Ah yes, 8:00AM. It is September 1st and it is getting a little chilly around here. I am starting to wear sweatshirts in the morning. When I go sit on the couch to drink my morning coffee, I now have to wear a shirt. I guess it’s ok. Better than sweating. Laura doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, she HATES the heat.
Of course, I arrived at the flight school first again. I have a problem doing that. Perhaps it is because I can’t sleep at night, tossing and turning, thinking I am going to miss the alarm and screw up the whole lesson. You have to take them when you can these days due to all the rain we have been getting.
Anyway, Yigal arrived a little later than I did. He had me go out and do the pre-flight inspection. He chose a different plane this time…a little older and smaller, but just as powerful as the last. I believe this one was made in 1969. I did the inspection and suggested that we fill the tanks with fuel. They were below the markers. Also, when I took the sample of fuel from the left wing, a little water came out in the fuel. Yigal says this is due to the condensation created overnight. No big deal. I threw the fuel downwind.
I went back inside and Yigal had me call the weather service to get the current conditions as well as the forecast for the day. A pilot should always do this whenever they plan to fly. You always want to be sure that conditions are going to be ok from where you takoff from, your path and your landing area. Of course, this day, we tookoff from Orange County Airport and landed there too. A little note about this type of weather service – they throw out a whole mess of numbers. There is no handsome man in a suit in front of a large, easy to read map. I called the number he gave me: 1-800-WX-BRIEF. Here is what I had to do: introduce myself as a student pilot, give the tail number, tell the person that we were taking off from MGJ and landing there as well, let them know that we are staying in the area as well as our flight duration. Then, I had to request a standard briefing. I also had to ask if there were any TFRs (Temporary Flight Restrictions). I was looking for the ceiling hieght, visibility, the forecast and the wind direction and speed. Basically anything that we should be concerned about while in a small aircraft. Well, I screwed that all up. The operator on the other end of the phone was completely rude and had no patience. He totally unnerved me when he started sarcastically sighing. At one point he asked very slowly if I was writing this down. I felt like I was getting pretty ticked at him, but because of my point in learning, I was in no place to say anything. The reason he was getting frustrated was because I kept asking him to repeat things. I really don’t think these were big requests, since I did introduce myself as a new student pilot. I thanked him and hung up. Yigal asked me how it went and I told him some of the information I received. I also told him that the person was very rude and indicated what his attitude was. Yigal shot up and got quite serious. He immediately picked up the phone and called the operator back and asked for his supervisor. He made an aggressive complaint about the poor attitude of the operator and how new students have a difficult enough time learning all of this without having to deal with people like that. I really appreciated this from Yigal, as he showed he cared about my learning process.
We went out tho the plane and got inside. We went over all the things we needed to and I started her up. One thing that I forgot was to wipe the windshield down. There was dew all over it from the night before. No problem…parking brake and engine at 2000 RPM. No more dew. I lowered the throttle back to 800 RPM and taxied to the runway and went through the pre-takeoff checklist. I pulled out to the runway and tookoff. This all went much faster than last time and I was much more comfortable. I also made all radio communications. When we were at our altitude, I practiced straight and level flight and the use of trim, pitch and power coordination, traffic pattern operations, collision avoidance, power-off stalls, power-on stalls and approach and landing. Yigal let me land half-way. His hands were on the controls, but so were mine. It felt pretty comfortable. I think I will ready to give it a shot by myself next time.
A note about airplane stalls – I really thought this area was going to freak me out. Basically, you are simulating a stall while taking off and landing. One is with full power (takeoff) and one with no power (landing). To simulate this, you climb to 3000ft. and lower the flaps. Then you pitch the airplane past 18 degrees, the point of stall. The airplane shudders and falls. The trick is to regain control with minimal altitude loss. Yigal demonstrated the power off stall first and then had me do it axactly to the way the examiner is going to want to see it. It really wasn’t that bad. I kind of liked it. We did the power on stall next…that was a little more dramatic because we really had to pull up all the way to get the plane to stall. We were at a higher speed as well. The studdering is more profound, but recovery is easier. It is a great feeling to practice these skills because they really make you more comfortable with the plane. Once that happens, flying becomes easier and more fun.
I really like these lessons and I am thrilled that I got into this.
Next lesson, Sept. 8, 8:00AM.