Lesson 6 - Monday February 16th
Rising above the Fog
Today does not look too good at around 8:30AM, so I checked ATIS (on my little scanner), and it was visibility 5 miles, misty. Not too bad I suppose, half expecting Tanya to call me at any minute to cancel.
But no, I arrive at Justice, and go out to pre-flight the plane. 8074T, which was the first plane I flew in on my demo lesson. The plane looks a bit beat up, but mostly cosmetic stuff. I do find a small chunk missing from the prop, and I report this to Tanya. Later she has me fill in the "squawk sheet" which is a report of the problem for maintenance.
Anyway, we get all into the plane, and are about to start up, when I find the shoulder strap of the seat belt does not work - it just won't come out more than an inch or two. So we eventually go back, then start on anew new plane, then the74T gets fixed, so we switch back to that, and eventually run thought the checklist to takeoff.
It's still pretty misty, we can't see the "twin towers" at century city, and I see Tanya looking anxiously around. We decide to go up and take a look. The worst that can happen is that I will get a takeoff and landing.
So we go through the usual, and are positioned for takeoff, and this time I do it pretty much all myself, except for final rudder control. Tanya has her hands off the control, and I rotate us at 60 knots, and fly up into the sky, yay!
The mist is fairly firm, and at first we can't see the horizon, which means we can't practice maneuvers. But as we keep climbing, things improve, and we eventually come clear of the mist and rise up to 4500 where the horizon (the distant top of the mist layer), is fairly clear.
It's really beautiful up there today, misty mountains, and fog filled valleys. Very nice indeed. And yet it's still clear enough for us to see the shoreline and proceed to our usual practice area at Point Dume.
We do some turns, and this time I pretty much nail them. The important thing is to keep the turn coordinated (step on the ball), consistent (at 10, 15, 20, 30 degrees, whichever), and level (keeping the same height). The level height was the most challenging to me, but I'm getting the hang of it. Tanya seemed quite pleased.
So we did that for a while, then headed back. Did some slow flight on the way back (Engine to 1500, flaps, increase pitch, flaps, increase pitch, flaps, increase pitch, airspeed to 70, engine to 2000, keep the pitch. Recover with full power and hold forward pressure, quickly and smoothly letting down the flaps).
One thing I felt I was getting better at was spotting the other planes in the air. I spotted most of them before Tanya did, even when she was looking for approaching traffic indicated by ATC. I just need to remember to keep scanning for the traffic as well as doing everything else.
Then approach to landing was a little different as we could not see the airport by the time we arrived at the Palisades, but we could see the pier, so we knew the airport was right there.
It was a normal right pattern to runway 21, reporting abeam. When we get closer the tower tells us to extend the downwind, and he will call our base (meaning fly downwind from the airport, parallel to it, until he contacts us to "turn base" to turn around and land). We can see there are two jets about to take off, which is causing the delay.
We hear other ATC: "Cessna 71F, you will be following a Cherokee on a 2 mile final, number two to land", meaning ATC is talking to some other plane (a Cessna), which is going to follow us (The Cherokee), and we will be 2 miles from the airport when we turn to face it.
And turn we do, ATC says "Cherokee 74 Tango, turn base now", Tanya replies "74 Tango, turning base". And we turn 90 degrees to the right, reducing power, then get lined up with the airport, and turn 90 degrees right again. Tanya has me handle these turns, and then I lower the flaps, reduce power and stuff, and handle most of the approach under here direction, she takes over about a mile from the airport and lands us.
All in all a very good lesson. I felt a distinct improvement with my turns, and was not sick at all. We were only up for 0.8 hours, but still with was a good confidence booster, and should help me concentrate a bit more on my next lesson (where Tanya has assured me I will have to talk to someone on the radio).