I gave Freedom Air a call yesterday morning to see if they had anything available for that afternoon because it looked like rain today. I have a habit of calling last minute. I found out that they were booked. That was fine, the rain looked like it was towards the afternoon anyway.
I arrived at about 7:50 today to give the plane a preflight inspection. This would save some $$$ if I got this done early when the clock wasn’t running. Unfortunately, the plane was in the hangar and I didn’t have the key. Oh well, I took some photos like I said I would in a previous post.
This is a sea plane, as you can see from the upper propeller in back of the pilot.
This plane had “Experimental” written on the side of it, so I thought it deserved a photo. I have no idea was type of experiment they will perform with it.
The next one is a Cessna (the most popular small plane out there) and the last is the flight school across the way. If you look past the hangar, you can see runway 3.
Yigal arrived after me and we talked a little about the weather. I was concerned about the very light drizzle coming down and he said that wasn’t a problem, we could fly in the rain if need be. It was visibility that mattered.
He had me call the weather service again for a standard briefing. I was secretly apprehensive about making this call because the first time I called the service, a real jerk gave me a hard time. This time, Yigal told me not to let them get the best of me and had me put the call on speakerphone.
The operator came on and was a different guy than last time, or the same guy, just beat up a little bit from his supervisor. He was very, very helpful. I gave him the airplane tail number and the airport we would be taking off from. I told him the duration of flight time and he gave me a complete rundown of everything I could possibly want to know. He also gave his opinion based on his experience, which was nice. We had good visibility, so it was cool to fly. What a pleasure talking to him.
I gave the plane a preflight in the hangar and we pulled it out. We got in and taxied to the runway. Today, I was going to do touch and goes for about an hour and a half. This should be interesting. Landing an airplane is the toughest thing to do.
Basically, here is what we did. I took off and climbed to an altitude of 1000 FT. Then, I made a radio call: “Orange County, Cherokee turning crosswind at runway 3.” Then, I continued to climb, while making a left turn to1400 FT. When I hit 1400 FT, I lowered the throttle so the engine was running at 2000 RPM (cruising speed). Then, when I was about a mile out from the runway, I made another radio call: “Orange County, Cherokee turning downwind at runway 3.” We paralleled the runway until we passed the very end (where we begun our takeoff) of it, then, I raised the flaps one click. We continued past the beginning of the runway for about one more mile. Then, I made a radio call: “Orange County, Cherokee turning base at runway 3.” This is where I made the most mistakes. At this point, I had to make another left turn, lower the RPMs to 1700, raise the flaps one more click and begin our descent to about 900 FT. It took me a while to get this. It seems like the plane wants to climb when I should be descending and vice versa. When we were lined up with the runway, I made one last radio call: “Orange County, Cherokee turning final for runway 3.” There were about 3 other training planes up in the same airspace this moring, so there was a lot of chatter. I talked over one guy once or twice…I’ll have to correct that for next time. Note to self: Listen for open air before making a radio call.
So, at this point we were heading straight for the runway. I would line my angle of descent up with the lights on the runway (VIZI Lights?). When I was too high, both lights would be white (and I’ll fly all night), too low, both lights would be red (and I’ll be dead…a little saying pilots use to remember the lighting sequence), just right, the rear light would be red and the front one would be white. As we got closer to our touchdown spot, I would flare the plane slightly. Basically, I would let the plane fall, give it a slight flare, let it fall, and give it a slight flare. When we almost touched down, I would give it another flare to land the plane. Too many flares and you slow the plane too much and it begins to fall too fast for a hard landing.
It took a few times to get the entire takeoff and landing pattern down pat with no mistakes. I took off and landed 5 times and had two very good landings. The second landing was very iffy, as I over-corrected with the rudder to land kind of crooked.
Yigal says that I am doing excellent for a student with only slightly over 4 hours. Next step, continue with my ground school, start looking into my own headset and prepare for my next lesson, Thursday of next week at 5:30PM.