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Flights 41 at SpanaFlight 
(Total: .7 PIC, 48.1 Dual, 1.7 Sim IFR, .2 Night, 1.0 Complex, 186 Landings)


I think it really hit me that I was supposed to do a solo cross country today when I arrived at the airport and signed the rental agreement for the airplane.  The butterflies started to jitterbug in my stomach and I realized just how important this flight would be to my training.  I was especially nervous because of my last performance and the bad landings on my last flight.

I was actually supposed to go up yesterday to do some solo local work, but the winds were pretty bad, and although I decided to have Matt come out and have us practice some dual crosswind landings, the wind was just too much, and we never got any farther than the preflight.  As a result, I expected to have Matt in the plane with me for the first hour or so of my flight to evaluate my landings again before signing me off to go cross country.

After arriving at the airport early (as usual), I went right out and preflighted the plane so as not to waste any of my instructors time, then headed back in to finish y flight planning and get a weather brief.  I remembered that Matt wanted me to recalculate weight and balance without him in the plane, which I spent a couple of minutes doing.  Then I called FSS for a standard VFR weather briefing.  I again told the briefer that I was a student pilot and they were patient with me and slowly went through the briefing.

The winds around Seattle were light and variable tending to be from the northeast, ceilings at 7500-10000 and visibility 10 miles.  At Bowerman field (my destination today), however, winds were from 310 at 12 knots and increasing.  We had an offshore trough that was moving in as the evening progressed, and that was expected to lower ceilings and increase winds.  I completed the brief and filed a flight plan for both legs, even though I knew that the trip to Hoquiam was pretty much a wash.

Matt and I discussed the weather and both agreed on the outcome.  Nix on the cross country flight today, but OK for some local.  I decided that since the winds here were starting to increase as well, I would get some practice at my crosswind landings.  So, we headed out to the plane and hopped in.  With the preflight already done, we started the plane immediately and headed right out to 34 to fly the pattern some.

I had been missing checklist items recently and I concentrated on slowing down so that I wouldn't miss any.  I also wanted to start focusing on my pattern work again, since I feel that it had been pretty sloppy lately.  The winds were picking up and almost directly across the runway at about 7 knots by the time we took off.  As the speed increased, so did lift, and the light plane started drifting across the runway while the wheels were still on the ground.  I tipped the left wing down some, and continued my takeoff as normal.  Not one of my best, mind you, but we were airborne all the same.  

There was some light to moderate turbulence on takeoff, and I found myself struggling initially to maintain my pitch angle.  Seemed that we were all over the sky, but Matt just seemed to indicate that it wasn't a big deal, so I didn't worry.  We climbed 1200 and turned crosswind.  Matt made a couple of rudder movements to tell me to coordinate better during the climb and turn.  I still have to remember to do that more often.  We turned downwind, and I overshot altitude by 100 feet, and descended back to TPA.  We approached the end of the runway and I started my normal landing procedures.  Pull carb heat, Pull power, maintain 1500 feet untill within flap range, add 10 degrees of flaps and reduce back pressure to start the decent.  Turned to base and set flaps at 20 degrees.  I was a little high, and I felt the wind pushing the plane from behind.  I turned final, added 10 more degrees of flaps, and attempted to do a side slip to keep myself from drifting off course.  

This is where things went wrong.  The side slip was to much and ended being more of a forward slip, and we lost more altitude than I wanted, so I added some power.  I noticed the rapidly approaching ground and started my flare where I normally would.  The plane was fast then, so we floated down the runway quite a bit until enough airspeed had left to put the plane on the runway.  I then braked and because we were still fast, the plane skidded and because of the wind, we skidded sideways.  I released the brakes, and centered myself back on the runway, and just let the plane slow some more before adding any more brakes.  Matt said the landing wasn't too bad, but I felt it was.  I know I hadn't had a lot of crosswind practice, but that landing was too wierd.

Matt seemed to think that the crosswind went away on final about 30 feet above the ground, and that, and my high speed of entry caused the most problems.  I was nervous about doing that again, but we decided to try it again, now that I knew what the conditions were.  I taxied back to the start of the runway and took off again.  I remembered the turbulence this time, and didn't overreact as much.  And although I did make an effort to coordinate better during my climb and turns, Matt still corrected me some.  My downwind leg started better this time, without me having to correct for altitude.  We started the decent, and I had a much better landing.  Matt and I discussed on the ground about the over correction of the side slip, and I attempted to minimize it on this decent to final.  

Overall, it was a much better landing, although I forgot how fast we were and skidded the wheels again.  The third time around was similar, but no skidding the wheels though.  The fourth time, I asked Matt to take the controls and allow me to feel his inputs on the controls.  He took the plane up, flew a perfect pattern, slipped the plane slightly into the wind, and landed beautifully.  It still amazes me how easy he makes it look.  I took the controls and took it around again.  The wind had shifted some and was now heading almost straight down the runway, and this time around the pattern was pretty decent.  I actually started coordinating and my altitude was right on.  I landed pretty good then, and Matt informed me that there was some crosswind and that he liked how I corrected for it.  I stated that I didn't realize that I had been correcting for it and he was glad to know that I did it anyway.

The last landing of the day was the best of them all.  I did a near perfect takeoff and pattern.  I was really concentrating on procedures, and even vocalized them so Matt could hear what I was thinking.  I noticed from some smoke that the wind had shifted again back across the runway, and I slipped the plane in final better.  I landed nearly perfect and decided to call it a day on a high note.  I then parked the plane and secured it.

I was disappointed about the missed cross country time, but I understood about the problems with the weather.  I checked the winds at Bowerman field when I got home, and they were at 17 knots by then.  I felt I made a good call on canceling this flight.  I was also extremely glad for the crosswind landing practice as I desperately needed that training.  Our next flight is to be a dual night local, with the one following to be a dual long cross country.  I will have to schedule some time to get more solo work done soon, as our last dual big flight is scheduled for Saturday.

Until then....Journal Page 46





Last Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2000


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