Wednesday, December 31, 2014

N162HG 1.8 Solo

I did 1.8 and 12 landings today, all but (if I recall correctly) two were on Rwy 13 and the remainder were on Rwy 31. Weather was clear and calm (winds about 4 knots variable) but bumpy, especially with the sun shining brightly over the dark-colored marshes on 13 final approach.

Takeoffs were all pretty good. I'm learning more and more how to control my speed on short takeoffs, and I was off the runway like a bat out of hell. I look forward to seeing how the Flycatcher performs with a few hundred pounds of plump CFI in the right seat. :)

I did okay landings for the most part, with no ridiculously high flares. At some point I landed a bit askew (nothing more than what my CFI and I have practiced before -- still safe) but it reminded me that it's been a while since I've flown with any winds.

The bumpiness and unfamiliarity of the 13 climbout made it a bit harder to level out in the pattern. I was up to 900'-ish at some point. Another time, I got distracted looking for traffic and minding to Tower's constant caterwauling, and ended up diving to 650' just after turning downwind but before getting trimmed out. This is of course something that has happened before; it happens way less often now but I'm not out of the woods yet.

More to the point of what I was trying to do today, precision short-field landings were pretty much not happening. On almost every approach -- even on ones where I had to slip to burn energy -- I had the numbers in my windshield not moving, and came over the fence at very close to my target 50 kias. And I made a safe landing. But where I ended up touching down was anybody's guess. I don't think I really understand yet how to get this right.

I'm accustomed to flaring and patiently waiting for energy to bleed off. The resulting float down the runway, while "short" if I come in at a low enough speed, is nevertheless not precise enough to ensure a repeatable touchdown point.

I ended up having a longer flight than usual mainly because I kept trying and trying to get things right. I was not too fatigued since it was a cool day and I felt relaxed.

I think I really need some dual instruction to get this worked out!

During preflight, I noticed the Pitot tube looked a little bit askance and askew. On the order of 5° from where I am used to seeing it, but nevertheless not quite right. I debated whether to make a Big Deal™of this. Then I realized that the Maintenance Person was just a few yards away in the hangar, and the only thing over which I have 100% control in aviation is whether the NTSB report qualifies me for a Darwin award. So I went and got the dude and asked him if it was airworthy. He replied, "I'm not sure if the whole airplane is airworthy; I never fly anything I'm bigger than." But he sent me off with his blessing.

Monday, December 29, 2014

N162HG 1.6 Solo

The airplane's starter was dead, hence no flying for a while. It just got fixed today. Today's goal was to practice stalls and air work (hadn't done that in a while) then return for closed traffic.

Departed Left Dumbarton uneventfully with a short-field takeoff. I had about 10 knots of headwind, so I hit 200' alarmingly quickly over the ground!

I was having a bit more of a problem maintaining level than previously, for some reason -- mostly within PTS +/- 100' but shaky and requiring constant fiddling. It could be that the cold weather today was improving the engine performance, so my touchstone RPM numbers were not doing the trick as easily.

Crossing the mountains towards the area South of Half Moon Bay, cruising at 3500', I saw some cumuliform clouds ahead of me. I descended and noted that the bottoms of the clouds touched the horizon when I was at 3300'. That gave me my ceiling of (3300' - 500') = 2800'. From below, the marine wildlife preserve required 2000' AGL, while the ground was either 500' or 1000' AGL depending on whether it is "densely" populated. I decided to do my airwork around 2500' and stay over the ground on the shore, avoiding the high ground and remaining over the low areas where there were lots of fields for emergency landings.

I started by doing a whole bunch of steep 360-degree turns, by visual reference only -- no peeking at the altimeter until the turn is completed. I was able to stay within PTS for the first bunch of them, then somehow developed an annoying habit of losing 100'-150' each time. I think that, with peeking allowed, I should be able to do just fine on steep turns.

I was going up and down the coast to do my turns. At some point, I compared my 25 nm solo restriction to the landmarks and found that I could fly past the Pigeon Point lighthouse. I did, and it was very pretty.

I then flew up the coast from Pigeon Point, trying several stall practices. I established slow flight, full flaps and 50-55 kias, carb heat on, then pulled to idle and stalled, and recovered. I found out that I could recover with < 50' altitude loss (since I was expecting the stall, I was ready on the throttle...) but my stall horn would "blip" during recovery. I kept working on it till I got a few stalls without the blip. I think the blip is because I would over-dive, then over-pull during the recovery. Even though my altitude loss was acceptable, the fact that I was tempting a secondary stall was not. In summary, I think I need to practice this at least a little bit more.

I noticed the engine was running a tiny bit more rough during idle than I'm used to, but it was fine otherwise, so I decided not to worry.

I then decided to return to KPAO. I could have gone pretty much direct OSI or SLAC, but that would have taken me over the mountains and under the clouds, which seemed to have moved a bit during the time I was out. I decided to fly up the coast some more and cross the mountains near the Crystal Springs reservoir, where my chart indicated the ground elevation was 1500' so maintaining 2500' would be safe.

While flying, I could see my carb temperature creeping slightly into the yellow zone, so I applied carb heat and flew with it. I figured it was better safe than sorry.

I then flew towards SLAC, got ATIS, called in for closed traffic, and flew across the city of Palo Alto direct midfield, joining left traffic.

I intended to do a short-field landing. My approach ended up dipping a bit low, and I added some power. That's fine -- I had planned to practice short-field landings with power this time. But I flared too high and ended up coming down with a bump. But it was short. Tower said, "Skycatcher 162HG, nice landing, contact ground on taxiway Zulu." Don't tell me -- they're here all week. :) I replied that I wanted closed traffic so I could try again ;). They gave me the usual "taxi back each time".

I was cleaning up the aircraft on parallel Zulu when, to add insult to injury, I over-leaned and the engine stopped. And, horror of horrors, I was unable to get it started. What embarrassment! I was now a full-blown Disabled Aircraft in the Movement Area! I had to call Tower who directed me to Ground who sent an Airport Vehicle with an Airport Dude in a yellow vest. We pushed the plane off to a nearby parking spot and Airport Dude gave me a ride back to the club. There I was told to walk over to the Maintenance People and confess my utter shame.

The Maintenance Person rode the golf cart with me. He brushed off the idle roughness during flight as likely due to the cold day, which sort of makes sense in retrospect: low density altitude means extra lean mixture. When we got to the airplane, he had me crank it while he messed with the throttle and mixture. He started it out lean, and it fired up just fine. He told me I had likely flooded the engine. That too makes sense. I managed to learn something. I guess I had thought the engine would not start because it was "hot" -- but if I had stopped to think, that would make no sense. It was 13 degrees C on the ground and 5 degrees C in flight. There was very little chance of vapor lock.

One thing to think about: When he asked me to crank the engine, I immediately put the key in and started throwing switches without looking at my checklist. He had to remind me to turn on the Master and wait for the EIS to come alive so we could see the oil pressure, etc. I think this is an important aviation lesson and I'm glad I got to learn it so cheaply: When stuff starts to get weird, remember your procedures and don't just start 

I decided it was best to call it a day and taxi back. Ground told me, "Taxi back via Zulu Kilo." I accepted this expecting the taxiway in front of me to be Kilo, and that maybe they made a mistake about the Zulu part because it's routine. Then they called back and said, "Correction, taxi back via Golf." Wow. The taxiway in front of me was Golf, not Kilo. Of course, now that I thought about it, that made sense. Yet again, I accepted an instruction without reality-checking it. Again, a cheap lesson given that everyone sees everyone else and the airport was not busy. But a lesson nevertheless. Fwiw, Below is the Zulu Kilo instruction they gave me unthinkingly in red, and the actual route I took in green:

Whew! What an adventure!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

N162HG 1.4 Solo

Closed pattern at KPAO with almost no wind and not much traffic, 9 takeoffs and landings. Practicing short takeoffs and landings.


One challenge, which I usually have no problem with, is the transition from letoff, taking my toes off the brakes, then getting my feet positioned quickly on the floor to apply rudder correction using the bottom of the pedals. On my first takeoff, I flubbed that a little and ended up veering left, and took off from the middle of the left side of the runway. On my other takeoffs, I maintained centerline okay.

I am getting better at actually holding my climb speed at ~ 50 kias. I usually pay attention to the nose and ASI, but today I also tried to notice where I hit 200' (which is when I pulled up flaps and accelerated to Vy). I'm no expert, but that seems like pretty awesome climb performance from the little Flycatcher:


These were all safe, but eventful.

The challenge was to choose the proper place at which to start my full-flaps idle descent so I arrived at the right landing spot. I usually came in with too much energy, and would be at risk of floating past my landing spot, and so I'd slip to burn energy, but that would leave me going too fast and overall in a kerfuffle and not in a stabilized position for landing.

One landing was very long, and I ended up barely passing the second taxiway and had to speed back up again to go quickly to the end of the runway and turn off (trying to be courteous to others). On one landing, I bounced my nosewheel gently. It's the first time I think I've experienced this phenomenon in a "pure" form that I could discern. It was very rubber-bandey, almost like the airplane was on a long bungee bouncing up and down on the runway, and there wasn't much I could do about it. I only had a couple bounces; they were gentle; I did not overcontrol; and they damped right out. But it was interesting.

It's hard to characterize what exactly I learned today. I didn't get better or worse, but I certainly got the feel of "floating" in at 50 kias and maintaining speed (speed control was pretty good, actually). For my next practice, I'm going to set up a stable approach and learn to flare properly, and observe where I end up landing. Then I can use that to calibrate my next approaches. I think I'd learn more systematically that way.


Maneuvering and leveling out continues to improve as I get better at holding the airplane in position using nose attitude, and delaying trim until I have time to mess with it.

In the past, I think I've been "afraid" of flying the plane using firm forward pressure for any length of time, feeling like it was going to sort of "pop up" on me. I also did not trust myself to hold consistent firm pressure, and expected that I would gradually release as my arms got tired. Both of these made me trim too early. Now I am learning to look out the window, put the nose where I want it to be, and keep it there, which closes the loop and compensates for all that stuff. This makes me less likely to start trimming too early.

I was within PTS (+/- 100') in all patterns except one, where I ballooned up a bit but "corrected immediately". Still not confident and smooth enough to convince a passenger, but getting there.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

N162HG 1.5 Solo

Plan was to do ground reference maneuvers over the Leslie Salt flats, then return for short T/O and landing practice. All my takeoffs and landings today were "short" procedure. I did 3 takeoffs and landings.

The runup area was crowded due to the recent rainy weather -- it seemed like everyone in Palo Alto was desperate to escape at last! There was a trainee controller on tower, and a supervisor who cut in every once in a while. The supervisor once canceled the trainee's line up and wait clearance to me because there was a plane on final. I actually saw that plane and, I think, could have made it out there, but for future reference, this is a reminder to me not to accept clearances blindly.

Took off from Rwy 31, climbed to 1500' and turned right over the Dumbarton bridge, then right again once I had crossed the water. Once over the salt flats, I needed to dump altitude quickly to avoid flying into a bunch of clouds, so I cut the motor and slipped. I ended up overshooting my target 800' a bit by going down to about 650', but was able to climb back. This is something to keep in mind for next time.

I told tower to "be advised" of my intention to remain on frequency and practice over the salt. They eventually gave me a squawk code and gave me traffic alerts. What with the busy pattern, it was a lot of chatter and stuff to keep up with while I puttered around.

There was no wind to speak of, so I concentrated on maintaining altitude and learning to judge my distance from the "line" I was trying to follow. For the former, I did better than I would have expected, given the chatter -- I'd make a turn and look back at my altimeter and be surprised to see it reading more or less still 800'. Speed control was not very good though -- I still had an old habit of "creeping" on the throttle a bit. The real difficulty was turning so that I would end up at the proper distance from the line after making my turn. I suspect I could get to PTS standards after two or so practice sessions. In general, I think I did okay and I got a lot of experience maneuvering back and forth confidently.

I then asked Tower to make inbound for closed traffic, and was told to make a right base, then told to turn a bit to follow an inbound aircraft. I did well finding and following traffic. A couple of the landings confused me because of the non-standard pattern -- I ended up dropping full flaps too late, having to slip to burn energy, and never really having a nice stabilized approach. I made it safely in all cases, though. For a couple of the landings, though, especially the last one, I managed a "real" short landing, including raising flaps after touchdown and braking. Boy, when done right, that plane can stop on a dime! Good to know for emergencies.... On one landing, I landed maybe 50' before my intended point. I need to work on precision.

Overall, a happy flight.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

N162HG 1.6 Solo

Thanksgiving morning -- went out to practice short-field takeoffs and landings, all closed traffic.

The CFI who looked at my paperwork reminded me that my solo limitations specify visibility ≥ 6 sm, and KPAO was reporting 7 sm. I should pay more attention to visibility next time. I guess I never thought it could be non-obvious, but now I know. On my bike ride to the airport, everything looked hunky dory, but sure enough, looking across the SF Bay, the mountains were pretty obscured. Once in the air, I would have trouble seeing the KNUQ hangars just after turning Rwy 31 downwind.

There were stratiform clouds (reporting SCT200) and no wind. That and the poor visibility would indicate a temperature inversion in the area. I looked at the prog charts and could not figure out why that would be the case or what sort of phenomenon I was observing. More learning about Wx in my future.

Leveling off at 800' in the pattern got better. I realized two things: (a) look out the window and trust the sight picture and things will be mostly fine [how many times do I have to re-realize this again...?]; and (b) firmly establish attitude, controlling by hand through the entire leveling-out maneuver if necessary, then and only then worry about trimming. Overall, I am far more satisfied with how I captured and maintained altitude, though I certainly could do far better.

I did 11 landings in total.

The takeoffs were uneventful. I could not bring myself to climb at 55 kias so I figured I would climb at 60 kias and consider discretion the better part of valor. I tried to become aware of where I actually took off. Based on what I saw and looking at the airport diagram, I suspect I was lifting off about 600' down the runway from my brake letoff point. The POH lists 640' ground roll at gross, 15°C (interpolated). I had about half fuel and myself, and my flight bag which weighs nothing -- but the POH does not tell us how to correct for weight.

The landings were all over the map at first. As I went along, I settled on a technique. I would come in high until a point where I figured an idle glideslope would take me just short of the runway threshold, then dump in my last notch of flaps and maintain 50/-0/+5 kias. What kept happening was that I flared, flared and flared some more ... but had I started that flare earlier, I would have been buzzing the duck pond. Something does not make sense.

I had a bunch of landings where I ended up landing long and others where I made it off before taxiway Bravo. I am not (yet) very aware of the point at which I actually touch down.

I had one landing where tower asked me to expedite my base turn, so I had to slip a lot to burn altitude. It did not result in my best short-field landing of the day, but it was good practice in being able to adapt my technique at short notice to the prevailing needs, and I landed safely with no problem.

At some point, the visibility seemed particularly bad, so I asked tower to say visibility, and they estimated 4.9 sm. I terminated. They asked me if I was seeing less than they reported -- I said no, its just below my solo limitations.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

N162HG 1.4 Solo

Since I have not flown for a while, I decided to depart and do air work first before coming back in for landing practice.

Departed Left Dumbarton towards the coast, then practiced climbing and descending between 2500' and 3500', leveling out each time, while in a 20 degree turn. Did several of these while turning either way (left and right). The goal was to try to address my general anxiety about leveling out while turning, which is a problem in the KPAO pattern (and, I imagine, potentially elsewhere) since I always end up needing to level out just as I am turning downwind after takeoff.

I did okay, though the one critique I have of myself is that I allowed myself to fixate too much on the altimeter -- I should do a better job of keeping my eyes outside and on the nose.

The whole exercise was basically one big clearing turn, and I did a clearing turn before the clearing turns. :) Yet at some point, a plane that was far away over the water suddenly appeared at what seemed like 1000' or so below me, scudding directly underneath. I was startled and wondered why they chose that flight path. I would think that, passing underneath, they lose sight of me at some point, which would be bad, right? Wouldn't they want to keep me in sight all the time? As for me, I was keeping my eyes skinned as best I could, looking above and below me. I think what happened was that, as I turned, they must have snuck in from behind me.

I am not sure if this warrants concern as a loss of separation, but it is certainly something I did not want to be surprised by.

On the way and back, I practiced being aware of the terrain underneath me and looking for possible forced landing fields.

Returned to KPAO and did 3 landings, practicing short field technique, which were uneventful. There was practically no crosswind. In all cases I was able to comfortably slow down and turn off Rwy 31 at taxiway Bravo. In one case I slid a tire very briefly, but that was my mistake and was not necessary for slowing down. My speed control was a bit sloppy; I was trying to shoot for the recommended 50/+5/-0 kias, but I saw 47 and 48 momentarily. I need to be careful about this if I am to continue practicing short field while solo.

Altitude control in the pattern was passable -- the exercises actually did help -- but I lost altitude station when I was told to look for and follow some traffic, and I had to scan around and worry about where they were.

Overall, this was a good flight. I enjoyed myself. Also, I felt like, technique aside, I was "driving the plane" successfully, just like I "drove the car" in my early days of driver ed. If someone told me to get from A to B in my Flycatcher, I can pull it off. I guess the stuff I'm now trying to learn, like short and soft field T/O and landings, are a bit like merging onto a fast, busy highway -- that would have scared the sh*t out of me in my early driving days.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

N162HG 0.9 Solo

The 14:00 reservation was canceled so I had the plane as long as I liked.

Good thing, too. I asked by the by whether we have to check in with a club CFI for every solo, not just an XC. I had thought that was the case, but then on my first "alone" solo the CFI there told me no, you only check in for XCs. Well it turns out I have to check in for all solos after all. Apparently an insurance requirement. One dude looked at my stuff and declared me good to go. He looked at my student certificate and snickered, "no medical!" Later he seemed sympathetic. Not sure what was on his mind, but whatever. It took a while to hunt down a CFI. Next time I'll know and be more proactive to snag the nearest one I see and not let them go until they give me a go-ahead.

Went out for 0.9 of closed traffic, with a very light right crosswind.

I had a departing aircraft on upwind, but being newly cautious, I asked to make sure I was not supposed to follow them.

My altitude station keeping was quite a bit better -- mainly as a result of, um, bothering to remember to do it.

Approaches were different every time, due to traffic. I managed to end up stable on short final in all cases, and as before, I am getting to more flares and less slam-dunks. I was able to exit on Bravo on several landings, rather than skittering down like a fool while everyone patiently waited for me to make up my mind to get done. Bravo! :P

My final approach speed is still in the range of 51 - 59 knots, not the 55 -0 +5 that I'd like it to be. I am safe, but I would like to somehow get into the habit of thinking of my approach speed as a "floor" not to go below rather than wavering up and down around it.

A couple times, I was slung out on a long downwind, I maintained cruise speed. Then, when I turned base and final, I had overshot the runway and needed to do a teardrop to come back to runway centerline. I "rescued" the situation fine, but my goal is not to have to do that. With parallel runways, that would be a disaster. So mental note to self => whipping around base to final at cruise with only 20 degrees of bank, you're going to overshoot. More than 20 degrees of bank and you're being a reckless nut. Solution: Slow the frack down first.

Forgot how many landings I did (later, video showed I did 5). Next time maybe make a small pencil mark every time?

Friday, November 7, 2014

N162HG 1.3 Solo

Solo closed pattern after a bit of a flying hiatus due to work and family stress.

5 landings in a busy pattern with very little wind and almost no crosswind.

Approaches were passable, and I'm slowly approaching something similar to a flare on landing.

Was asked to do a right 360 on left downwind 31 at some point. Did mostly okay, though I ended up closer to the runway than when I started -- unlikely this was due to crosswind; more likely poor consistency of bank angle and/or speed on my part.

Since pattern was busy and I had to keep scanning for following traffic, got distracted from my target altitude a couple times. I leveled off okay but then failed to trim properly for level flight and/or maintain altitude. To-do next time: be conscious of that.

Controller kept giving sequences without describing following traffic ("2HG number two for the option"). At some point I was following a Citabria on right downwind 31, and was told I was #2. I looked at the runway and there was someone on short final, so I assumed that the Citabria was departing and the short final aircraft was my #1. I then turned base, only to have tower tell me that I was cutting off my traffic -- the Citabria which had just turned final far away. He asked me to continue across and join left downwind.

Nobody ever departs from the 31 right downwind. My brain just trusted the controller. That discrepancy should have made me think and ask for clarification.

Bob said controllers often do this when an aircraft is on very short final, so I need to be alert for this in the future.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

N162HG 1.5 Bob

Flew from KPAO to KSQL, did some closed pattern work there, then flew back. Lots of crosswind, but did okay with that. A lot of time spent waiting on the taxiway for traffic.

I flubbed my radio comms calling into KSQL, then on the way back, was messing too much with the radio trying to get ATIS and all that. Bob said, just call in with negative ATIS and be done with it.

Was having trouble keeping track of the landmarks around KSQL, though that got slightly better as time progressed.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

N162HG 1.7 Solo

First complete solo flight.

Checked in with a club CFI who said, if you're not doing XC then don't bother, it's fine. Winds were very light, and mostly CAVU.

I heard a low buzz in the radio when calling for fuel and asked the CFI again. He said he'd just flown it and it was okay, so I decided to push on.

Took on 3/4 fuel, no baggage except my flight bag and the very light accessory case with fuel tester and what-not in the back of the plane.

Departed Left Dumbarton towards the coast, overflew the hills through some bumpy air and staying clear of a couple of cotton-puff clouds, and came to the area South of Half Moon Bay to practice.

There were several aircraft I encountered, maneuvering or just passing through. I was squashed between the 4000' KSFO Class B shelf and the 2000' AGL minimum altitude called out on the coast on the VFR chart for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. I ended up cycling between 3500' and 3000', reasoning that, in the worst case, an irate controller was better than an over-zealous park ranger. In practice, I overshot up to maybe 3600' and down to 2800' or so, but that was still safe.

Did a bunch of steep turns by visual reference only. Was losing or gaining quite a lot of altitude, but generally my performance would greatly improve if I "cheated" by glancing at the VSI. I still need to look at the cockpit video to assess my performance; I was calling out how I did but did not write anything down.

Practiced several ascents an descents between my two target altitudes. Overall, I think I'm doing well on that. It turns out that this practice helped me in the pattern, later. Ascents were using T/O trim and full power, climbing at 70 kias, and descents were at idle with carb heat, the goal being to maintain cruise speed of 90 kt throughout the descent then round out and add power smoothly back to 2300 rpm.

Then tried several back-and-forth rolls, going between +/- 30 degrees of bank with full aileron deflection at the maximum. First tried with no rudder input at all to demonstrate the adverse yaw, then started doing them with rudder. Got much better at them but then started feeling very queezy in my stomach and had to stop!

Checked my fuel situation several times and during the practice was at or above half fuel.

For "navigating" my return, I had noticed that OSI, VPSLA and KPAO basically lie in a straight line from one another. So I brought up the map on my G300, flew South until I intercepted that line, then flew inbound OSI over the hills at 3500', got the ATIS, and called in over VPSLA, asking for closed traffic, and at the same time starting my descent.

I started heading for the "tall blocky buildings" to set up a 45 for the Rwy 31 left pattern, but was asked to fly direct midfield due to outbound traffic, so I did.

Descent was a bit wobbly in altitude station keeping -- I think I was tired. The hard part was trying to cross Hwy 101 above 1000' while targeting left pattern altitude of 1000'. Eventually I made it in. There was a Pilatus inbound and I was #2, but I couldn't see them so just asked to call my base; they said "wilco"! :) I was surprised to turn base over the Shoreline Amphitheater and find myself high, but then was like, oh yeah, I'm at 1000'. I came in a bit steep for my liking. Speed control (target 55 kt) was adequate for safety but could be much better -- some 51-52 kt moments. I need to work on visual speed control.

On the parallel T-bar for my next circuit, I noticed it was 14:30 local, which was when I should have returned the plane. I got carried away! I weighed whether to ask for special treatment and decided not to -- it might complicate the ground taxi for everyone. I did another circuit then taxied back.

Second circuit was uneventful, but I could have been more decisive about when to start my descent; I was #2 behind a Cessna and I should have anticipated when I would be abeam of them rather than waiting till they were abeam then deciding to start thinking about cutting power. The ascent-to-level practice I did earlier paid off: doing the climbing and leveling turn after takeoff seemed much easier and I hit the 800' pattern altitude fairly well.

Luckily, nobody was waiting for the plane when I returned it, so I did not get yelled at for returning it a little late.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

N162HG 0.6 Bob / 0.7 Solo

Second supervised solo. Takeoff and landing practice on a day with lots of variable wind and a crosswind. Not so easy this time, but partly because I was getting hungry towards the end of the day and should have eaten a snack before flying -- I didn't because I had a busy day at work and ran out of a meeting to come to the airport. Did 3 dual and 4 solo landings, all safe.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

N162HG 0.5 Bob / 0.5 Solo

First solo! 3 full stop takeoffs and landings with CFI, then 3 on my own.

A momentous occasion for me, obviously, but otherwise a very uneventful flight. Just the way we want it, I guess. :)

Since I am a Sport Pilot student, I needed a whole river raft of endorsements in my logbook for controlled airspace. We spent half an hour in the briefing room with the CFI scribbling in my log. :)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

N162HG 1.6 Dave Pre-solo phase check

Pre-solo phase check with a different CFI assigned by the club. 4 hours total, including oral exam and 1.6 of actual flight.

Flew out of KPAO, did a left Dumbarton to the practice area South of Half Moon Bay, and did steep turns and stalls. Did some pattern work at Half Moon Bay. Then returned to KPAO.

Conclusion was "pass" and "good job"! :)

Notes on oral exam

Know your Wx before coming to the airport, since you will meet with a club CFI who will ask you about your go/no-go decision. You will meet with some CFI -- likely not your usual one -- so be prepared to defend your decision to fly.

Know the wind, its trend, and your crosswind component (it's not enough to just remark that you "could" calculate the latter!). Be prepared to compare that to your solo limitations.

Day "VFR" at an airport means it is ≥ 1000 ft ceiling and ≥ 3 statute miles visibility. If the beacon is on during the day, then the field is not VFR.

Remember that written weather reports are always true (geographic) heading, whereas ATIS is always magnetic heading.

Your kneeboard should include a reference card for light-gun signals.

Keep the tower number for your home airport on your phone. If you go NORDO, you might be able to call them and tell them you're coming.

Instructor's notes flight


"good job"

T/O and landings

Normal: "very nice"

No-flap: "tail scrape, nose high attitude"

Power off to a landing: "3rd notch flaps @ 77 kts" ← This is me coming in way too high, desperately trying to recover by burning off speed, and exceeding 3rd-notch VFE = 77 kts while diving.


"clearing turns" ← I need to remember to do these before any air work.

Slow flight: "alt -100, hdg -5 degrees, full pwr recover" ← I was a bit confused about the maneuvers.

Power off stall: "hdg -20 pos rate climb" ← again a bit confused about what I was supposed to do.

Steep turn left: "-300 ft -5 deg +15 kts"

Steep turn right: "+40 ft -10 deg +10 kts"


"Tends to be high on final" ← Yep, I know! As Bob suggested, I need to work on this once I solo, bit by bit. I have become adept at using desperate measures ;) to "rescue" my approaches, but that should not, in general, be necessary every time....

My post-flight debrief notes

Use the checklist more often -- the FAA wants to see you stop and use the checklist after landing, for example, or when establishing cruise, ....

When practicing stalls, it is a goal of the exercise to hold the initial heading.

After recovery from a stall, it is a goal to establish positive climb.

The power-on stall maneuver simulates a takeoff. So start at, say, 55 kts level flight, approximating an aircraft about to rotate. Then increase power to climb, then stall, recover, and re-establish positive climb.

The power-off stall maneuver simulates a landing approach. Establish landing conditions, then stall, then show positive climb; the idea is, I'm near the ground and have stalled, and want to fly away from it and do a go-around.

Steep turns require +/- 10 kts speed control.

In the traffic pattern, use flaps earlier. Just abeam the numbers, drop the first notch of flaps and establish a descent. That way you won't come in too high every time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

N162HG 1.3 Bob

Routine training flight introducing me to short and soft field takeoffs and landings.

Tailstrike on my first soft field takeoff! :) Otherwise just regular pattern practice, at the controls all the time, no problems with safety.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

N162HG 1.6 Bob

KPAO to training area near Half Moon Bay to pattern work at Half Moon Bay to San Carlos touch and go and back to KPAO.

Involved steep turns, stalls, 3 practice pattern power loss events (I over-floated one and landed on the next 2, if only by aggressive slipping to burn off my float) and one practice takeoff power loss event (pretty dramatic feeling, actually ... really inspires one to lower that nose).

Bob said I feel really comfortable with the plane. I did / do, actually, which is very gratifying. Today was not windy -- we went out in the morning -- but still.

We turned in my solo paperwork (completed Advantage Aviation pre-solo written and single engine checkout forms). The club owner / manager, Ken, is going to choose a pre-solo phase check instructor for me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

N162HG 1.2 Bob

Uneventful pattern work at KPAO. Bob did not touch the controls; I was able to do all the work. One tiny snafu where I was reading back my T/O clearance and getting on the runway at the same time, and I over-throttled because I was not paying attention; otherwise went smoothly.

Friday, August 22, 2014

N162HG Bob 1.3

Bob is back! Yet another flight around the pattern.

There was an 18 knot wind down the runway all through the flight. Luckily not much of a crosswind, but enough to make things bumpy near the ground and markedly warp my patterns.

I did not compensate adequately for crosswind on final -- I needed to turn to a crab, then remember that the final turn was going to be very small. I think it's been many, many moons since I did the rectangular pattern exercise.

When first reducing power from pattern altitude, I have a tendency to sort of "hunt" for the right speed. But the speed takes time to build up / bleed off. The correct technique is to remember and set the proper pitch attitude right away and let the speed catch up to it.

When in the flare, when I cut power, do not raise the nose! This just means I slow down massively. I need to maintain pitch or else I'll end up slowing down. (Makes sense, no...?)

Watch bank angle in the pattern. There was one time where I let my bank get more than 30 degrees while slow and turning to final. Do not do this.

Remember right rudder with throttle. Again, just as with the descent pitch attitude, anticipate that right rudder will be needed and the right foot goes forward when the right hand (throttle) goes forward!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

N162HG Emily 1.3

Another flight in the pattern.

Watch altitude under/overshoots. Given that I'm now learning better what a good approach looks like, I'm now getting into oscillations around the desired path.

Remember to aviate first -- do not fixate on traffic. As soon as I see them and register their position, if they are no factor, then look straight ahead and don't keep following them with my eyes.

Remember that I can always say UNABLE if I can't follow an instruction. I got asked to turn base at some point, which I was able to do, but just to remember -- I can say no.

I have a tendency to pull the nose up as I go over the numbers and balloon. This is not good. I think the problem is that (a) I'm a bit ground-shy, as I see the ground coming up; (b) the instructor says "flare" and I am afraid they'll take the controls if I don't so I do so early; and (c) I am simply not paying attention to the pitch attitude.

Friday, August 15, 2014

N162HG Emily 1.3

More closed pattern work with new-ish instructor.

Advice was to not fixate on traffic, and not be anxious as that causes me to be reactive. Also we discussed the need to guesstimate a "weird" pattern -- e.g. if I am asked to extend my downwind, when do I begin my descent? The idea is to imagine the pattern as a set of "squares" -- if I make the first base turn, then I begin my descent abeam the numbers; second, I begin my descent while turning base; etc. Conveniently, the Shoreline Amphitheatre is right around when you'd want to begin your descent if you come straight in.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

N162HG 1.3 Emily

Returning to flight. My usual CFI is away, so I booked 3 lessons with another one.

We did 1.3 in the KPAO pattern, touch and goes with two full stops.

Emily basically repeated what Bob has been saying all along: I am spending too much time worrying about the various distractions around me, and not concentrating on flying the airplane. I'm also getting too worried about what I "should" be able to do and not simply relaxing.

I should have rules to follow so as to get a consistent pattern. Otherwise, I'm doing each one differently.

Approach at 60 -- it's easier in the Flycatcher; lower than that and it gets wallowy.

Ascend -- runway seems less trapezoidal. Descend -- more trapezoidal.

Level off consistently, then worry about getting the right altitude.

Flare: Start looking at the far end of the runway rather than the numbers.

I have trouble seeing my "aiming point" ... I can sort of tell when I'm high or low. I had one approach that CFI called "dangerously low" once, but others were relatively okay.

As for glidepath, I tended to overshoot then oscillate around it.

We decided that next lesson would be a "good habits pattern" -- trying to just get the general feel for things, staying on the runway centerline, and buzzing the runway, not landing, so as not to have to worry about the final panic of the flare.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

No flying - stressful at work

I'm going through a very stressful time at work right now, and so have not been able to schedule regular flight lessons. It's been almost 2 weeks since my last one!

I'm at a bit of a plateau in my pattern and landing practice. I think that, too often, I end up coming in too high and relying on slips to burn energy; slips are a good skill, but I should be able to execute a predictable, smooth approach at my friendly, familiar favorite local airport without resorting to violent last-minute maneuvers. :)

Another thing is that I still am not "stable" and in complete authority in the pattern. A lot of this is really my worry about if and when my instructor is going to tell me to do something. But also, I do a very poor job of looking where I should be looking -- I am looking all over the place rather than simply looking forwards, so the nose wallows up and down while turning and leveling out. I really need to do a few "good habits patterns" where I ask the instructor to help me with my habits rather than with my performance.

I have at hand the pre-solo written test from my flying club and am going through it. It's not hard; I just need to refresh my knowledge of the FARs.

Monday, July 14, 2014

N162HG 1.2 Bob

Pattern work at KPAO concentrating on regular practice as well as emergency procedures (loss of engine on downwind and no-flap landings).

I still do rather extreme corrections. I have also gotten into the habit of pitching up too much (and flying less than Vy, perversely) on upwind. I have a habit of flying a very tight pattern, usually because I'm in a "hurry" to turn downwind because I expect the instructor to tell me to do it! As for the crosswind, I learned today that a 1/2 mile final is plenty for this airplane. That would be about 400' AGL for the final leg. For no-flaps landings, I need to extend my pattern!

The short approaches (engine loss on downwind) went mostly okay; I ended up having a bit too much energy by the time I was over the runway, floating for a while and landing somewhat long. I'll have to keep this in mind -- Bob mentioned the flaps on this plane do not burn as much energy as, say, the barn-door 40° flap deflection on a C150!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

N162HG 1.4 Bob

Flew from KPAO to KSQL, did a landing and a T&G or two there, then returned to KPAO for some more pattern work then a landing.

The KSQL crosswind was from the left, which was slightly disorienting -- I'm used to KPAO Rwy 31 xwinds from the right, making me a bit like a NASCAR car that only turns one way. :)

KSQL was crazy busy, so we ended up staying outside the Class D doing 360s, then crossed midfield to the pattern. I had trouble keeping altitude and bank angle during all this madness. At some point, I tried to climb by just using throttle, leading to a well-placed admonition that we only do that in the final approach. :)

I was taught to add 1/2 of the gust factor to my final approach airspeed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

N162HG 1.1 Bob

Takeoffs and landings, windy and gusty day but things went pretty well. I had an approach that Bob called "beautiful". Still having trouble flaring too late or too early, but that's a relatively addressable issue compared to all the wallowing I was doing earlier. It really seems to help, by the way, to fly often!

Bob is starting to talk about solo as though it were actually A Thing™.

We tried a couple of no flaps landings. It wasn't too bad, but Bob says I need to work better on speed control.

We tried two go-arounds: one where I was too far off and called it myself (Bob complimented me on the decision and execution) and one where he called it.

I am still having trouble flying proper rectangular patterns.

I also tend to wallow the nose up in turns, which I should correct at some point by doing more of my "visual turns" exercises to remind myself of the right habits.

On my first few landings, Bob says I "worked too hard" -- fighting and over-controlling. It definitely helps to just relax, put my elbow down on the armrest, fly with my fingers and dance the plane around.

On one of the landings, I was really really high and steep. I slipped aggressively and rescued the landing, and this time actually remembered to keep the nose down and watch my speed.

After the flight, we discussed the next steps towards solo:
  • Download and go through presolo written test;
  • Next time, will try flying to KSQL so I have an alternate airport if KPAO is closed;
  • Practice emergencies:
    • Engine failure after takeoff
    • Engine failure on downwind
Engine failure on takeoff: #1 priority is don't stall. The Flycatcher climbs hanging on the prop, so remember to PUSH the nose down. Establish best glide-ish, whatever it takes, and land straight ahead.

Engine failure on downwind: Aim 1/3 of the way down the runway and make a circling turn. It's bettter to land long and even overrun than to land short. Once the runway is made, drop flaps and dive to burn energy, get the plane lined up, and put it down.

General notes: It's better to hit something after landing on the mains (you walk away) rather than in flight (you don't walk away) or landing on some other part of your airplane (not so much). If you have to land in the marshes, know that the airplane will probably flip since the wheels will grab, but so what, it flips, but you walk away.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

N162HG 1.2 Bob

Closed pattern work at KPAO again. A couple of full stops, one practice go-around called by Bob at the last minute. Some observations:

I need to work on filtering out random distractions in the pattern, and concentrate on leveling out correctly. I think that, again, Bob is getting back into saying more, and I'm getting back into being worried that he's going to say or gesture something (like "turn base now") and letting that distract me.

I need to reduce power more while descending. I came in ridiculously steep after ridiculously high approaches almost every time. On one approach, Bob was not sure we'd even make it in, so I slipped aggressively and brought it down ... but before I congratulate myself, let me note that my speed dropped to 51 or 52 kias when I slipped, because I still don't anticipate how much I need to be stuffing the nose down when I slip.

I need to learn to apply rudder pressure and not kick. Bob noted that, on takeoffs, sometimes I'll see the plane is veering one direction, so I kick rudder and it stops veering, so then I let go of the rudder. It's not a car, notes Bob. If you want it to keep stopping veering, you need to maintain the pressure!

Surprisingly, Bob is more concerned about my random yawing during takeoffs than during landings. I'm really surprised, since I imagine my yaw on landing is horrible, but he says it's actually not that bad, I won't peel off a tire or ground loop and dig in a wing, don't worry. That's actually a big deal. A huge part of my landing anxiety has to do with worrying about the state of where the nose is pointed.

Bob noted that I seemed stressed. It's true -- I'm under a lot of stress at work right now. In fact, my wife and son are in Hawai'i but I was not able to go because of work. I hoped to console myself with more flying, but then I was so stressed on Sunday night that I didn't get much sleep and had to scrub my planned Monday afternoon lesson. I guess that was as much "flight training" as anything -- I imagine part of learning to fly is learning to decide when not to fly.

I was particularly diligent in checking under my wing to the final approach for traffic even when cleared to the active by Tower, after having heard about the recent runway incursion near-miss at Barcelona. Aviation usually requires two simultaneous screw-ups for a real disaster to happen. May all our screw-ups be singletons.

In other news, I got myself a Drift HD camera (it's in the mail...) and would like to mount it in the cockpit to take training videos. (One of the nice things about Drift is their cameras have a standard 1/4-20 tripod mount built right in). I wondered where to mount it, thinking I might want to bungee down a tripod behind and between the pilots, but it turns out "the" standard way is on the skylight behind and above the pilots; in fact, there's a little circle there on the window where other people have suctioned on their cameras. I got a suction cup mount for it from REI, but it was too heavy and had too many parts made of metal; I feared it could scratch or damage the window. I now have a RAM mount ordered, which I think is lightweight and made of plastic. Stay tuned for video footage of my horrible landings?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

N162HG 1.2 Bob

Closed traffic at KPAO, 2 full stops and a bunch of T&Gs. I had some reasonable landings and some bad ones.

We had a pretty stiff but steady crosswind towards the later part of the lesson, which gave me a good feel for the need to crab, and the need to change to a slip at the end. I also got more feel for the way the airplane's yaw is sort of "heavy" and has a lot of momentum, so once it gets swinging one way or the other, it's hard to swing it back without serious fighting. So again, the thing to remember is: Lots of high frequency, firm but not excessive adjustments, and stay alert and don't let the plane get away from me in the first place.

Need to rotate gradually on takeoff, starting just under the 50 kias required. Do not wait till rotation speed then jerk backward -- I did that once and the stall horn squeaked momentarily.

In turns in the pattern, I let the nose wander higher. Pay attention!

On very short final, when I'm in my "oh crap crap crap I'm off center and not lined up" maneuvering, I have a tendency to be like, "but wait, I'm not ready to land yet!" and raise the nose. Do not do that! Keep the nose low all the way until touchdown.

Once touched down, keep back pressure until the elevator is full nose up!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

N162HG 1.9 Bob

Long-ish training flight from KPAO via the KSJC Charlie (I went through the Charlie! Yay!) to South County (E16). Did a few touch and goes, a couple of them with Bob managing the engine while I tried to stay on the runway centerline. Did one full stop so I could park the plane and go pee in the Port-A-Potty. Got back in the air, made a straight out departure to a straight in at KPAO.

I had maybe one good landing. The rest were questionable. But I feel like I'm getting better at mastering the plane near the ground. I realized that some of my problems are due to the plane yawing right when I cut power right at the end. My flares are not as good as they should be yet. My landing at KPAO was rather weird given that I didn't have the normal pattern setup. I tried a slip to burn energy on one of my approaches and it sort of worked, except that my speed got too low. I slipped in the "wrong" direction -- to the left so I could not see the runway! -- but hey.

We shared the pattern with an Embraer Phenom who was doing a straight-in landing at South County, and we passed by a Zenith CH701 STOL homebuilt parked there on the way out. From the cowling, I suspect it had a Corvair engine. There was a banner tow advertising Trojan condoms over KPAO when we were coming back, and Moffett and Palo Alto told us to report traffic in sight and avoid them. (It was not all that hard....)

I keep forgetting carb heat. I skip checklist items sometimes. I have trouble with leveling out if I am in any way distracted by anything. But when I'm calm, things go well. I just need more practice, but I guess I'm making progress. The main thing today was to get to the point where I could stay on the runway centerline, and I think I'm doing okay at that finally (with some wobbliness when I cut power, like I said). I reminded myself to "dance" on the rudder pedals, which is something I was able to do okay in the C152 when I switched to the Flycatcher. I guess this is just the cost of switching to a new airplane early in my training.

One thing I find annoying about the G300 is that the speed and altitude "windows" just wobble around like crazy with numbers going every which way. They tend to attract my attention, so it's hard for me to focus on the plain tapes, which give a broader and more stable view of what the values are. I wish they got rid of the stupid windows with the rolling numbers and just had a pointer on a scale.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

N162HG 1.8 Bob

I haven't been flying for a while due to a combination of work and family pressures. I would really like to push forward to solo at the moment, taking lessons at least 3 times per week, but it's been really hard to make the time. Bob also travels often. So anyway, we do what we can.

Today we took off a little before 10am and flew for quite a while, doing a whole bunch of landings. A few of the approaches were reasonable and I'm getting the hang of capturing my altitude and speed as I buzz around. I think I'm finally sort of getting close to where I was back when I was flying the C152.

I had a couple of approaches where speed control was abysmal, and a couple where things were set up really nicely. For the most part, I think that part of things is coming together. The next thing is learning to maintain centerline and forward direction as we approach the runway, and that's really hard for me right now.

Bob agreed we should find a quiet runway for our next lesson to buzz down and practice controlling aircraft position and heading.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

N162HG 1.6 Bob

I had an email conversation with Bob where I asked for more "checkride rules" lessons -- talking between maneuvers but letting me dig myself in ;) so long as we remain safe. He was cool with that, which is great! I then came up with a list of exercises that I believed would help me gain more basic skills in looking out the window rather than fixating on the wibbly wobbly instruments in front of me. I made a "kneeboard format" list of the exercises, reproduced below:

Level cruise
90 kias, 2350 rpm
Straight & level
level cruise
- altitude
Cruise descent
level cruise
↓ pwr
- 90 kias, heading
anticipate, ↑ pwr, level
Max climb
level cruise
↑ pwr to max
Vy = 62 kias
- 62 kias, heading
anticipate, accelerate, ↓ pwr, level
Cruise turn
level cruise
pick point abeam
- bank 30, altitude
anticipate, roll out
check altitude
Dogleg turn
cruise turn both ways
entire time
Practice final
carb heat
↓ spd to 100 / 85 / 70 kias flaps full
↓ spd to 55 kias
- 55 kias, hdg, pwr ↑/↓
Practice slip
practice final
- 55 kias, hdg, slip ←/→

Good habits pattern
carb heat
↓ spd 100 / 85 / 70 kias flaps full
↓ spd to 55 kias on final
on horizon 55 kias to threshold
CFI - “airspeed” / “check ASI”
To runway pattern
good habits pattern
timing of base → final turn
sideslip to threshold
Landing pattern
to runway pattern
keep up speed near runway
cut to idle
gentle flare
maintain pressure

The idea was to "gamify" the training a little bit. Each step is a little game to see how well I can maintain the parameters of the maneuver by visual reference to the outside alone.

Result: I love this approach and think will keep trying to do these (and similar) exercises after solo!

We departed KPAO to the West and flew over the mountains towards the coast. The coast was covered in clouds, so we flew over them and out over the ocean, then turned back, and maneuvered around some more West of Hwy 280 and South of Palo Alto. We came back and did 1 touch and go and one full stop landing and called it a day.

It was very windy and bumpy, which was a good challenge for the air work but, in the landing pattern, was a total pain in the neck. Both my landings left very much to be desired. The first one, I ended up on my right wheel with a left crosswind on the right side of the runway, and my CFI took the airplane.

My biggest problem is probably the level-offs where I need to remember what to do. After the descent, just add power and let the plane come up to speed; the plane actually descends nicely with cruise trim when power is cut. After an ascent, I need to be more decisive yet gentle about the level off and remember to cut power as the plane accelerates. But overall, I'm getting the "feel" of a lot of maneuvers that I felt were in the bag with the C152 but are not so much so with the Flycatcher.

As Bob noted to me, I get stressed out once in the pattern and all the stuff I was able to do more or less okay (the stuff in the first "page" of the list above) flew out the window. I was --

  • Not managing my descent properly -- sort of put down flaps in one fell swoop rather than in a clean sequence;
  • Over-banking -- I tend to under-bank when I'm calm, but in the pattern, I whip the plane around in 40 degree banks;
  • Not handling the crosswind properly -- I still need to practice the crab / slip maneuver (start slipping about 1/4 mile out);
  • Overall doing a slapdash job in the flare.
I think I consider today to have been a good learning experience, though. I certainly have learned to look out the window more and trust that I can do a more or less okay job of maintaining my speed. I believe I would like to do the "second page" exercises next time. In particular, it may be good to actually try a "pattern" (with turns) at altitude, just to ingrain into my mind the process of slowing down and adding flaps.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

N162HG 1.5 Bob

Took off from KPAO around noon on a very busy, very windy, but beautifully clear day. Went to KLVK where we did a few touch and goes, then returned for a full stop at KPAO.

The Flycatcher is squirrely and hard to trim. And I'm still not used to the digital instrument. I think, for what it's worth, that the ASI is somewhat under-damped; it wobbles all over the place and is hard to keep straight. I also get confused about where we're at in altitude -- I see the 40, 60, 80, ... numbers swing by and I'm confused about whether I'm going towards or away from my target altitude. ;)

My landings were not very good, I'm afraid. I was having trouble maintaining altitude in the pattern, and kept having trouble with directional control and flares. Overall, I felt very wobbly. Even though the plane itself is a total blast to fly!

The KLVK controllers always seem a bit unsure of things. This time, when we reported in, they told us to stay out of their airspace, so we circled around Lake de Valle for a while. Then they let us in, but kept asking us for our position over and over. It's not like we don't have a transponder, folks!

I loved flying but did not feel good about how my landings went. I think here is what I really need:

* Bob needs to stop correcting my actions / outcomes and instead correct my technique. Rather than saying "keep the nose down," he should be reminding me to keep my eyes on the horizon. Rather than telling me when to turn in the pattern, he should be reminding me to keep my eyes pointed forwards.

* I worry constantly about whether Bob is going to tell me what to do, because that makes me sort of dock myself a point in my mental "how Ihab is doing" chart. I sort of like it when an instructor just lets me do my thing then comments on the final result and how I got there.

* I would really like it if Bob were to say more nice things about when I do a good job. :)

Friday, April 25, 2014

N162HG 1.3 Dave

(This flight was actually yesterday.)

Because my medical might end up being a pain in the neck, I've decided to go for a Sport Pilot license in the interim. I chose Advantage Aviation at KPAO, and I'll be flying their C162 Skycatcher. I booked a flight with an experienced C162 CFI to try it out.

Generally a lovely little 'plane. Nice and new inside compared to the old C152 I was flying earlier. Ergonomics are pretty good and visibility is stupendous.

Ground handling was difficult since I'm not used to the differential braking / free castering nosewheel, but I got better at it as time went on. The key is to stay on the throttle.

The rudder has a very strong return spring. That's a bit counter-intuitive and is really my only complaint with the aircraft.

It's hard to get used to the digital instruments -- I need to get accustomed to seeing numbers and imagining overall ranges.

We went out over SLAC and did some air work, then returned for 5 landings. I tried some Dutch roll coordination exercises till I got sick to my stomach! :)

The plane is hard to trim in pitch -- partly due to the rather touchy electric trim.

In general, I think I did okay with the landings. Still tending to raise my nose when I'm not paying attention, and it's hard to maintain speed control on final with that trim and those digital numbers!