Saturday, July 22, 2000

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

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