Lesson 3 - Friday January 20th 2004

Taxiing and Turning

Today was a very easy and straightforward lesson.  I arrived at Justice around ten to one, and Tanya was already there.  Rob, one of the other instructors, was talking about how Bruce Dickenson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden, was giving them all free tickets to tomorrow's concert.  Bruce takes lessons at Justice, with the boss: Joe Justice.

I'd made sure I'd had enough to eat today, as I think that was greatly responsible for my nausea last time.  I also brought my own mints.

They were totally out of headsets!  For a minute I though I'd have to go find a shop and buy some before I could continue the lesson.  But eventually they located some in a locker belonging to one of the other instructors.  I resolved to buy my own.

We go out the plane, which is the same as on Monday, N8567C.  It's being fueled as we arrive, so we skip the initial electrical check, and move into the external checks.  The fueling is pretty quick (it's from a fuel truck that drives up to your plane, very convenient). 

Preflight checks are pretty much like last time, except that Tanya makes me do everything myself, like checking the oil, fuel level, fuel sumping and removing the tie-downs.  She also showed me the pitot heat (the pitot is the air intake for the panel instruments like air speed and altimeter.  You can heat it to prevent it from icing up, not that it would today).

Then we get in, and I get the start the engine. First I have to prime it, which is just injecting a bit of fuel into the engine.  I then immediately move my foot to where the accelerator would be in a car.  But when I get my hands and feet in the correct position (throttle quarter open, mixture full rich, , feet doing nothing); I turn the key, quickly pump the gas a couple of time, and it starts first time.  Hurrah!  I feel good, as every time Tanya has started the plane, it takes her two or three goes.

So, Tanya gets the ATIS info, gets taxi clearance from Santa Monica Ground, and we start to roll.  Tanya tells me to steer, which works out surprisingly well.  She handles the brakes, but they are not needed much until we get to the runway.  It's a bit weird steering with your feet, and I feel very nervous about hitting other parked planes.  But essentially it's like driving a car, with wings, and three wheels with differential brakes.

So we get to the holding area, and do the "Run Up", where you rev up the engine to 2000RPM (holding onto the brakes so you don't take off), then check a bunch of things to make sure everything is working.  WE do it all from checklists, which seems very sensible, you just run down the list checking each thing.  Mostly stuff like checking gauges (fuel,  oil), and turning various thing son and off to see that they effect the RPM, or the ammeter (carb heat, magnetos 1&2, pitot heat).  All is well, so we throttle back to 1000.  Through this checklist, it's mostly Tanya telling me to do stuff: "Turn to Magneto 1, see the RPM dip?".  It all seemed to make sense.  Unless I've just blotted the difficult parts from my memory.

Nearly ready for takeoff.  I've got to set the Altimeter to the correct pressure, and then set the heading indicator from the magnetic compass (I like how I do a little bit more each trip, soon I'll be a pilot!). Then  were line up for takeoff.  Wait for a plane to land, and another to take off.  We are waiting for takeoff clearance, when the tower clears 89T, which had already taken off. He clears it again, a bit less patiently, as he thinks it's us, and we are just dawdling, then realizes his mistake and clears us (67 Charlie) for takeoff.

Tanya handles all the takeoff just like before.  After the turn for the golf course she hands over to me again, and I keep the plane level, then turn at the coast, and head north to 4500 feet.

Then it's a pretty simple lesson.  We do a little bit of climbing and descending, but mostly we do turning.  Essentially very simple,  you just turn to wheel, and apply a bit of rudder in the same direction, keeping the ball centered in the turn indicator.

We probably only did around ten turns all told, lots of 180s, focusing on keeping the turn balanced (ball in the middle), which should mean you don't even feel you are in  turn, as gravity + centrifugal force should point straight down the seat, in theory. 

I feel maybe Tanya was helping me a bit too much on the rudder.  It reminded me of my driving lessons, when the instructor would hold the car with the brake when stopped on a hill (in a manual transmission car, back in England).  It allows you to focus on one part of the control without worrying about the other.  But since I was supposed to be using both the ailerons AND the rudder now, I was unsure if resistance I was feeling was natural, or if Tanya was pushing the other way.   It's probably fine though.

So, we do our turns, and head back.  Descend to 3500 feet, (in that area you go at 3500 feet when going east, and 4500 feet when going west).  At pacific palisades call in, directed into right traffic mid-field.  Tanya tells me an acronym GUMP  - Gas (fullest tank) Undercarriage (gear down, ours is fixed). Mixture (full rich), Pump (on).  There was another part to this, maybe S for seatbelts?  Basically the "Approach" portion of the checklist. We arrive at mid-field at pattern altitude (1400 feet), and Tanya flies us into land with base leg over the 405, turing at the 10.   Tanya lands fine, little bump.

She pulls of the runway, tidies up the plane (pump off, flaps up, mixture leaned, landing light off).  Then I get to taxi us back to parking.  This is quite a way, as we have to go back up the runway.  I don't concentrate very well, and I wander off the line a few time, but Tanya sets me straight.  I don't get to use the brakes yet, and I'm a bit nervous about going to fast - probably because I don't know how to stop.

And we are done.  Just 0.9 hours of flying time (yeasterday was 1.2 hours).  I felt fine, only the briefest moments of queasiness. Tanya shows me how to push the plane back into place with the T-Bar, and we head back.

She asks me if it's something I want to do, and I say yes, definitely. So she says we should discuss some things.  We go back to the classroom, and she gives me a list of some things to buy.  I already have the book (Jeppesen Private Pilot Manual), and she gives me some "homework", reading a couple of sections (I'd already pretty much read the whole thing, but this time I won't skip). We don't book another lesson, as the computer is down, but will probably be on Monday.

I drive down to "Tantalizing Takeoffs", the pilot supply store down the road, and I buy the stuff from the list:  fuel tester, kneeboard, log book.  I also get a flight computer, a plotter and a LA terminal chart.  I then spend some time trying on headsets before picking the most comfortable one, a David Clark H20-10 (which they actually list as their "most comfortable design" on the David Clark web site). 

Tanya says the average time to license is 65 hours flying.   So, that 2.1 down, 63.9 to go

(c) 2004 Mick West