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

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