Re-Solo

I’m going to curse myself here but once again, the weather turned favorable for my lesson this weekend even though I only had one scheduled.

I showed up early again to do the preflight. No issues.  In the airplane’s logbook last week I noticed that not many people had the plane out in the time between my two lessons.  Thinking back, the weather seemed pretty good the whole week so not sure why.  I do know that of my “graduating class” for ground school, only 2 of us seem to be taking our training in the C172.  The others are in the Piper Cherokee.

I think it may have to do with the hourly rate.

$130 per Hobbs Hour

 

$110 per Hobbs Hour

Personally, even though my first flight ever was in a Piper, I chose the Cessna for 3 reasons. 1) I like the high wing plane, 2) At least around here they seem to be more popular which will help down the road with renting options, 3) Clubs around here, including the one I am leaning towards have Cessna’s. I can always get signed off later in the Piper but right now I am committed to the Cessna.

This week, the Cessna had about 10 hours of training on it which was relatively high.

My CFI showed up and we had our normal preflight discussion.  She’s a big fan of Cloud Ahoy now so we discussed that.  Nice to be able to give something back. Plan for the day was just as we discussed. We’d fly a few dual circuits and then she’d get out so I could repeat the solo.

My only request was to do a little additional dual work on slips. This was in response to my one solo go around last week when I was a little high on approach. She said we could work on slips but would wait for more crosswind.  Instead we would do a few landings with 40 degrees of flap. She said it’s definitely an option on the approach for getting down quicker but that extra 10 degrees will have a much different feel in the plane.  “This will be good training now for that time when you inevitably go from 20-40 degrees on final without realizing you skipped the slot for 30 degrees.”

Off we went.

For the first landing she said, “Let’s just do a garden variety landing.” Ok.  Sounds like a great idea…get warmed up.

Sometimes I don’t see it coming even when it’s right in front of me.

Pattern was normal, approach was pretty good. Round out and flare were decent which was confirmed when the wheels touched (as opposed to hit) the runway…at which point she declares, rather loudly GO AROUND!

Instinct and procedure kicks in. Full power, carb heat off, back to 10 degrees of flap.  This is a bit awkward under normal circumstances because rather than progressing left to right you have to go middle (throttle), left (carb heat), then right 2 to flaps. It requires at least one, sometimes two glances down when you should be focused on building up airspeed and a positive rate of climb.

I made it through the procedure which I guess now officially qualifies for a Touch and Go. I, of course, asked, if there was anything wrong with the approach that caused her to have me go around. Her response “Nope”. And, of course, the sly smile. Be ready for anything I guess.

Next time around we do the 40 degree flaps. Most definitely different and a little extra float (more because along with 40 degrees of flap you can and should slow the plane down more) but generally, a good landing.

Off again to repeat the maneuver….did I learn from earlier? NOPE.

Approach was the same, I did get the airspeed lower as requested, runway was made and again. GO AROUND! Definitely need to do the throttle carb heat AND flap retraction properly along with good coordination of elevator because the plane behaves a lot differently. We did get a bit low on airspeed but still nowhere near stall. Once again I asked the same question about anything being wrong. Nope.

Request for another garden variety landing and then she would get out. We landed and my instructions were to do 3 takeoffs and landings….4 if I felt like it.

Dropped her off and headed back out to the runway to do my work.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one doing work. My buddy the lawnmower guy was out doing the areas around the runway. I’ve got nothing against this guy and I know he’s seen it all. He’s listening on CTAF,  always aware of planes in the pattern and clears the area well in advance. He’s also an audience..again, one who sees them all.  As much as I want to satisfy my CFI’s standards…I think this guy would be the toughest, and perhaps, most demanding critic. I know he’s scoring the landings. 🙂

Head Judge…ok, its a MUCH smaller mower at a MUCH smaller airport but you get the picture.

My first landing was decent. Second had a soft but definite bounce. Both seemed flat.

On the third circuit I purposely took the crosswind to downwind wide. I was thinking putting myself in a “non standard” point in the pattern to see how I would adjust. Although it would have served a purpose, i kind of slapped myself back to reality though and said…get the normal ones right first then you can explore.

This landing was not great…didn’t have to see the lawnmower guy to know the score. I tried to contact my CFI on the radio to let her know I was going to do the 4th for “fine tuning” (ya..right). She didn’t respond but her last instruction was that I could do 3 or 4 so off I went.

The last one initially felt great.  I rounded out, and held off for a long time. Patience….wheels touched the runway and I focused on holding the nose up while the plane slowed down. Feeling pretty good I then realized something was a bit off. I was still flying. It was a bounce which is not good.  The plus side, rather than a bounce to 20 feet it was probably to about 20 inches. So, the second landing was pretty smooth.  I guess I was still a bit flat coming in and when I did land the first time I kept applying back pressure to keep the nose up. That slight adjustment was just enough to lift off again. Went from feeling good to not so happy.

On my back taxi, my CFI asked me to re-fuel the plane. We’re self service at N94 and this was the first time I would do that all by myself.  No extra points for “solo” refueling but nice to know I can do that as well.

De-brief was interesting. We discussed the landings.  I said I was displeased with them and they were a little flat.  She agreed they were flat but always on the mains first. I said I was trying to get into that round out and then hold until airspeed bled off enough to do a decent flare without taking off again.

Two things she said which are my main takeaways.

1) Every landing is a new opportunity to do a perfect one. Few, if any, will ever be perfect, but ALWAYS safe.  My landings were most definitely not perfect but she was satisfied they were safe. That means a lot.

2) We discussed the timing of going to idle throttle on final. It came down to a finer point discussion on when “the runway is made”. My understanding was that the runway was made when you had enough altitude and energy (airspeed) left that you would make it to the runway even if you lost all engine power. While that understanding was correct, on our initial approach training, she was declaring that point essentially at the threshold.  I believe that was more of a conservative thing so I didn’t pull off throttle too early because of, perhaps, an inaccurate judging of the quality of the quality of the approach.  So, with that clarified, I am going to work on pulling off throttle a little earlier so I am carrying about 5 knots less speed over the threshold.  Looking forward to giving it a try.

Second part of the de-brief was next steps in training.

Next flight will be a dual flight out to practice area and back, followed by a solo of that same maneuver. With that done, I will be signed off to take the plane to the practice area and…well, practice basic flight maneuvers.

Flight after that will be to Capital City and back with me doing everything this time. If all goes well, I get signed off for another airport within 25NM. Then I can solo out there for more practice at a towered airfield.

Would be up to me at that point to do a few of those flights as solo to build my time.

Next dual will be for the 50NM cross country along with some night flying.

Seems to be moving quick.

On the way out, there was a brand new student there for his first ground lesson.

Standard weather brief.

Had to smile.

 

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3 thoughts on “Re-Solo

  1. Caitlin

    Ah, you have the lawnmower guy and I have a fueler who likes to watch when I solo. But he’s pretty awesome and a pilot too.

    Good luck on your short cross country! It’s fun going other places. I feel like I’m moving pretty quickly too since I soloed. It feels way better than being stuck!

    Reply
    1. Ron Post author

      My goal is to get the lawnmower guy to stand up and clap on one of my landings (instead of dive for cover!). I’ve got work to do.
      My next flight is to the practice area and back followed by a solo there. That would allow me to go out alone and practice maneuvers.
      I did get one flight a few weeks ago to another airport and it was awesome. Looking forward to that as well. Right now, the weather appears to be against me.
      I totally agree with you about things moving quickly after soloing and that it’s WAY better than being stuck.
      Any more GoPro videos? We don’t have one at our flight school but I am thinking it would be a good investment.

      Reply
      1. Caitlin

        Oh, the weather is FINALLY cooperating with me (I should knock on wood for that). I hope it clears up for you.
        None yet. It’s actually my instructor’s daughter’s GoPro and she’s going back to college. But I bought my boyfriend a GoPro (original) for our anniversary last year, so I’ll just take it. It’s been almost a year and he’s hardly used it. He just starts using it as soon as I want to use it, of course that’s how it goes down. I want to take it on my long cross country!

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