Sunday, October 25, 2015

N162HG 3.0 Training at New Jerusalem

Training flight to brush up on my student-pilot exercises, so my skills don't rust too much. The goal was to fly to New Jerusalem Airport (1Q4) and do takeoff and landing practice, and do some air work around the area.

* Took off uneventfully from KPAO, normal departure and found 1Q4.
* Normal landing.
* Short takeoff, squirrelly.
* Short landing, had too much energy.
* Short takeoff, okay.
* Short landing, a lawn-mowing experience: approach too shallow.
* Short takeoff, forgot to raise flaps after takeoff!
* Short landing, okay.
* Short takeoff, good.
* Short landing at KPAO, okay but too much float.

I went to the area North of the field and did some ground reference maneuvers (rectangular patterns, turns around a point, and S-turns on a road). There was not much wind, so/but I did more or less okay. I did not feel as stressed-out about these as I was during my student pilot days, partly because I was far, far away from any obstacles out in the Central Valley fields, and could plan whatever approach to my patterns at will.

I then climbed and did air work.

First I did some stalls, which were uneventful. I tend to let go of the stick a bit early, just about as soon as I feel even the slightest "break" -- so they were particularly gentle. I don't really want to do overly "deep" stalls until I've gotten some experience in a Citabria with a CFI recovering from actual spins, just in case. So I think discretion is the better part of valor under the circumstances.

I then did slow flight, and was happy that I could trim the plane almost "hands off" to fly with flaps with the stall horn blaring, then do a super-gentle 360 turn in either direction.

Afterwards, I needed to orient myself to return home. I had brought my Nexus 9 tablet running Garmin Pilot, but it was not charging properly and ran out of battery. So out came my paper chart. I pointed myself at New Jerusalem, got a bearing, then at Tracy, and got another bearing, and plotted the intersection roughly, then figured out my bearing to the Altamont Pass. I pointed the nose in that direction and, lo and behold, there it was in a few minutes. Perfect!

Once home, KPAO was a zoo. There were like 8 airplanes waiting to land.

Tower asked me to do a 360 just as I was about to join the right downwind for Rwy 31, and I followed the instructions literally, right away. This sort of put me circling within the limits of the normal pattern. And indeed -- as I finished my turn, there was a Cessna sailing over my head, uncomfortably close! Mental note: Regardless of what the controller says, take responsibility for moving away from traffic! Next time, if I'm asked to do a 360 near the downwind, I'll ovalize it to move away from the downwind leg, then return with trepidation as though I were almost on a 45.

I took one shot at landing, but was asked to go around due to faster traffic behind. I got sent all the way down to the auto bridge, and all the way back to Moffett Hangar One. Finally, the controller said, "Best speed to the airport please!" I put the pedal to the metal until the last possible minute, flying at around 110 knots indicated (this is practically supersonic, to a Flycatcher), then at the last minute ditched flaps and made a short approach to a point just shy of the first taxiway, plopped it down, then turned off the runway immediately. As I turned, I could see a big twin coming down behind me....

Overall, I think this was a good "skills refresher". I only wish flying were less expensive so I could afford to do this sort of thing more often!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

N162HG 1.9 Trip to KHAF with Melissa

Flew to KHAF and back with Melissa. 3 landings total.

The Wx was good over KHAF, surprisingly, so Melissa and I packed into the Flycatcher and we zipped off to KHAF.

Inbound, there was someone landing who didn't seem to be bothering with silly stuff like making radio calls. For some reason, I totally misjudged my pattern, coming in super duper close to the runway on downwind, then turning correspondingly close. I had to slip to land, after warning Melissa about what I was doing. She didn't seem to mind very much, and I made a very smooth landing.

We got out, secured the airplane and walked around. She was anxious to get back so we did not linger.

Outbound, we took a detour around the airport and found the parking area where I could have stopped and which would have been really close to the shops and restaurants over the airport fence. Lesson learned. We took off, then I did one more pattern and did a full stop short field landing, which was fairly good. On the way back to KPAO, I demonstrated some steep turns at 3500' to Melissa. I offered to demonstrate slow flight; as soon as I started slowing, she said it didn't feel safe and she didn't want to do it, so I sped back up. On some level, I'm kind of proud of her for realizing the inherent un-safety of flying slowly -- even if we were high enough that this was a non-event. We got back to KPAO where I attempted a soft field landing; it was safe but, for some reason, I ended up getting blown sideways, I think because of sloppy rudder work on my part.

Melissa said she enjoyed it, so that's awesome!