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Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by birdus, Nov 18, 2019.
It's wonderful that you're beginning your training in a tailwheel.
Lesson #11 — .9 hours (13.7 total)
After I installed a slip indicator (ball) today (at my instructor's suggestion a while back), we went flying. We started a bit late, and were probably limited by that, but I was at a quitting point anyway, so the short lesson was okay.
We flew to one of two practice areas, one that we hadn't been to in a while, and started off with some 90-degree turns and some dutch rolls. I don't know if I'm really that uncoordinated or if the ball just brings out the worst in me. Although I felt like I was doing terrible, my instructor said I wasn't doing bad. I look forward to practicing more with the ball and really getting coordination down by feel, and I believe the ball will help me do that. I'd like to get to the point where I don't need a ball. For the time being, however, I believe it will be a great learning tool.
"Let's head back and do some pattern work," Gene said, and so I did. This is the first time I navigated back to the airport and entered the pattern by myself from this practice area. Several times, I've been totally lost, so it feels good being able to discern my whereabouts and being able to get home, just by using the compass and landmarks, mostly landmarks (apparently my compass is out of whack, so it can only give me a very general direction).
Unfortunately, on the way back, we lost our engine. Well, not really. Gene, however, did yank the throttle and told me we lost our engine. He pulled it directly over a grass strip, which, of course, I hadn't seen. I pushed over and trimmed full up, gliding at around 70 mph, then began looking for a place to land. He helped me out by telling me what he had done. I did a 180 and mentioned the possibility of going downwind from our location and landing the opposite direction, but he thought we might not make that. So, I did what he had done on one of our first lessons, and began do to a 360. He suggested we fly an anti-crosswind leg (my term), then double back with a 270 which would set us up on final. I didn't quite understand what he was getting at, and by then, it was clear we would be short. Anyway, it was a great exercise and I told him I'd like to do more of those. After the lesson, we discussed that kind of thing, and he really preaches the idea of maneuvering over or very near the runway and being very cautious of flying away from it for very long.
I got us back to the field and entered the downwind on a 45. On all 4 landings today, I did a much better job on final than I had yesterday. On the first landing, Gene told me to make it a wheel landing. I'd read all about them, but he and I hadn't discussed them too much. I ended up pushing over when we were a few inches above the ground. Things went cattywampus for a bit, but I didn't kill us. Although I wanted to try it again, we ended up doing a few power off approaches and I declined to try another wheel landing this evening because it was just too much required brain power to do the power off approaches and the wheel landing. I did two approaches from 1,000 AGL with the power pulled abeam the numbers. With just a bit of guidance from Gene, I brought it in lined right up with the runway and just past the numbers. Those were quite fun. On one of those landings, however, I hit before I was at stall attitude and we launched back into the air. I gently kept pulling back on the stick and we slowly sank back down to the runway and touched down 3-point. Nice save, if I do say so myself.
So, nothing too crazy today, just some more practice of some basics. After the flying, we did discuss wheel landings, so I now have a better idea of what I need to do, and my instructor admitted that he probably didn't do the best job preparing me to make my first wheel landing. If I make it out to the airport tomorrow, that'll be the first time I've done 3 days in a row. Sometimes I feel like progress is slow, but I also feel like I'm moving generally forward, so it's all good.
Lesson #12 — 1.8 hours (15.5 total)
After I arrived at my instructor's hangar today, he began talking to me about the FARs specifying all that I need to know and to have practiced prior to soloing. Long story short, he said we could do the knowledge test and he could endorse me to solo, if I wanted. After thinking about it for just a couple seconds, I declined. After yesterday's gusty conditions, I didn't want to solo in more gusty conditions, and after seeing my lack of coordination after getting the ball installed in the panel, I decided I wasn't quite ready, and, frankly, we hadn't technically done all that was necessary for me to solo—not that those missing items would've made a difference. I also know from yesterday's flight that I wasn't doing a great job adjusting for crosswind in various phases of flight. I told him I knew I could solo, but would rather do it without the gusty conditions and after working a little more on a couple things. So, I very well may solo next weekend. We'll see.
On today's flight, we started by doing more turns around a point, both steep turns and shallow turns. The shallow turns were more difficult, and I worked on those for quite a while, and did them in both directions. I improved as we went. I also did more s-turns after analyzing my Garmin Pilot flight path from yesterday's flight. Today's s-turns were improved.
Two new things I learned today were short-field takeoffs and soft-field takeoffs. I just did one soft-field takeoff, but did several short-field takeoffs. At first (with the short-field takeoffs), I did poorly, but began to improve. I started to get comfortable getting the tail up quickly, then using the rudder to keep us close to the centerline, then fly off and climb at Vx. All new, but more comfortable as I did a few. I'll do a lot more of both in the coming weeks, I'm sure.
Out of seven landings, here's the breakdown:
Very low approach close to some trees. Added power to gain altitude. Good landing (all base legs were pretty well adjusted for wind by crabbing, unlike all of yesterday's).
Didn't pull up quite enough to get us into a stall attitude before touching down. Bounced back into the air (just a bit) a couple times, but ended up okay.
Flared high and dropped it in for a bounce.
Came in a little high, slipped a little bit, and made a good landing.
Adjusted power on final to try and stay on a more consistent glide path (something my instructor is working on with me in preparation for short-field landings). Just before touchdown, the instructor said "Uh!" I think he thought I might drop it in, but it was an excellent landing, if I do say so myself. He didn't even know he did that, but I told him and we had a good laugh about it.
Good approach and good landing.
(first attempt) Came in way high. Based on previous approaches and the peppy wind coming down the runway, I thought we'd take so long to get to the runway that I'd be down to the ground by the time we got to the numbers, but we just kept gliding and gliding and gliding. Slipped it part way through final to lose some altitude, but it was too little too late. We probably wouldn't have touched down by halfway down the runway (that's about 1,800 feet), so I did a go-around.
(second attempt) Decent approach, but there was a big sinker on short final, then a major lift, then another sinker. I adjusted and had us set up for a good landing. When we were about to touch down, close to full stall, a huge gust hit us, picked up the right wing, and launched us back into the air. I gave it a blast of throttle and input what had to have been close to full right aileron. We hit what felt to me like hard, but the instructor said it wasn't bad. For a split second, I thought it was going to be a catastrophe, but it turned out not to be too terrible a landing, just really exciting.
In general, I'm doing better at making adjustments at various points in the approach, whether adding throttle or slipping, rounding or extending the base leg, etc. I also had to make lots of lateral adjustments today because of the gusty conditions to get the plane lined up on the runway centerline prior to touchdown. I actually found that kind of fun. It's satisfying to get it lined up. A criticism is that I forgot to add full up trim on final on a couple approaches. Not the end of the world, but it just makes it more difficult than it has to be.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was shooting for soloing in as few hours as possible. Now, however, I don't mind a bit that I'm racking up hours and haven't soloed yet. I'm learning a lot and building skill. That's good enough.
No real bragging rights in a fast solo time. In my experience, nearly nobody will ask you about that in the future. My solo day was probably rushed a bit - not by me. Looking back, I wish I had time to develop a bit more judgement before getting turned loose. Keep enjoying the journey!
Hey, I haven't been on POA in a while, but just wanted to say you are doing great, and good for you on learning in a taildragger! I'm from way over here on the east coast in central NY - but spent a month in Seattle last May/June and decided to finish my tailwheel endorsement at Harvey Field up in Snohomish an a 1946 Champ (that's been there since 1946...). Was some of the most fun and scenic flying I have ever had the pleasure of doing. When you get to your XC's (solo or dual) take a ride out there, land on the grass, and have a burger at the Buzz Inn. Good food, a great FBO & flight school and nice people.
And, I just have to say from back here on the boring east coast, I am supremely jealous of your view of the mountains. I can't wait to come back out there to WA. Hoping to make it out there this summer again.
Oh - and from a guy who took a long time to solo (due to my medical not being approved - took the FAA 6 months) - Just keep going until YOU are comfortable and confident. And pick a really nice day wind wise. You will be wound up/nervous enough as it is. After all, "solo" is just a number, and really doesn't mean much especially early on. It really only matters when you start having to build hours for the checkride, and you will probably have plenty. Enjoy it and don't rush
Thanks for the encouraging words and the tip on Harvey field. I'll definitely fly up there and have lunch (about 56 miles). I agree about the scenery here. I believe Mt. Rainier is one of the most beautiful things on the face of the earth and can't wait to fly around it and in the mountains in general. In fact, I'm planning to fly the entire length of the Cascade Mountains and do a video series on it, among other trips I have planned.
I'll keep plugging away at it.
In 1990 I worked a few weeks in downtown Seattle and stayed at a high end hotel. I think the name was the Alexis. I saw Paul Newman on the elevator. I ate a lot on the waterfront and could see Mount Rainer. It was a great and successful trip.
When I left, I was on the left side of the plane in a window seat. We started our climb out and the Captain said “for those of you on the left side of the plane, I am about to fill your window with Mount Rainer.” He banked over and pointed the wing at the peak while pivoting around it much like the turns around a point that every pilot does in their first few hours. When we leveled off and started flying away he said, “I have been flying out of Seattle for thirty years and have never seen more snow on Mount Ranier.” I’ve been on hundreds of commercial flights but don’t remember much about many of them, but I haven’t forgotten that one. It’s a beautiful place from the air.
The snowfall record is between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker, I believe. Both are in the Cascades near Seattle. Mt. Baker may have pulled ahead in recent years. In any event, the record at Mt. Rainier was 1,122 inches. I think that was within a 365-day period, in 1971-1972.
Lesson #13 — 1.8 hours (17.3 total)
Garmin Pilot gives 2 different figures for hours: total and flying. I'm using total here. Flying hours are less. Just an FYI. Flying hours for today were 1.5.
Missed flying last weekend, as the weather here in the Pacific Northwest has been pretty much winter weather: rain, wind, some snow, and generally lousy. Today, however, was very nice. I felt anxious while at home before going to the airport, partly just because, well, I don't know, just the usual, I guess, and partly because I thought I might solo today. I didn't, but that's okay. We had a very nice flight.
We took off from Thun Field, then flew to Tacoma Narrows airport (making sure to skirt the class-D airspace of McChord Air Force Base, and stay under the class-B of SeaTac) where I did four landings and four takeoffs, the last of which was in the semi dark. That's the first time I've flown to another airport and the first time I've talked to a tower, and my first night landing. After that, we flew to Bremerton where I did two landings and two takeoffs, by now quite dark out. Last, back to Thun Field for another two landings. I did one go-around there, as I was way high. For some reason, I was tending to be very high on finals on this flight. I'll work on that. At least I was able to do a bit of practice slipping. However, landings were somewhere between good to excellent. My instructor actually patted me on the arm and said my landings are getting really good.
We enjoyed a nice sunset, an incredible full moon rising, lovely light, and, of course, a beautiful mountain.
A comment on first solo....I felt ready at X hours, but we flew 3 more days. Beginning to wonder if the instructor saw something in my flying that I did not. 4th day, we did 3 T&L's, on the taxi back, he said drop me at the midpoint of the runway! SOLO time!
As i came onto final, a helicopter made a simulated engine out to the grass beside the runway, and sat there. I did a go around, and the next time, landed, and was pleased with the quality of it. As I taxied up to my instructor and stopped, he opened the door and asked why I did the go around. "I did not know if he might take off, so I went around and came back when he was gone".
"That kind of judgement will keep you out of trouble, always think that way, do three more, and come on in for a briefing on solo rules".
I asked later why I took so long to solo, and he said he kept scheduling whenever we could get together, and for the last three days, the wind and gusts were more than he wanted me to have for my first solo. I was happy with that. How many hours were X+3 lessons? Who cares, it all worked out fine. That is an event that should not occur by hours, but by weather and individual readiness. Your instructor offering to sign you off was a nice one, and your decline, a good judgement call. You should solo when you both are happy with your skills.
Those 3 days while the wind was bad, my instructor taught me radio navigation, which can be vital if you get lost solo, and I had a 3x5 card with the frequency and radial for the local VOR's, plus the distance to the airport. He was an Engineer, and always had two solutions to every problem. I also had the runway numbers for all the nearby airports, listed clockwise from North. If the wind came up while solo, I was to fly to the one with a runway closest to direct into the wind, and land there. I kept that two sided card for many years, "Just in case"
I thoroughly enjoy your frank recounting of your lessons.
Don't worry about the solo date. I delayed mine FOUR lessons due to high winds and wanting a SPECIFIC date that was approaching. My solo was on 03-04-07 (like the way it added up). Still did solo at about 21 hours. I was scheduling 3 lessons a week to get ONE that was tolerable wind wise (<15-19 knots or direct crosswind under 15 knots).
Lesson #14 — 1 hour (18.3 total)
Note this airplane suspended in mid-air:
Furthermore, note that there is only one occupant in the cockpit. Let me make the pertinent point that that solitary occupant is yours truly.
Yesterday's afternoon/evening flight went well. Despite going to new airports and landing at night for the first time, I was flying well. Feeling pretty good. Today brought more nice weather with just a few knots of wind, mostly down the runway. After arriving in my instructor's hangar:
Me: "What would you think about me soloing today?"
Gene: "You were ready two weeks ago."
We added the endorsements to my "logbook" (Garmin Pilot) and took off. After the first landing, while still rolling, he told me to take off again. Next landing, he told me to pull over at the run-up area, which I did. He had already told me he'd get out there and probably watch while I flew one circuit, then he'd walk back to his hangar, so I knew this was the moment. I was perfectly content not being surprised by the whole thing.
I then flew three circuits. First time, I forgot to pull carb heat mid-field, but did so shortly thereafter. Third landing, the plane in front of me did a go-around, as the tail of another plane wasn't quite clear of the runway, half-way down its length. When I was about to touch down, I'm pretty sure I was the recipient of a bit of wake turbulence, but I added some aileron input, made the correction, and landed just fine. The plane didn't behave terribly differently without my instructor, but did climb quite a bit better. Overall, my flying was about as good as ever this first time alone.
After the third landing, I taxied back to my instructor's hangar, but before I could remove my seat belt, he popped his head in through the passenger door:
"Go back out, leave the pattern, go do some maneuvers, then come back, enter the pattern, and land."
He later told me that he'd generally require more hours of a student, but said I was free to fly anywhere in the vicinity of the airport, using my own judgement for weather. I thought that was cool.
Nothing too exciting to tell here. I announced I'd be departing the pattern to the east, then did so. I did some dutch rolls, 90-degree turns, 360s (didn't hold my altitude too well throughout this little jaunt), then decided to try to find my way home. Upon turning around, I couldn't help but notice the haze with the sun back-lighting it. Pretty awful. Couldn't see squat.
No reason to panic. I've got lots of gas. Worst case, I can grab my iPad off the shelf behind me and see where things are. Okay. Head generally west. Look around. What do I recognize? There's Lake Tapps off to my right. I think I'm in the ballpark. Hmm. Whaddya know? There's the airport, right in front of me. I'm at 3,000 feet. That's under SeaTac's class B. Good there. That also puts me well above the pattern altitude.
Long story short, I crossed mid-field and did a descending tear drop into the downwind. I had good visibility out the right window for any traffic that might be on crosswind turning downwind. It worked out perfectly. Apparently, however, I had forgotten exactly how we'd done that before (once). As the instructor discussed with me in the hangar, I was supposed to do a tear drop into a 45, not directly into the downwind! I'll remember for next time. Between where I was looking, what I was hearing on the radio, and my own announcements, it worked out just fine.
My final approaches today were quite good, not excessively high like yesterday. They were about as good as any I've done. Not sure any of the landings was perfect, but most of them were quite good.
My sister, who is an accomplished pilot and instructor, was the first one I called after getting my plane tied down and buttoned up. She was happy to hear the news and I was happy to share it.
I feel like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders. Onward and upward.
Congrats Jay! LOVE your solo date also (02-10-2020)!
Thanks, Dan! I appreciate it! Didn't even notice the date, but I do enjoy the way numbers mix together, too.
Great date, mine was 03-04-07 as posted earlier, but I did mine on purpose ... your kicks as it was not planned!
Great job birdus! Welcome to the tailwheel fraternity!
Keep it up.... Learning in a Luscombe is a great experience. I recently bought an 8E and completed my PPL in it start to finish (including my check ride). No electronic nav equipment just the required VFR list plus few others.
Good luck and just remember good landings start with good approaches!!
I missed the solo update @birdus !
Lessons #15 and #16 — 3.4 hours (21.7 total)
Today was challenging and tiring. Lots of new stuff was attempted; all was accomplished to one degree of quality or another.
I mounted my iPad in the cockpit which fed off of the Stratus so I'd have an artificial horizon. I also used its speed, altitude, and heading (actually course, I guess). I flew under the hood for 30 minutes. I flew straight and level, did turns, and did climbing and descending turns. Maintaining altitude, speed, and heading all at the same time was like herding cats—just about impossible. My instructor said I did pretty well, and that's how I felt about it, too.
Next? Back to the airport for some wheel landings. Up to this point in time, I had tried a wheel landing only once, and it didn't work out so well, and thus I was a bit concerned. After one 3-point landing as a warm up, we went around again to attempt the wheel landing. We talked about the sequence of events while in the pattern, and I gave it a go. The landing was just about perfect. I was pleasantly surprised. We went around again. The second attempt was strange. I thought my setup was right on the money, but when we were a few feet above the runway, the bottom dropped out. I arrested our descent with a truck load of up elevator and 3-pointed. I thought it was a gust, but my instructor said that I slowed down too much too soon. Third try, I came in just a bit faster and executed another good one.
I dropped Gene off at his hangar and then putted over to the fuel island to gas up. The sun was low on the horizon, the air becoming frigid, the sky mostly clear. I taxied back over to the hangar. I had been lazy over the weekend (i.e., we didn't fly), and so I had asked about doing the night cross country today, Presidents' Day. Inside the toasty hangar, we spent a while looking at charts, talking about all the dense information presented therein, and planning the flight. Gene has never gone particularly easy on me, and, although it's hard sometimes, that's what I was hoping for in getting this old geezer to teach me.
For the night cross country, you've got to land at an airport at least 50 NM away, then go home. What did we do? We flew to Arlington, more than 50 miles away, then landed at Paine Field, a large towered airport, then landed at Boeing Field, another large towered airport, then flew home, skirting SeaTac's class B for the second time on this flight. Here're the details.
Although I wanted to do my entire private training using just paper, my instructor suggested a compromise. He actually thinks you should use every tool at one's disposal, but understands my desire to keep it old school during my training. Gene suggested we use the iPad for the night time cross country, and that I can go ahead and just use paper for my day cross country. I was okay with that. There was plenty for me to worry about, so having the iPad was nice. We used it to find airports, look up frequencies, avoid airspace upon which I didn't want to intrude, and just for general peace of mind. Other than frequencies, I'm pretty sure Gene could've done the trip blind.
We started by flying maybe 30 degrees, avoiding SeaTac's airspace, then flew due north, all the way to Arlington, the longest leg of the flight. We identified cities, highways, lakes, and other airports along the way. I suggested it would suck to lose one's engine at night and Gene agreed. We talked about some possible courses of action if that were to happen. I tuned Arlington's frequencies, listened to the weather, and then started listening to the CTAF. There was a Skywagon doing pattern work. I announced I was inbound from the south and would do a straight in, traffic allowing. He was about to turn base when I was about two miles out, and asked if he could squeeze in before me. I told him to stay the f*%k out of my way. Just kidding. I said "go for it." I then warned him that I was blazing along at 90 miles per hour. He laughed. He easily landed and took off long before I got to the numbers. Apparently, I landed somewhat sideways and got slightly up on one wheel, but not to excess. We pulled into a parking area, and got out for a stretch and some other relief. Gene tried Paine Field's ATIS on the phone, but couldn't here everything they said. After about 10 minutes, we got back in the plane.
I tuned in the frequencies for Paine field and we taxied to the hold short line, where I announced my intentions—on Paine Field's ATIS. With each mistake, I learn. In this case, no harm done. There were no planes for miles. The 185 had taxied back to his hangar.
It didn't take long to get to Paine Field where I was cleared for a straight in and warned of wake turbulence from an Embrayer Jet. I was lucky tonight. Every landing was on a straight in. That's a nice way to ease into things. On short final, we saw an Alaska Airlines 737 waiting behind the hold short line. My landing was good. After I cleared the runway, the controller asked if I wanted to do a 180. I didn't understand, and by that point, he just told me to taxi past the hold short line, and that I could take off from that taxi way if I wanted to, but now not before letting the 737 go. He went zipping past and lifted off. Gene suggested the controller would wait a few minutes before clearing me for takeoff due to wake turbulence. After a bit, he asked me to tell him when I was ready. I said "we're ready!" He asked which direction we wanted to go, and I answered "straight out." He cleared us for takeoff and straight out and we went. My radio work with tower and ground is rough, but I have barely more than zero experience, so I probably shouldn't feel too bad.
We veered off to the right (after airborne) and intercepted the shoreline; Puget Sound is right there. We followed that shoreline south. I contacted Boeing Field Tower about 5 miles north of Elliot Bay and let him know we were coming. He said there was a Mooney in the vicinity, but didn't know his altitude, and I said I was looking. Shortly, I told him we had the Mooney in sight and he asked if I needed to get routed out of his way. At that point, the Mooney was passing on my left wing tip—not terribly far away—and I communicated that to the controller and let him know the Mooney was at our altitude, 1,700 feet. He thanked me.
We passed the Space Needle, downtown Seattle, and the two Seattle sports stadiums off our left wing as we passed over Elliot Bay, and then all the massive cranes for offloading ships. I called the tower again and asked him which runway he had cleared me to land on. "Left" was his answer. My instructor said I was coming in high, but, although the altimeter said I was pretty high, it really didn't feel like it to me. Turned out, we came in pretty much on the money. The part that was out of whack was my flair and touchdown. I flared and kept pulling back until the elevator was against the stop, but we still hadn't touched the ground. In fact, we were well above it and I dropped it in. As I type this, it just occurred to me that maybe I wasn't looking down the runway. I'm not sure. In any event, at the time, I was completely flummoxed as to how I could've misjudged our altitude by so much. We took the first exit, and I contacted ground, the first time I'd ever spoken with ground. They told me to taxi back to A2. I proceeded to taxi back to A2, then drove right past it. He gave me a reminder, and I turned around. Gene and I debated momentarily if we were in the right spot. At first, I thought so, but then saw grass in front of us. I said we needed to go another 100 feet, but Gene didn't see it. After we got cleared for takeoff from the tower, I veered to the left, at which point Gene saw the grass. We taxied onto the runway and took off, being cognizant of our altitude and making sure not to impinge on SeaTac's airspace off to our right.
We flew mostly due south, straight back to Thun Field. I did a straight in to runway 1-7, making another bad landing. After slowing down, neither of us saw the first exit. We just missed it. We were tired. We ended up taxiing way down to the next one, for a long taxi back to the threshold for one more lap around the pattern. That made two bad landings in a row. I wanted to make the last one a good one—my 10th night landing. I turned base high, not having flown downwind long enough, and so overshot final to give myself a little more time to get down. By the time I got lined up on final, our altitude was reasonable. I would be a little long, but not terrible. I ended my night cross country and my last required night landing with my 3rd sh%*ty landing in a row. I was tired, had a headache, and was generally feeling uncomfortable.
Both Gene (83) and I (fat and out of shape) got out of the plane moaning and groaning. We spent just a few minutes talking about the flight and reviewing the logs auto-generated by Garmin Pilot.
It was a tough but good day of flying.
Bravo on the solo. That is absolutely fantastic!
Hmm. Have you and your instructor discussed escaping IMC with only the aircraft instruments? There may be a time when all the tools available are just the ones in the panel.
Those are the best kind.
I don't think I have the necessary instruments to do so. However, I intend on putting in a new panel which will have an artificial horizon. Then, I know I can do a standard rate turn for, um, 60 or 120 seconds (I don't remember) which will turn me 180 degrees.
Flight #17 — 2 hours (23.7 total)
Since I need to have several hours of solo flight (more than I'll get on just the cross country), I took a flight today. When my instructor said "just go fly around," (he did mention practicing maneuvers, and I did do some s-turns along a road), I'm not sure he wanted me to do this, but mostly this flight was just for fun. Frankly, it was really the only flight I've done that was almost entirely fun. I did think about important things (like freezing to death in the forest at night) and did do some flight planning, but it was largely just nice (and cold). The flight lasted just over 2 hours, I got up to about 8,800 feet, flew about 185 miles, and reached a maximum speed of around 110 mph. Here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy the break from my long posts.
Mt. St. Helens
Spirit Lake, facing north-east
Spirit Lake (zillions of logs, probably from the eruption of 1980)
You probably don't want to see me, but there you have it. I probably won't post too many of these.
Flight #18 — 1 hour (24.7 total)
Started looking at the weather this morning and the wind at Thun Field was trending around 8 kts, gusting to 15, a bit of a right cross wind, maybe 45 degrees. Some clouds, but didn't look terrible. I sat here on the sofa for quite a while trying to decide what I was going to do. I know I need to practice cross winds, but anxiety was talking me out of it. As I procrastinated, the wind looked like it was decreasing just slightly. Finally, I took the plunge. I got my stuff together and headed to the airport.
As I taxied to the pumps, I made sure to put the controls in the right position. Although the wind probably wasn't strong enough to require it, I figured it would be good practice.
On the first takeoff roll, I applied right aileron, and the takeoff was no problem. The cross wind seemed to die down over the next hour, and I didn't even bother with ailerons on subsequent takeoffs—I think the trees reduce the cross wind down low, and so that may have contributed to the moderate conditions on the runway. My intent was to do a low pass over the runway on the first two approaches, practicing keeping my direction of flight, the runway, and my longitudinal axis parallel. I think that was a good idea, and I enjoyed doing it.
I decided I would make today's landings all wheel landings. The first one was a bomb. I bounced a few times, and, although I think I could've saved it, I just decided to go around. The winds at altitude were strong enough that I had to crab in the pattern. More good practice. I'd been embarrassed by the green line in Garmin Pilot before, and was determined not to let it get the best of me again. On one of my landings, I got a little slow and ended up 3-pointing it. On the other 4, I made good wheel landings. I was pretty happy about it.
Aside from the first takeoff, which was "normal," I decided to practice short-field takeoffs. The first was reasonable, the other 3 good.
Up until today, the few wheel landings and short-field takeoffs I'd done had all been with the instructor and had been few. Today, I probably doubled the total number of wheel landings and short-field takeoffs I've done.The winds weren't quite as bad as I had imagined, and the practice was good.