Sunday, January 4, 2015

N162HG 1.7 Solo

Closed pattern, 8 takeoffs and landings. Standard (not short field) technique.

My goal today was to practice simply looking out the window and, during approach, continuing to use the horizon as a pitch reference, referring to but not fixating on the location of the runway threshold and ASI. I did all my approaches at 50 kias (normal approach is 55 kias; I used 50 because it helps me prepare for my short-field approaches, which I'm going to have to get back to practicing soon).

My landing spots were not very consistent, but I think I had better speed control on final and was more easily aligned with the runway. My landings were not always full-stall but in all cases at low speed, so I think that's a small but steady improvement. I did not have any drop-in hard landings, due in part, I think, to my improvement in eye position in the flare. I would say that, today, I gained a small amount of consistency and confidence.

In my slips to burn altitude, so far, I've been doing well at pushing the nose down so I don't lose speed. That is just plain survival. :) But I was letting my speed increase, so that after a slip, I would have to work really hard to bleed off the extra speed. Today, when I slipped, I tried to maintain my usual approach speed, which allowed me to come out of the slip ready to resume my approach. I also did a much better job than before of coming out of the slip in one smooth motion rather than violently yawing back and forth. For the future, what I would like to do is to (a) allow myself a few knots extra in a slip, because the yaw angle makes my IAS read a bit low; and (b) continue improving anticipation of the recovery, and doing a smooth recovery from the yaw.

I had two interesting mistakes. The first was when I was following some traffic, and stayed at 800' pattern altitude with 1 notch of flaps, then was asked to turn base when I was at the usual 45ยบ position to the threshold. I found myself -- of course -- very high since I had failed to start descending!! I almost decided to do a go-around there, but I was able to burn enough altitude to confidently land with plenty of runway remaining. I did turn off at the last taxiway though!

The second teachable moment was when I was on left downwind, and had been told I was #2 following a Mooney. I identified the Mooney and turned base. Then Tower told me to turn back to downwind. I did, and resumed the reverse runway heading. All seemed okay until I turned base and final and ... whoa holy overshoot Batman! Like #duh. So when I resumed my downwind, I could not see the runway, so what I should have done at that point is to mentally visualize where I ended up, or perhaps even look over my shoulder to check.

There was a whacky time when I was asked to keep it rolling and take off, then Tower told me to hold short at the last minute. Screech! And a second later, there was a Cessna, flaps down, doing a short approach barreling straight for me (or so it seemed). That was more exciting than necessary. I always wonder how these things would happen without ATC. With a high wing, I would have seen them after turning onto the little stub of taxiway off the runway, but not before. I would have technically been on the runway, but I believe an accident would have been averted. Of course, were this an uncontrolled field, there is no way I would have just blithely kept it rolling to the active, so there you go.

There was another whacky time right at the beginning when I was at the runup and was asked to hold short. Just as I started moving, a Centurion at another runup T-bar licked the throttle and taxied pretty fast across my path, against the direction of traffic, to go back to parking. Another screeching stop. Eek. I think what must have happened is that I was talking to Tower at that point, and they were probably talking to Ground and got the go-ahead for their taxi simultaneously with my hold short.

Again, I see these incidents as reminders to be careful, to not assume clearances are laws of physics, and to be extra special vigilant at non-towered airports.

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