First thing – 17.1 hours. Yee Haw. It’s just starting to get good.
I was soooo mentally prepared all this week for my first solo. Of course a huge thunderstorm had to roll through on Friday. Well, that lesson was cancelled. I rescheduled for Tuesday morning at 10:30. I kept looking out the window that morning to see if there was any wind. I am not allowed to fly solo if the crosswind is more that 6KTS. The wind seemed to be calm at my house. I hit the road and called the weather service for a standard briefing. The dude informed me the winds were from 210 at niner…that is…the winds were coming from the southwest at 9KTS. Also, there were gusts to 18KTS. Not a good day to solo. Oh well, maybe next time.
We did go up though. It was windy, but I am actually happy to fly in the wind now. Maybe because I learned how to land. I have to say, out of the four landings I did in this lesson, I aced them all. I mean aced. I can’t even express how good they were…you couldn’t even feel the tires touching the runway. I think this is awesome because it was quite windy and we were tossed around a bit. I finally got a handle on how to combine the “crab” with the “sideslip” for a good touchdown. I think Yigal was getting bored.
Back to the beginning of this story. We decided to go up to 5,500FT for some maneuvers. On the agenda was slow flight, power off stalls and power on stalls. I have done slow flight before, but not the way the examiner is going to ask me to do it. Let me think (first clear the area)…reduce throttle to 1,700RPM, lower flaps 10 degrees at a time, reduce speed even more until I am down to 50KTS while pitching the plane to keep its altitude. Sounds easy, but not that easy when you have to keep turning to stay in the clear area of the clouds and are being pushed around by the turbulence. To accelerate after slow flight, you give the plane full throttle, pitch down to avoid the balloon and one by one, raise the flap levels.
Now, stalls are a little different. The main reason for practicing stalls on Tuesday was to simulate taking off and landing. The power off stall is used to simulate what can happen during your approach to land. Let me think again…reduce throttle to 1,500RPM, pull carb heat on, lower flaps 10 degrees at a time, cut throttle. Now, pitch the airplane up by pulling the yoke to your chest. The plane will pitch up and stall quite easily. The minute it stalls, give it full throttle and try to recover by keeping the nose at the horizon while losing as little altitude as possible. Easier said than done.
The trickiest one is the power on stall. Just wait until I tell you why. Here it is…this is to simulate stalling after takeoff and during your climb. For whatever reason, you might pitch too high or your angle of attack might become too great. Give the airplane full throttle, pitch up, up, up. You have to really pitch up because the plane doesn’t want to stall, but when it does, you better have right rudder hard and heavy. I didn’t and learned my lesson. I forgot to use right rudder and performed a power on stall. The minute the lift broke…WHAM, the left wing fell and we went into a spin. This happens due to the airplane’s natural tendency to pull to the left at full throttle because of slipstream and torque. During the spin, I had a difficult time recovering because of my natural tendency to turn the yoke to the right. I actually aggravated the stall. I should’ve just kept the ailerons neutral and applied right rudder pressure and well as pulled back on the yoke.
We did a few of these and started to head back to Orange County. We were right above Stewart (SWF) with the Hudson River in good view. At 5,500FT, we were in Class E airspace, well outside of Stewart’s Class D airspace. Yigal asked me to make a call to ATC. I said, “Tower, November 734 Delta Sierra has Orange County in sight and is heading back now.” He looked at me and said, “Tower?” I thought we were talking to the Stewart ATC. Not the case. Since we were in Class E airspace, I should’ve been talking to “New York.” Oh well, they answered anyway. Man, you feel like a loser when you screw up like that. The tower guys are cool though. I think they hear a lot of it.
As I approached MGJ, I decided I had to pass the airport on the east to head in at 45 degrees to the downwind leg. As I began my descent to the pattern, we spotted another plane in the pattern already. I thought I could come in behind him and then do some slow flight to let him complete his landing. Yigal thought that was bad judgment because my airspeed was so much more than his. I would’ve come too close to him. We did a right circle to give him some time to get ahead and then we entered the downwind leg of the pattern. Two landings and one emergency “engine-out” landing were as smooth as silk.
Solo next time?