December 22, 2016- Last Lesson of 2016

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I had my last lesson of 2016 for a total of 23 flight hours in 2016.  The most memorable thing about this lesson is that when taxiing to take off on runway 9, we saw two deer run out of the woods to the left of the runway, through the ditch, and across the road.

In this lesson we did slow flight, steep turns, power off and power on stalls, simulated engine out, turns around a point, S turns across a road, a rectangular pattern, an aborted landing and 2 landings.  There are a few things I need to work on.  I stayed on heading well during slow flight, but need to maintain a steady speed.  I need to maintain altitude better in steep turns and not pitch the nose up or down.  On my landings I was consistently a bit high because I didn’t level off on the downwind.

I need to review the steps in an engine out and aborted landing so if I need them, I will be efficient.

Lesson #22 and 23

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Stats: 1 hour, 7 landings

We stayed in the pattern and did 7 take offs and landings and one simulated engine out. I landed well every time, but need to fly a more consistent pattern. I’m taking next Saturday off to see family, so hopefully that won’t set me back too much.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Stats: 1 hour, 7 landings, 1 aborted landing

After a week off I always feel like I’m going to suddenly forget how to fly. I don’t know why I feel that way! But, realistically speaking, I think missing a week, or 3 weeks like I’ve done once since I started my training, sets you back A LOT. I think, before you’ve flown, you don’t realize how much of it is muscle memory and just doing things a certain way repetitively, like you do when driving and you don’t think about turning on your blinker, or looking over your shoulder before you back up, but you still do it.

PREFLIGHT

It was 24°F out and the plane, which is in an open hangar, exposed to the air, had its own blankie and space heater. When I did my preflight and climbed up to check fuel levels, I hated to remove my gloves to get a good enough seal to check the fuel! Of course, I did it, because, as they say, the only time you believe a fuel gauge is when it’s on empty.  When I put my hand on the plane while checking the oil it was warm to the touch over the engine, as if the plane had been in the sun instead of cold and windy shade under a tin roof.  JC had plenty of oil and gas, and the one water droplet pieces of ice were on things other than the plane.

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(For anybody wondering why the plane had a blanket and heater, it is because cold starting a plane is not good for the engine, and is the equivalent to several hours of wear. The heater is turned on a little before the lesson.)

We spent my lesson today in the pattern, with me feeling varying degrees of frustration mixed with the happy/ hardworking/ concentrating feeling that only a person who is learning to fly can feel. Mr. King tells me often that I am too hard on myself, and that I “haven’t invented anything new” in the way of mistakes.  He also says that “everybody feels that way” and then suddenly they’re doing it right.

TAKEOFFS

My takeoffs were fine, although on the first one, I felt like the plane didn’t want to leave the ground. That was a bit different, as normally it feels to me like you are trying to restrain the plane while it wants to fly, before you achieve your rotation speed. I asked Mr. King about it, since neither of us had suddenly gained tons of weight or anything, and he said maybe the ground was softer than I was used to.

On my first takeoff, I didn’t “relax back pressure” (Mr. King’s words) quickly enough so I lost a little speed. As I know the dangers of that, it was perfect the following 6 takeoffs, and hopefully isn’t a mistake I will repeat. The 55, rotation, 59 best rate of climb, 73 best rate of climb speeds are something I have beaten into my head, for sure. If you are a student pilot and don’t know where to find these speeds for the specific plane you are flying, you should check the Pilot’s Operating Handbook for that specific plane. You need to know these speeds!

FLYING THE PATTERN

I felt a little like I was veering from one small mistake to the next while flying the pattern. I’m flying at a non-towered airport with a left pattern if using runway 9, and a right pattern if using runway 27. I am not fabulous as right hand traffic patterns, which I mentioned in a previous post. I haven’t used runway 9 in awhile, so I’m curious to see if I’m as sloppy in the pattern that direction, because the last time I took off on Runway 9, my pattern was fine. Could the right pattern really be that much of a factor? I don’t know, it’s something to look for, I guess.

On some of my circuits around the pattern I was not reducing the power from 2300 to 2100 RPM quickly enough, so I was gaining excess altitude or speed, depending on which circuit in the 6 I did we want to criticize. This was causing me to be either faster than I needed to be in the pattern, or climbing through pattern altitude of 1450 to about 1550.  I corrected that on some of my circuits, but I need to be more consistent with this, as it seems like I was doing it at the same point in the pattern each time. Another thing I did a few times was to creep in toward the runway on the downwind. When I would look to the runway on my right to see when to turn on the carb heat, I would drift in toward it. So, the correction was to look at a point ahead of me and fly straight to that so I would maintain a good distance.

Every time around I remembered to turn on the carb heat opposite the center of the runway when I was on the downwind and to reduce power opposite the touchdown point, so at least I did that right. We practiced an aborted landing also, but most of the lesson just focused on flying the pattern consistently and landing correctly. I felt pretty frustrated for part of the lesson, as I feel like I’m stuck at the same point I was last lesson. I think scheduling two lessons closer together to fix this problem is what I need to do.  Next lesson Mr. King said we would do ground maneuvers again and work on flying a rectangle with reference to points on the ground to help me fix the pattern issue.

WHAT I GOT RIGHT

Mr. King said I did well at flaring and landing every time, so at least I was consistent with that. I felt like if I could have done 2 or 3 more I could have put it all together, but the next student had arrived. So 6 so-so patterns and 1 almost right would have to do for this lesson.

3m5_night

PLAN FOR THE WEEK:

Chair fly the pattern, CALL OUT everything step by step!

Review pre-solo info, learn the weak spots!

“Professional” Development

I’ve been acquiring some professional development in aviation the last couple of months, so I thought I would fill you in on that, and how you can find the free learning opportunities I have. I put “professional” in quotation marks, not because the presenters weren’t professional, but because I’m not. I’m not a professional pilot, just a student, but I’m treating my aviation studies like a job and want to be the most professional and safe pilot possible. I’m working my way backwards on telling you about the webinars and MOOCs I’ve taken, starting with the one I did today.

“Best Tips, Tricks and Sites for Self-Briefing”

I’ll start out by filling you in on a free webinar you can attend, that I (virtually) attended tonight (Wednesday, November 30) and enjoyed. I registered earlier and watched tonight, but there are some more opportunities coming up, so you haven’t missed out. I read about it in that email the FAA sends. It was called, “Best Tips, Tricks and Sites for Self-Briefing” and was given by Delia Colvin, author of aviation books and video classes on weather. You can read a description of the free webinars available here.

When I saw the webinar’s title I knew I should take it. I’m not a weather nerd, and I kind of glaze over when the weather is on TV. This is not best practice if you’re a pilot, and calling WX Brief for the weather seemed like information overload. Learning more about weather, and fast, is a priority of mine. I wrote in another post about my weather study so far and gave some resources that helped me. I’ll continue to add to those resources as I come across them.

In the webinar Colvin went over the types of briefings you can get: standard, abbreviated, update, outlook, and how you should get a good weather overview BEFORE you call 1800WXbrief. She gave a good list of resources to use to check the weather and discussed what we should be looking for on satellite images. She discussed AIRMETs, checking VAD Winds (Velocity, Azimuth, Display), winds aloft, and reviewing the current weather. Her “Top 10 Tips to Get a Better Weather Briefing” will be how I conduct my wxbrief calls from now on.

Summary

One important thing I would like to point out about the webinar, is that it was NOT boring. Delia Colvin’s incorporation of her personal experiences as ATC and accident investigation stories that were relevant to the discussion made it interesting and memorable. After the class she also emailed several handouts that will be useful. One of the handouts is the notes for the webinar and includes everything she covered.

Upcoming Free Webinar

I plan on registering for her next Free Webinar “Six Steps to the Perfect Preflight Brief.” It looks like some of the information may be an overlap, but in my opinion, review never hurts. During the webinar she gives a short and painless plug for her book and on-demand videos to learn more about the weather. If you have attended the webinar you can get them at a discounted rate. I will probably buy that at some point in the future, as some of what I learned today was a little over my head/ out of my experience level, and I need to study basics more before moving on to anything more.

How it works:

To register you just go to the website and fill out a short form. Then click on the link in the email at the start time for the webinar. During the webinar, if you have any questions you can type them and they will be answered. I was redirected from the FAA’s website to her website, so you sign up that way too, or follow the link below. I went to the one on the left and hope to do the one on the right.

Fly-Rite Free Webinars

weatherseminars
Free Webinar Descriptions

Upcoming:

I will write soon about the other learning opportunities I’ve been taking advantage of so you can see if you’re interested in them too. Other resources you can look to for webinars are The AOPA, EAA, and The 99s.

What I’m working on this week:

I’m going to needlessly check the weather when I’m not about to go flying so I can get some practice interpreting all the abbreviations.

No lesson this week. 😦