Friday, April 3, 2015

N162HG 1.1 Solo

My intention was to practice ground reference maneuvers this morning.

A CFI at the club advised me to go to NUQ to do them, so I did. PAO gave me a squawk code, and NUQ told me to maneuver North of their airport. When done, I got a straight in back to PAO.

There was basically no wind, which was a bit confusing. Plus I had hoped NUQ would allow me to maneuver over the airport, but they didn't, and the patterns of paths and power lines on the marshes to their North was jumbled and confusing. Well in any case, I did my best.

Rectangular patterns, such as they were, were okay. I was finally able to start my rolls when abeam the corner of my intended pattern, and roll out when abeam the corner in the next direction. Otherwise, with practically no wind and a jumbled pattern of schmoo on the ground, it was sort of hard to figure out.

Turns around a point were, I think, okay. I identified 4 points around my chosen most favorite power pole ever, and flew from one point to the next around the circle. It was hard to figure out whether I was judging distances from the pole correctly. I'd really like to demonstrate this with a CFI and actual wind and see how I'm doing.

Finally, my S-turns were educational, but I was not very happy with my performance. I was having trouble crossing the line in a proper wings-level attitude. It seemed like I would turn on the downwind side, when presumably I have to open out my turn to compensate for the wind, but then I would end up having not finished the turn by the time I got back to the line. I think I must just have been turning way too tight. I think one more practice session with a CFI would probably get me to PTS-survival levels.

I think I was doing fairly well coordinating my rolls.

I had a couple of instances where I caught myself "convincing" my turns with rudder, which I never thought I would do, but it's my destiny to commit every n00b mistake in the world, so now I know I can do that and I need to be on the alert to never, never, ever do it again.

I tried this time to focus on visual habits: Look forwards to get pitch and roll correct, then glance to the side for ground reference, and just relax and let the plane "fly itself" around the corners; there's no need to fight. I think I stayed within PTS altitude limits of ±100 ft throughout the exercise, and was mostly doing much better than that. I also learned to take my hand off the throttle and, when I do get into a slight dive, let it turn into a zoom and gain back the energy gently, and just ride the airplane's natural tendencies rather than trying to fight. I'm not by any means "good" at this yet, but it was certainly better than before.

On my landing, I tried to do a soft field landing (again). Once again, I flared a bit too high, though once again, it was not a nosewheel slam since I still had barely enough energy to arrest the nosewheel. I think my months and months of short-field landings must have taught me that this is the only way to land....

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