Sunday, July 24, 2011

Getting Better (Takeoffs & Landings)

I was away on vacation for a week or so and wasn't able to fly since July 11 (at least not at the controls - but I'll probably write something here about a wonderful helicopter tour we took from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, since this blog is generally about flying stuff). But yesterday and today I got back into it with early morning Citabria flights with Ed at Sterling. Both mornings started out looking questionable for weather, but after a bit of rain (a 15 minute downpour yesterday), we had high clouds, no wind, and very few other airplanes flying, perfect for pattern work. So get out the checklist...

Speaking of patterns, I've noticed one about my learning. After a 12 day delay, I was pretty bad yesterday morning. My feet were slow on the takeoff rolls especially, with several large swerves that Ed had to save. I even had one aborted takeoff because I was holding back pressure too long (didn't get the stick forward/tail up early enough for a safe takeoff that would clear the trees). It seems I have a very quick forgetting curve. Sigh. I did some things right, and started to get better on the last one or two landings. But I didn't feel very good about my performance. Luckily I had another flight scheduled for the next morning (today).

This morning was much better, and I sometimes felt like I was actually "getting it" on the foot thing. I noticed when the nose was starting to drift left or right and took prompt and correct action with the pedals, usually without over-correcting. I didn't do everything right on every takeoff and landing, but there was clear improvement. Ed didn't say a word for minutes at a time (I usually preempted his comments by narrating my own actions, which is actually helpful in getting the procedures "burned in" and letting him know that I know them). We also practiced one go-around.

One major problem was staying too fast on final approach, which is easy to do in an airplane with no flaps. I want to get to about 65 mph as I pull up into the three-point landing attitude, and I was arriving at about 80! This gave me a lot of "float" and in a couple of cases, I "bounced" (which is really a high angle of attack, flying speed thing more than a landing gear thing as the word "bounce" might suggest). So next time I need to focus on getting it slowed down on final, and practice doing a forward slip when needed to increase the frontal area presented to the wind (increasing drag as flaps help to do). I'll fly again next weekend (weather permitting) and try to stay on the improvement curve more than the forgetting curve!

1.0 hours dual in Citabria (7/23/11)
1.3 hours dual in Citabria (7/24/11)

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