Friday, December 30, 2016

N712MF 1.3 closed traffic at KRHV

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:
  1. During preflight, sighted down from the tail to figure out what was directly ahead of the plane;
  2. 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;
  3. 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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

N712MF 1.7 Melissa to KHAF

Took Melissa out today. The plan was to go to KHAF.

Melissa  helped me by reading out my preflight as I did it, and remarked on how much work it was. :) We had enough fuel in the plane so we skipped the fueling part, which got us out of there quicker.

Outbound, asked for a KSJC transition. All was as expected, and we were off via the OSI VOR down to the coast, and then to KHAF.

The approach to KHAF was very, very bumpy. OMG.

My first pattern was way offset to the left, so I went around. But wow I was like going almost sideways -- so. much. wind.

My second time around, I was lined up. Crabbing on final, flaps on the second notch, not full flaps. Turned the crab into a forward slip. All went well.

I was on top of the runway, cut power, and started settling. But (a) I failed to put the nose down then arrest the descent with a flare; and (b) the wind died down near the surface so I started sliding sideways and failed to relieve the slip to compensate. Result: I slammed down on one gear leg.

Melissa was filming with her phone; her phone fell into her lap and she squawked!

I took off again, doing a pretty good crosswind takeoff, but there were already too many planes buzzing around the airport. With the high traffic, the bumpy air, the crosswind, and being rattled from my bumpy landing, I decided to call it a day before something really bad happened.

On the way home, we went via the Crystal Springs reservoir and again asked for a KSJC transition. At some point I thought they were telling *me* to reverse course and go via Hwy 85 to Hwy 280, so I did a 360 while we figured things out and I sort of spluttered on the radio. Embarrassing, maybe, but  I did do the safe thing, and they just clarified I was cleared to cross KSJC midfield.

Coming into KRHV, I had to slip to get to pattern altitude in time -- better planning would have helped, but it was no big issue.

My landing into KRHV was a greaser. :)

Braking was hard -- I keep fishtailing in hard braking due to the differential brakes on the SportStars. I made it off the runway and was told by Tower to taxi, which was sort of unexpected so I kept barrelling on and forgot to do my post-landing checklist. Which meant I was, for the first bit, taxiing with flaps.

As I taxied, I blazed past Battelle Rachmian, one of the AeroDynamic Aviation CFIs, who must have noticed me taxiing with flaps down but bless her soul, later at the FBO, she didn't say anything. She was sitting on the ground -- at first, Melissa and I were like, who is this random person? She motioned towards her handheld radio -- she was solo-ing a student.

Overall, things went well, but I need to figure this out:

1. In the SportStars, full flaps is like flying with a barn door sideways. What is my procedure for using them, if any? If I do it too late in the approach, I de-stabilize myself. If I do it too early, I end up coming in with really high power dragging a barn door behind me, which doesn't feel right.

2. Cutting power and rounding out. I have had trouble with this since the days of the Flycatcher. I need to learn to cut power slowly, starting earlier, and to compensate by dropping the nose (keeping the speed at target) then flaring when near the ground. Alternatively I need to figure out some other trajectory where I maybe come in high, then cut power when the field is made and have a stabilized descent all the way to the ground. Whatever I do, I need to have a more consistent procedure for this.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

N188EV 1.4 flight with Aden

Flight from KRHV down South over the valley then curving East towards the San Luis Reservoir, then back again. Sight seeing and hanging out. Not eventful but fun!