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.

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