Thursday, December 26, 2013

N94565 1.4 Alice

Preflight briefing about slow flight, rectangular pattern, entry procedure into final approach.

Right Dumbarton to Leslie Salt. Rectangular pattern work over the salt flats. Climbed over the mountains to San Antonio Reservoir. Slow flight. One simulated engine-out approach (circling to land). Returned via KGO towers for one go-around and one landing.

During preflight, Alice had lots of details about speeds for landing approach in different phases, etc. I told Alice about how I really want more "feel". Alice said, oh, I figured you were the kind of person who liked precision! Goes to show me, I guess -- never assume!

I also asked for more tips on the how rather than the what. In other words, rather than telling me that my altitude is off, tell me how I should be doing better at keeping it. I also mentioned that I would like to work on the "first derivative first" -- once I can control the rate of deviation from setpoint, I can move towards controlling the actual setpoint. Alice agreed.

I also mentioned to Alice how I had a Ford Festiva many years ago that had a huge amount of torque steer (probably because of unequal driveshaft lengths, and overall cheapy quality), so I learned to hang to one side when accelerating. Not too different from correcting for torque, P-factor, etc. on an airplane!

Alice did all the radio work at my request.

Taxi and runup were better than before. I need to learn to use the brakes symmetrically. Alice mentioned that I should stop for runup with the nosewheel lined up straight ahead, so as not to impose side stresses on the wheel. We had to shove forward a foot or so to correct that.

Takeoff was uneventful. I'm still so tied up in the whole thing that I'm probably up at 50 feet or so before I remember to notice that I'm flying. But once I realized that, and given that I had reviewed the V speeds -- and also convinced myself that VS1 is a long way away so I need not death-grip the yoke on takeoff -- I was able to enjoy myself much more.

On the turn to crosswind, it helped that Alice and I had agreed beforehand about where to do it. Alice taught me the technique of 90 degree turns by marking a faraway object off the wing, then turning (and in the Cessna, the wing obscures where I'm going), then straightening out when I'm pointed at the object.

Rectangular patterns were sloppy and there was no wind (at least, not enough for my ham-fisted n00b discernment) so I did not see its effect. It was difficult to maintain consistent radius of turn, bank angle, distance from the landmarks, etc.

Cruise to practice area uneventful. I still need to learn more about how to "manage" the airplane in cruise mode -- I can of course putter along without killing anything, but there is not a lot of finesse yet.

Slow flight: Learned to maintain heading and felt the P-factor yaw. Still cannot really "feel" where I go on the back side of the power curve, though by the time I'm near VS0 I certainly know I need it (or else I am sinking). Turns during slow flight were uneventful though I tended to bank too much. Still don't have the proper "feel" for the adverse yaw -- there's just so much wallowing going on and it's hard to isolate the individual effects of each part.

At some point, during recovery from a turn, some messed-up part of my cerebellum told me to "dance" on the rudder pedals as though I were tossing a ball from hand to hand. I need to stop that asap. This habit crashed an Airbus.

Simulated emergency approach was uneventful and unsurprising given my (albeit brief) time in a Blanik glider a while ago. Choose a field, circle, line up. We seemed to come in a little low -- not sure if it was my perception or we actually would have hit a berm.

Cruise back to PAO uneventful.

Landing was much better this time. I stopped looking at the waggenneedles and blinkenlights and just aimed the plane at the numbers, then pulled up in the obvious way when it looked like we were about to fly into 'em. This worked fairly well.

Taxi back was improved -- much more stable. Teaching myself to go in a straight line, and then try to maintain the actual centerline, is helpful. I also did the exercises of moving the yoke left and right while taxiing ("it's not a car steering wheel") and it seems like my feet and hands are actually more or less properly de-coupled now. At least while I'm relaxed and thinking about it. :)

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