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.