Since finishing my last lesson, I have been going over my mistakes in my mind. There were a few…you can read this post to catch up. I went into this lesson on a mission. I even told Yigal that I was going to impress him today. I figured that a few days of dreaming about this lesson would handle that.
Well, today was windy again. Let’s be clear, it is good to practice in the wind. It draws out a lot of issues and teaches a student pilot how to correct them. Trust me, flying in calm air has just become much easier. Also, I appreciate the fact that I am learning crosswind takeoffs, landings and crabbing with the instructor in the cockpit with me, rather than being all alone trying to gain this important experience for the first time. It is challenging to say the least.
I am doing very well with the taxi, takeoff, climb, pattern, speed, crabbing and descent. I am actually getting the hang of descending smoothly to bring the plane about a foot off the runway. Up to this point, I have had a problem with maintaining enough airspeed to avoid a full stall before I needed it on landing, so I wanted to correct that for today. Well, apparently when you land, everything you do becomes extremely sensitive.
As stated above, I come in nicely for my final descent and bring the airplane about a foot off the runway. At that point, the problems begin. Right when I hit my target height, wham, we balloon back up to about twenty feet off the runway. Now, this is very dangerous because at such a slow speed at that height, the airplane can drop suddenly, causing damage.
Here is a good description:
“Most pilots, especially of small aircraft, will experience ground effects on landing; in fact the art of landing largely comes down to understanding when these effects need to be taken into account. As the aircraft descends towards the runway, it will not be influenced by ground effect, but as the aircraft flares and descends within one wingspan of the strip, ground effect will cause a pronounced increase in lift. If not anticipated by the pilot this can cause the aircraft to rise suddenly and significantly â€” an effect known as a “balloon”. Left uncorrected, a balloon can lead to a dangerous situation where the aircraft is rising yet decelerating, a condition which can rapidly lead to a stall, especially when it is considered that landing speeds are generally only a very small margin above the stall speed. A stall even from a few tens of feet above the ground can cause a major, possibly fatal, crash. A “balloon” may be corrected given sufficient runway remaining, but for novice pilots a better option is to go around. A good landing approach allows for ground effect such that the aircraft flares and is held off in ground effect until it gently descends onto the runway.”
So, this issue had to do with airspeed and ground effect causing a balloon. It happened twice today. A few landings were ok, with one being very good. As you can imagine, my personality does not accept this that well. Yigal tells me not to be hard on myself and that almost all student pilots experience this at this point in their training, but I really need to conquer this. I will be doing a lot of research on this to prepare for my next lesson on Sunday. Of course, any advice from other student pilots would be GREATLY appreciated. I would also appreciate other experiences…Bob C.?
PS – Yigal tells me to get ready for my first solo.
Total hours – 10.5