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Flight 31 at SpanaFlight (Total: 34.1 Dual, 1.3 Sim IFR, .2 Night, 1.0 Complex, 137 Landings)


I have seen much better days for flying, and I actually expected Matt to call me to cancel the flight, but as it turns out, the winds weren't as bad as I thought.  Today they were from the North at about 9 knots, gusting to 11 or so.  I didn't think my chances for solo today were too hot because of the winds, even though they were straight over the runway.  I wanted to go out flying today however.  Matt and I talked about it some, and decided to do a short cross country flight instead of straight pattern work.

I have been eyeballing this "Garmin GPS III Pilot" for a couple of months, but haven't actually gotten the chance to look at one close up.  I did some research, and found that there was a little avionics shop on the South side of Tacoma Narrows (TIW) Airport that just happened to have one in stock.  It didn't take much to convince Matt to take me out there to look at it.  It was only about 20 miles away, and really wouldn't eat up too much of the lesson.  So, with that decided, Matt went in to get the information he needed for this flight, and I headed out to preflight.  

After everything checked out ok, Matt and I got in, started up, and headed out to 34 to do a runup.  We then took off from 34 and stayed in the pattern.  I really noticed the wind in the pattern today, and was kind of glad that I wasn't by myself in the plane.  I did normal pattern work, and was right on the glide slope on final.  We then flared, and bounced some.  I was amazed that I did that, but I knew why.  I didn't flare soon enough again.  We did a touch and go and tried it again.  The second time around went a little better, and my flare was perfect.

But instead of continuing the pattern work, I said "Lets go to Tacoma" and we just continued south leaving the traffic pattern.  We continued south until we intercepted the Puyallup River, which runs northwest to the Puget Sound.  I got to see my house for only the second time from the air.  Tiny little thing at 2000 feet.  As we approached the river, Matt explained that the Seattle Class B airspace was on the other side and that I needed to be below 1600 feet for this leg.  I changed my altitude, and stayed south of the river.  I crabbed into the wind to maintain my intended course, and we flew out towards the Tacoma Dome (which is a large stadium).  Matt then tuned the radio to the TIW ATIS and we listened to that a couple of times.

As we neared the Dome, Matt set the radio to a different frequency and told me just to listen to his calls.  He then contacted Tacoma Tower and advised them of where he was, and that he had information Yankee (from ATIS).  The tower responded and said to report a 1 mile right base to runway 35.  I understood what that meant, but Matt explained it anyway.  It meant that there would be no downwind leg and that the pattern was using right traffic.  I was to use the base for  my descent and then turn right for final.  As I couldn't even see the airport, I wasn't worried.  We continued to head west and Matt pointed out a peninsula and stated that the airport was at the southern-most side of it.  I then turned the plane so that base could be entered correctly, and we continued our flight towards the airport.  

Matt also explained that this airport's traffic pattern was 1300 feet and that I needed to be at at least 1000 feet when we made our next call to the tower.  After a couple of minutes, I spotted the airport, and continued my approach.  We then headed out over water, which is when Matt contacted the tower again.  They advised us of a helicopter on the side of the runway and cleared us to land on 35.  Shortly thereafter, I was at 800 feet and turning final.  This being my first time I actually landed a plane at another airport made me a little nervous, but I tried to concentrate on my procedures.  The runway was about 3 times as wide and twice as long as the one I was used to landing at, and as I started to flare, Matt helped out and told me that I was seeing what was called a "Runway Illusion" and that we were still too high.  We then landed and taxied clear of the runway and stopped.  I made a bunch of little mistakes in procedures during this approach.

Matt then switched frequencies to the Ground Control frequency and contacted them for permission to taxi to the avionics shop on the south side of the airport.  They promptly granted permission, and we then headed over and parked the plane.  We got out and went in to do a little window shopping.  I looked at the GPS and was amazed at how small that thing actually was.  The little window would be very difficult to read any farther than about a foot from your face, which to Matt and I, didn't make it all that practical for use in flight.  The salesman then showed us the Garmin GPSMAP 195, which has a screen over twice as large and easily readable, but costs $300 more.  I wasn't convinced as to which one I really wanted and decided to take some sales literature with me to help me decide.

After satiating myself with avionics, Matt and I headed back out to the plane and got back in.  We started up, and requested clearance to taxi to 35 for takeoff after listening to ATIS again.  We did another runup, and then requested clearance from the tower to take off.  We were told to taxi into position and hold, which we did.  Then, after the Cessna in front of us finished taking off, we were cleared to depart.  We powered fully and took off.  We turned eastward at about 1300 feet and were on our way back to Puyallup to call this a day.  As we crossed over the Puget sound again, Matt then requested from the tower a frequency change, which was approved, and we switched back to 1S0 Unicom frequency and turned northward to approach the airport.  

I commented to Matt that I didn't think I did all that well today in my procedures, and he reassured me that it was due to the unfamiliar surroundings and a larger runway, and that he did the same thing the first few times that he did this.  I still didn't feel all that hot about my performance, but I at least didn't feel bad about it.  We then entered the traffic pattern on the 45 degree to downwind, turned base and final, and landed.  My flare was too late again, but I at least touched down correctly if not a little hard.  We taxied back to the parking area and shut down, locked up, and headed in.  

During postflight, Matt explained that it was normal to forget things like I did when going into a new situation like we did today.  I didn't think my landings were all that bad though.  Matt also stated that we might just go ahead and start on some of the further ground school lessons that he was holding off on until after solo.  I don't know if this portends that I am not soloing anytime soon, but I think Matt is trying hard to accommodate my fears of being "stuck in the pattern" and I appreciate it.  Maybe a little change of things may get me off this plateau that I have been on for the last 2 months.

Also, I have decided to get the GPS 195 instead of the Pilot III.  Matt convinced me of this mostly, although it wasn't hard to do so.  Now, I just have to wait for Uncle Sam to give me my tax return so that I can afford this toy.  Next flight is on Saturday, and I hope the weather improves some.  Looks like I might just get lucky.

Until then....Journal Page 37




Last Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2000


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