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Back to Journal Page 18

Flight 13 at SpanaFlight (Total: 17.0 Dual, 1.1 Sim IFR, .2 Night, 41 Landings)


With over a week of being grounded, I was surprised when the weatherman was wrong in my favor.  It had been forecast that the weather today was to be wet and windy, but when I got up, I saw blue skies and calm winds.  I immediately went out for my lesson, and met up with Matt, who was just as amazed as I was about the weather.  We decided to go right up, so I started preflight almost immediately.  

With the plane in working order, and everything else checking out ok, we took off on runway 16 and proceeded to the practice area.  When we got there, we started out with steep turns.  This time, I did a lot better than I usually do, and was holding my altitude all the time.  I wasn't looking at the instruments as much, and concentrated on just keeping the plane stable during the turn by just using visual references.  That worked a lot better than I expected it to.

Next, we did power off stalls.  These I didn't do so hot at, as I seemed to forget all my normal procedures.  I guess with all that time being kept from flying, I forgot a thing or two.  The second attempt was a little better though.  Power on stalls were next.  These I did ok, but dropped the nose of the plane too low on my recovery.  Aside from that, they went well.  

When I had recovered fully from the last power on stall, I actually expected Matt to pull the power and simulate an emergency.  He did, of course, and I was thankfully ready for it.  I chose a field a little ways away, and Matt said I should change it to a field I didn't see right below us.  I felt we could have made it to my chosen field, but decided to use his recommendation.  This one went well, and we would have easily made the field.  I controlled the plane well, and actually got to do a few more of the emergency procedures since we had time to do them.  I did have a little trouble at first obtaining my glide speed, but after a few seconds, I had the plane trimmed nicely for it.

We then proceeded to find a field to perform some ground reference maneuvers on.  Starting of course with the Turns around a point.  This time we actually had wind to fly in, and I found out how difficult these maneuvers can be in the wind.  I finally figured out, though, that I had been incorrectly judging my distance from the point by using a wing strut.  After feeling like an idiot for a few seconds after that realization, I started just trying to guess the best ground track for the flight, and finally got stabilized.  We went around about 8 times, and only the last 2 were worth a crap.  

Next was the rectangular course.  We went to a field that was a little better lined up with the wind, and started doing these.  I was too close to the imaginary line most of the time, but was able to maintain a straight ground track by crabbing.  We did this about 4 times around, and started s-turns.  

Now my skills at S-turns may be improving, but my ability to hold altitude during these aren't.  Today, the turns seemed to be fairly evenly spaced and normal.  I only bungled a couple of them, and they weren't too bad.  My altitude control during these was another matter altogether.  I was either 100 feet high or 100 feet low, and except at the end of these maneuvers, wasn't controlling my altitude very well at all.  All in time, I guess.

We proceeded back to the airport to do some practice landings.  We had planned to do 5 or 6 this time.  The airport was pretty busy, and we had a slower plane in front of us in the pattern the whole time.  The first time around, we extended our downwind so as not to get to close to this slowpoke in front of us.  As a result, we had a long final, and another plane decided to enter the active runway and sneak off before we landed.  We decided that it was just too close, and proceeded to do a go around.  

The second time around the pattern, we still had to extend the downwind so as to avoid the slow plane, but it was a lot shorter than the last one.  Of course, not flying for almost a week and a half, I have forgotten how to land.  On top of all that, we had a 6 or 7 knot crosswind.  My first touchdown was anything but graceful, as we landed fairly hard.  Didn't bounce though.  As usual, Matt had most of the controls here, keeping me out of trouble.

The next two weren't much better, although, I corrected for the crosswind a bit better on those attempts.  I know these landings will get better, but they seem to be staying about the same.  I decided to call it a day after the last one, and we taxied back to the parking area.  Matt stated that I was within hours of my solo, and that I needed to finish the prerequisites that I had been putting off.  

Next time, we plan on working on my landings primarily, as I seem to need the most work there.  He said that I have done fairly well on the rest of the required pre-solo maneuvers, and that as soon as I get these landing down, I should be ready to solo.  Now, I'm getting a little excited about my solo, and a little terrified that it is coming so soon.  

There has got to be something I am missing about these landings.  I'm sure I'll get it, but it sure is frustrating knowing that I haven't seemed to get any better at them in the last 2 weeks or so.  Luckily, the weather looks hopeful for Monday, and I'll get to try them again.

Until then...

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Last Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2000


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