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 90ยบ 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

No comments: