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Flight 5 at SpanaFlight (Total: 6.7 Dual, 16 Landings)

9/27/99 (See Alex's Candid Photo's Here)
Today was a fun day flying.  I had read about performing ground reference maneuvers, but haven't yet experienced any.  Today, Matt told me that we were going to work on all three types:  Turns around a point, Rectangular course, and S-Turns.

My son Alex came today, and wanted to go flying with me.  I cleared it with the instructor, and we started ground school.  Ground school was primarily just reviewing forces of flight, which I have read 4 times already.  It was short at least.  We then started talking about the maneuvers we were going to perform.  Matt diagrammed the maneuvers on the white board and we discussed each one at length.  This will be the first time I have even really considered the wind at any time other than taxiing.

Alex and I went outside and started the preflight.  I sat Alex in the back, and got him strapped in ok.  I handed him the digital camera, and told him to have fun taking pictures.  I finished the preflight, Matt came got in, we started the plane, and went to the run-up area.  I was concentrating on ensuring I covered all my bases this time.  I went meticulously through the checklists paying very close attention so I wouldn't miss any steps, as I had in the past.  

We proceeded to the runway, and took off.  I was concentrating on just keeping the plane going straight down the runway path and turned about 100 feet too early to the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern.  Matt caught it and mentioned it as well.  We proceeded out to the practice area just south of the airport.  

We didn't go very high this time.  Matt informed me that we would be performing the Ground Reference Maneuvers at 1600 feet which was about 1000 feet above ground level (AGL).  Circles around a point were first.  We spotted a farm about 2 miles ahead with a tree and a small round lake in the middle of their field, and noted the wind direction from some smoke from a fire on the ground.  we then went to 1600 feet, and entered on the right downwind side of the lake.  Matt took the controls for the first turn, and we started banking sharply around the lake.  As we proceeded around the lake Matt explained how he was taking out the bank when the groundspeed was decreasing, and increasing the bank when the groundspeed was increasing around the circle.  

I then took the plane and didn't do too terribly bad for my first try at this.  I was able to easily maintain my distance from that point and I noticed how the wind was trying to pull me to the south.  I performed 3 or 4 more turns, and we decided to try to find an area to do a rectangular course at.  Matt decided to use the same farm we were flying over and just trace the boundary of it.  The farm itself was fairly small, and Matt pointed out that we probably could have found a better place to do it at, but this one was ok for now.

Matt took the first go around, crabbing the airplane into the wind while at the ends of the square.  The wind was light, but we still had to put about a 5 degree crab angle on the plane to keep it flying straight.  He then turned over the controls to me, and I took it for a go.  I had a little trouble keeping altitude during these.  I was having a tendency to pull the nose up too high on my turns, thereby increasing my altitude on each corner, and having to correct it on the straight-aways.  I shall endeavor to do better on those next flight that we do these.

We did that maneuver 3 times, and then started looking for a road that was perpendicular to the wind to get set up for S-turns.  We entered again at the downwind, and started a sharp turn to the left circling a point on a road 180 degrees.  we then reversed our bank and turned the other way around another point on the road.  The goal of this maneuver is to have the same ground radius for each half circle we were turning on.  I had some trouble again with my altitude, and wasn't very good at this maneuver.  I'm sure I'll get a lot of practice at these though.

We then proceeded back to the North to the airport.  I didn't have any trouble finding it this time, and flew to the right of the Fredricson Boeing plant which is the most prominent landmark aside from the mountains around us.  We entered the pattern, and I did a little better at my landings.  Matt pointed out afterward though, that there was a slight crosswind that he had hoped i would correct for, but didn't.  I was mainly concentrating on keeping the airplane pointed at the landing strip, and by the time I noticed what the wind was doing, we had landed.  

We did one touch-and-go, and then a full stop landing.  The second one, we bumped a little harder than we normally do, but Matt didn't say anything.  He still seems to have a lot of the controls during these landings and several of the maneuvers, which I appreciate greatly, but I wonder how much my skills are really improving here.  Matt says I am doing better though.  I also realize I have only 6 hours of flying under my belt and shouldn't get over anxious to do everything myself.  

We then parked the airplane and got out.  I let Alex out of the back, and since he hadn't been able to ask me any questions during the flight due to the noise, he caught up quickly on the short walk back to the office.  He apparently had a blast, and filled up the digital camera with photos.  He took something like 38 pictures of this flight.  I'll post them on another page.  I'm glad he had fun.

Matt and I debriefed and planned for the next flight.  Next time we will be doing some more slow flight, stalls, and steep turns.  I look forward to these, and hope that the weather stays nice this week.

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