Loops, Plateaus, and Passive Flying

It’s definitely been a while since I’ve posted and I can attribute it mostly to being busy but also because 1) My flying lately has been endless loops (which ain’t bad at all) and 2) There hasn’t been a whole lot of it (see busy).

BUSY: Busy being a Passive Flyer, namely a passenger not a pilot. Business travels took me to India and Singapore over the past 2 weeks. Only one comment on this trip as it relates to flying. EWR-BOM UA48. Boeing 777. After the whole Asiana thing, you can bet there are a lot of people who might cringe when flying in this aircraft.  I’ve done so for years so and have never had a problem.  Same was true here.  That landing was the smoothest I’ve experienced in a long time. Barely felt it. I half expected the pilot to come on the PA and say “AND THAT’S HOW IT’s DONE!”. I know I would have…

The endless loops part I am definitely ok with.  Well, I am mostly ok with. For sure, I need the practice but given the speed of progression I’ve had with prior skills, this whole landing thing seems to be going slower than expected.

It’s official, I’m at my first plateau

I’m ok with it for now and I love the challenge but I just don’t know when the breakthrough is going to occur.

I compare it almost directly with learning to drive a manual transmission. Thankfully, that’s the first thing my father put me in.


It’s amazingly awkward at first. Takes a fair amount of mental effort and coordination. In the beginning it’s NOT smooth at all, in fact, downright jarring and you can’t help but think you are breaking the thing each time you try.

Hey..that sounds really familiar.

I’ve got 90% of the landing process figured out but that last 10% is where it all ultimately gets judged and, in the case of the guy who always seems to be mowing the airport grass, laughed or cringed at.

Roundout and Flare…that’s the finesse move which takes a stabilized approach, fine power, trim, and attitude adjustments and above all, timing. Know precisely when to apply and how much..just like releasing the clutch.

First time it all clicked and I got a car rolling with no hesitation, jerking, or excessive engine revving was a overwhelming thrill. It had transitioned from a bipolar mental/motor exercise to something you just feel and do. Your mind is working on it not in words but images.  So much quicker and smoother that way.

Still waiting for that with the landings.

Until then…let the loops continue! 20 so far.

As a side note, I found a new app I really like.

You really have to see it to believe it. Kind of like MapMyRun for airplanes. As visually cool as it is, the built in de-briefing feature is amazing. Based on the flight characteristics it even knows what you are doing (e.g. taxi, take off, climb, cruise, pattern work, etc) And cockpit view? For the real thing, a GoPro would be better but still, wow.

My last set of laps around the patch.

Ok..last side note, not worthy of an entire post since I made more of it in my mind than it was.  FAA Knowledge Test is complete…95%
I had a great ground school, really good preparation material and, I can’t say enough about MyWrittenExam.com as a prep site.  If you can score consistently high on this FREE site, you’ll pass the knowledge test with ease.


3 thoughts on “Loops, Plateaus, and Passive Flying

  1. Caitlin

    Congrats on passing the written! I know what you feel about getting the landings. I’m at the end of that point and recently had a break through, well, with my last landing. I’m hoping it stays that way next time I fly. If only landing wasn’t so hard…

    1. Ron Post author

      Thanks Caitlin! I got rained out today but tomorrow morning I’ll be at it again. I saw the video of your last set of landings. You definitely get the plane down quicker than I do but they all looked really well controlled and smooth. As for breakthroughs…I think the smile you had at the end of the video says it all. You’ll be soloing soon I’m sure.

      1. Caitlin

        Oh, I feel your pain with weather! I hope tomorrow is clear and calm for you. Thanks! All those landings I was aiming for the third arrow and it has such a displaced threshold which I think is why it looks like I get down so quickly. I’m hoping I get to solo soon! You’ll get it don’t get discouraged like I did at one point, just be patient and stay focused.

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