Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Good Lesson!

Finally some good weather and a good lesson!  I took the morning off for this, and yesterday’s wonderful weather thankfully continued into today.  There was a little snag when I started preflighting 69L before Mario arrived – the mechanic (Jim) was fixing a knob on the radio and putting a placard on the pilot’s door, “no push” – need to open window and unlatch from the outside!  No biggy, but when I opened the door, I felt something drip on my head.  It was fuel from the wing tank, right near the drainage port.  I called Jim back to check it, and he said it was a real leak, and we couldn’t fly 69L!  The good news: since it was a weekday, 261 was available (and 661 is finally back on line with its new engine).  So we flew 261, even though it made a horrible grinding noise when the flaps were lowered to 30 degrees (we decided to fly and not use more than 20 degrees of flaps).

Takeoff and climbout were uneventful – I held the centerline quite well.  I decided to go out to the practice area and do some steep turns and other maneuvers visually, for review, then do some more under the foggles.  This worked out pretty well, though I lost over 100 feet on 2 of 3 steep turns.  Need to practice!  But now I can practice on my own, since Mario says I can solo to the practice area, in part because I did well today.  He did hear some “hangar talk” about my little ATC problem on the last solo lesson, but it was distorted – Bill told him that I said I had the traffic (on base) in sight, then flew right past them – this was not the case.  I told the tower 2 or 3 times that I had the landing traffic in sight and was looking for the turning traffic, understanding I was #3 for landing, but I never saw #2 – they ended up doing a 360 and letting me land ahead of them.  I think the tower should have handled the spacing better in this case, or I could have asked to do a right 360 myself for spacing.  I was maybe a little fast on downwind, but I didn’t do anything wrong.  Today we had close following traffic again, reporting mid-field left downwind at about the same time as me!  It was a Cessna 310 twin, very fast.  He must have slowed down or extended his downwind after I turned base – he landed after us.

Anyway, the maneuvers went pretty well, though my altitude control on the steep turns was mediocre, and I did much more than 90 degrees on my clearing turns.  I did much better under the foggles this time, keeping up a reasonable scan and not letting anything get too out of whack.  A couple of my climbing turns to headings were dead-nuts – this is where you climb 500 feet while turning to a specified heading, wanting to arrive at the heading and altitude simultaneously.  I ended up with 0.4 hours of IFR this time, and felt pretty good about it, though at the end I did start to have this mismatch between the attitude indicator showing a slight bank and my brain saying nope, this is level!  Have to remember that in case of engine failure above clouds, the non-vacuum turn and bank indicator is my friend, NOT that attitude indicator, which will tumble when you lose vacuum!  Partial panel!  Yikes!

Speaking of loss of power, Mario pulled this on me near the Quabbin, and I did very well, establishing best glide, picking out a nice farmer’s field, judging the wind, entering base, and turning for line-up and doing a forward slip to kill some altitude.  Only thing I forgot was my ABCDE emergency procedures list – airspeed, best place to land, checklist (for possible restart or errors), D I forget now (DISTRESS!), and E for exit preparations (turn off fuel and mags, but leave master switch on until flaps are out, and also unlatch doors).  I did this OK, and I also navigated back to ORH pretty well.

All in all, a nice lesson, with nice weather to boot!  Mario got laser eye surgery so he is now 20/15 uncorrected – cool!  $4000 for that!

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