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.

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