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.
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 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.