Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Victory...Lesson 13

Nice day to fly, visibility was good, clouds were high so pretty smooth flying. I wanted to really concentrate on holding altitude, holding airspeed and perfecting my takeoffs.

I tend to make takeoffs harder for myself by holding the airplane on the ground longer than necessary. So with the tail in the air, it's harder to control and I start swerving. This time as soon as we hit 50-55mph or so, I gave a little back pressure and the airplane flew right off. I was already holding right rudder (I start as soon as the tail comes up) so I flew straight. My instructor was impressed.

We practiced steep turns. Those sure messed with my head a little but I did alright. I only lost 100ft so that was good. We don't have an attitude indicator in the Cub so we guessed what 45 degrees looked like.

Then it was time to practice landings. We headed over to HIO which is a Class D tower airport. I normally go to untowered airports but HIO has a nice big runway and is close. I made the inbound call but my instructor took over repeating back to the tower as we haven't worked on that yet. Wind was 200 but they were using runway 31 instead of 20 so we had a little tailwind.

We set up for a straight in approach and looked and looked for traffic. It was busy. I made an adequate bounced landing but my takeoff was horrendous. I held right rudder for some reason when I needed left but we made it off before running off the runway and departed to the South to go do landings at Twin Oaks.

My first landing I bounced of course but got down safely. I did it all myself. It wasn't pretty but no groundlooping!

I did another great takeoff and flew the pattern and held altitude pretty well. I always come in a little high so we did a forward slip. Before the numbers I straightened out and did my best landing to date. No bounce, all three wheels hitting at the same time and straight. I thought for sure my instructor helped but then I heard her laugh and tell me "that's how it's done. You did that on your own!".

I was so incredibly happy. Finally it was coming together. My next trip around the pattern was pretty much the same and I made another really great 3 pt landing (a little crooked this time but I was able to keep it under control). We actually did a touch and go this time, which I love doing.

The third and final trip around the pattern we were coming in over the trees and it felt like the bottom fell out of the plane and we dropped. I added power and asked what on earth that was. I think she said wind shear caused by the trees. It rattled me and this landing was not very good, safe but not pretty. I bounced a little.

By this time I was tired and wanted to end on a good note so we taxiied back. So much fun today and I feel like I can really do this now!

Date: 5/01/2012
Hobbs time: 1.1
Instructor time: 1.1

Total time toward ppl: 16.9

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lesson 12

After 3 consecutive lessons of landing practice last week, we headed out to practice more stalls. I LOVE stall practice. I love raising the nose, the airspeed bleeding off and then hearing the stall warning horn blare at me. I love the challenge of keeping everything coordinated. I love anticipating the break. I would not love stalling on accident though. :)

It was a bit gusty at altitude but I wasn't scared like I used to be. I just trimmed for cruise and dealt with the wind pushing me around.

We got one power-on stall done and I was just entering the next one, the stall warning horn blaring, when a gust of wind picked up the wing. I immediately lowered the nose and my instructor said we would practice those later. Good! I didn't want to test the spinning ability of the Sport Cub.

So we tried to find an airport where it wasn't raining and where the wind wasn't so bad. UAO looked good so we went there.

I kept getting blown into the runway on downwind so had to crab a bit. I like crabbing. The wind was coming right down the runway, maybe a little off to the right so I didn't have to make much of a crosswind correction on this trip.

The next trip around the pattern I did, as the wind was almost coming directly off the right wing but pretty light (like 6knts or so). My instructor told me to land on the right front wheel first, just slightly before planting all three down. I did and and yelled "Awesome!" while cleaning up the airplane to go again. We did a wheel takeoff on the right wheel and I crabbed to the right to stay over the runway.

This time a rain shower was coming in so we headed to a grass strip. The wind was knocking me around so much I couldn't get stabilized on final and did a go-around.

So we decided to call it a day and flew back home. The wind on the ground was hardly anything but 100 ft from the ground it was variable and gusty. It was a challenge just to keep it lined up with the runway and thankfully my instructor took over to land it. 

I'm learning so much and really like the challenge of landings. Even though most of my landings consist of a  bounce or two I'm learning why (mostly due to not flaring enough and getting into that 3 point attitude) and when to go-around. Landing a tailwheel is no joke but will be worth it when I am finally able to solo.

I love flying.

Date: 4/26/2012
Hobbs time: 1.1
Instructor time: 1.1

Total time toward ppl: 15.8

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The sky

I love flying and love the sky we fly in. Every chance I get I like to take pictures of clouds. 

Fluffy ones (cumulus) are my favorite although they do signal unstable air and somewhat rough flying.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

6th lesson: worst pilot ever

Okay, so I've skipped some lessons and now I don't really remember them. I need to sit down and debrief my lessons here before the next one. Oh well.

So today's lesson was put off an hour due to low clouds and when we finally took off the clouds were still low but scattered. It was awesome to see the various rain showers in all directions. We flew right under a cloud bank and I remember telling my instructor how much I loved flying. Looking up and seeing nothing but clouds was amazing.

But I'm moving ahead of myself. We gassed up the Cub and I taxiied us to the the run-up area. Did I used to think taxiing was hard? It's quite easy now but I'm sure will be a bit more challenging with a strong wind.

After the run-up checklist I took a deep breath as I knew the takeoff was coming. I always take a deep breath, make my traffic call, turn on to the runway and then force myself to put the throttle all the way in. I don't know why but I get it about 3/4 way forward and then freeze. Maybe because I know with full power, I really need to dance on the rudder pedals and I have almost run off the runway several times over-correcting.

However, today was different. I pushed the throttle all the way forward and danced down the runway to a perfect takeoff. Seriously, I was on the center line, added right rudder and climbed at the perfect attitude. My instructor yelled "wohoo!".

I should have known it could only go downhill from there. We flew over to KMMV again to practice landings. Something I have been looking forward too. Besides a helicopter, we were the only ones in the pattern. I made the traffic calls and kept forgetting the runway number. Oops.

We did several landings with my instructor walking me through the process and helping out. I did okay but I wasn't fully in charge of the landing. I would fly a pretty stable pattern until final where all of a sudden I was all over with airspeed and had trouble lining up with the center line. And this with winds calm!

A storm was quickly moving in to MMV so we headed over to Aurora (UAO) to practice more landings, all stop and go's. This is where my head exploded. I used the GPS to get us there and entered the pattern. The first landing was okay but when climbing out I turned crosswind so horribly that it wasn't a rectangular course but rather like a triangle! I did this twice in a row. How embarrassing.

I was so focused on airspeed and pitch and looking for traffic that I would let something else slide. Like I only had room enough in my brain for so much. I was drifting from the airport on downwind or drifting to the airport on downwind. Sometimes on base I would lose the airport (how is that even possible). 

Sometimes I would overshoot final, undershoot final, come in too fast, too high, too low, too slow. Ugh. Every time was something different to work on. 

Then I finally flew a perfect pattern, pulled carb heat at the right time, reduced the throttle abeam the numbers, lowered the flaps (and remembered to pitch down at the same time), turned a perfect base and turned a perfect, gentle final while keeping the airspeed perfect.

I was lined with with the centerline and then 'boom', a gust of wind blew me to the left. Darn! So by the time I corrected for that we were there and preparing to land. 

This landing was laughable. I thought I had everything right and then just my mains touched. What I thought was a perfect greaser was not. I pulled back and up we went again. Oh no. Down we came again. Bounce. Up we went a little and down we came again. I had the stick all the way back to keep that tail down and then stopped on the runway. I cleaned up the airplane and then pushed the stick all the way forward to get the tail off so we could just cruise down the runway and practice staying on the center line using the rudder. 

Then when the end of the runway was in sight, I pulled up and the little Cub climbed. And then we would start over.

I was getting pretty tired by this time so we headed back and flew the pattern at Twin Oaks. The runway was noticeably shorter so I didn't have a ton of time to set up for the landing. The landing was okay (with help of course) considering the wind had picked up (left quartering tailwind). 

By the time I taxiied off and parked, I felt defeated. It was a challenging lesson and I didn't feel I made any progress. Which I know is nonsense. My instructor told me I did great and she purposely overwhelmed me a bit to stretch me. I'm glad and am now looking forward to the next lesson.

Date: 4/05/2012
Hobbs time: 1.8
Instructor time: 1.8

Total time toward ppl: 8.4

Thursday, March 29, 2012

4th Lesson: Manuevers

Finally, I was able to fly after 20 days of being grounded due to weather. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and there was a lot of traffic out. That was nice actually as it got me scanning and listening to various frequencies. Usually we are the only ones out.

My instructor had me do some turns and a rectangular course to get me back in the groove. It's amazing how rusty I was. Once I was comfortable with the controls again we moved onto S-turns and Turns around a point. Both were easy due to little to no wind. I want to practice them when I'll need to make some wind corrections.

Then she surprised me by asking if I wanted to land at another airport. Yes! We choose KMMV (McMinnville near the Evergreen Aviation Museum.) This is not a towered airport but is busy and has a very nice and wide runway. I'm used to a tiny and short runway. 

KMMV from Google Earth
We announced and came in and flew down the length of the runway, holding the plane off so I could get a good feel and sight picture. Then we landed and I taxiied off the runway just in time to see a Seminole from HAI land. We circled around and took off again and headed back to Twin Oaks, doing maneuvers on the way.

It was a fun lesson and felt good to get back in the air.

Date: 3/23/2012
Hobbs time: 1.4
Instructor time: 1.4

Total time toward ppl: 4.2.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I won a shirt

I forgot to post that I won a t-shirt from http://www.windtee.com and it is a really nice shirt. Yay for my first aviation related clothing.


Still haven't flown due to weather so here's something funny I found on the web when I should have been studying for the knowledge test.

A Flying students' diary..

Week 1

Monday: Rain

Tuesday: Rain

Wednesday: No rain; no visibility either

Thursday: Take instructor to lunch. Discover I don't know enough to take
instructor to lunch.

Friday: Fly! Do first stall and second stall during same maneuver. Cover
instructor with lunch.

Week 2

Monday: Learned not to scrape frost off Plexiglas with ice-scraper. Used big
scratch as marker to set pitch.

Tuesday: Instructor wants me to stop calling throttle "THAT BIG KNOB THING."
Also hates when I call instruments "GADGETS"

Wednesday: Radios won't pick up radio stations, so I turned them off.
Instructor seems to think I missed something.

Thursday: Learned 10 degree bank is not a steep turn. Did stall again today.
Lost 2000 feet. Instructor said that was some kind of record -- my first

Friday: Did steep turn. Instructor said I was not ready for inverted flight

Week 3

Monday: Instructor called in sick. New instructor told me to stop calling
her "BABE". Did steep turns. She said I had to have permission for inverted

Tuesday: Instructor back. He told me to stop calling him "BABE", too. He got
mad when I pulled power back on takeoff because the engine was to loud.

Wednesday: Instructor said after the first 20 hours, most students have
established a learning curve. He said there is a slight bend in mine.

Thursday: Did stalls. Clean recovery. Instructor said I did good job. Also
did turns around a point. Instructor warned me never to pick ex-fiancée's
house as point again.

Friday: Did pattern work. Instructor said that if downwind, base and final
formed a triangle, I would be perfect. More praise!

Week 4

Monday: First landing at a controlled field. Did fine until I told the
captain in the 747 ahead of us on the taxiway to move his bird. Instructor
says we'll have ground school all this week on radio procedures.

Tuesday: Asked instructor if everyone in his family had turned grey at such
an early age. He smiled. We did takeoff stalls. He says I did just fine but
to wait until we reached altitude next time. Three Niner Juliet will be out
of the shop in three days when the new strut and tire arrive. Instructor
says his back bothers him only a little.

Wednesday: Flew through clouds. I thought those radio towers were a lot
lower. I'm sure my instructor is going grey.

Thursday: Left flaps down for entire flight. Instructor asked way. I told
him I wanted the extra lift as a safety margin. More ground school.

Friday: Asked instructor when I could solo. I have never seen anyone
actually laugh until they cried before.