Rich's Quest For Flight

My father was a pilot. He died doing what he loved to do. It has been a goal of my life to become a pilot. Now I have chance to do so. Follow me as I pursue my dream.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

KRYV 081918Z AUTO 33005KT 10SM SCT035 06/M01 A3022 RMK AO2

In other words, just a beautiful gorgeous day today. Light winds from the north, lightly scattered clouds, cool temperatures.

I spent a little time at home doing some reading on maneuvers. A nice walk to the airport; takes about 15 minutes. Heidi had the dispatch paperwork ready when I arrived, so I checked that over. Adam came by after a couple of minutes and we were on our way to the flightline. Completed the preflight checks and belted ourselves in. Since winds were from 330 (NNW), we would be using runway 5. This would mean we would be taking off and landing into a crosswind. Before takeoff checks were complete, and we taxied onto the runway and we took off. As we rolled, we added right aileron to counter the effect of the wind. Once we left the ground, we neutralized the aileron but added some left rudder to crab into the wind so we could maintain our heading. We turned to north and continued out of the pattern on the way to the training area.

There were some clouds around 3500 feet, so we needed to climb at least 1000' above them. Once we were at altitude and leveled, I did clearing turns to the left and right. Adam then had me perform steep bank procedure turns to the left and right. These are actually tricky critters. When you bank an airplane, you do not have the full vertical component of lift that you would when the wings are level. This means you're going to descend unless you either pitch up or add power. In a steep bank, your wings are at 45 degrees, so you're getting only about half the lift. The requirement is that you must complete the turn and vary in altitude no less than 100' up or down. I descended 500'. Suffice to say I need practice.

Then we slowed the plane down and dropped flaps as Adam had me do some slow speed maneuvering. So now we're flying 5 knots above stall speed and making turns. The plane gets real "mushy" when flying slow. You really have to muscle the thing to get it to do what you want it to. Then, just for fun, Adam has me stall the plane just to practice stall recovery. I have a feeling that he's going to have me stall the plane every flight. After we recovered, we did a full throttle stall.

Once we got back up to our practice altitude, Adam says, "let's look at the engine failure checklist." Right away I got a lump in my throat. Second flight and we were going to practice emergency landing procedures. I took a breath, and away we went. Pulled the throttle out, and trimmed the plane for a 65kt glide. The glide velocity, simply put, is the speed at which the plane can fly and is controllable, for an optimized descent rate. Adam had me look around for suitable landing fields, at the same time trying to keep level flight and the 65kt airspeed. We talked through the engine restart procedure (we never actually shut the engine down, that would be dangerous) and "determined" that the engine was out and we had to land. I swallowed again. He actually had me take the plane down and set flaps. The ground was getting awfully close. Then, after what seemed like two minutes, he directed me to recover, so I got that throttle in and pitched the sucker up. I wonder what an observer on the ground would think if he saw a plane 4oo' off the ground.

We climbed back up to 3000' and headed back to the airport. As we approached, we started a descent to around 1800' for entry into the traffice pattern. Runway 5 at Watertown mandates a right hand pattern, meaning we'd be making a lot of right turns. So we entered the pattern on the crosswind, then turned downwind (parallel to the runway, with the wind). Reduced throttle, speed below 100kts, then one notch of flaps. Lowering the flaps forces wind down so the plane wants to go up. So I have to pitch down to accomodate and reduce power. Then the turn to final, and lining up with the runway. We did four landings today, and each time I always turned to final too soon, meaning I had to slide a bit to the left to line up. Part of the reason was that I was turning into a quartering wind, which was pushing the plane to the right. Also, each time we came in I was a little high. Better to be high, than too low and slow. One would rather land halfway down the runway than not make it at all. It was easy to correct by reducing power and dropping the nose down. Once we cleared the threshold, I reduced power slowly and let the plane drop. About 20' above the ground, a gentle pull back on the yoke to flare, then holding and pulling back until the plane plopped gently on the ground. Then it was flaps up, carb heat off and full throttle and we were airborne again. As I said, we did four circuits like this. By the third circuit I was at sensory overload, and I started to feel confused. I almost told Adam that this ought to be the last one. But I hung in there and trusted that Adam that he would notice if I was impaired and take the plane. And it was a good thing we continued as I pulled myself together and made the fourth landing the best one of the clutch. We pulled off the runway, stopped, performed after landing checks, and taxied to the ramp.

We secured the plane and I told a huge breath. Good thing it was a cool day, or I would have been sweating buckets. Adam had quite a bit of praise for me, saying we did things today that he often waits until the fifth or sixth lesson with other students. He really likes how well it's going, and that's pleasing to me. It was a real mental challenge today. We did so much stuff that I'm amazed how I could remember to type it all down here. Of course Adam said that all students tend to be a bit overwhelmed at the start, it's just a matter of time before it's all routine. I suppose it's a smart thing to reach the point of overload just to know what it feels like, to determine just how much sensory input you can endure. That kind of knowledge may just save my life in an emergency.

Quite a day. The first solo seems a long way away, yet I intend to be ready. I have this sneaking suspicion that Adam is not going to tell me when it is. I'm just going to show up, and he's going to tell me to preflight and take myself. That will be an interesting day.

(On a related note, I am scheduled for my flight physical on April 28. I can't solo until i have my medical certificate, so just maybe the solo will happen that day.)

Next lesson is tomorrow. I have a video tape to watch tonight. God, I love this.


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