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. :)