I made it the flight school early again and wanted to get some of the preflight stuff out of the way, but the plane was locked. I figured it would be, so I cleaned the dew off the windshield. Yigal came and I got the key to do the whole preflight. We needed fuel, so we started the airplane and taxied over to the filling station. Putting fuel in a Cessna (high wing) is a bit different than the Piper (low wing). You need a ladder to get up to the tank caps. Other than that, it is about the same. The tanks were pretty low, so I put about 45 gallons in them.
Today was perfect weather for practicing more takeoff and landings. I am getting pretty good at them. The one problem I am still having is not gauging the height of the plane from the runway when we are almost at the touchdown point. We are generally higher than I think we are, so the touchdown is slightly bumpy. Also, in a Cessna, you need to keep the yoke pulled back while landing and after you land as well. If you don’t, you will put too much weight on the front wheel.
What really excited me about these lessons is that I actually learn things. This lesson, the major point I took away was to keep my speed at least 70kts when approaching the runway to land. During one landing, our speed was only 60kts, so when we approached closely to the touchdown spot, I stalled the plane to drop somewhat hard. Controlling the airplane at that low speed is difficult as well. I think the tendency for new pilots is to slow the plane down as much as possible to land, but that shouldn’t be the case. It just feels weird giving the airplane more throttle as you are approaching the runway. I will be sure to practice this next time, as I am sure we will be working on this more. Yigal wants me to practice staying above the blacktop at a height of about 3 feet for as long as possible. After that hard landing, I explained to him what I did wrong. That put a smile on his face. He likes it when his students realize what their mistakes are and plan on correcting them next time. He says that flying is all about corrections.
One of my mistakes during takeoff is climbing at too high of an airspeed (not enough pitch). I usually climb at 80kts, when it should be only 70kts. The way to lower the speed is to pitch the airplane up so you gain as much altitude as fast as possible. There are two reasons for this: 1. to gain altitude fast in case you lose your engine, and 2. to save fuel. I will be sure to work on this as well.
I am really starting to feel very comfortable flying these airplanes. If I had to do my solo tomorrow, I would be able to. I hope Yigal is not reading this. (haha)
After my sixth takeoff, I looked over at the ridge and told Yigal I can’t wait to start flying around to look at the beautiful views of the area. Since he seems to really love the Autumn colors, he said, “Let’s do it.” I said, “Yeah baby!” and headed towards the ridge. WeÂ flew about 10.5 miles Northwest, straight for the Mohonk Mountain House tower . I climbed to 3,500ft and we cruised all the way over at 2,200rpm (110mph). When we reached our point, I descended to about 2,000ft and we circled the Mountain House. We flew over Minnewaska State Park (earlier post) and further South along the ridge. I think I am pretty lucky to be learning how to fly in this area of the country. I really couldn’t ask for anything more.
We headed back towards the airport and I actually knew where it was. I figure that if I flew Northwest towards the ridge, I should fly Southeast back to the airport. I really felt like a genius. I descended from 3,500ft to 1,400ft and entered the airport landing pattern. When I entered the pattern, Yigal pushed the throttle to idle and told me to do an emergency landing. I banked for a tight left and kept my optimum glide speed of 70kts. I came in to land and we drifted slightly to the right. Yigal was telling me to use the left rudder, but we had already landed ok. He asked me what happened and I explained to him that we were in an emergency situation and I had to land the plane. He loves it.
Till next time!