Lesson 5 - Friday February 13th

Rock and Roll!

My alarm goes off at 7AM for my early morning lesson.  I stumble up, shower and eat a couple of slices of toast.  It seems bread is a good thing for settling my stomach.

Arrive on the dot at 8AM, and Tanya says "here you are 74 Tango, go out and pre-flight it"

"All by myself", I say, recoiling in shock.

"Yes", she says, in her implacable manner, "I can't pre-flight with you forever".

All righty then, I jaunt off to the plane, determined to do a good job of my first solo pre-flight (which does not actually involve starting the plane,  let alone getting off the ground, for those of you who are getting carried away here...).  It's right at the end of the parking area, so takes a couple of minutes to get there, where I immediately fall at the first hurdle, opening the door.

I try every key about five times, and I'm about to give up when I pull the handle and the door opens. Grrr, not even locked, the lock was broken.  The Friday the 13th effect has begun! 

But I quickly recover, and perform the pre-flight checklist judiciously, forgetting almost nothing, except to drain the engine fuel sump, and to remove the chocks (oops!).

Tanya arrives, I get the ATIS this time (which takes me two goes), Tanya does the radio (next time for me?), "Santa Monica towers, this is Piper 8074 Tango, with Juliet, request taxi to south west holding area".  Approved, we taxi to the holding area. I', still pretty vague with my steering, but we get there.

Then on to the pre-flight run-up.  Engines up to 2000, right mag, suddenly engine grumbles.  Left mag is fine.  So Tanya initiate a procedure to "Clear out" the magneto.  This was something like leaning the mixture and then applying full throttle for a minute.  After that things seemed better, except now the plane did not seem to the giving enough power.  Tanya was unable to figure out what was going on, so THE LESSON IS CANCELLED!  We taxi back.

All is not lost though.  I get that aborted lesson for free, and I book another for 1PM, from which lesson I have just returning.

The second lesson (in 8567C) went exactly the same as the first up to the magneto check, and then everything went smoothly.  The takeoff was weaving a bit, as Tanya let me steer a bit more, but we got up in the air. 

Then mostly just the usual stuff.  Headed out to Point Dume, and did some turns and climbing and descending.  There was a guy in a really small bi-plane who was doing acrobatics about a mile off the coast.  Pretty amazing stuff, looping the loop, and diving straight down then pulling out 100 feet above the water.  That's will take a me a week of two to get up too :).

I feel fine this time.  The bread is working!

So we head back, and now we try some "slow flight", which is basically reducing power and extending flaps until you get down to 60 knots, a similar procedure to what you use when landing.  I only did it once, and Tanya walked me through it, but it seemed fairly straightforward.

The big problem I'm having with all my maneuvers is concentrating on lots of things at the same time.  As soon as I concentrate on one thing, then something else starts to drift, and we start to climb or descend, or we start to turn.  Things have no become unconscious yet, so I think about things too much, and consequently miss the things that I REALLY need to think about (like attitude).

We arrive back towards the airport.  The pattern has changed from runway 21 to runway 3, and there is some ATC confusion, causing us to fly around in circles for a little while. The first landing on runway 3 seems a bit scarier than normal, but we touch down just fine.  We tidy up the plane, and taxi back.

Hurrah,  we flew for a full hour, and I did not feel sick at all.  I also did a bit better at maintaining attitude.  I feel this might be a long process though.  I think I will have to step up to three of more lessons a week.

Back at the office, Tanya fills in my log book, I pay, and then in walks Bruce Dickenson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden!  I was a big Iron Maiden fan in my youth, but I don't think I would have recognized him, had someone not said "hey Bruce". 

Someone says I'm from England, and Bruce asks me where from, and then we start talking about learning to fly and various other things: video games, his new album, his job as an airline pilot.   He seems like a really nice guy.  Very talkative. We chatted for about twenty minutes.

Next lesson is Monday morning. 9AM. 

(c) 2004 Mick West