Lesson #18 Saturday, October 22, 2016 Important Lesson in self-confidence and crosswinds

Beautiful, but Windy!

I was happy about getting to fly today! First off, the sky was a beautiful, perfect blue but there was a cross wind and it had been described as rough and bumpy. I would like to blame my issues today on the crosswind, but I like to learn from mistakes, not make excuses. I also seem to have worse lessons when I use runway 27 which has a right traffic pattern, I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.

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The Thorough Pre-flight that Wasn’t

I did what I thought was a thorough preflight. Looking back at it, critically, it was thorough, EXCEPT for the slight deviation from routine, but in that deviation, I missed a problem.

You know how sometimes you make a mistake, and it gets in your head, and then you make more? Well that was the theme of this lesson. Mr. King, however, thinks I’m being too hard on myself. Well, maybe not about what we will call the “tire incident” but about the rest of the lesson.

The Wobbly Taxi

When I first started lessons I felt like a drunk driver trying to taxi an airplane.  On the ground you steer with your feet on the rudder and brakes and it’s really a bit awkward at first, because if you’ve driven a car you really want to “drive” with your hands, and airplanes don’t work that way. Trying to make them work that way by steering like you would a car just makes you look like an idiot. Well, I quickly got over trying to “drive” and swerving all over the place.

Only, as I was taxiing out, I felt like that newbie driver again. I even was in the process of telling Mr. King I felt like I’d regressed when we got a call on the radio that our nose wheel tire was flat. Oh, yes, it was flat, and how did I miss that?! Slight deviation from routine, is how. I moved the ladder around the plane in anticipation of pre-flighting the other side. Then came back to do the nose part of the checklist including the tire. The item on my checklist reads “Nose Wheel Strut and Tire” and I glanced at it from the front. It didn’t look flat from the front to me, but I didn’t look at it from the side. So, that’s why I was steering like an idiot and it suddenly seemed hard. So some guys who were hanging out inside, Mr. King, and myself pushed the airplane up to the air tank and filled the tire.

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned here were two fold. One was religiously follow the checklist. I felt like I had improved on this a great deal. I had been to a WINGs seminar and thought carefully about what I learned there and my first few lessons I missed a few things like a chock, but have been religiously following the checklist ever since. The other thing mentioned at this WINGS seminar was walk around the airplane again and make sure nothing looks “off.” Well, I didn’t do that thoroughly, or possibly at all. I will from now on, let me assure you! The second lesson is that if something feels wrong, it might be. I shouldn’t have assumed that I was the problem. I KNEW something felt odd, and yet I was blaming myself instead of stopping and checking it out.

I did 7 landings this lesson and remained in the pattern. I think the mistake, and the ensuing beating myself up about it, got to me. Mr. King said it was the learning plateau that everyone hits, and the crosswind, and not to worry about it. Of course, he did point out what I was doing wrong. I seemed to be pulling a little to the right on the flare, and I was able to correct that by the end of my lesson. Out of the 7, one was a rough landing, Mr. King did one, I had four relatively smooth ones, and my last landing of the day was very good.

I definitely wasn’t too happy with this lesson as it felt like a regression, not progress.

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Thursday, October 20-Birthday No Go

I scheduled a lesson because it was my birthday and who doesn’t want to fly on their birthday?  Unfortunately, the storms didn’t agree. My mom was excited as it would be her first time to fly with me, but we will have to reschedule, maybe sometime in November. We did go to the airport anyway, to pick up a DVD of photos someone took at the Fly In back in September. I will post some of those and our photos and write about the Fly In later.  Watching the weather change from stormy to beautiful and back again over the airport was a lazy way to spend a couple of hours. In the less than two minutes it took me to shoot the three photos below the sock blew every direction but straight up.

Even though I didn’t get to fly, I did have a great birthday, and I enjoyed showing the airport to my mom, eating dinner with some of my favorite people, and attending “Day of the Diva” at the running store. As an added bonus, one of my airport friends, Jim “Pat” Patterson, a CFI, gave me a headset case he made for me. He upholsters airplanes, and gave me a beautiful headset bag that he made. It was a great coincidence because he didn’t even know it was my birthday. I got the headset a few weeks ago as an early birthday present and had just been putting it in the top of my bag and hoping for the best while trying to be gentle with it, but now it is adequately padded.

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Lesson #17 Recap October 15, 2016

1 Hour, 6 Takeoffs and Landings, Slipping, Crabbing

Weather Study Pays Off

My first order of business today was to obtain weather information. I’m happy to say that my studying has paid off, with both the METAR and standard weather briefing finally sounding less like a foreign language I’ve never studied. My instructor sort of explains things after you ask questions about them, or after he has you do them once. This teaching style is fine most of the time, but didn’t do me any favors on learning the weather! I just kept feeling like I would never get it. So, after some studying and reviewing, I feel better equipped.

Here are some of the resources I used:

I like Cessna Chick’s Blog , specifically this post on How To Read a METAR

How To Obtain a Weather Briefing a pdf from the FAA. Boring, but informative.

If you feel like testing your knowledge, here is Bold Method’s Can you Answer these 7 Weather Questions?

First Crosswind and Pavement Landings!

This was 3rd Saturday EAA Fly-in Breakfast, so we ate before the lesson which was nice. After preflighting the plane we took off and flew over pretty cotton fields, some of them full of white and ready to be harvested, and others with curving and zig zag lines of small bits of cotton left after harvest. These fields had the cotton bales lined up at the edge of the fields near the roads. The cotton, the fields, and the clouds were gorgeous. Enjoying the view was over pretty quickly as we arrived at Madison Executive to do touch and gos. It was my first time on a concrete runway, and first crosswind landings. My landings were uneventful, and while I didn’t grease it in every time they were consistent, until the last one which I bounced in a bit (but that was back at Moontown, on the grass, at least). I did 4 at Madison Exec and two at Moontown. We also practiced slips which I haven’t done before, so that was new too and will definitely need practice.

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Apparently my son, frantically waving at me on the first landing at Moontown, was very torn up that I took off again and had to be bribed with a rock to calm down (to load into his toy truck, not to throw at him) until I landed for the final time. He was so excited to sit in the airplane for a few minutes after the lesson and “fly.”

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I had fun in the lesson today, it’s been weeks since I’ve been out of the pattern due to practicing pattern work and canceling a lesson for the plague we had! Wednesday at my lesson Mr. King told me we would go over to MDQ and I was wondering if landing on pavement would be strange, but it was fine! It was odd to be able to take off and land without back taxiing. The advantages of a 6500 foot paved runway  versus a 2180 foot grass strip, I guess.

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