Last night before going to bed I checked the weather to see if it would be agreeable for flying. I saw that although it was going to be cloudy and raining, the visibility and cloud ceilings were well within the range of VFR flying. So when I awoke this morning I looked out of the window, and as expected, it was cloudy but wasn’t yet raining. It was a little breezy though with a temperature of around 52 F. I was half expecting Jeremy to call and say he might be delayed again so I took a little time in getting ready to go to my flight school, but Jeremy never called and I left home at around 8.35 am for my 9.00 am class. I reached school at 8.55 am and greeted Kevin and completed the check-in form and saw Jeremy come out from his office. I’ve never seen Jeremy this early so I assumed he may have had an earlier flight lesson scheduled.
I greeted Jeremy as Kevin completed my check-in and handed me the aircraft’s folder, the fuel sampler bottle and a pair of head phones. Jeremy said let’s go to my office and we’ll go through what we’re going to cover today. “Are we going to do that now, or shall I pre-flight the plane first?” I asked. “No leave that let’s go through what we’re going to cover this morning”, said Jeremy. He began by saying that “We’ll go through the maneuvers we’ve already done like slow-flying, power-on and power-off stalls and steep turns. We’ll do one maneuver of each and then do the ground reference maneuvers as it’s a nice breezy day to do these”. Then Jeremy took a black pen and proceeded to explain what each maneuver entailed. He drew diagrams of the S-Turns, Turns Around a Point and the Rectangular course. He stressed the importance of maintaining altitude, airspeed and heading during all these maneuvers. “You do remember when to pull the yoke and when to use the throttle right?” asked Jeremy. I replied in the affirmative and he said, “Good, and make all your corrections ever so gently no sudden changes and no large changes. The plane reacts slightly slowly after you’ve made a change so you have to wait for that change to take effect and then make another correction if you have to”. When Jeremy had finished everything he told me to go and pre-flight the plane and after I returned ten minutes later, I found Jeremy and Aaron (Linesman at Thunderbird) chatting and laughing. Jeremy then said, “Shall we go?” and I replied, “Yes”. As we walked out to the plane Jeremy mentioned that he was going to go home for the Easter weekend and won’t be able to teach tomorrow, Sunday (04/08/2012), and I said that I understood and that it wasn’t a problem.
Jeremy seemed to be in quite a chatty mood today as he usually doesn’t talk that much. It could be that he’s getting used to me and feeling a little comfortable talking to me perhaps, or that he was excited to be going home for Easter and seeing his family. Whatever it was, I liked this side of Jeremy. He then asked me where I was from and what brought me to aviation. I replied that I had always wanted to become a pilot ever since a very young age and now I’m fulfilling that dream, albeit struggling to I said smilingly. I then began going through the pre-flight check list and then when it came to the avionics part, I switched over to the ATIS frequency. I got the altimeter reading which was 30.02 and the wind direction was 160 degrees with a speed of 11 knots. Jeremy then asked, “Okay so the wind is coming in at 160 degrees which is from the North West so do you know which runway they’re going to direct us to?” I replied “Runway 14″. Jeremy agreed and continued “Because it’s the closest to the wind direction”. Runways are aligned according to the earth’s magnetic field, so runway 14 is really a runway aligned at 140 degrees according to the earth’s magnetic field. He then told me to take out the airport diagram and then then said, “Since the runway is aligned this way”, he motioned with his finger, “and since the wind is coming in from this direction, that is, it’s coming in from the right as we takeoff, we have to turn the yoke fully to the right into the wind when we take off. As we pick up speed, we slowly turn the yoke to the left so that by the time it needs to be gently pulled towards you for takeoff, it’s level”.
I then called Crystal Ground and requested taxi to the North West, and as we had anticipated Ground crew did tell us to taxi to runway 14R. As we were taxiing to the runway, Jeremy said “If you look at the heading indicator the direction of the wind seems to change, it doesn’t really, we change direction so at this moment the wind is now behind us, and we’re getting a left quarter tail wind, so we should turn the yoke to the left and push it into the dashboard and hold it there. This is so that the plane doesn’t get blown over by the tail wind. We changed direction again by turning left and so turned the yoke in the opposite direction. Once we were in the air I could feel the wind and the plane being blown slightly, but we continued to about 2000 feet to the practice area. It was now raining a little and although the visibility was good it seemed as if it was foggy in the distance. Jeremy said that visibility was about 6 to 7 miles. As we continued to the practice area, we heard other pilots over the radio talking to Crystal Tower about wind velocity and visibility. We then practiced all three of the Ground Reference Maneuvers. These were hard and interesting to say the least, but it does help you to learn how to control the plane, especially in the wind. I enjoyed performing them but we didn’t have time to practice the Stalls, Slow flight etc. as it was time to return to the airport and once we reached, there was a discussion of the lesson.
Jeremy began by saying that I had improved since I had been flying with him as my instructor. He then said that I managed the plane pretty well today by maintaining altitude, airspeed and heading. He also said that I must use the checklist when it was time to check it without waiting for him to tell me to use it. “Execute the Departure check list once we’re in the air, then go through the Cruise check list once we’re up and in level flight. Then, when approaching the airport, use the Descent check list once we begin our descent etc. Remember you’re flying the plane, not me.” He continued, “We’ve pretty much done all the maneuvers now, and all we need to do is to polish them”. With that, my time was up and Jeremy and I walked out to the reception area to tell Kevin that tomorrow’s class was to be cancelled. I then bid Jeremy goodbye. So it was a better day for me as far as flying was concerned.