Helluva software engineer

Flight Lessons 2018-07-01

Quick Intro

I started taking private pilot lessons at Greenwood Lake Airport back in March. I got some advice that it would be good to write about my flights, so I decided to do that in this blog. If I think this is useful, expect to see more.

The numbers

  • Hours flown today: 0.9
  • Hours logged to date: 6.9
  • Cloudahoy link: I forgot

Today’s flight

It was brutally hot today. Temperature at the airport was in the high 90s. Winds were calm and skies were clear, but hazy. Visibility was good. There was a presidential TFR in effect, so we couldn’t fly south of the airport. My instructor and I opted to take off using runway 06 and return with a straight in approach to runway 24.

Climbout was uneventful. Minimal turbulence. I still need to work on counteracting left turning tendencies and sticking with one airspeed. Regardless, we got up to 3500ft msl and flew to the practice area.

We warmed up with a couple of turns to headings. I’m getting more confident turning; maybe banking 25 degrees and applying almost the right amount of rudder at almost the right time. My instructor pointed out how the plane loses some lift when it banks, and said I should be applying backpressure on the yoke. I was applying nose-down pressure at the time; I think because I didn’t have the plane trimmed correctly and was just subconsciously muscling the yoke forward this whole time.

Then we did two power off stalls in landing configuration. So far, so okay. I’m timid in applying enough nose-up to make the plane actually stall, and I’m slow to complete the entire recovery. I apply power quick-ish (but I’m still not comfortable just firewalling the throttle), and I manage to pitch for airspeed pretty quickly, but I’m still slow retracting flaps. I think I should leave my hand on the flap lever and dart my eyes over to the airspeed indicator to ensure we’re over 60 kias before going flaps up.

One power-on stall after that. That was a shitshow. My left wing stalled first, so the plane pitched forward and rolled left maybe 15 degrees. I short circuited into power-off stall recovery, so I pushed the yoke forward even more and got confused when the throttle was already in. My instinct was to roll further left and apply left rudder. My instructor recovered us, applying right rudder and rolling us out once we re-gained aileron authority. I need to study power-on stall recovery.

Question to ask: Should stall recovery start when I feel buffeting, or when the plane actually noses over?

We climbed back up to 3500ft and did a simulated engine failure drill. My instructor pulled power out and I pitched for 68 kias. We were over the practice area (onion and sod fields), so there were plenty of good landing spots. We agreed to aim for a particular row of onions(?) that was covered with a white tarp, just so we were talking about the same place. I still need to memorize the engine restart memory item checklist, so we walked through that, and then climbed away at about 2000ft.

After that, we returned to the airport. I’m still garbage at navigating around that area by landmarks. We aimed a little east of the airport and entered a 5 mile final for runway 24. The approach was unremarkable. We had a conversation about how my instructor thinks the PAPI lights are aimed too low (even at 3.5 degrees) and how they bring you too close to the trees. I’m starting to get a better sight picture into my mind of what the runway should look like. I made one mistake, pitching down when I should have throttle back a little on short final, but otherwise it was a pretty good approach.

I carried a little too much speed into the landing and so the flare brought me a little higher than I would have liked, but the actual touchdown was only a little rough and just left of the centerline.

I kept off the brakes until the end of the runway, and then the taxi back to the pad was nice. I think I’m improving at taxiing on the centerline.