Saturday, March 1, 2014

N94565 1.5 Bob

Closed pattern at KPAO. Touch and goes, with a couple of full stop landings. Made 12 landings total. Rwy 13 active, wind around 10kt at start, increased to about 20kt by the end of the lesson. Was coming from the left so go to practice crosswind landing skills.

I became more confident / comfortable in the plane, no longer trying so hard to rip the yoke out of its moorings. One thing that helped is that N94565 has a seat height adjustment, which I raised all the way to the maximum height so I could see well over the glareshield. That was a problem last time with N6334M -- I could not see well enough and that affected my landings. I do wonder though -- at 5'9", I'm not tall, but I'm not very short either. I'm surprised I have to raise my seat all the way to feel comfortable. I wonder what Cessna was thinking, or am I unique in wanting to sit so high...?

I started to learn how to crab, then transition to slip on short final. The advice is: use the ailerons to move side to side, and the rudder to line up with the runway. That would work well until I was -- oh, I don't know -- 50-75 feet off the ground, then whump! I would be hit by some weird gust and it seemed like whatever I tried to do, the plane wanted to go where it wanted to go. By the time I had battled my way to the threshold, I wanted to just land the thing, at which point I had the urge to practice my other bad habit, the dreaded CFI-killing early flare....

Maintaining speed, especially in the presence of wind shear, is a challenge. Turns out paying attention to my sight picture is not enough after all; wind shear will change my speed even then. Yet the trick here is to pay attention to sink, which will be noticeable and tip me off to a change.

I need to work on my checklists. Decide which ones I'm going to do by my spiral-bound laminated "book" and which ones I'm going to either do from memory or write quick notes on my kneeboard for. Then go through each of these and make sure I iron out any "bugs" and rehearse on the ground so that I stop missing checklist items.

I've been doing a bit better about pulling carb heat when appropriate.

In the pattern, there are a lot of things going on and it all happens pretty fast. Take off. Maintain speed appropriately. Turn crosswind at 500' (300' short of pattern altitude per the AIM) while climbing. Turn downwind after rolling out of the crosswind turn. Meanwhile need to level off, push the nose down and then reduce to cruise power (2200 rpm). Trim for cruise. Oh wait, you're abeam the numbers, have you done your pre-landing checklist? Do it now! Reduce to landing power (1700 rpm). You forgot to pull carb heat again! Keep the nose up while the airplane slows. White arc, 10 degrees of flaps. Are you at 45 degrees to the numbers? Turn base. Be mindful of wind -- base turns with wind need to be more than 90 degrees so I end up crabbed on base. Ok now turn final. Whoops, not so steep! Ok now we're on final, off the centerline. Start flying to the centerline. High or low? Throttle as needed. Flaps full down. Hold down the nose. Whoops, not so far down, you're flying at 90 kt and your approach speed is 65 kt! High or low, throttle to adjust. Throttle affects everything -- yaw, pitch, everything. Now transition to a nice forward slip. Oh look at that. So slip, very landing. Whoosh! Ok now all of a sudden I'm 20 degrees banked in the wrong direction and off centerline again! Try desperately to correct. Keep the nose down, don't be ground shy! Ok now cut to idle gently. Flare gradually. Try to stay lined up and on the centerline (easier said than done). Chirp! (The inevitable side-to-side shuddering as the poor landing gear tries to absorb the effects of my ham-fistedness.) Now keep back pressure. We tumble to a near-stop, or CFI cleans up my plane and says "go" and I firewall the throttle to do it all over again....

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