This lesson was scheduled after work, because I used up my days off for the year. Good thing they renew tomorrow. I am going to start taking half days, so I can take my lessons at about 1PM. I think that would be the best time to fly. Mornings are good too because a nice lesson wakes me up.
I am a little razzled after work, so I needed to relax a little before getting in the plane. I needed to get in the zone. I was sitting on Freedom Air’s couch chillen like a villain when Yigal walked in. He was wondering why I wasn’t doing to pre-flight. Ok, getting in the zone…over.
I did the pre-flight and we taxied to runway 26, which threw me for a loop. It’s amazing how used to one runway and one pattern you become in such a short time. The wind was different today, so we had to mix things up. I learned that this was a right pattern runway as compared to runway 3’s left pattern. That threw me for a loop too.
Ok, taxiing done. Run-up done. Radio calls done. Takeoff number one was smooth. This lesson was to go over touch and goes again. Incidentally, touch and goes are a little taxing on the brain. There is a lot to do in a very short time. The pattern is not that far of a distance and there is not much altitude to play with. I made it a point today to use more of the rudder and to start using the horizon as a guide more than the instruments. This works much better and gets me more used to flying the plane like I am supposed to. Imagine driving a car with your nose stuck in the speedometer, gas gauge and turn signals. Not going to work well.
There were about 2-3 planes in the pattern today. There was a really nice Columbia up there with us. I found the new plane I want. This sucker cruises at 190MPH. There was another plane that came into the pattern later on from the left instead of the right. His radio call that he was entering the pattern on at a 45 concerned us a bit…because if that radio call was correct, he would be coming straight at us. Yigal took over at that moment and tried to find out where he was. We couldn’t find him at all. Apparently, since he thought it was a left pattern, he was all the way over on the other side of the runway. No wonder he was no where to be found. That’s why I like having a good instructor…it’s second nature for him.
Since there was a faster plane up there with us practicing touch and goes as well, we had to practice some slow flight waiting for him to do his thing. I am not a fan of slow flight…it’s ok, but you really have to keep your eye on the airplane’s pitch and speed. Too much pitch or too slow of a speed, the plane can stall and you will need to immediately recover. It keeps you extremely alert. We also practiced “crabbing” the airplane due to some wind coming from the North.
We made 4 landings and on our last one, Yigal asked if I remembered what to do if I lost the engine. I said I did. Of course his next move was to pull the throttle to idle. He said, “Land it.” I completed the proper steps and started my final approach. It is very difficult to maneuver in slow flight…so I had some difficulty. I pulled up the last click of flaps and slowed the plane down too much. Ok, that would’ve been a landing in the grass. Another note to self: keep your speed until you absolutely know you will make the runway. Yigal gave the airplane some throttle so we were further down the runway and I landed the plane.
I have to say, using the rudder more liberally improves my landings by giving me more maneuverability. Also, using the horizon as a guide lets me focus more on flying the airplane more comfortably. It feels like I “own” it more.