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.

Friday, August 04, 2006

KRYV 041915Z AUTO 33006KT 10SM CLR 28/12 A3012 RMK AO2

Ahh, another nice day. And this time the winds were favorable. But that didn't mean they weren't troublesome.

I meant to bring a camera with me to take some pictures as I flew over Riverfest, but damn if I didn't remember until I was turning on to Runway 5 to take off. So there you go. I did remember, however, to bring with me a list of maneuvers that I jotted down, although I knew the focus would be on steep turns. Once again, with just me in the cockpit, I rose fairly quickly to my ceiling of 3500', just so I could be above the turbulence. I headed north to the area between Clyman and Hustisford and performed my clearing turns. The CTAF was crackling with traffic, but none of it was within 20 miles of my location.

One disadvantage of the area I was in was that there weren't many roads running straight north-south or east-west, so ground reference was difficult. The only thing that nagged me as I set up for the first set of turns was the difficulty I was having maintaining maneuvering speed. So the first set I entered from the north, and got through it pretty well. I am more comfortable leaving a hand on the throttle to fine tune my speed, and the advice from the current issue of Plane & Pilot worked well for me, too. The article said you can fine tune altitude variations by simply increasing or decreasing the bank angle slightly. This seemed to work better than adjusting pitch, since adjusting pitch would take away speed or increase speed faster than I could react to correct. By adjusting bank angle, I could maintain the same pitch and I could manage my speed with the throttle. As it was, I did ok with the first set. The only thing I thought I could improve was to maintain a steeper bank since I did get to less than 45 degrees on a couple of occasions when I should be between 45 and 60 degrees. I try to stay away from 60 degrees, since going steeper than that is inviting a spiral, and I don't want that.

I set up again for another set of steep turns, but my altitude got away from me and I aborted the maneuver shortly after starting. And that was the nice thing about not having an instructor on board. No matter how much he is there to help, you always have a certain pressure to perform well when there's an audience.

I flew for a couple of minutes to get my thoughts together and performed some turns to reposition in my "box". I also used those turns to maintain that "steep" feeling. The P&P article suggested leveling out starting 45 degrees prior to completion, but the Cessna is so responsive that I could wait until 20 degrees to level out and still not turn past the start point. The third take went much better, with better control of speed and good bank control.

With the main objective of the flight completed, I set up for a rectangular course. These are supposed to be performed around 1500' AGL, but the air was too bumpy at that level, so I compromised and flew about 500' above that. My main objective here was to gauge how tight I needed to be to the course without overbanking. I'd rather perform the maneuver with steeper turns than trying to modulate a shallow turn and get clumsy at it. A steeper turn is more decisive. Not that I think I could fool an examiner though.

After a couple of rectangles and some S-turn practice, I headed back to Watertown. Runway 5 was the active (right hand pattern) and I was on the wrong side of the pattern, so I decided to stay high above pattern altitude and overfly the field before descending to pattern altitude and entering from the downwind. It had been a while since I used Runway 5, and I was slightly disoriented. By the time I turned final, I was too high and too fast. I cut throttle and pointed down, but I was still 10 kts fast at the threshold. This caused me to go long, and then the tricks happened.

Left quartering winds on Runway 5 pose a specific challenge at Watertown. First, the approach takes your over a low bluff and it's covered with trees. The wind, combined with a minor thermal, pushes the plane up. Then there's a set of hangers to the left of the runway that block the wind. So here I am wondering why I need right rudder to keep her straight. Then, as I floated down the runway, I came out from behind those buildings, and the crosswind pushed me off the centerline. I very nearly pushed the throttle in to abort the landing when the mains touched down. I landed straight, but right of the centerline. I decided to exit the runway instead of trying to take off, worried that I didn't have enough runway. Besides, my brain got a little scrambled, too. Better to take a moment to get myself back together than to make a poor decision.

So I taxied back to the top and took off again. I landed 3 more times, with #2 being straight but a little long, #3 being totally unsatisfactory (crooked) and the last one being satisfactory but slightly long. I had hoped to do some short field practice, but normal landings were challenging enough this day.

I got back to the flight desk and annotated my logbook. This flight completed a page in the logbook, so here's a recap. Total hours: 32.6. Night: 1.6. Cross country: 5.0. Solo: 1.9. Looking at the flying requirements, I need 1.4 more night hours, which I will do in two weeks. I need a little more than 2 hours of instrument flight and 5 hours of solo cross country flight. That leaves 3 more hours of solo flight. All told I need a minimum of 11 hours to finish requirements. Then it's a matter of practicing until Adam thinks I'm ready for my checkride. If everything goes well, that should come at anywhere from 44 to 48 hours.

Adam was in the office before my flight today, so I had a chance to show him my practice written tests. He was satisfied with them, and he endorsed my logbook so that I can take the written test in Madison. I called the test center and made a reservation for Sunday. So there we are. I'll be back with you after I take the test. Thanks again for stopping by.


Add a comment