Today (03/28/2012) was my first Wednesday class with Jeremy; in fact it was my first Wednesday class ever as I’ve been flying only on the weekends with Tim. It was a little cooler than it has been in the past few days but it was dry and sunny with hardly any breeze. Yesterday it was extremely windy and I thought that it was going to be the same today especially since I saw the aviation weather website which stated that winds were going to be gusting at around 22 knots.
I arrived 25 minutes early today for my 9.00 am class and saw Mary at the front desk who checked me in. I’ve never seen this lady before but that’s probably because she does not work on the weekends. I noticed that Jeremy hadn’t arrived nor did he call so I assumed that in spite of the windy conditions we were going to fly. I usually used to cancel on windy days (and in fact whilst I was waiting for Jeremy’s arrival, another student came in to reschedule his class for later in the day when the winds were going to be calmer) but Kevin (another person at the front desk on the weekends) told me, “Well one day you’ll have to fly in these windy conditions. You’ll just have to get used to it.” Since Jeremy hadn’t called to cancel I assumed today was that day. Mary then presented me with the fuel sampler and the plane’s folder in which we have to log the time flown. I then proceeded toward the plane for the pre-flight inspection, and whilst I was doing that I got a call from Jeremy. “Tiger?” he said. “Yes” I replied. “I’m running about 15 minutes late. I had to work last night and had to stop to get some gas. So why don’t you pre-flight the plane so we can just go when I arrive?” said Jeremy. “Oh yes, I’m doing that now” I replied. “Okay I’ll be there soon” and our conversation ended. I continued with the pre-flight inspection and when finished I returned to the school to wait for Jeremy.
Jeremy arrived at 9.25 am and we boarded the plane. I remembered that I had to have a pen and a piece of paper to write down the ATIS figures, as Jeremy had suggested in the last lesson. Once I had gone through the check list and set the radio to ATIS, I noted the ATIS figures for the Altimeter, the wind direction, wind speed and the active runway, I changed the frequency setting to Crystal Ground and called them to taxi to the runway that would take me to the North West. Once we got permission to do so, we taxied to Runway 32L. Once we got up to the runway I went through the check list again for the Run-up Check and the Before Takeoff Check, and then called Crystal Tower for permission to take off.
I’m a very cautious now as Tim is pretty strict. He doesn’t like it if you’re not paying attention to what is going on around you, not listening to him or relying too much on him. So before we could take off, Crystal Tower told us to hold short. That is, we didn’t have permission to take off but to wait where we were until further instructions from Tower. I had never received this instruction before, so I asked Jeremy, “Did she say hold short?” “That’s what she said, you should listen and if you look up there, another plane is coming into land”. Then a few moments later we received the instructions from Crystal Tower that we could takeoff. I maneuvered the plane on to the runway and set it straight in line with the runway center line. Again I tried to remember what Jeremy had taught, i.e. one hand on the throttle, the other on the yoke. I pushed the throttle forward and kept the plane straight, in line with the runway centerline; as the airspeed approached 55 knots I gently pulled the yoke back and we were in the air. Now I had to maintain a speed of 79 knots as we left the runway. The plane has a left turning tendency due to the propeller and torque, so I had to press the right rudder to keep it straight. It’s important to take off straight from the airport so that you’re not incurring the flight path of another airplane that might be taking off from an adjacent runway. We climbed up to 1400 feet and turned North West. We climb up 500 feet higher than the field elevation which is at approximately 900 feet at Crystal.
As we flew out to the practice area, Jeremy stressed the importance of maintaining a level flight and correct heading. Here again Jeremy was a little stern with me when I asked him, “Are we heading in the right direction?” “Well look at the heading indicator, what is it showing?” “It’s between North and West, but I’m merely confirming”. “I’m all for confirming but you should think for yourself”, he replied. He then continued, “Private Pilot flying is 90% flying looking outside and 10% looking at the instruments. So look outside and maintain your wings level, keep the horizon in view and the dashboard just below that. Once you see that this is level flying keep it at this, trim if you have to”.
Once we were in the practice area, Jeremy asked “Have you done slow flight with Tim, or any of the other maneuvers such as Stalls – power on and power off?” “Yes but it’s been a long time” I replied. “Okay let’s do the slow flight. I’ll show you how to do it first and then you can do it. Okay my plane”. The phrase “My plane” is used to avoid confusion regarding who is in control of the plane. When one wants to hand over the control of the plane to the other person, you say, “Your plane”. Jeremy then proceeded to show me how to perform slow flight. Briefly the steps for slow flight are as follows:
1. Altitude ——————————-Above 1500 ft. AGL
2. Flow Pattern————————–Complete
3. Clearance Turns———————-Complete
4. Desired Heading———————-Pilot’s discretion
5. Power———————————-1500 RPM
6. Flaps———————————–Fully extend when in white arc
7. Altitude——————————-Maintain (+/- 100 ft)
8. Airspeed——————————Maintain 44Knots (+/-10 Knots)
9. Power———————————-Increase as required
10. Heading——————————Maintain (+/- 10 degrees)
11. Power——————————–Increase gradually
14. Flaps———————————Retract (One at a time)
Once this was done we were on our way back to Crystal airport. When we were about 10 miles from the airport, Jeremy asked me if I could see the airport and I replied that I could not. He then proceeded to point out some land marks to recognize where the airport was located. He pointed out two water towers one was a cream coloured and the other pale blue. He then pointed out a domed structure that was a little farther to the left of the cream coloured water tower and then said the airport is in that direction. Then he asked me do you know from which heading we were approaching the airport and then said, “Look at the heading indicator, and see that the lower portion of it is North North West, so we basically call in and say, “Crystal Tower, N536PU, 10 miles inbound on a heading of NNW clear for the option”. Now that the Tower knows from which direction we’re arriving they can direct us to the correct runway to land. We entered the pattern at 45 degrees and then continued downwind at 90 knots and pulled the first flap when abeam the numbers of the runway, then turned base at 80 knots and pulled the second set of flaps and turned final at 70 k and turned final pulling the third set of flaps. The plane was now approaching runway 32L at 70 knots and as we descended I tried to maintain the plane to level flight making small corrections. As we were on the short final the speed was reduced to 65 k and then the power was in idle cut off mode when over the runway threshold. Up until here it was fine, then I was supposed to let the plane come down gently, but I pulled the yoke back a little too early and we bounced a little before we landed. We made another landing which was a little better but not perfect.
When we got to Thunderbird as we were disembarking from the plane, Jeremy told me where I went wrong in all that we covered today. He said, “You don’t know the simple things which you need to master. Things such as to ascend you need to pull the yoke toward you, and to descend to push the yoke away from you. To increase speed you need to push the yoke away from you and to reduce speed you need to pull the yoke toward you”. Slow flight, Power-on and Power-off stalls are important to be able to land the plane. These maneuvers give you sense of the feel of the plane”. Then he said, “Let’s go in and I’ll explain some of the maneuvers on the board again and what we’ll be doing on Saturday”. Once this was covered Jeremy said, “Chair practice these maneuvers. Get that routine down and it’ll help you. Read the steps of each maneuver”. With that I thanked Jeremy and left.
I left disappointed with my performance and the way that Jeremy dissected my each step was quite excruciating, but this is perhaps what I need to push me into doing better.