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

1 comment:

KenC27 said...

Hi, you don't happen to know if Hopedale still has flight instruction do you? I used to fly out of Beverly Municple but I live in Uxbridge now. Thanks,