario endorsed for solo pattern work. So I waited, and by 5:30, the new ATIS said 270 at 8, so this was OK. I got the clipboard and walked out to N67661 for preflight.

I was very careful on the preflight and very deliberate in following EVERY checklist item for startup. Mario arrived with his student just as I was ready to start the engine. He asked if I wanted him to fly a couple with me, but I said no, I was comfortable. “As long as you’re confident – pilot in command!” (Mario’s favorite phrase!). I taxied out and heard ground tell a just-landed Hawker business jet to hold on taxiway delta while I crossed in front of them. As I did my run-up I heard that there were two planes on approach, a Learjet and something else. I called tower with “ready for takeoff, request left closed traffic” when the Learjet was on 3 mile final. I was told “clear for takeoff, no delay” so I taxied smartly (but not rushed!) into place and kept rolling as I pushed full throttle. I didn’t hold the runway heading so well on climb-out, one of my mini-problems. On downwind I watched the Learjet land, a pretty sight indeed. I called as I turned base (controller’s request, rather than mid-field downwind) and was cleared touch-and-go. Surprised I got no “caution wake turbulence” but it was no problem.

I still have trouble with getting slow on base and final, and I don’t really know why. Perhaps as I descend, I have an unconscious fear of “diving toward the ground” (though it’s really a controlled descent), and I hold extra back pressure. This was my problem with Kern – “get your nose down, Bruce!” – last summer. Lineup was poor the first landing, I overshot, but I did better on the other three. I got down to around 60 knots on final and added some power because I thought I was descending to a short position. I’m still really not judging the “point that doesn’t move on the windscreen” very well. I was not right on the centerline at touchdown (problem for narrower runways at other airports), and I had a small lateral drift, but I held it pretty straight. The other patterns and landings were about the same. I’m just frustrated with this getting slow thing. Need to work on this with Mario on Sunday.

On one approach the tower said “watch for landing Cessna on short final – keep your base turn square” meaning that I shouldn’t just swoop down military-style on a curved base-final turn, because the Cessna needed time to complete its touch-and-go. I saw the Cessna and replied “I have the traffic in sight, will keep my turns square for spacing.” Wow, real pilot lingo! I slowed down a bit as well. One time I got “cleared to land” before I even called the tower! I wasn’t sure it was me, so I called him to confirm this. I’m feeling pretty good about the radio work these days – I hear and repeat what I’m supposed to, and if I miss something, I call and ask. I keep it brief even though ORH is hardly a very busy tower (though one guy often covers ground and tower operations).

So I only did 0.6 hours, 4 landings (only $30) -- no sense in practicing something consistently wrong. Figure it out with Mario on Sunday maybe. We also worked on the flight plan for the first official cross-country for some time in the next few weeks (planned ORH to Pittsfield to Orange and back to ORH, though Mario says I could have simply gone ORH-PSF-ORH). Mario also suggested I practice flight calculations with the analog E6B as well as the electronic one (some cruel flight examiners have been known to take your batteries, “it just died, what do you do?”). On the way home I stopped and bought a Minolta 38-90 mm zoom point-and-shoot camera. My old SLR is too bulky, but for flights and air shows, I want better creative control for framing shots!

Supplemental - Cross-country cockpit management (8/9/00) – I just ordered some stuff that will help with the cross-countries, I think: a Jepp tri-fold knee board, a Westbend dual timer (large LCD display and buttons), and a medium yoke mount for the timer (velcro attachment, suitable for Cessna yokes – will also work with GPS if I ever get one of those little guys). This will allow me to keep the paperwork organized in the cockpit, and with the timer on a yoke mount “in my scan” (yeah, right) I will have a better chance at remembering to time my flight legs, resetting the timer for each one. This stuff totals about $80 from Marv Golden Discount Aviation.

I also saw a VERY cool thing on one of the sites (no, not a GPS, though of course I’m already lusting after those!). This was a digital “flight recorder” (FlightCom AiRepeater FC-37, $99) that attaches to the yoke and connects between the intercom plugs and headset. It records the last 60 seconds of audio received over the radio and lets you quickly “rewind” to hear if an ATC call was for you, or to copy down a complex instruction, etc. This could be a real safety aid on IFR flights, though I don’t think I need this sort of thing right now (plus 60 seconds seems a little skimpy).

Time: 0.0 dual, 0.6 solo, TT 31.2/1.1 hrs, C152 at ORH

Sunday, August 06, 2000

Dual: Mini-Cross Country

There have been a lot of days when I've been outside, looked at the sky and thought, "what a gorgeous day -- I wish I were flying!" Well Saturday was one of those days, and I WAS flying. Blue skies with a scattering of puffy white fair-weather cumulus. A little bumpy here and there, but nice. This was all-dual, 1.7 hours C152 with Mario.

I used the airport directory and NY sectional chart to do most of the pre-flight planning for a mini-cross-country, flying ORH to ORE (Orange Muni, just N of the Quabbin) to FIT (Fitchburg, along Rt. 2, over Gardner -- even saw the Gardner VOR) and back over Sterling to ORH. I hoped to detour E to fly over West Boylston and the Wachusett Rsvr., but the first part of the flight took longer than expected. Even though it was too short to be an official cross-country, I figured it would be good practice to get all the info, mark up the chart, fill in the forms, and all that. Then on the flight, following the chart, looking for visual checkpoints, finding and approaching unfamiliar airports, etc. -- just like a real x-country. It's purely a "local" flight for Mario, but I never flew into any of these airports, so it was authentic to me! Total ground distance was only 68 NM, but flying around to properly enter the patterns probably doubled that!

Mario was impressed with my flight planning -- I even got the weather and winds aloft at 3000 feet (only 6 kts at 20 degrees) but I didn't complete the corrections in my navigation log. It was harder than I expected to follow the chart on my lap while juggling 6 or 7 frequencies (ORH's 120.5, ASOS and CTAF for ORE and FIT, CTAF for Gardner when we overflew the airport at 3000 feet, ATIS for ORH, back to 120.5). I also had to look for check point landmarks, plan my entry to each pattern, and fly the airplane! I forgot a lot of stuff along the way, but Mario said I did OK.

Things to note:
• Frequency congestion is a big problem -- 3 or 4 area uncontrolled airports use 122.8 as CTAF, including ORE, and it was very noisy. It took a while to figure out that 32 was the active runway, and it took me even longer to figure out how to enter the downwind at 45 degrees for this since I was approaching the airport on the runway heading! A straight-in approach is bad form at uncontrolled fields (people need to see where you are before you just show up on final). I ended up doing a big circle around the airport which took a long time.
• Watch altitude and airspeed! I climbed to 3300 or descended to 2800 a few times from my planned 3000 (not a normal VFR cruise altitude, but OK for less than 3000' AGL). I should have cruised faster on some legs -- 100 knots maybe. Pitch, power, trim! I should try using the rudders more for slight corrections to course (due to bumps or my wandering attention). If the airplane is trimmed well, it won't climb or drift so much when I'm fiddling with the radios. With flight-following on future x-countries, ATC will expect you to stay at your planned altitude.
• I need to practice forward slips at altitude! I came in high into FIT and Mario told me to do a forward slip. I aggressively pushed full right rudder as he had done earlier, and rolled left at the same time, but I pulled back on the yoke! BAD MOVE. Perfect cross-control set-up for a spin at maybe 1000 feet AGL. People die this way. Fortunately the C152 is forgiving and Mario caught it in time. I need work on this!
• I did OK finding the airports, though I didn't hold my planned magnetic course very well, and I didn't re-adjust the directional gyro to the whiskey compass until I passed Gardner and realized the heading could not be right if I were heading right for FIT (which I was). I got a few of my checkpoints, missed others.
• Over-flying Sterling is a bad plan due to glider traffic there – we stayed further west, passing just east of Mt. Wachusett. We saw two gliders well above us to the SE. There were also "parachuters away at 9500 feet" over ORE. These things made Mario a bit nervous. I was not worried (big sky theory, or maybe just naive?).
• GET ATIS! Before calling ORH on return I forgot to get ATIS until Mario hinted that I had forgotten something. I also need to review arrival and departure plans. It would have been nice to know the active runways before I got so close to ORE and FIT. I wish N67661 had a better radio (one with a button to toggle between active and standby frequencies -- then you can tune in the next one when you have a free moment and just flip it in when needed -- 261 has this but it climbs like a dead dog, so I'll stay with 661 when I can).
• I need a knee board for flights like this -- juggling the loose chart and the other paper where I had written the TPA and CTAF info was distracting. This is a small taste of cockpit management -- I could see this being VERY important on longer x-countries. I need a timer too -- and maybe bifocals! The text on the sectional is small and looking at my watch is distracting, but I need to be timing the legs of the flight, and restarting the timer at each leg!
• On departure, from uncontrolled fields, you need to climb straight out to TPA and depart on a 45 degree turn (R or L) from there. Then turn to heading when you are at least 500' above TPA. At a controlled field, if you get "right turn approved," you can turn to course any time, though you usually should clear the end of the runway first (but OK if you are not at TPA yet).
• Photos were cool since it was such a clear day, BUT... it IS distracting, even when I say "your airplane" for the shot. PLUS I need a point-and-shoot camera with telephoto. The wide-angle Samsung doesn't cut it.
• TRIM, TRIM, TRIM! Both for cruise and for pattern/approach. Trim for the speed I need! I don't do this enough, and I'm not consistent on altitudes because of this. I also play too much with the power, which is bad because it messes up your speed (and trim), which you are counting on to meet your flight plan. There are a lot of things to keep in mind up there!
• Need to practice VOR intercepts and localization in Fly! or X-plane -- I used the Gardner VOR (GDM, 110.6) one time to figure out where were along the first leg (since I couldn't find the Barre race track, my second check point), but I was awkward with it. Another thing to juggle!

There's more I'm sure but I need to get back to work here. I've scheduled my first totally solo flight for tomorrow (8/8) at 5 pm, to practice pattern work on my own at ORH, if the weather is OK and cross-wind is less than 4 knots. This is followed by an hour of ground time with Mario to plan a longer cross-country together. I need to do some prep for this tonight!

Time: 1.7 dual, 0.0 solo, TT 30.6/0.5 hrs, C152 at ORH

Thursday, August 03, 2000

Supplemental: Cross Country Pre-Planning

I'm starting to think seriously about cross-country flying, which will also help me prepare for the written test (charts, plotter, wind, etc.). I scheduled a lesson with Mario for 9:30 am Saturday and left him a voice mail suggesting we do a "mini-cross-country" as a change of pace from all the pattern work. I roughly planned this last night, deciding to fly to Orange (ORE) then to Fitchburg (FIT) and back to ORH. This is a total of 68 nm which should be 0.85 hours (51 minutes) if average ground speed is 80 knots. I picked out check points too. This should be pretty educational for local area familiarization -- pass near a couple of the nearby western airports, over Barre (which shows a race track on the sectional), near the north tip of the Quabbin and into ORE. Then east over Gardner Airport (and VOR, GDM) and into Fitchburg, finally SSW over Sterling, west of the Wachusett, over Holden (possible detour to West Boylston), and into ORH. With landings, this could be up close to 1.5 hours. I think it's a good intro to cross-country flying.

I also found my old Los Angeles VFR terminal area chart and thought about that cross-country on September 17. I think I'll plan to go down to French Valley, which is in the SE corner of the LA terminal chart, near Lake Elsinore, uncontrolled, about 55 nm SE of EMT. Then I'll see if we can stop at Chino on the way back to EMT -- that would be cool to land there myself!

Saturday, July 29, 2000

SOLO! (Lesson #25)

I did it! I soloed in a Cessna 152 (N67661) today (7-29-00) at Worcester (MA) airport, where I resumed my flight lessons with a new instructor in early June. Worcester Airport (ORH) is only 20 minutes from home and is a tower-controlled airport with light airline traffic. I now have a whopping zero-point-five hours as pilot in command. The weather was the usual for Worcester -- cloudy, wanting to rain. Last Sunday we did a "final" test -- 6 landings with no help from my instructor. I did well, so we scheduled a long block of time for Saturday, expecting to solo. I arrived early and spent over an hour with my CFI, Mario, going over my pre-solo written test. That was pretty easy thanks to all the ground school study. Meanwhile, I'm sweating the weather, since ORH started the day with fog and 100 foot ceilings. By 11:30 a.m. it was up to 1100 feet, but we need 1500 to meet minimum VFR (500 feet below any clouds, and pattern altitude is 1000 ft AGL, 2000 ft MSL -- visibility was fine, 10 miles).

By 12:30 it had crept up to 1500 so we decided to try it -- winds were calm to 6 knots and mostly west, little crosswind (only runway 29/11 is open due to construction on 33/15). We took off a little after 1 pm (after a careful pre-flight -- Betty and Caroline had also just arrived to see me off and take pictures -- I sent them down to the approach end of runway 29). We didn't expect to have much time, since a thunderstorm was expected later in the afternoon, and as that moved in, wind and wind-shear could be a problem. One odd thing was that the ATIS frequency was off the air for some reason, so I had to telephone for the pre-flight ATIS info. The tower frequency was a bit scratchy too -- I was glad I reviewed the light gun signals, though I didn't need them.

Mario once again was deliberately silent (and hands off), and I did two pretty decent touch-and-goes. The third was to be full-stop, but I flared WAY too high, bounced a lot and drifted to the right, so he said "let's see that one again." I took it around the pattern and landed OK. We taxied back to Amity, and I left the engine running while Mario gave me some final words and hopped out (he had already signed my logbook and student certificate). His main advice was "no pressure - don't rush for ANYBODY." I got a little stressed last lesson when we were sandwiched between two turboprop commuters and two Pipers in the run-up area. Follow procedures and ATC instructions, but don't rush and forget things!

Once he was out, it seemed very..... routine! I consciously looked down at the empty seat, said "that's odd," finished my checklist, and called ground for permission to taxi. Just following procedures. When I called the tower at the intersection of taxiway bravo and runway 29, I was told to hold short while another small plane landed (a Mooney I think -- I had seen him on base and final so I expected this). This gave me a minute to look for Betty and Caroline -- they were at the fence and Betty waved back to me. Then I got "taxi into position and hold" followed shortly by "clear for takeoff, make left closed traffic." So I took off. This didn't feel the least bit scary or odd to me, though as I expected, the C152 climbs a lot better with only one person aboard! I got maybe 1000 fpm rather than 500 or less with Mario aboard. I was careful to watch my airspeed and to stay coordinated. I remembered carb heat, radio calls midfield downwind, power reduction, and all stages of flaps. I was not as consistent on my turns to base and final as I wanted to be, and I overshot the first one a lot (shallow S-turn back to line up, keeping the ball centered pretty well), the second one a bit, but the third was just right. I picked my landing spots each time, but didn't really stick with the decision (I added a bit of power when I felt like I was getting low a couple of times, though the VASI lights generally showed me as high -- of course high is better than low).

The first landing was a bit "firm" but OK, and I kept good control as I rolled out, raised flaps, killed carb heat, and applied full power for the touch-and-go. The second landing seemed smoother, though it was long because I started to flare very slightly when I was still a bit high (hey, I got 7000 feet of runway to play with). The third landing was full-stop, and I think the flare was good, but when the nose wheel came down, it started shaking like crazy. I pulled back gingerly on the yoke (offload the nose wheel, aerodynamic braking) while I also applied the brakes pretty hard, wanting to exit at the usual taxiway delta. The tower told me to take that exit and contact ground. I switched to 123.85 and reported "Worcester ground, Cessna 67661, clear of the active." They told me to taxi to Amity, so I did. No special words from the tower (I hadn't mentioned first solo to them, though Mario had called them on the phone to let them know to watch out for me). But when I taxied back, Mario was there with a big grin and a Polaroid camera. He said I did a great job. Betty and Caroline showed up a moment later and we took more pictures. It was only three landings, 0.5 hours in my logbook (plus 0.7 more dual), but this was my first solo flight, first PIC time, so it's really REALLY cool.

Now I know I can finish my private pilot, hopefully this year -- sure, I still have a lot to learn, but that first solo is really a confidence builder after decades of dreaming and three years of start-and-stop lessons. In each of the last three springs and summers, I managed to get 6 or 8 hours in, then something would come up (the first "something" was a divorce!). Things have stabilized pretty well now, and I realized in June that this is the one thing I have consistently wanted to do for some 35 years, since first learning the basics of flight in a bunch of Piper Cub orientation flights as a Civil Air Patrol cadet. So I decided I would not put it off any longer. Lifelong dreams are too important!

This is the "solo story" that I posted in rec.aviation.students.

Time: 0.7 dual, 0.5 solo, TT 28.9/0.5 hrs, C152 at ORH

Thursday, July 27, 2000

Supplemental: Pre-Solo Chair Flying

Mario told me to "chair fly" this week, which means thinking through the procedures, mentally re-flying a lesson like the last one, thinking through the checklists, radio calls, taxi, run-up, takeoff, pattern, and landing. I've been studying for the written too -- I filled in most from memory then looked up the FAR's for each answer (not multiple choice!).

I have tried to chair fly with the help of X-plane and Fly! but the behavior is so different from the C152 that I don't think this is helpful for the landing phase. Chair flying with no sim is better! Last night I discovered that Flight Unlimited 3 does actually support separate USB yoke and pedals with suitable edits to the flt3.cfg file, and I got this to work with a lot of finagling (USB situation is messed up -- have to re-plug both devices after every reboot, and their ID's can change, changing what FU3 defines to be device 1 vs. device 2). Although FU3 includes only the Seattle area, it seems to behave and look better than either Fly! or X-plane. So it may be worth spending some time with it -- though Fly! is the obvious thing to use for navigation practice and cross-country preparation, since I do have the Boston area scenery in there. The elevation still doesn't look right, but the Wachusett, major roads, and area airports are in the right places.

Saturday, July 22, 2000

Expecting to Fly (Lesson #24)

Editor's Note: Those lesson numbers are starting to bother me - 24 lessons to solo?!? Yes, and about 28 hours, but 17 of those hours were in dribs and drabs spread across 1997-1999, so I actually soloed after about 11 recent hours. Everyone says you shouldn't care about this sort of thing, but everyone does!

Go for the moon! Well, not the moon exactly, but for solo next Saturday!!! The "final exam" went well with nary a word from Mario once we were airborne (though I did start off poorly by skipping a step in the startup checklist and not retracting the flaps before I started to taxi - FOLLOW THE DAMN CHECKLIST!!!). I did six UNASSISTED landings, five of them pretty good, one of them far off the centerline but recovered on my own (that's useful info for Mario too, to see that I can screw up and still save the landing without too much fuss, though it would be better not to allow that drift -- consistency will come with practice). Mario said everything was good -- procedures, altitudes, descent rates, turns, radio work, EXCEPT…

• Not correcting for the wind on turn from downwind to base -- the tailwind moves you out so you must start the turn earlier and turn MORE than 90º to get established at the right distance (over Worcester State's football stadium - I was way east over downtown Worcester once or twice).
• Getting slow on turn to base - I was at 70 kts when I added flaps abeam the numbers, but I lost it a bit on the turn to base.
• Staying lined up all the way down so the wheels track nicely with no side loads -- getting better but still allowing some sideways drift (once it was a LOT, I probably should have done a go-around on that one).
• I also notice that I got kind of mousy on some of my pattern turns -- trying to keep them fairly shallow, but rolling out early and then tweaking in the rest of the turn -- just fly a rectangular pattern!! As Mario likes to say -- "control the airplane -- YOU are the pilot in command" -- he really likes that expression!" (I actually don't mind it myself).
• If I do a go-around (and don't be afraid to do this if I'm not happy with the approach), remember to establish positive climb and bring the flaps up IN STAGES. Don't want to sink back on the runway from 30 feet!
• ALSO - I was sandwiched between a couple of commuter turboprops ahead and two Pipers behind when I got to the run-up area at taxiway Bravo. I got flustered and wanted to rush through the run-up and taxi fast onto the runway when cleared (the commuter was sitting at the end of the runway with engines running, but I was cleared first, then told to start my crosswind early, at about 1400'). DON'T RUSH IT. When cleared, the runway is MINE, and the other guys, big or small, just have to wait. NO NEED TO RUSH.
• Watch out for wake turbulence if I do get cleared behind a big guy!

So Saturday should be my first solo! I first have to do an hour of ground instruction (at 10 am) with Mario so he can make sure I know enough of the pre-solo written test he gave me (I'm in good shape on this, and he says it's "open book" anyway, with the POH, airport directory, FAR/AIM, etc. available when I need it). I filed a maintenance squawk at M's suggestion because N67661 is using a lot of oil and showing streaks on the cowling. I hope it doesn't have to go into the shop before Saturday. With luck, this will be the last entry in this pre-solo (three year!) flight lesson journal. I'll start a new one Saturday with my very own solo story!

Time: 0.9 hrs dual, TT 28.2, C152 at ORH

Semi-Finals for Solo (Lesson #23)

At the end of this lesson, I discussed the solo plan with Mario. He basically said that NEXT lesson (tomorrow!) we will do pattern work, and he will say and do nothing (short of a real emergency), sort of a pre-solo final exam. He will also give me the pre-solo written test to take home and do, and on the next lesson (soon!) he will grill me on the questions, take me up for a T&G and full-stop, and sign me off for solo! So I am really REALLY close and with luck (weather mostly - crosswinds my big problem), I will solo in the next few days, just short of 30 hours TT (time to switch to a new flight lesson notes file then too).

Today was a two-parter, and fairly long as my recent lessons have been (we seem to have lost the "one hour to stay fresh" idea, though 1.2 or 1.3 is not bad). The first part was in the west practice area, for my first 0.2 hours of simulated IFR, wearing foggles rather than a hood (I could actually see quite a lot of the side and front views). He had me do level flight, turns to specific headings, climbs and descents, with and without turns. I did OK on this stuff (sim experience may actually help on this sort of stuff). I overshot my headings and gained or lost as much as 150 feet (100 is the practical tolerance), but overall not too bad. It was a bit bumpy in spots, but I did OK, didn't overcorrect for it, just rode out the bumps. Things to remember:

• Stay coordinated - step on the ball!
• Don't exceed 30º of bank (standard rate turns in IFR).
• Roll out ahead of the target heading.
• Level off ahead of the target altitude, 10% of the climb rate (50 feet lead for 500 fpm climb or decent).
• Pitch, power, TRIM!!!
• Keep the scan up (I think I did OK on this -- did not seem fixated on the attitude indicator).
I actually liked the IFR stuff, but may try the hood next time.

Then we went back to the airport to practice touch and goes. Flew over town of Spencer to set up the mid-field left downwind for runway 29 (Mario said my pattern entry and setup was "perfect"). Did most of the radio calls except when there were calls to watch traffic and to be #3 after specified traffic which I had to spot and report (lot of traffic today, including two other students doing T&G's, with right as well as left traffic active in the pattern -- controller was busy today). Winds were pretty good, sometimes at 290º, straight down the runway, but I had a crosswind on some landings. I did one really smooth landing, the first one I think, probably my first "greaser." The others were "firm" but I recovered them well, re-flared and held the nose off. Some points:

• WATCH THE WIND ON TAKEOFF - with a wind from the left, I usually had the yoke turned RIGHT at the liftoff point, adding to the wind drift, a mistake. Need to establish the crab INTO the wind as soon as the wheels are off the ground.
• In the pattern, I did pretty well with altitude control, though I still don't have a good feel for when I need to turn greater or less than 90º in my pattern turns due to wind effects.
• Still slow on base and final sometimes (final was usually OK, 65 knots, often 60-65 on base). Mario is still foggy on why I get slow (me too!), but he did mention the need to get the nose down when you add flaps.
• Early lineup was better, and I held the lineup better on most passes, and when I drifted off, I did the corrections myself. Poor wheel alignment on some landings (need to control the airplane all the way down!).
• REMEMBER CARB HEAT midfield when I make the radio call - I forgot a couple of times, though I remembered flaps every time (only used 20º because of the strong headwind on final, low ground speed with full flaps, and also needed to keep speed up due to heavy traffic in the pattern).
• Getting a little better on trim in the pattern.
• WATCH THE TAIL WIND (fast ground speed) on downwind leg -- it went fast and my radio calls were late sometimes (also a lot of radio traffic today, so I had to avoid stepping on others' transmissions).
• IMPORTANT: After touchdown, FLAPS first, then carb heat IN, then full power for takeoff (I skipped the flaps once - dangerous since you can sink when you lose their extra lift, don't want to be airborne before flaps are fully retracted!).
• RIGHT RUDDER for full power climb - keep that ball centered better.
• I was not consistent on the length, altitude, and descent rate for my end-pattern (from abeam the numbers to base to final). Some of this was due to ATC and traffic spacing (slow flight, extend downwind, etc.), but some was just poor airspeed control by me, though Mario commented that I did a nice job each time correcting for the problem and getting the airplane aligned and down. Generally I was high at the start, which is better than low.
• Need to pick my touchdown spot sooner and REALLY aim for it.
• IMPORTANT: Need a review on how to forward slip on final when I end up too high and with less than full flaps!

Overall, a good lesson, and I think I'm justified in pushing Mario a little on the solo plan -- I'm just about ready. I still have this feeling of odd inconsistency -- some things I really have a good feel for (like correcting for various starting points for final, high or low). But other "simple" things seem to escape me sometimes (like which way to bank and press rudder to line up the nose on short final!!!). But the good news is this: I can land the airplane! Not always perfect, but I can land it.

Time: 1.3 hrs dual, TT 27.3 hrs, C152 at ORH

Monday, July 17, 2000

Getting the Green Light (Lesson #22)

This was a pretty good lesson considering the week off and the crappy weather. There was a slight but noticeable crosswind, and we stayed in the pattern in N47261, which is the underachieving C152 (climbs like a bumblebee). Started out with runway 11 and did OK on takeoffs (some drift) and pattern (crabbing for wind MOST of the time). Landings were a little rough, but I flared and got the plane down, even with some wind correction.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When I bounce, I have a tendency to lower the nose to try to paste it on the runway. BAD MOVE. When you bounce, you are still flying and have to land AGAIN. You don't want to land on the nose wheel. KEEP THE NOSE UP AND ADD SOME POWER IF NECESSARY. Also, TRACK ALONG THE RUNWAY -- I put some bad side loads on the gear last night. AND THINK ABOUT THE WIND. Use ailerons for drift, straighten the nose WITH THE OPPOSITE RUDDER. I got confused on the proper rudder to apply and/or I let off on the correction too soon.

Another thing is speed. I'm still getting slow sometimes and I don't really know why. It should be easy -- 75 downwind, 70 base, 65 final, boom. Once established, I do a lot better if I just look at my landing spot and BARELY GLANCE at airspeed.

There were a lot of jets around last night, and at one point a Hawker was slowly back-taxiing to get to the end of the runway (they want all 7000 feet I guess). I was on downwind, so the tower (Dave, he's a student pilot too -- should see if I can visit up there some time) told us to do a 360 when abeam the numbers then report back when abeam again. This gave the Hawker time to get in place and take off (caution wake turbulence). Pretty cool! Mario handled the radio on this part -- I didn't expect it and wasn't sure what to read back. Mario also asked the tower to give me a light signal before the first takeoff (green - clear to take off, clear to land if airborne). He wanted me to see what it looks like -- good idea. I need to memorize the signals (I know them well enough for the multiple choice FAA questions).

Finally we had to switch runways from 11 to 29 by doing a right 90 followed by a 270 onto the new runway heading. Mario did the radio on this one, but we agreed that it was good to have seen a couple of these ATC-ordered pattern spacing maneuvers before I solo. Another student told me he got two of these on his first solo and had never seen them before -- he just wanted to land! He's got 37 hours and is almost ready for his check ride (needs night x-country and long solo x-country, figures he'll complete in 43 hours, wow!). He was a 20-something heading off to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical U in Florida to train as a commercial pilot, and he wanted to complete his private before enrolling. I could have probably learned faster in my twenties, too. But all in good time, grasshopper. Mario told me to study the Part 61 & 91 student pilot/solo regs before Saturday's flight, so maybe…

Time: 1.2 hrs dual, TT 26.0 hrs, C152 at ORH

Sunday, July 09, 2000

Learning to Land (Lesson #21)

This was an awesome lesson. Wind was very calm first thing in the morning (I called ATIS and ASOS from home) so I didn't have to sweat the crosswind stuff, just concentrate on flying a solid pattern, good approach, and FLARE. I've just about got that part now, though I still have a tendency to stray from the centerline at the very end and to relax my control of the airplane once it's on the ground (but still rolling and maybe even before the nose wheel is down). I'm also still a flying a bit slow on base and final (get the nose down!!!), but I could possibly solo next lesson if it's calm.

I experienced a lot of stuff today, in nine landings (all touch and go but the last, no go-arounds, no Mario saves):

· Simulated engine out -- "lost your engine" on downwind near the numbers -- Mario pulls idle power. First try I set best glide but still "squared off" the pattern and needed to add power to reach the threshold. BAD MOVE. Set best glide (65 knots) and HEAD FOR THE RUNWAY NOW (then communicate with ATC if there's time, "request priority landing, engine out emergency"). Second time I made it with plenty of room.

· Patterns with NO instruments. I did three or four of these. Mario covered up EVERYTHING, even the tach. I flew smoother this way (don't be a slave to the instruments in VFR!), though I was high on one landing, and Mario demonstrated a forward slip (this was probably a Mario save, can't remember). Nice to know I can fly a reasonable pattern and approach in pure "seat of the pants" VFR.

· No flaps landing -- did one or two of these -- come in shallow and faster than normal. Landed at maybe 70 knots. Not bad, not really any harder than normal as long as there's no crosswind.

· Had to expedite one turn to crosswind because a jet was ready to depart. Watched it take off from the downwind leg, a nice view. First time I've gotten "caution, wake turbulence" from ATC -- not a factor since we touch down and take off in the first 3000 or 4000 feet of runway and the jet lifted off at 5000+ feet.

Mario felt I made real progress on both this and the Friday lesson - me too. I'm really landing the airplane (as long as there's a minimal crosswind). Cool. Remaining problems -- still slowing too much on base and final, often around 60 instead of desired 70 then 65. What's up with this? And I get a bit confused on controls when I start to drift near touchdown -- don't want to bank much down here, use rudders more (and correctly). Better to get the corrections in earlier when they are smaller! Thank goodness for the wide runway. But I was very close to centerline on most of the landings. The flares were pretty decent -- a bit hard on a couple, a bit floaty on a couple more. But overall, a great lesson. I feel really comfortable in the airplane now.

Oh yeah, I also need to MEMORIZE the control positions for taxiing with wind! This is important in the feather-weight C152. I still get confused on this and when I'm holding the yoke, my hands want to steer with it, even though my feet know that this is their job. Useful tip: Use the heading indicator to visualize where the wind is with respect to the airplane. If it's coming from 320 degrees, use the directional gyro to show where it is coming from as you steer around the airport. Another thing: requesting "the option" from the tower means (if cleared for it) that you have the option for touch and go, go around, simulated engine-out approach, or full-stop landing. Only request this when the pattern is pretty free of traffic -- common courtesy to other pilots.

Time: 1.3 hrs dual, TT 24.8 hrs, C152 at ORH

Friday, July 07, 2000

All But the Flare (Lesson #20)

This one looked like it might not happen at all. With only 29/11 available due to construction on 33, crosswinds are normal, but AWOS/ATIS sounded bad. They had 350º at 19 knots, gusting to 26, variable 340-020º which gave a crosswind component of 16.5 knots, which exceeded the demonstrated 12 knots for the C152, though Mario said HE could do it, carry more speed and use minimal flaps. But me??? We briefly considered Fitchburg, 10 minutes NE with a runway 32, but it turns out the C152 had only half-full tanks, so no-go. We called weather again and the winds seemed to be calming, so we went for it.

We ended up doing 9 landings, and on the first 4 I managed to learn to recognize my wind drift and fly a wind-corrected pattern fairly well. I held my speed better too, though I need a lot of work on control positions for taxiing the airplane! The first few approaches were all over the place, but then I finally started to get it and managed to hold right yoke and left rudder and pitch to keep the approach spot fixed on the windscreen. Mario said "you're getting this!"

The trouble was the flare - still no clue on when to start it and how fast and how much to pull. Mario did the first few with a rushed "my airplane" each time. The last 2 or 3 were me, but my one full landing was REALLY hard on the right wheel. Mario used the long runway to make it look easy to roll along the centerline on the upwind (right) wheel, but I could not control it that precisely. But everything else was working at the end. We even had to switch to right traffic to clear the way for an incoming Dash 8 from the south (new American Eagle flights to/from JFK I guess). This was tough the first time (right wing hides your ground references), but I did OK, though sometimes I would forget the crab and just get parallel to the runway, then drift too close. This means that with the fast ground speed on the turn to base, I had only a second or two to get flaps in and turn final. On one of these, I was really slow and Mario took the airplane and did a couple of steep turns to get us lined up.

A couple of times we took an extended downwind to give me more time on final to get established. This helped. After the lesson, Mario was very encouraging, said I made real progress on all but the flare. Tomorrow morning (0700!) we will work on that part. Solo will be… when I'm ready! But I'm getting close. One thing that helped on final (oddly enough) was the sun -- it was low and straight ahead for approach to 29 so I could barely see the instruments. This meant I had to look outside (to hold the touchdown point fixed on the window), which was better for me anyway! I tried to explain some of my perceptual difficulties to Mario at the start of the lesson (I know I should see that drift, but I don't!), and it also helped to discuss and diagram the likely wind picture on the ground before we flew -- I was starting to visualize it, and plan for it.

We did encounter wind shear on a couple of approaches. I was holding right yoke and left rudder and had a good line up when suddenly it went bad. I'm thinking, what did I screw up? But Mario explained that the wind shifted just then so you just adjust to what you see. He emphasized that I CAN control the airplane, I'm the pilot, so don't be afraid to make it do what you want. I'm getting there!!! We took a few pictures too -- there were some awesome clouds out there, including some towering cumulus or thunderstorm clouds with flashes of lightning underneath way east, near Boston.

Time: 1.3 hrs dual, TT 23.5 hrs, C152 at ORH

Monday, July 03, 2000

A MiG At Your Six (Lesson #19)

Of course I didn't literally have a MiG at my six, but to paraphrase an alleged fighter pilot quote ("A MiG at your six is better than no MiG at all"), having landing problems is actually good because it means I am learning to land an airplane, something I have always wanted to do and something for which I am clearly not overly gifted. I know I can learn to do it, but it may take a bit longer! So relax and enjoy the ride. The real title of this note should have been "crosswind blues."

My real problems are consistency and multitasking. I was frustrated again tonight by my inability to implement stuff I know how to do, and have done in previous lessons. When it comes to smooth execution of the final 30 seconds or so from starting base to (almost!) landing -- that's where it breaks down for me. Paying attention to multiple things at once and remembering and executing the procedures. Tonight there was a substantial cross wind, and I thought I had the side slip technique, at least in concept. Wing low into the wind, point the nose down the runway with the rudder. The part I missed until attempt #4 was to HOLD the left aileron and to HOLD the right rudder the whole time (on final -- probably should crab first then transition to this since being cross-controlled down low with my tendency to get slow is a classic stall-spin set up -- need to discuss this with Mario). The thing is, it's not like a normal bank where you neutralize controls after establishing the desired bank. You find out what position of yoke and rudder straightens your path and alignment and HOLD THEM IN!!! Only adjust it if you overshoot or the wind changes or gusts.

I did not get this on three attempted touch and goes, and ended up drifting all over the width of runway 29 (150 feet wide!). On the last attempt, I had the control ALMOST (slight drift), but I basically forgot to flare, so Mario did this. He executed the go-around on the first three attempted T&G's. Good thing the airport was empty (as usual on a MVFR semi-rainy evening). So it was not my day, but nobody said I was Chuck Yeager, and Mike Love (not the Beach Boys' Mike Love, but the CFI author of a book I have called "Flight Maneuvers") says that cross wind landings require finesse and practice. Well, I'm working on part deux anyway! Mario is very patient and encouraging, though I sometimes wish he were a little more critical and a little better at diagnosing what I am doing wrong. We ended at 0.9 hours just when I started to get the slip procedure, but the weather had dropped below VFR with visibility under 3 miles, and the tower was having trouble keeping us in sight. Time to go home! As I taxied off the runway, a female deer was on the grass 50 feet to the right. She ran away when I gunned the engine to start taxi after doing the checklist.

N47261 is a pretty crummy little plane. Weird noises, barely climbs, barely keeps running in the idle check (with carb heat) at runup. At least they replaced the nearly bald right main tire before our flight today (we were the test pilots for this work, but I figure if the mechanics can't replace a tire correctly, we're in trouble on a lot of other stuff - I did a thorough preflight and checked the bolts, pins, and brakes carefully on that wheel). Try to get 661 next time!!!

Silver lining department: OK, so the crosswind landing thing needs a lot more work. Not to mention the basic landing thing. But look on the bright side:

• I'm flying -- it's not an F-16, but when I call the tower (nearly perfect on my radio work, Mario says), get "clear for takeoff," push full power, and take off, it's still VERY cool. Look, Ma, I'm flying the airplane!
• I'm doing many things pretty smoothly and consistently -- preflight, run up, radio work, taxi, takeoff, trim, climb out, straight and level, and pattern turns are all pretty good.
• Wind is a bitch. This is one area where sims may have hurt me a bit. Most combat sims have no wind model, and in a fast jet, typical winds are a minor correction anyway (though important in long range navigation, most of the time you just follow the waypoint caret anyway, and any wind correction is probably factored in by the nav system). At 65-75 knots in the pattern, a 5 or 7 knot cross wind is a big vector for a C152. And even thinking about the wind is hard for me, very abstract -- you can't see it directly, you have to learn to infer it from the airplane's behavior, although the reported wind gives you some clue of what to expect. I am starting to get the wind idea, crabbing and slipping and all.
• Rome wasn't built in a day. OK, so I had some early flight experience in the Piper Cub (no landings though), and I have years of sim experience (mostly in combat jets with questionable flight modeling and little attention paid to precise patterns, navigation, etc.). But I still have to learn to fly the real airplane in the real wind with the real instruments and controls, and I have to learn it at my own speed. Some lessons will feel like progress, others won't. But it's fun all the same to be doing this. There's nothing I want to do more! Before too long I will be a pilot, and I won't have this dream any more (I'll replace it with an accomplishment and probably set some new goals, like an instrument rating, aerobatics training, or buying an airplane -- did I say that?).

One last thing. PREPARE. I did do some reading on landings and stuff yesterday, but I didn't review my notes on past lessons and mistakes, and I still don't have the instrument/outside scan and pattern procedures down cold. They should be smooth and continuous, not sequential. Things happen quick up there, even at a paltry 70 knots. I could even rehearse the steps in my car or in a chair, with or without a sim. The mental game of flying!

The consistency will come with practice -- I have 22 hours now, but only 4 of them are very recent. Flying at least once a week will help with this too.

Time: 0.9 hrs, TT 22.2 hrs, C152 at ORH

Sunday, July 02, 2000

Rust Never Sleeps (Lesson #18)

Even after flying around the world in economy class, I was ready to once again take the even more cramped left seat of a C152. The 2+ week layoff really hurt me, as did the 2+ hours hanging around the FBO for the flight (1:00 scheduled, but shit happens as usual -- but by the time I flew I was feeling time pressure because I had to pick up J & C and take them places). Not Mario's fault, but it gets annoying sometimes. ANYWAY, it was clear and warm, about 85 F, and with full fuel tanks and close to 400 lbs of adults on board, the C152 was a bit sluggish. We could barely get 400 FPM out of it. Runway was 29, winds 270 at 5 or so. Crosswind picked up as we got back for landings.

Preflight was fine, got ATIS (which expired while I was fumbling through the checklist, Charlie went to Delta) but I made the radio call to ground early, before I had completed the pre-taxi checklist. READ AND FOLLOW CHECKLISTS. That should be so easy, but I get sloppy, in a rush to get going. Bad plan! My radio calls were good, overall. Taxi this time with wind-awareness -- left quartering tail wind -- REVIEW YOKE POSITION FOR TAXI WITH WINDS. Takeoff was pretty good, I tracked the 290 degree departure heading pretty well and trimmed for my 67 knot climb (later slowed to Vx around 60 kts to try to get better climb rate). Straight out departure to the vicinity of Spencer, and I knew where to expect Spencer Airport when Mario asked me, good checkpoint awareness. Bit of turbulance around 3000 feet.

First up (my request) was slow flight, and I was sloppy. Started by NOT doing a real clearing turn. Slowed to approach speed and configuration and did some shallow turns. So-so on these -- poor altitude, heading, and rudder control. We did these for maybe 15 minutes before heading back to ORH for some pattern work, two T&G's and a full-stop. These were VERY sloppy. Pattern was OK, I'm really OK up until the key position, but there I always start to let my speed drift, and I'm not well-trimmed for the speeds I need (75 downwind, 70 base, 65 final). My turns were VERY sloppy and I overshot the turn to final each time, partly due to the wind.

Crosswind was also a pain on final -- trying to slip, bank into wind and straighten ground track with rudder, but VERY sloppy on this. I guess I really don't "get it" as far as real action on the crosswind. Flare was high each time, and I bounced and drifted laterally, with Mario needing to take the airplane on one landing, the others saved by me (adding power at M's prompting). Mario said I did fine, but it didn't feel so great. But tonight I have another lesson at 7 and we will stay in the pattern and I will get this landing thing figured out!

Time: 1.1 hrs, TT 21.3 hrs, C152 at ORH

Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Starting to Get It! (Lesson #17)

Final approach Worcester, MA

It was cloudy and light rain at ORH, but when I called Mario, he said OK as long as we stay in the pattern (low ceiling, clouds coming in, but still VFR). So we did, and I had a GREAT lesson! I did 6 touch-and-goes and one full stop landing, and two of them were actually pretty good. The others were bouncy, high-flare jobs, but Mario only had to take over on one of them (I added power to salvage one bouncer myself). I felt good, felt like I was actually doing most of the things I know I should do. I was fairly relaxed and felt in control of the airplane and myself. And Mario says I'm just about ready to solo! He said I was really flying the airplane out there last night. One or two more lessons and we will get that psychological barrier and life milestone out of the way. Unfortunately this will be in early July since I leave Saturday for my Korea to Germany business trip (around the world on UA and LH).

The good news items include:
• Followed checklists in detail this time, preflight, engine start, run-up, etc., no skipped steps or backtracking.
• Handled all the radio calls myself, from taxi to landing, including the base call for each touch-and-go.
• Good taxiing -- stayed on the lines (remembering that the reference point is in front of MY eye, not the center of the cowling).
• Good takeoffs -- nice rotation, trim, hold 67-70 knots, stayed aligned with the runway heading until crosswind turn at 1700 feet.
• I remembered and followed all the pattern steps with almost no prompting.
• I used trim much better, especially on climb-out and level off for the downwind leg. With this, I was able to fly with a very light touch and no PIO. This also helped me to stay quite close to pattern altitude (2000') once I got there.
• My patterns were reasonably rectangular and I sometimes corrected for the slight crosswind, though I varied on this. Used shallow turns, none over 30 degrees, and rolled out aligned with the runway on most approaches.
• I noticed the spot on the windshield that did not move on touchdown.
• Looked down the runway for flare height cues (but didn't read them right most of the time!).
• Good takeoffs on the touch-and-goes -- get flaps up, carb heat off, full power, steer with small corrections. I did swerve a bit sometimes, and I kept too much weight on the nose wheel sometimes, leading to a dreadful rumbling.
• Did not get flustered when we passed briefly through a cloud on downwind -- I just watched the attitude indicator.

The BAD news items include:
• Poor airspeed control on base and final -- need 70 knots on base, 65 knots on final, and I was not trimmed for this AND I chased the airspeed indicator when I was off speed. Need to pay more attention to the outside cues, where the nose is, and NOT get slow on final (e.g. 60 kts). Being stabilized on final will help the flare too, less variation to worry about.
• Got close to runway on downwind a couple of times, leading to a rushed turn to base and then final -- a carrier pattern! But this didn't give me time to handle flaps, radio, lineup, and air speed stabilization without feeling rushed. Part of this was the tower's request that we keep a tight pattern so he could keep us in sight (clouds were coming down) - Mario says on a better day, we could extend the downwind.
• High flare! I still start to get nervous with the "ground rush" in the last few seconds, worrying that I will land on the nose wheel, though I am still pretty high. This will come with a bit more practice and a stabilized final.
• Poor wind awareness -- I corrected for the wind sometimes but still didn't fully grasp what it was doing to me on each leg. It was not a bad wind, from 100º at 7 knots, while we were using runway 11 (110º), so it was just off by 10º from the left. Mario gave me a tip, not sure how general -- 100º wind direction was LESS than the 110º runway heading so crosswind was LEFT. Have to think about this one for other directions! It actually seems wrong based on the picture I just drew - LOOK THIS UP!
• Last landing was AWFUL -- bounced so much Mario said it should count as three landings. He said this often happens after a good session with touch-and-goes, on the full-stop landing the student loses focus and does a real stinker. Oh well, he said the total lesson was really quite good.
• Consistency! This is a major thing -- still a lot of variation and times when I fail to do things I know I should do AND know how to do. But this is part of the learning process too, and very typical. It's also related to confidence -- knowing I can do something, feeling free to make adjustments, not hesitating or always checking with the CFI. Mario says that the solo helps this too -- once you have experienced being the only "pilot in command," you know you can do it, and it makes it easier to learn the rest.

I am far from perfect, but with this lesson, the good news outweighs the bad, and I feel like I finally am really starting to "get it." Landing an airplane is starting to feel like a normal thing to do. I think I should be able to solo after maybe two more lessons (one to catch up after 2+ weeks away, then final prep and solo).

Time: 1.1 hrs dual TT 20.2 hrs, C152 at ORH

Monday, June 05, 2000

Pattern Work at ORH (Lesson #16)

One good flight deserves another, right? Well, the next couple of weeks will be busy, so I decided to take another lesson yesterday -- nothing for 10 months then two in two days! We got another late start on the scheduled 7 pm lesson and decided to stay in the ORH pattern (landing runway 11 this time, vs. 29 yesterday). This means we were landing a little south of east, 110º -- there was a crosswind from the north, so I had to crab to the right on the downwind, angling slightly north of the nominal 290º downwind heading to keep from toeing in and crowding the runway on downwind (something I tend to do anyway). It also increased my ground speed on base (tail wind) which contributed to my late turn to final (something I tend to do anyway!). I was so wide on the first one that I did a go-around (I tried to parallel the runway like an "upwind leg" but Mario told me I should be right over the runway for a go-around, so I flew over there). Good thing there was no other traffic there last night!

I never really "visualized" this crosswind, and I think this is what made my landings so rough. Since I was going EAST on final with a wind from the NORTH (left to right), I needed to crab into the wind to have the correct ground track -- bank to the left. Mario wanted me to hold in this bank (left yoke) and straighten the nose to track straight ahead by using RIGHT RUDDER. I more or less did this, but with overshoots and corrections, I was swinging all over the runway (good thing it's so wide). We did maybe five touch-and-goes, with Mario calling the tower to report left base each time (I was too task-saturated to think about the radio calls -- once he was so busy explaining something that he forgot to call base and got a mild reprimand from the tower -- "you seem to be on final, you can go ahead and land if you want" -- that's a real no-no at a controlled field, but it was otherwise dead there -- the controller was cool about it and Mario apologized).

Meanwhile it was getting dark (picture is from the Fly! simulator), another first for my flight lessons -- the last two were basically night landings. On all of the pattern work, I was quite tense and this showed on the yoke, PIO all over the place (pilot induced oscillation). As usual, when I'm busy I forget about trim, and I also notice overshoots late and tend to jerk the yoke back to where it should have been -- bad move! Things to remember and do:

· Use trim all the time! Trim is your friend! Establish the 67 knot descent near the end of the downwind and hold with trim. When off trim, I tend to get slow (nose high) then over-correct pushing the nose down. You don't want to be slow on base and final at 1000 feet AGL or less!

· Don't over-bank in the pattern -- 30º max, 20º even better!!! This isn't an F/A-18 carrier break!

· Think about the wind -- get a mental picture!

· Smooth, small inputs on the controls.

· Look to the end of the runway for the flare cues!

· Memorize the pattern procedure -- carb heat, power setting, descent, sight picture!

· Work on my instrument/outside scan! I tend to fixate on one or two things at a time.

· Memorize go-around procedure and the emergency procedures Mario gave me.

One cool thing that Mario demoed and I then tried was flying the pattern with ONLY trim and rudder, no yoke! Adverse yaw gives you your turns (right rudder to bank left), trim controls your nose (pitch) and therefore speed. This was a lot smoother than when I was horsing the yoke around. Mario says we will work on things like this to get me more comfortable with ALL the controls in the airplane (people have had primary control failures and used trim and rudder to land -- it can be done, and it could save your life).

I felt very overwhelmed and not very slick last night especially when Mario had to save a couple of the landings after a big bounce, but he said I'm doing fine for this stage, typical problems, and I'm not that far from solo. We need to work more on pattern and landings of course, and also on emergency procedures. He wants to put me under the IFR hood for a bit too, since I've never done that and it's important if you end up in a cloud. Somehow he seems more down to earth, patient, and positive than Kern -- I like him better as a CFI. I also bought a POH (handbook) for the C152 and my own fuel-tester. Yesterday I also got the E6B flight computer I ordered from Sporty's -- I prefer this over the slide rule thingy for the various calculations you need for flight planning. On my Korea trip, I will concentrate on completing the FliteSchool CD-ROM ground school course so I can take the written test in July. Depending on weather and other schedule factors, I hope to get 6 to 10 lessons in by September and solo the airplane. I will put $1000 in an account at Amity so I can get the $50 "club rate" on the C152 rather than the $56 standard rate.

Simulator Stuff
Meanwhile I decided to return the Saitek X36 stick/throttle set I bought last week, as cool as it is. I'll replace it with the new CH Flight Yoke LE USB (about $90 on the web), which will be much more realistic with Fly! I'll try using the existing CH Pedals with it (works OK with the Logitech though it's very jerky in the calibration screen), though I may later buy the USB Pro Pedals which include toe brakes (Fly! supports these). I think I can even work on pattern stuff that way -- set my RPM, watch my descent, put in a cross wind and crab or slip against it. Some of this is just getting the procedure to be totally routine, and I think Fly! is close enough to reality for this (though it's fuel-injected C172R with no carb heat to pull, vs. the 1980 C152 we are flying IRL - no biggy).

Time: 1.0 hrs dual, TT 19.1 hrs, C152 at ORH