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

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