Thursday, May 28, 2015

N162HG 1.6 Bob

Flew from KPAO to VPSUN, then diverted to KRHV, did some closed pattern work there, then returned to KPAO with VFR flight following through the KSJC and KNUQ airspace.

Consistently coming in high -- because I am "ground shy" when in an unfamiliar pattern. I "survived" a simulated in-pattern power loss, but just barely -- by slipping so massively I was worried I'd fall out of the window. The problem is that the pattern at KPAO is a huge wide flat area over empty marshes, which look farther away; the moment I'm over houses or with rising terrain (both of which exist at KRHV), I feel like I'm going to dump myself into someone's front yard any moment. :)

My job for my next practice is to fly around the KPAO pattern and establish a "procedure" that works for flying my patterns. Then the next time I'm with Bob, fly that same "procedure" at some other airport and "trust" (but verify...) that it gives me the correct results there as well.

Monday, May 25, 2015

N162HG 1.4 Bob

Closed pattern at KPAO, different sorts of landings. Did okay except for my short field landings, where I was coming in too short for my "intended" point -- Bob said, why don't you just move your "intended" point further up, fly the same approach, and be done with it? Also tended to have trouble keeping the nose perfectly straight on landing. But generally felt better about things than last time.

Friday, May 15, 2015

N162HG 1.4 Bob

Bumpy day with some clouds -- Bob noted I should not do this trip if I were alone. We went out to KLVK, did some closed pattern work, then returned. Too bumpy to do air work.

Generally did okay in takeoffs and landings, but airport procedures were a bit shaky. Having trouble leveling off while ATC talking to me giving me a complicated-ish clearance. Flubbed my readback of a "cross 25L, hold short 25R" clearance.

Difficult day, returned somewhat dispirited.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

N162HG 1.0 Solo

Stayed in the pattern at KPAO, and did 7 takeoffs and landings. There was a slight right crosswind which picked up as the flight went along. On my last takeoff, while I was rolling onto the runway, Tower called the latest wind and it was right on the verge of my solo crosswind limitation, so I went ahead and took off but then terminated after the landing.

Takeoffs: 1 normal, went okay. 5 short-field, went okay, though I might need to do my initial climb more slowly (book technique is 55 kias, which is a scary deck angle!). 1 soft-field, went okay but was a bit sloppy on the nose up on rollout and nose down after takeoff; I would have liked to see a more crisp technique and see myself more in control.

Landings: 1 normal, my first one of the day, went okay, with pretty good crosswind correction. The remaining 6 were short field landings. Two of them were sort of undershoots (came up short of my intended point, the top of the numbers). One, my last one, was a hard early flare which would have been a great short field landing had I had the good sense to do it 2.5 feet lower.

For one pattern, Tower asked me to do an early crosswind to get out of the way of a King Air behind me, then I had to land in front of a Centurion that was already on an extended final. I was able to do that and adapt just fine, and did not mind that I ended up abeam the numbers just after rolling out of my downwind turn. My landing for that pattern was actually pretty good too. I don't have an explanation for this; maybe the unfamiliar pattern helped me concentrate on flying and I just sort of did it and pilot-ed up. I don't know.

Overall, I'd say my performance was safe, but the landings were not precise, marked by consistent ground shyness and early flares, which has been my bugaboo since day one. I think my crosswind corrections were good despite bumpiness of the air and different winds at different altitudes; I was doing the right "dance" on the pedals most of the time.

At some point I am going to need a CFI to demonstrate landings to me -- perhaps alternating between demonstration following on the controls and doing my own flares -- to (a) ensure I have the proper sight picture of a good flaring height fixed in my head; and (b) to watch me like a hawk and remind me of habits (rather than outcomes) of where to look on final and through the flare.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

N162HG 1.6 Bob

Took off with a Right Dumbarton departure. There were very strong winds, so Bob asked me to ask for an early crosswind 'cuz we were fighting the winds just to get to the danged bridge. We overflew VPSUN then went around the practice area near KLVK and did some slow flights. Turning while in slow flight brought us to the edge of stall due to pretty bad turbulence, so we decided to knock it off. We then returned to VPSUN and proceeded to VPKGO towards KSQL for closed traffic. Over the Bay, I encountered carb ice for the first time in my life; carb heat fixed it immediately. We did 3 landings under very difficult conditions (very gusty and strong crosswind) at KSQLl; one of the landings was no-flaps. We returned to KPAO and did one final normal landing.

* Slow flight: lost a bit of altitude in the entry to my first attempt; the next two were better. Considered a "pass".

* Landings: tough to do and my patterns were too wide at KSQL and too tight at KPAO, but considered a "pass".

Bob said I did well and all my work today had no "fail" points.

Friday, May 8, 2015

N162HG 1.2 Solo

Went to the airport for a solo, but the wind was 13KT at 40 degrees to the runway, so the xwind was out of my limits. So I went and stood by the runway for a while watching people's takeoffs and landings. One thing I learned is that little planes don't spend a long time rotated but with the mains on the ground. Which means that, in an xwind takeoff, with proper correction, the downwind main wheel lifts off first, but you don't spend like ten seconds rolling on the upwind main. You just sort of pick up one wheel then the other and off you go.

Back at the flying club, I checked the wind again and it had abated and shifted so I could fly. Out of the peanut gallery of CFIs checking me out, one of them was like, "Yeah, ask for a wind check at every landing!" His buddies corrected him: "Don't get creative!" As in, leave the poor n00b alone, he's had enough trouble for one day.

I took off with a right Dumbarton departure, then went off to VPSUN and onward to VPDAM, cruising at 3500', and motored up and down the area clear of the KLVK class D to do air work. Tower told me "frequency change approved, see you in a bit," which was friendly.

I sort of remembered to do my clearing turns. I think I had started doing steep turns before I realized, but from that point on, I remembered them. An improvement over forgetting them completely.

Steep turns were generally a piece of cake. I had dives and zooms but all within PTS -- some well within. I felt pretty good about these. One thing I am learning is that things work best when I use a touch of inside rudder to keep the turn coordinated and outside aileron to counter the spiraling tendency.

I tried slow flight with and without flaps. One time, I just fumbled and things seemed to be getting hard to keep under control, so I recovered and tried again. For 2 more, with and without flaps, I was able to enter and recover easily within PTS. I wavered in heading as I changed power settings, but it was able to correct and get back on heading, and my deviations were like +/- 5 degrees, not much more. I did 180 degree turns to the left and right in both slow flights. For the with-flaps maneuver, I was able to trim for mostly hands-off flight with intermittent stall horn squeaking.

I thought I had 1/2 tanks when I checked on the ground, but when I got in the air it seemed like only 1/4 tanks. Weird. Well anyway so at that point I was bingo fuel so I made for VPSUN, then returned to KPAO. I called in over Lake Elizabeth at 3500'. I headed for the bridge using headings from my paper chart, and started a 500 ft/min descent, turned over KGO and made right traffic as instructed. Overall, I was pretty happy about my approach -- I calculated my descent rate pretty well and reached the target altitude and came in at 800' on the 45.

I tried a short-field landing, and succeeded -- I had, I believe, a 13 knot headwind, so it was short enough that I had to add power to motor over to the runway turnoff before people got mad at me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

N162HG 1.8 Bob

Departed KPAO Left Dumbarton to VPSUN, then did a couple of off-airport emergencies and air work over the valley away from the KLVK airspace. Then Bob diverted me to KRHV while I was over the Del Valle dam. I flew to the San Antonio reservoir then on to the airport.

At KRHV, I did 3 approaches, one resulting in a go-around, attempting a short-field landing. Generally did not succeed in the short field part, mostly due to not having the approach set up properly (unfamiliar airport). But my patterns became better.

On one upwind, I was told they would call my crosswind, but they "forgot" about me. Bob told me to maneuver clear of the KSJC Class C anyway.

Departed KRHV via the KSJC Class C. Was told by KSJC to fly over the Rwy 30 numbers, then head for the KNUQ hangars. KPAO then told me to set up for a straight-in Rwy 31. I was off to the right of centerline but did not correct until reminded by Bob. Flew another attempt at a short field approach, with better results -- barely made it within 200' beyond my intended touchdown point.

* Remember to do clearing turns without having to be reminded.

* Remember to listen for what the controller wants, and as PIC, compare with what I want. Remain clear of airspace, do not assume controller has it all under control. Think of my own flight path to the airport; don't just assume that controller's vectors are all-encompassing.

* Need to get into stable approaches with proper speed control. This has been difficult at unfamiliar airports, but I need to do better at this.

* Once I have decided on a course, fly the course and trust my own navigation. I was constantly flying "wrong" courses when diverting to KRHV. My map navigation is good; use it. Also, make course maintenance a second-nature habit.

* Steep turns were good.

* Off-airport emergencies were okay. Need to do the full procedure checklist, rather than freeze up. Remember, at best glide, ~ 500 ft/min descent rate, there's plenty of time to follow a checklist!

* A big off-airport emergency is poor judgement or calculation of altitude AGL. Use the altitude of the nearest airport as a guide for ground altitude.

* Slow flight was okay.

* Stalls were okay.

I have a solo planned. Things to work on:

* Some more pattern work.

* Remembering clearing turns.

* Slow flight and stalls. Positively hold the PTS standards. Watch for P factor when recovering from slow flight, especially at high pitch of no-flaps.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

N162HG 1.6 Bob

More work to get ready for my checkride.

Departed towards VPSUN. This time, I used the G300 GPS exclusively and did not mess with paper charts. Did slow flight with and without flaps, two emergency landings off-airport, and steep turns. Then I asked to go to KLVK for practice; entered 3 mile final from over the Del Valle dam and did a normal landing. Took off left crosswind and returned to KPAO for a no-flap landing.

* I had to be reminded to do clearing turns.

* Steep turns were within limits but altitude was wobbly.

* FAIL: During slow flight, I lost a lot of altitude once while slowing down, and once while recovering. During the slow-down, it was because I was "afraid" to be slow and added power too early. During the recovery, it was just inattention.

* Off-airport emergencies: These went okay, though I had to be reminded to do some of the checklist items (the items to restart the engine).

* KLVK: Went okay.

* No-flaps landing at KPAO: Over-estimated how much the plane would glide, and pointed the nose down and flew at 90 kias, so I was far too low (300') on most of my base leg and on to final. Incorrect crosswind correction at the end led to a skewed landing, and there was a bit of a bump due to a slightly high flare.

Monday, May 4, 2015

N162HG 1.9 Bob

Flight to practice checkride techniques.

We departed KPAO towards VPSUN as though this were a checkride XC. Around the Eastern edge of Fremont, Bob asked me to divert to KLVK. I circled, found the heading and distance, and flew in. We then did some closed traffic with short and soft field takeoffs and landings, and a simulated emergency short approach. We departed left crosswind to do some air work. We did some steep turns, then Bob simulated an engine out over Meadowlark airport. I picked a green striped field, but Bob said this was probably vineyards; pick another. I picked a yellow field, but was unable to make it. I then pushed on to another field, and in trying to slip, I busted flap speed momentarily. We then did rectangular patterns and turns about a point. I did mostly okay, though in one case I got the wind direction 180 degrees out and had to be reminded where the wind was blowing from. We then returned to KPAO. We encountered some clouds, with bottoms below our level, and Bob asked me what I was going to do. I had assumed I would sneak under them, but Bob noted it would not be optimal to go through the Sunol pass around 1500' MSL. I climbed to 3000' MSL then was able to burn off the altitude before landing at KPAO while still approaching the pattern at pattern altitude.

* Takeoffs and landings were okay. Tend to hold the nose a bit high and flare a bit too suddenly but okay.

* FAIL: forgot the flaps down on the short-field takeoff, and had to be reminded.

* Leveling off is shaky. Remember the procedure: anticipate and accelerate.

* Pattern emergency was okay.

* FAIL: emergency away from the airport. Failed to establish correct pattern (1500' AGL on downwind abeam landing point; 1000' AGL when turning base; 500' AGL when turning final). Said I did not have time to do engine restart, but actually I did have time. Failed to switch frequencies and transponder and broadcast Mayday. Failed to consult my GPS and recognize that I was over Meadowlark airport and could have landed there. Failed to make my intended field.

* FAIL: did not use pattern checklist. Need to show that I am using it.

* Also did not use post-landing checklist. Again, need to show that I am using it.

* During the diversion, I called into KLVK before entering their airspace so I was okay, but remember the AIM recommends calling into a Class D when 10 nm out. I could have called in as soon as I was asked to divert.

* Remember that, for emergency landings, yellow (dry grass) is best; brown (plowed) is second best; green is worst.