Lesson 19 - Wednesday April 14th
Monday lesson looked quite promising, I called for a weather briefing, and they said there was a persistent Marine Layer over the ocean, but no clouds inland. I'd gotten all the way into the plane, and was about to shout "clear", when Tanya says "don't those clouds look a little close".
And bah humbug if the marine layer didn't just roll right on in. While we watched plane were taking off on runway 21, trying to turn right early to avoid the cloud, but still vanishing inside it, a big no-no for flying VFR (Visual Flight Rules, emphasis on the Visual).
So, as Tanya said, we were SOL.
Rebooked for Wednesday at 1PM, much nicer weather today, weather report was for clear skies.
But before that, yesterday I went to the doctor and got my third class medical certificate, which doubles as my Student Pilot Certificate. The examination itself was fairly easy going, just basic stuff. I'm obviously in such fine physical shape. Anyway, I'm now officially a student pilot. Before that I was technically just along for the ride with Tanya. Now all I have to do is get Tanya to sign the back of the certificate, and I can fly in planes all by myself!
This time we are just to stay in the pattern, which basically means taxi to runway 21, take off, head down the gold course, then turn 90 degrees left, then 90 degrees left again, flay back parallel to the runway, then get clearance to land, turn 90 degrees left, then 90 degrees left onto the final leg, and land, taxi back and to do it again, easy peasy.
Or course, you also have to make sure you start you descent from being in the pattern at 1400' and 2000 rpm, then when you begin your descent reduce power to 1500 rpm, first notch of flaps, then when turing base put in the second notch of flaps, then turn final, pitching for speed, putting in the third notch and reducing power if too high, adding power if too low. Aim for the numbers (the big number painted on the runway), round out the plane to level flight about 10 feet above the ground, kill the power, glide down the runway, gently sinking until you touch the ground like a feather just as the stall warning horn begins to stir to life.
Tanya did the first one all the way from taking off to landing, then handed over to me. She took care of the radio, so I just had to concentrate on flying.
I actually did five landings after that, but they kind of blur together in my mind, so I can't really go through them one at a time.
I was actually a pretty windy day, and Tanya kept asking me if I was feeling alright. We did get bounced around quite a bit, and I did feel the beginning of nausea a few times, but I alway managed fine. Besides, we were only in the air for 10-15 minutes at a time, so I always got the ground time to recover. Tanya said the conditions were pretty bad, so if I learnt to land in these conditions, it would be easier for me in more normal conditions.
There was not much of a crosswind. Just fairly string headwinds (like 14 knots) and very gusty.
In non of the landing was I really in full control. I tended to mess up most on the final leg, either too high, too low, too fast or two slow. Probably to be expected. I did improve somewhat, but basically Tanya had to help out at key moments.
Things we kind of hectic at the airport today. As I was taxiing for takeoff, we heard the tower advise that their radar was not working, which is pretty major, as you can't really see planes that are more than two miles away, so it's difficult to keep separation. Basically they relied on radio traffic for people to report exactly where they were. One woman was not local and she had a hard time explaining where she was in a way that would allow the tower to figure it out.
At another point someone reported "there's a plane right in front of me, coming straight for me on the downwind", sounding a little worried, but all was resolved (at least, there were no mid-air collisions).
After one landing Tanya switched to ground without tower telling her two. It was a controller I think of as "Grumpy". He's the only one who gets a pit annoyed with people and lets them know it. When Tanya got back on with him when we went back to 21, he told her "In the future, do NOT just switch to ground without getting instruction from me to do so!". He was perfectly correct, but could have been a bit more polite. Still, perhaps he was worried about his radar not working with all those planes, and several helicopters, swirling around up there.
So, all in there were six landings (including the one Tanya did), and 1.3 hours in the plane. My longest lesson yet. It felt very good to practice something five times in a row, as normally I just get one of two goes at whatever I'm doing. I did not feel a great deal better at the end, but it was a noticeable improvement, and I'm sure it will also sink in a little overnight.
17.3 hours so far. I should solo within the next 15 hours, probably 2-4 weeks more.
(c) 2004 Mick West