Next Steps…Well Wait A Minute

After the 2 successful “in the pattern” solos, the next two tasks were to be a trip out to the practice area and back dual followed by a solo. And then a trip out to another airport (within 25nm) and back.  Upon successful completion of both I would be signed off to solo to those places as well.

Eager to keep moving forward I scheduled 2 lessons close together.  I figured…2 things to do, 2 lesssons…get it done. Normally that is a Saturday and Sunday morning. I had family coming that weekend for an annual event so a little flexibility was required. Thursday night and Sunday afternoon instead.

The week dragged but Thursday finally came…and of course the possibility of some weather. The KMDT METAR was

KMDT 222056Z 27006KT 10SM FEW040 BKN250 28/19 A2992 RMK AO2 SLP131 TCU DSNT SE-S T02830194 56024

which is actually not bad at all.


Potentially Nasty

Potentially Nasty

Slow moving, scattered, but relatively intense storms.  They were described as dissipating but just as fast as one goes away, another can form. Watching their movement, it looked like it would be just enough time to have a pleasant flight out to the practice area and back after which, my solo could be a wild ride.

So, we after a brief discussion, we decided it would be better for me to go home and solo my lawnmower.  Which I did..and stayed COMPLETELY DRY.

But as always, better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground. And besides…always nice to get something else crossed off the list.



After a successful cookout and departures by all involved, it was time to get my head back in the game. Going into the day I was prepared to call this one off because I had no idea how I would feel. I behaved the night before and was in fine shape for a flight.

Of course…

Thar she blows…

They weren’t that bad but they were there. Near my limit. Regardless, we decided to go out to the practice area anyway to at least get the dual part out of the way.  Prior to all the pattern work, I’ve been here several times before.  Only difference this time is, of course, I am working through and memorizing each and every aspect of the flight so I can do it on my own.

After exiting the pattern, I was to fly to Shippensburg. My CFI: “So, how do you propose to get to Shippensburg.”

Sometimes I can’t help myself. “Well, Shippensburg is right off I-81 so I propose I take this plane, plant it over I-81 and ride it right into Shippensburg.” I guess that was the right answer.  Shippensburg is western limit of my training ground.  Once there we turned back towards Newville, my second landmark.

A little bit of airwork including turns, stalls, and slow flight all the way down to 40 knots with full flaps.  I was told that I would NOT be doing these maneuvers during my initial solos.  No problem there. The slow flight was interesting in that you get used to the fine differences between the stall horn pitch and if/when the actual stall occurs.

As I worked my way back to cruise power she says I am about to have a bad day. Engine is now out…what do you do? I get the plane configured hands off at 65 knots and start looking around. This time, my little airfield is not in site so I choose a nice, large farm field to make my approach. Before starting the formal descent we discussed the other actions to take. I fumbled on the transponder code and said 7500 instead of 7700.  I accepted that I made that mistake..however, in retrospect, I think 7500 would have worked too. It would have definitely got someone’s attention! Perhaps I would have been “helped” to land as well.

We flew the emergency approach to about 500AGL which was a lot further than I expected. I didn’t get fact, I was quite happy that my brain was actually engaged in making the landing. It was a good field so I was pretty confident it would have been ok.

It was time to head back to the field.  All was routine until I entered the pattern. Wind was definitely cross, gusting, and shifting from dead cross to slight tailwind. In retrospect we could have switched to 10 but the tailwind component was very slight.

The tailwind wasn’t the problem. I was having a hard enough time with the crosswind. Steady crosswind…I can do. This gusting thing was definitely a different picture.  I bounced it in and even got a little side loaded but it never got overly ugly. On the rollout…I had the aileron 100% in the wrong direction.  She was telling me to turn it into the wind and I thought it was so I just held it there..frozen…and wrong.  –I later found out the issue which we discussed the following day because the same thing almost happened.  Left crosswind on both days.  On roll out, she says the same exact phrase “Turn the aileron right into the wind.” She meant to say turn the aileron directly into the wind. I heard right…I was behind the airplane so my brain said…ok, turn to the right. First day…I fumbled and I was mad because somehow I froze.  On the next day, that phrase was the triggered and I instantly realized what had happened…and this time I got it right.

On taxi back my CFI said, “No solo today but you are now authorized to go out to the practice area.” That was great to hear.  I still have to do it solo but she’s ready to let me do it.

So was I….pushing my luck, I scheduled the very next day…the winds would NOT be in my favor for solo but I did get to go to Capital City dual, aced all my radio work (thanks to a LOT of prework and a LOT of listening to Channel 9 on United), and got some really good crosswind training in.  Only one groaner and one which was so close to perfect. Upwind wheel hit first which was great.  I think I got myself excited though and didn’t let the plane settle the right main.. PATIENCE. So, close to perfect becomes a bit of a screecher.

Signed off for controlled tower airport within 25nm!

Now…just a matter of doing both of those solo…before my instructor goes away for a week and a half.

With that flight I completed the 3rd page in my logbook.

Page 3 was great.

Soloed at 15.1 hours.

Carried forward 19.3 hours to Page 4.




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