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.

No comments:

Post a Comment