Saturday, April 15, 2017

N188EV 2.7 Practice flight to KLVK

Bad weather and Mx issues have kept me out of the planes so today was a day to get out there and fly like hell. :)

I'd been out as a pax with my CFI friend Lisa a couple weeks ago to KLVK and she showed me her landing technique of staying within glide distance of the field and coming in steep at, or almost at, idle power. She also gave me a hint as to when to start my roundout, and it was way later than I had been doing it before: Basically she flew the approach almost to the ground, then rounded out and flared. It all "clicked" for me in a way that has not clicked before, and it seemed like a really well-thought-out technique. I was excited to try it out.

Last time I flew the SportStar, I topped up the plane to the brim, flew for a while, then came home. The CFI and student after me -- both good friends of mine -- were then unable to fly because they were right at the limit of the aircraft gross weight! Yikes! So this time I stuck the tanks, decided how much gas to add, and added it carefully, planning to return with no more than 1/2 tanks.

My CFI friend was flying the other Evektor SportStar at AeroDynamic Aviation with a student, taking the same departure as me, and right in front of me. Tower asked me to "follow company traffic"! Haha! :)

I took the Calaveras departure and flew out towards the Del Valle reservoir, in a constant VY climb. I'm getting pretty comfortable with the SportStars -- approaching (but not yet at) my level of comfort with the Flycatcher -- so I just trimmed for climb, and practiced holding the stick between my knees while I navigated using Foreflight. All went well.

I topped out at 9,750' MSL (recall as a Sport Pilot I'm only allowed to go up to 10,000 MSL or 2,000 AGL, whichever is higher). I then tried a series of descents, trying to learn the "gait" of the airplane in a power-off descent with the 2nd notch of flaps, and figuring out where the aiming point should be and what the nose attitude ought to look like.

I also did a few steep turns, which generally went pretty well, and a stall, which seemed uneventful. I felt pretty comfortable with the plane at that point. Now for some landings.

I called in to KLVK and entered the pattern, slipping to burn the remainder of my energy on the way there.

I did 7 landings at KLVK Rwy 25 Right. All were with the goal of (a) flying a more tight pattern than I usually do; (b) trying to gauge the point where I can cut power and trying to make my glide with minimal or no power; and (c) put as few dents as possible on the plane (always a good thing).

One of my problems with landing has been that the power "cut" over the fence is always a de-stabilizing factor, right when you sort of want to take advantage of a stable approach. It always threw me off. With the new low-or-no power approach technique, any power cut was very much less drastic, and so I held my approach to the ground much more nicely. I flared a tiny bit high a couple times, but not too high, and I plopped down gently enough without too much fuss. All the landings were actually pretty smooth.

I then departed and flew back to KRHV, and landed there. First test of the new technique! I gauged where the runway was by the position on my wing, turned final, came in with very little power, and greased it. Nothing to it. Wow!

Now of course the technique of maintaining VREF almost all the way to the ground means that I have a rather long flare to burn energy all the way down to VS0 before I finally plop down. With an Evektor SportStar and lots of runway, that is so totally not a problem. But once I'm happy with this technique and am judging my aiming point consistently, my next goal is going to be to figure out how to manage my energy even better so I can make accurate spot landings and nail my short-field landings.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

N188EV 1.4 Quick flight with Melissa

Melissa and I decided to go up today for a quick flight, for currency and fun. Wx was high overcast (140-150) becoming sunny.

We stopped by for banh mi on the way there, and ate it at the airport. We took off and did 4 landings back at at KRHV, then went South, did a couple steep turns, then came back and landed.

My first landing was a go-around because I was too high and I wanted to "train" the go-around button in my brain. Subsequently, Tower just "gave" me Rwy 31L to land on and back-taxi each time. I did 4 landings, becoming successively better each time. One of them was a high flare but I corrected that in later ones. They were all gentle flares to landing, with no attempt at a "spot" landing or soft-field technique.

We departed South, then after a while, I did a clearing turn then attempted a pair of rather steep steep turns (halfway between 45 and 60 degrees). I was trying to challenge myself so that PTS 45-degree turns would seem easy by comparison. I got them done within PTS, though I did oscillate in pitch a little bit during the sharp roll rate from left to right turn and had to correct. Adding power during the turns, as my last CFI taught me, ends up being super helpful.

We came back and had an uneventful landing, with a slightly high flare but acceptable.

Total was 5 landings today.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

N712MF 2.3 Flight to Hollister with Lisa

I went for a practice flight with my (CFII) friend Lisa flying right seat. We did some maneuvers there and back, and I did a total of 5 landings.

I was having a lot of trouble maintaining glide slope. It seemed like I was not catching on to my glide slope and speed and would end up "low and slow" and have to regain energy quickly a few times. My reflex in these cases is to lower the nose for speed, and add LOTS of power, which I think is good for safety but it throws off my approach. I should probably have gone around more often than I actually did.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

N188EV 2.0 Practice flight

We've been having a YUUGE amount of rain here in California lately, so it hasn't been flying weather. Today, though, it was nice. I rode my bike out to the airport, picking up some banh mi from the local Vietnamese place on the way.

I took off from KRHV with a downwind departure, flew around doing some air work, did 4 landings at E16, did a bit more air work, then came back. Pretty simple.

Of course I felt very "wobbly" at first -- as I usually do. I did some steep turns and was barely within PTS standards, and felt pretty weird doing stalls and slow flight. But eventually I got more confident and things got better.

E16 was pretty busy with people practicing, but it was not too bad.

On my way back my steep turns were much better and I was much more confident.