Friday, February 24, 2006

My Next Dual Cross Country (XC)

Well, I went through the motions planning my next dual XC to Hazelton (HZL), then on to LeHigh Valley (KABE), then home to Brandywine (N99). I found that if I use the "Windows Live Local" I can fly over the route which really helps pick up the various landmarks.

Example: Here is my flight plan taken off the New York Sectional.

I try to compare the sectional to the Windows Live Local. Take a look at the third leg (green) from ABE to N99. I pass just East of PTW and just past the eastern bend in the river.

I also complete my nav log with all the leg times, fuel burns and weight and balance. My CFI provided a nice Nav Log worksheet and I recreated it on excel. I also added a 1-800-WX-Brief work sheet that makes life easier while taking down all the info FSS provides. I posted a copy of this in case anyone finds it usefull.

Time to fly the XC flight on flight sim just to get a feel for the navigation and landmarks. I punch in the winds aloft to try and check my times vs my nav log, it helps.

If the winds calm down I may get up for some T&G's tomorrow but it's not looking good. I hope to get some flying time in this week!! For now, back to the books !!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Work In The Pattern....

Today looked really nice for some flying time. I had previously scheduled two time slots, 8:30am and 3:30pm. I hit McDonald's on the drive up since I opted for some extra sleep in time this morning. Checking the wx at Chester County (40N) and Pottstown (PTW) winds are pretty much the same 290 at 3, 270 5. I check out 2746C and get underway. Three landings today, first on center but still a bit flat.

Landing number two, I am off on the upwind leg and it's getting windy. No worry, I settle in and make my cross wind turn followed by the turn downwind for 27. Airspeed really increases and then drops right back and I am banking and applying rudder to maintain straight and level. Pulling the power back to 14-1500 and settling in I add the first 10* of flaps. The winds seem to have calmed a bit, as I turn for left base runway 27. I extend a bit farther then usual to compensate for the crosswind then turn final a bit high but able to pull back a bit more throttle. Looking much better, slipping my way down and adding the last notch of flaps when I feel I have the runway made. Over the numbers and riding the rudder to keep me it til' I tie it, don't stop flying! Stall horn breaks my concentration as it moans for attention, briefly silent, then back again with peaking howls, then a chirp and more rudder to get back to centerline. I make my way to the taxiway and call down and clear.

Landing three is about the same as No. 2 but the winds are starting to really make me work on final, both maintaining straight and level and my alignment. I am down with a nice centerline and nose high producing that moaning stall indication again. Nice! gentle chirps and holding off the nose wheel I make the taxiway to call down and clear. Again through the checklists and taxi back for another round.

Landing four, as I depart I glance again at the windsock and its jumping around pretty good. I climb out working to maintain my heading for noise abatement and as I turn crosswind I get a good push that really felt like I was starting to roll. I make my aileron and rudder corrections and get squared away as I look to turn downwind. Oh yes, I now remind myself to take a breath. Downwind pushing me pretty good but maintaining my ground track. I power back to 1500 and add 10* of flaps, settle in checking for traffic and starting my turn to base. Again nice and easy, actions are getting smooth and I am getting the flow going. Checking one last time for any traffic that may sneak in, I turn to final runway 27. ALT looks good and speed is jumping around, it's ride em' cowboy time again. I hold off on my last notch of flaps, I would not want to have to make the runway engine out with the winds jumping and a head wind preventing me from "getting there". Ok, I am now at the point of having the runway made so I add the last notch of flaps, power back a bit so the winds don't stop and drop me. I round out and flair in low and slow over the runway floating and working to keep aligned. Finally down and my roll out has me past the taxiway I note that I used up some runway. I call my back taxi and take another look at the wind sock and its snapping pretty good, and that's with holes in it. I look at the windsock over at the helicopter hangars and its stretched out pretty good too. I decide that 46C and me will be done for this flight. I get the aircraft tied down and head back to the office.

I told them inside that I thought I would exceed my personal limits if I tried another landing and that I was very pleased with my landings today. Besides, I have a 3:30 time slot reserved.

Back at 3:30 and 40N and PTW are reporting winds 320 at 11 kts Gusts 15 kts, um....I don't think I'm going there!!! I'll wait until late this week and get back to pattern work.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

First Cross Country (XC) Dual

Wow, I had a blast!! And also learned some lessons on the way!

I started out with my planning last night (actually about the 4th trip I went through the process for practice) for my first dual XC. The trip was N99 to THV then off to LNS and a final route back to the home field. A final call to wx-brief at 6:30 had the forcasted winds changed from 23522 to 2414 for my planned altitude of 4500. I sat down and refigured my course corrections, leg times and fuel prior to leaving the flight school office.

I had my small clipboard ready with all the things I thought I would need. Sharpened pencil with backup's, a print out from the AOPA airports information with the taxi diagram copied on the flip side for THV and LNS. The print out made for quick references if needed and gave me an idea where I would be going on the ground. After completing all the checklists and entering all the comm info and nav info we were off. I started the timer on my takeoff roll, make that a short field take off roll, MY CFI threw that in there for the practice. My head was busy enough trying to think way ahead for my course besides the newbie’s slightly overwhelmed feeling.

Climbing out it was smooth as glass, what a relief! I reach altitude on schedule and at my first checkpoint at the correct time, so far so good. I already have the MXE outbound 280 radial dialed in to maintain my heading which corresponds to my flight plan heading. I'm feeling pretty good. Now comes my next leg of 23 miles or so with only towns along the way. A town comes by on my right and I am noticing my VOR is tracking all over the dang place.......something seems not quite right. I am flying on the south side of Quarryville instead of the north side. My CFI now chimes in, Lesson #1 PILOTAGE always pilotage with electronics as a backup, he then reaches up and hits the nav/gps button....ARRGggggghhhhh :( Ok, no time to putz here its water under the bridge as they say and I need to now find my location. Well I know I am south of my planned course so I look to my next point since I have visual on it (Susquehanna River)and begin to look for check points. My CFI asks what I am looking for and how do you correct your course. I am looking for the Dam as my crossing point with the LRP VOR 208 radial as a secondary confirmation, I have neither. I do however have the power station off my left wing and proceed with a right turn up river to the Dam. By the way I hit the river time mark a tad late. I am now heading to the dam which at that point I will turn left to a heading 280* and that should leave me about 5 minutes out. Lesson #2 when you think you’re "lost" but that’s not the term he used remember the three C's - Circle, Climb and Communicate, followed by a detailed explanation of all three. Lesson well learned.

My next point is RT83 running north/south, main highway can't miss it. This will come just after I pass between two towns; the larger is York to my right and just off the left wing Red lion/Dallstown. I pass a distinctive body of water under the left wing so I'm looking good and I see the hills just off of runway 35 as a fellow AOPA board member pointed out (thanks for that heads up FlyersFan31). I announce my position and that I am crossing the field east to west at 2500. I thought I was ok to turn back as I worked to enter the left downwind on a 45* but I ended up fixating on the field and pinched way to close (Strike 1). I hurry along with my landing, as if that will make it better, (Strike 2). I then turn base with a very short final which of course has me (All white lights) high (strike 3). I announce going around, slightly frustrated, reminded for full power and communicate later eventually getting back to pattern ALT to give it another go. Bill tells me to relax I am doing fine, settle in and do what you need to do. Calling out cross wind and downwind I flow through my checklists and make ready for my landing. Ok, the picture looks much better, good spacing, speed and ALT good. Turning base then final I am a bit high so power off last notch of flaps and a real nice landing. Wow that felt great! I taxi off and get set up for my take off to LNS. We let this Gorgeous Fairchild taxi on by who is ready to go......this baby looked sweet!

I set up my comm and Nav for LNS and depart York for the quick hop. I climb out to 3000 staying clear of the TRSA as I recross the Susquehanna noting the double bridge checkpoints on my left. I call LNS tower to report the who, what, where and with ATIS report "E"cho. I report 4 mile final for runway 8 followeed shortly by a cleared to land as instructed. Well that was a short and sweet hop, now it's time to head home.

The return trip was smooth as could be, taking up a 120 degree heading for MXE VOR and crossing over Chester County (40N) I decide to cut short my course to MXE and instead turn east for home. I get a visual on Brandywine and swing out to enter on a 45* for downwind 27. Following my initial call to brandywine traffic Bill jumps in and tells me to correct my position; I'm about 3-4 miles not 8 miles out. He then talked about Modena and the distance from there which I said is 6 miles on the 54* radial to the airport.....Hmmmmmm and yes Modena (MXE) is behind me. Lesson #3 Bill reminds me to ALWAYS announce position correctly and the importance of letting others know where we are, the airport is the most busy place, make sure I always advise traffic and keep the head on a swivel.

Well that’s it, long winded but I needed to vent just to release some of the adrenalin rush. I am up for my next dual to Hazelton - Allentown next week depending on weather. It just keeps getting better!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Final tune up for XC

Another early start this morning with Maggie getting me up, crying to go outside at 4:30. Of course I crawled back into bed and got another 1.5 hours of sleep time before getting ready to head to the airport.

Today I will be flying N991TB a 2002 C-172. My normal "ride" is scheduled out at the same time. As I start my preflight I can't help but noticing the GPS unit, Alrighty! toys! Pre flight complete, Bill and I saddle up for short hop to KILG for some final tower work as a tune up for XC next week. I quickly dial in the N99 freq. of 123.075 and the KILG ATIS 123.950 on comm 1 since that will be my first check once clear of Brandywine. I also enter KILG Tower 126.000 and ILG ground at ground .7. I also dial in the DQO VOR at 114.0 and Modena MXE VOR at 113.2 for the return trip. OK, off we go to the run up area followed by a really nice soft/short field takeoff. Weather for today is winds 340 at 6, Sky conditions are Sct 3900 per 40N's report and Pottstown PTW reports 340 at 4, sky conditions BKN 4500 (from memory so don't quote me, flight bag is in the truck)

About 10 miles out of Wilmington, after listening to the ATIS I make my call, G'Morning, Wilmington Tower Cessna 991TB. A quick reply from ILG and I return with my info, 991TB, Cessna 172, 10 miles from the north, 2500, inbound for T&G's with "K"ilo. ILG tower responds, report Left Downwind r/w 1. I acknowledge and adjust my course to get me there. As I approach ILG the tower calls and directs me to change to a Right Downwind for r/w 1 due to traffic entering the left downwind. I quickly acknowledge the instructions along with looking for traffic while turning to the left to align my entry to the right downwind. Bill instructs me to notify the tower that I am at midfield right downwind, I do so. On to the landing checklist and set up. I now also pick up the traffic and announce 991TB has the traffic. As the traffic turns left base I soon follow suit with a right base turn to runway 1, and then on to final. Speed good, flaps all in, rate of decent good, shaping up nice. This wide runway makes me feel like I am in s l o w motion, it's a strange sensation. I work on the round out and flare picture and I hear the stall horn begin to moan, gently, almost like a whiney child running a fever and then chirps, I'm down and rolling out. Flaps up, waiting, holding the center line, ok flaps retracted and I am off for 3 more rounds.

What a nice trip to Wilmington! I make my call to the tower and thank them for their help this morning and that I will be departing to the north. That was FUN, and now to finish up with a nice landing at home. I dial the CDI to see what radial I am headed in to MXE on and set my heading bug on the DG. I also set up the second CDI for a 54* radial which will place me 6 miles on a 45* to the airport. The NAV stuff is fun, now if I can hold my altitude this morning while playing with all the instruments. OK, so I dropped down 100 feet maybe 125.....I will get that corrected.

Calling out my position, I make my way to final for r/w 27 and now have a slight crosswind to deal with. I turned my normal base to final and found myself blowing left of the runway. I make corrections and set up for my landing. On center right up until my touchdown and then I ended up left of center.....remembering the "fly it til' you tie it" saying, I repeat it out loud and Bill acknowledges with get it done! Ok flaps up and were off for a final round. Now armed with the knowledge of the winds I turn my final a bit later and drift to centerline as I am adding my last notch of flaps. That was much better! Again with the slip to the runway I hold it until down then I am reminded to give right aileron as I roll out. A nice landing with a touch of stall horn, I now have the picture in my minds eye and that last session really helped. As I call down and clear Bill says lets get the dual XC set up for next week. My CFI will be on vacation the following week so I should have time to work on more landings and build some PIC time.

Maybe some solo time this weekend if the weather holds!!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"No Go" Due to Wind

Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006

METAR KPTW 051254Z AUTO 25010KT 10SM FEW049 04/M01 A2943 RMK AO2 SLP966 T00441011

METAR KILG 051151Z 25012KT 10SM CLR 04/M01 A2946


ERN PA/NJ...SCT040 SCT070. 14Z WND WLY G025KT. . 18Z SCT-BKN040

CFI called to cancel this morning, we didn't like the 250 AT 12 GUST 22 . It looks like I'll be up again this week or the weekend. Time to study for my PPL test and then log some Flight Sim time for navigation work. Oh yeah, I may even watch some superbowl tonight!

No Flat Landings!

Saturday,Feb. 4, 2006

For some reason I lost my February 4th post on my no flat landings review. Ok here goes, I'll try to repost it.

Saturday morning bright and early, as always, I am off to my lesson. Not to sure what's in store today, maybe short and soft field landings. I arrive a bit early and my CFI pulls in the next parking spot. Off we go to the office and Bill leads with, "so, how was your solo time on Friday"? Hmmmm....well my first landing stunk, to fast and lost comm1 so I was semi distracted by my own doing but landed ok. I graded that one a c-. Why didn't you go around, he asked. I answered I was in good shape, nice ALT, aligned fine, just a bit fast. I set it down and only while trying to get on center did I "skip" a bit and heard the mains chirp. I wasn't exactly happy with that. OK, he then asked how about the rest of your landings? Well, the next four were really nice, I grade myself a "B", speed right on, alignment right on, over the numbers and not even a fact I had to add power to make the taxiway(feeling really good at this point). Really? I had my spies, He says, you landed FLAT! Flat? I ask. Yes, flat, as a matter of fact if you were the slightest bit nose low you would have bounced down the runway, if not you could have eaten up the nose wheel. Yikes! I didn't think I was that "flat" I was low and slow it felt right. Bill did say the approach looked great except for the flat landing. The roundout was good and flair started nice then I just rode it out without holding it off longer. All in all not bad but lets go correct the flats.

Off we go in 46C for a few rounds of low slow passes over the length runway 9. That's right, I had to hold it off and maintain 50 kts. Well the first round I looked like a drunk sailor, rudder was begging me to be gentle, but I would hear nothing of it. Bill said get it together, go round and have at it again. Off we go as I take out the first notch of flaps. As I gain speed and clear obstacles I go to remove the next 10* and bump it all the way....GRRRrrrr. Bill tells me to use the thumb and first finger always, they will act as a safety stop. OK, I'll work on that starting right now. Bill also insists that I "Squash the ball" get coordinated, I need to focus!

I am wondering what the heck I'm doing, I went from feeling good about my progress to all thumbs (except for the flap control). I work the pattern and settle down turning a bit early for my final but with the winds I didn't want to blow out wide. Ok, low and slow under control, gentle rudder, adding power, nose up, real nice, looks good. Ok take us around. Off I go mastering the two finger flap control and again working that pattern for all I can. With a good tailwind on the downwind I again start the landing procedures a bit early, checking fuel, mixture, lights then right into power back to 1500 and settle followed by 10* of flaps and settle, a quick turn on the trim and I am looking for clear right to turn base. On base I add another notch of flaps, speed good rate of decent good and crabbing for the wind. A early turn to final then the last notch of flaps when I thinbk I have the runway made. Bill says we will full stop this time. I am looking good, lined up nice and I hold it off over the numbers, removing all power, sinking and holding it off with gentle movements (ok, more gentle then most times) and I hear the stall horn start to moan. Nose up, getting the picture correct in my mind and understanding what I need to do, I hear the stall horn moan even louder, but not steady then just an instant later I hear the chirp of the mains, holding it off I then let the nose wheel find its way to touchdown. Very cool !!!!! I need to have a face full of cowling when the angle is correct. Off we go for a few more rounds and each one gets better, I guess I needed that picture reinforced in my minds eye. Bill gives me an atta boy when complete and stresses the need to hold it off as long as I can. He reminds me to see that same picture every time, just like when I am on final, the same picture every time. Consistency is the key!

I am up again tomorrow (Sunday).