Lesson 4 - Monday February 9th 2004
Today the weather looked beautiful, blue skies, clear view of Catalina, all seemed well.
I'd just got back from three days of skiing in Beaver Creek Colorado, and I was aching all over from the skiing, and feeling slightly off-color from the usual weekend excesses. But I did not feel too bad, and made sure I had some food.
I arrived at 1:00PM, the office was rather crowded with off-duty instructors playing Uno, and there was no quiet place to talk, so we went down to the plane. I did the pre-flight inspection myself this time, and Tanya just watched and told me when I forgot anything. I did reasonably well, just forgetting to move the ailerons, and to check the prop for cracks, so only two things that might kill me :)
First of all we do a little ground instruction, where she goes over the procedure for slow flight (which we planned to be doing today). She told me the acronym LAFPAC, for stuff to do before any maneuver: Landing site, Altitude, Fuel, Power, Airspeed, Clearing turns. Then went over the stages of slowing down and speeding up for slow flight.
We get in, and I get to use the checklist I bought last week. I see Tanya's cunning plan, of just making me do slightly more each lesson until I'm doing the whole thing myself, and will be able to fly solo. It may take some time...
So, I run through the checklist. I get confused a few times where there are two things on one line, but eventually get the engine started. I put on my brand new David Clark H20-10 headset and, to my relief, it works great; it's comfortable, and it sounds clear.
Tanya gets the ATIS, I can tell she's going to make me do the radio work next time, so I try to pay close attention to what she writes down, and how she gets ground clearance. We taxi up again, the rudder/steering pedals seem all mushy to me, but I manage to keep us more of less on the yellow line (painted in the middle of the taxiway). We arrive at the holding area, and I almost manage to swing us around on the T at the correct angle.
Then I do the pre-takeoff checklist. Clear for takeoff, then I steer us onto the runway, feeling like I'm steering an elephant by pulling on it's ears, I somehow get us lined up (although I suspect Tanya may had have something to do with it).
Then I kind of take off. I apply full power, and move all the controls, but Tanya is really in control of the plane from her side, but I get a feel for it.
It's immediately apparent when we leave the ground that it's a bit windier than usual. Normally the takeoff is a smooth climb with smooth turns and very little correction needed. But this time we are bobbing around like a cork in the ocean, buffeted by gusts of winds needing constant correction to keep the right heading and attitude.
After that the lesson proceeds pretty much like the last one. We head up to 4500 feet, go out to Point Dume, and to some turns, climbs and descents. I have a harder time this time. I'm not sure why, but probably the wind had something to do with it. The plane bouncing around mad it harder to keep the nose in the right place relative to the horizon, and Tanya was constantly correcting me, and telling me where to put the nose ("one fist below the horizon!").
After a while of this, I start to get sick, and eventually have to tell Tanya we should go back. She gives me a mint, and takes over the plane while I sit there hyperventilating.
So, it was a bit of a disappointment. We were supposed to practice slow flight, a precursor to landing, but we never arrived at that point, as the lesson was concluded about half an hour early. The flight out there takes around 15 minutes, as does the flight back, then with 10 minutes on the ground, then only left us with 10 minutes of actual maneuvers. Hopefully my body will get used to the plane soon, but I need to ensure I'm in good shape before we take off. I had a feeling I would have sickness problems this time, and the bouncy conditions ensured that I did.
Next lesson is at 8:00AM on Friday. Tanya says it should be less windy at that time.
(c) 2004 Mick West