Today I did some closed pattern work just to get my landings straight. After talking with CFI friends, I had three tips to try out:
- Put a piece of tape on the canopy to mark "straight ahead";
- After a stabilized approach, pull power to idle SLOWLY so I can keep up with the compensation required; and
- Don't bother using full flaps on the SportStar -- that's like dragging a barn door and does not add lift, so does not appreciably reduce landing speed.
7 takeoffs, 1 of them soft field (went okay, could be more precise on "hovering" closer to the ground) and 2 short field (also went okay, could be more precise on speeds but acceptable).
1 go-around requested by tower. I was asked to follow a Cessna on final. I followed a very similar Cessna, also on final, that I later realized was actually on the parallel runway! I ended up following my actual #1 traffic too close and was asked to go around.
7 landings (isn't it nice that it's the same as the number of takeoffs?), 3 of them attempts at short field. The short ones were mixed: 1 was really good, and the other 2 were iffy (landed too long). For all my landings, however, I had a good flare, with good control over my flare height, and they were all full-stall landings in the proper nose-high attitude.
The tape on the canopy was really helpful. Here is what I did:
- During preflight, sighted down from the tail to figure out what was directly ahead of the plane;
- When inside, with my head at my comfortable position, closed my left eye and lined up the tape with the "straight ahead" object with my right eye;
- With both eyes open, and focused far away, I could see two images of the tape -- and the LEFT image, which is the one seen by my RIGHT eye, was my aiming point.
This really helped with taxi, but also with runway alignment during takeoff and landing.