Now I know...

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by XSi, Apr 17, 2021.

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  1. XSi

    XSi Filing Flight Plan

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    XSi
    The day started with me waking up after not much sleep. I knew this could be the day. Last evening my CFI was ready to let me loose. We got up there but it was a bit more gusty than he felt comfortable. I did fairly ok. No issues. “Let’s see how it looks tomorrow. You are ready” he said.

    It’s been a long journey. My age (high 40), my slow learning pace, changing CFIs, my reluctance to go up there alone without first feel I know almost everything, but most important my lack of confidence, had me sitting there at 84.1 hours of training without solo yet (84.1 hours of unbelievable experience. I wouldn't change a single minute of those). It is not that I wasn’t close before. My previous CFI was going to send me up about 2 months ago. But I didn’t have it that day. He tried hard, I tried hard but it wasn’t a good day for me. It happens....

    Now, I was preparing for a new try. Weather looked good. I was checking it almost hourly using ForeFlight and Aviation Weather. Winds around 8-10 kt. Within my limits for sure. I was driving to the airport in the evening checking every single flag on the way. Some not moving at all but some waving hard. The last one I saw, 3 minutes away from the airport, was somewhere in the middle.

    I got to the airport and found my CFI. “Let’s see how it goes” he said. “Go pre-flight and I will meet you out there”. Pre-flight was uneventful. We did the engine runup and we started pattern work at our towered airport. First lap was good. Good takeoff, good pattern, perfect landing. The pattern was a bit crowded. My communication with the tower was good. Second lap, upwind, 700 ft, and I was ready to turn right crosswind. A Skyhawk in front of us was taking his time and his upwind was too long. In the past I would have turn without realizing other traffic was in front. At this point of my training I am more aware of where other traffic is and their position on the pattern. “I will follow him and turn behind him” I said. “Yup” he said. After crosswind and downwind turn, he called the tower “Tower, N2ND, we would like the option on this one”. That was the signal. After we got clearance he said “Short field landing”. It was going to happen. A good base and final turn and a good landing was required. I did well. As we are rolling on the runway and I am braking he turns to me and said “What do you think?” and I replied “Let’s do it ! “…..
     
  2. XSi

    XSi Filing Flight Plan

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    XSi
    A few minutes later………………
    .

    Me: “Ground Warrior N2ND, at West ramp, ready to taxi with Golf and… student pilot first solo”

    Ground: “N2ND taxi to runway 11 via Sierra, Mike, cross runway 5”

    Writing down the instructions as fast as I can: “11 S M x5”

    Me: “11 via Sierra, Mike, cross 5, 2ND”

    That’s it? He will not say anything else? Like “good luck”? Maybe “we will take care of you”?… Nothing? Anyway. My first ever call alone in the airplane. Not bad. Release the brakes, a bit of power and… I am moving. Check brakes. Working. Turn towards the ramp entrance. Turn coordinator is moving. Heading indicator is moving, attitude indicator steady. All good.

    Ground: “N2ND…” (Oh shoot. I messed something up ???…) “…give way to the Pilatus coming out of Rectrix”

    (phew !) …. I see a blue tail moving at the end of Sierra

    Me: “Traffic insight. Will give way to the Pilatus” (oops, forgot to say my tail number) “…2ND”

    At the ramp entrance ready to go out. Sierra. Double check it is Sierra (although I have been there at least 60 times before). Big S is there. Good. Turning left towards Mike. Correct ailerons and elevator for wind while taxing. I am looking down to the notepad. Wind 120 (from the ATIS). I need to find 120 on the heading indicator. There it is. Wind is coming from behind. Dive away. OK. We are good. The Pilatus just crossed Sierra and is on Mike. I have good distance. Turning right on Mike. The Pilatus just crossed runway 5. I have plenty of time till I get there. Oops, I need to correct ailerons for wind again. Looking down to the notepad, again. 120. I need to find 120 on the heading indicator, again. There it is. Cross wind this time form the right. Turn ailerons into the wind. All good. Getting closer to runway 5. Looking down to the notepad on the instructions. He said “cross 5” right? OK. Good. I will cross. Don’t forget to turn on lights while crossing. All lights on. Final… is clear. 23…. clear. I am crossing 5. Made it to the other end. All lights off except strobe lights. Good. Just a few feet away from the runup area. Turning into the wind and…….. brakes “set and hold”. I made it !!!!

    Engine runup time. I am going through the checklist. I see my finger pointing to each item shaking a bit. I need to relax. Make sure you don’t skip any item (done this in the past). Engine power 2000… magnitos check… good, alternator check… fuel pump on, all lights on… ammeter… shows increase but not the numbers I am used to. Normally I see 22+. This time 16 to 18. Something is not right. Turning all lights and fuel pump off. Try again. Fuel pump on, all lights on, pitot heat on. Oh pitot heat, I didn’t turn pitot heat on last time. Looking at the ammeter. 24. All good… Vacuum… good, carb heat on … a bit of power loss and nothing else… good, flight controls… good. Going through the rest of the list. All good. Fuel pump on, lights on. Takeoff briefing. Takeoff briefing? Do I do it? I am all alone. I should do it.

    Me: “Departing runway 11. Normal take off. Check power, engine gauges, airspeed. If something is wrong and we have enough runway in front of us, land on the remaining runway. Otherwise land straight ahead with turns no more than 45 degrees left or right. Above 1000 ft try to do 180 and land on runway 29. We will make the emergency turn to the …. “

    wind is coming from …. I am looking down to the notepad, again. 120. Oh yes. 120)

    Me: “… we will make the emergency turn to the Right, into the wind. If we have time, we will try to troubleshoot” ….

    Takeoff briefing complete. Why did I say “we”? I am all alone here…. Oh well… Time to move. Brake release and on to the runway. Switching to Tower. “… frequency change approved. Have a good flight” comes on the headset. What a relief. My favorite controller is on. She is super clear to understand. Things are looking good.

    Me: “Tower, good afternoon. Warrior N2ND, holding short runway 11, ready, will stay in the pattern, student pilot, first solo”

    Tower: “N2ND, runway 1 1, c l e a r f o r t a k e o f f, m a k e r I g h t t r a f f I c, w i n d 1 4 0 a t 8”

    (Nice! my “student pilot, first solo” message did get across. She is speaking sloooow and clear. I almost feel embarrassed but…. I will take it)

    Me: “11, clear for takeoff, right traffic, 2ND”

    Right traffic. Right traffic. Remember right traffic (I have done the mistake in the past). A bit of power and I am on the runway. I am using all available runway. At the edge of the piano keys and… right turn. 11 on the ground, 11 on the compass, 11 on the heading indicator. All good…. Shoot. Forgot to check final before entering the runway. Too late. Full power and… here we go. Power is good, engine gauges green, airspeed….. airspeed…. airspeed alive. Look far ahead, stay on the center line…. 60….. Rotate…. Right rudder…. More right rudder…… More right rudder... Wow !!! I am flying this thing on my own. Wow, this thing is climbing fast. I need to tell my CFI he needs to lose some weight when I get back down. 700 ft. She said right traffic. Right turn. No more than 30 degrees. Still climbing. Downwind is clear. Right turn. 1200 ft. Power 2200 rpm. Trim for 90. Getting a bit closer to the runway. Adjusting my heading a bit to the left. Much better. Speed looks good around 95. Trim up a bit. Mid field. Her voice comes in…

    Tower: “W a r r i o r 2 N D, r u n w a y 1 1, c l e a r t o u c h a n d g o”

    (She is still taking good care of me…)

    Me: “11, clear touch and go, 2ND”

    I got this !!! Confidence is building up. Abeam the 1000 mark lines. Power 1700 rpm. Keep the nose straight to bleed some more speed. I don’t have to but I am doing it anyway. Below 103. First notch of flaps. I am looking back at the 1000 mark lines. A little bit more on the downwind. Almost 45 degrees. Turning base. Second notch of flaps. Looks good. Feels a bit high but not by much. Speed is good around 75. Turning final. PAPI shows 4 white lights. I am high. I am very high. Reduce power to lose some altitude. It feels it is working but… still 4 white lights. Reduce more power. Idle. It feels it is working again but still 4 white lights. Do I attempt forward slip on my first solo landing? No…. Yes. Heck yeah! I did it yesterday during the flight with the CFI and it was perfect. I have done it tens of times. Yes. Third notch of flaps. Power is already idle. Right rudder, left ailerons. Nose down. Push the nose down. Check airspeed. Around 65. More nose down. It is working. 1 red, 3 whites. Time to get out of this. Slowly reduce rudder and ailerons. I am straight with the runway. 2 red 2 white. It worked !!! But I am losing more altitude. Adding power. To 1700 rpm. Better. About 500 ft to go. Airspeed 65. I am tracking the center of the runway. Now everything looks perfect. I will use soft field technique to land. Keep power in longer to have better control. With 7000 ft of runway it will be no issue. Crossing the threshold. Looks good. I am looking at those 1000 ft lines. About 15 ft above the runway, slowly reduce power. Keep some power in. Look further down the runway. Reduce more power. I am drifting a bit to the left. Power idle. I am sinking faster than I like. Back pressure. More back pressure. More back pressure. Now I am ballooning a bit but not much. Holding and then more back pressure. Stall horn sounds. I feel I am about 2 feet from the ground. Pressure all the way back. Waiting for those wheels to touchdown. But they don’t. Finally, after a sudden drop, I am on the ground. Those 2 feet from the ground? Yeah were probably 8 to 10. I am off the center line. Nose wheel touches town. Turn a bit right to get back to the center of the runway. Bad landing for me. But no time to think about it. Flaps up, full power, 60, rotate…………

    .
    .

    A few minutes later, I was on the ground, off 11 and taxing back to West ramp. Two touch and go’s and a full stop on my first solo. Landings were average, at best, but it was not important. It wasn’t even important the huge mistake on that forward slip (should have been left rudder right aileron….into the wind). While taxing back, I couldn’t get out of my mind that feeling I had on that first solo lap. That confidence booster I feel I needed to get to the next level. “I can do this” I thought. Now I know…
     
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  3. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Need the condensed version.
     
  4. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach Gone West

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    Well done! Now the real fun starts.
     
  5. Initial Fix

    Initial Fix Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Initial Fix
    Congratulations!
     
  6. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Good job!

    He soloed. Didn’t embarrass himself or his instructor too much. :D
     
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  7. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    Congrats!

    Tim

    Sent from my HD1907 using Tapatalk
     
  8. 422Phil

    422Phil Filing Flight Plan

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    422Phil
    I too started PPL training in my late 40s, and was at 80 hrs before taking the check ride. Reading your post reminded me of many of the things I went through before my first solo. Congrats!
     
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  9. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    Meet the Fokkers
    :frog: Funny...one of the first things I noticed too.

    Congrats!
     
  10. Seth.A

    Seth.A Pre-Flight

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    I did the same thing on my solo. Old habits I guess ;)

    Congrats!
     
  11. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    Sounds like you’re well on your way. You seem more competent than I was on my solo.
     
  12. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    I hope you don't mind this, but I just can't resist. Here's why it took so long to solo, IMO, and will continue to cause you problems. Where I highlighted in red you became a passenger with your eyes closed. More accurately, you were looking over the nose at the clouds in the sky and landing solely by kinesthesia. You need to roll your vision to the side of the nose so you can instantly SEE the things you tried to FEEL. Since you mentioned a tower, I suspect you were landing on a rather wide runway. You might ask your instructor to let you practice on the left side of it halfway between the centerline and the runway lights in order to have some texture in the form of grass and weeds, etc., for your eyes to acquire. Just my 2¢. But congratulations just the same. :) Nice report.
     
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  13. XSi

    XSi Filing Flight Plan

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    XSi
    I absolutely don’t mind the critique. There is no ego here. Believe me.

    Yes, Rod Machado’s “don’t become a passenger on landings”. (I guess others said this too but I first heard it on one of his videos). I used it in the past. Hit or miss for me. For some reason it didn’t work well. I should try again though. I agree.
     
  14. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Billy
    At least you did not forget to pick up your instructor after the last landing.....
     
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  15. GaryV

    GaryV Pre-takeoff checklist Gone West

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    Great job and I enjoyed the detailed description.

    Congratulations

    gary
     
  16. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel En-Route

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    Nice write up. Great job. Congratulations.
     
  17. jordane93

    jordane93 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Congrats!
     
  18. Trobaugh

    Trobaugh Pre-Flight

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    MTro66L
    Very nice write up-Congratulations!
     
  19. Harry Myler

    Harry Myler Filing Flight Plan

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    Harry Myler
    Got my PPL at age 45... thought I was old. I was just a baby! Congrats on the solo!
     
  20. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

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    Arnold
    I always say we. The airplane is a living breathing machine and we work together to make flight happen. I'm never alone, even when the engine eats itself up I still have a glider and we are still we.
     
  21. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Is there a story here
     
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  22. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Congrats. Fun write up.
     
  23. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes. (head hangin' low)

    At SFB, Sanford, Florida. My instructor had me stop at the tower. (temporary structure back then) She told me to do 2 T&Gs then full stop while she waited in the tower. She got out and I contacted ground, taxied to the runway as instructed, then when given clearance I took off and did 2 T&Gs. On the third landing, I exited the runway, asked for and received clearance to taxi to parking.

    At this point I should say that I do not get excited. I just do not get excited. I mean my excited heart rate is 9. However that day my heart rate was up around 13.

    As I taxied, my thoughts were something of, ''I just flew an airplane by myself.!!'' So I was concentrating on being cool and collected on my way to parking. And I just plain forgot to pick up my instructor. After I went past the temporary tower, the ground controller reminded me to pick up my instructor. I did a 180 on the taxiway without asking and returned to the spot where I dropped off my instructor. She was very thankful I came back to pick her up.

    As always, the news had already made it back to the flight school before I even parked.... Not that I soloed, but about me not picking up my instructor....

    (sorry for the thread drift)
     
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  24. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Congratulations, if you can fly at KBED, you can fly anywhere.
     
  25. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    In God is My Co-Pilot by Robert L. Scott, he relates a similar story about his first solo as an Army pilot trainee (but without a tower to save him)! His instructor didn't say a word, but the next day took him out and returned the favor.
     
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  26. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    Got my PPL at young age of 59.
     
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  27. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!
     
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