Friday, December 30, 2005's making me wait..

Remember that song......Well I had high hopes after watching the weather forecast for today. However, I got up to a windy overcast day with not a lot of promise. I burned up the lines checking the latest METAR and AWOS at 40N (Chester County). At 1:30 winds are reported as 320 13kts gusting 25. Well a quick check on the crosswind component chart works out to be an 8knt headwind with a 10 knt crosswind with gusts taking it to 16 knt headwind and a crosswind of 19 knts.

After my preflight we decided to work on VOR navigation. A smooth and straight taxi (knowing my CFI is really going to bust chops) followed by my run up and taxi to runway 27. Announcing my departure on 27 I am rolling with full right aileron rounding to level as I leave the runway. Bill comments on a very nice takeoff and right on centerline. We head to the southwest and climb to 2700 just below the report of ceilings at 3200 and OVC. Bill plays the part of ATC and wants my radio work and navigation to flow. First directive is to intercept the 220 radial at Lancaster and maintain ALT 2500. We do a mock communication through the intercom only but it really helps. I read back instructions and begin my task. First tuning the LRP VOR on 117.3, clicking on NAV 1 with IDENT to confirm. I check my current heading and keep an eye on a focus point on the horizon to keep steady with a secondary check of ALT. All the while turning the HDG on VOR 1 to pick up the 220 radial. Checking my heading and answering Bill's questions about my location relative to the VOR and my TO/FROM flag. I know by my heading and the radial that I am on that I will need to turn to the 040 with the TO flag to eliminate the reverse sensing. I make it so and turn my course the LRP 040 radial. OK, that was fun! We chase the DQO VOR on 114.0, the MXE VOR on 113.2 and back again to the LRP.

Well, all good things must end and its time to get home. It amazing but all that turning and VOR work with a few rounds of vectors and altitude changes complete with read backs in cockpit really helped with my comfort factor. My CFI says bring me home. I'm at 2500 and heading God knows where so I dial in the Modena VOR 113.2 with VOR 2 turning to check what radial I am on and get myself headed back towards N99. I also tune in VOR 1 to MXE with a heading of 52* knowing that the Airport Facility Directory lists MXE as 6nm to the field. As I cross over the station which I see over the nose I watch the flags on the VOR flip and I follow VOR 1 at the 52* heading. I announce "Brandywine traffic, Cessna 2746C on a 6 mile 45 for downwind 27, brandywine traffic". I enter the 45* at pattern altitude keeping a look out for traffic. Calling out my downwind turn I go through my landing procedures. Seat belts check, seat backs up, fuel selector both, mixture rich, landing /taxi lights on. Abeam the numbers I throttle back to 1500 rpm, settle, add 10* flaps let it settle and give a turn of nose up trim but not to much, I want a bit more speed to compensate for the crosswind. Announcing position as I turn base adding another 10* of flaps and trim nose down for 70 knts. Wow strong crosswinds have me talking out loud calling out my maneuvers. Banking right and adding a good deal of left rudder I slip in, adding the last notch of flaps and taking out all throttle I cross the numbers, flair (a bit to high) buffet in the gusting wind then settle down far left of center.......MORE right rudder! Whew.....that was really nice until I sat it down. I needed more right under control I roll out smooth and finally let off the back pressure on the yoke. Turning off to the taxiway beyond the hold short, I call down and clear of the active.

I am up again on Wednesday morning, I hope the weather is better. I'll be up again Saturday morning also. Bill reminded me that I did a really nice job (with the slips) right to the point to touch down. He wished the winds were better so that I could have soloed but he said its all on the weather now. I am going to work on flight planning this weekend and do some sim work on VOR Navigation.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A "NO GO" for WX

.....A "no go" today due to crappy weather. I checked weather last night and had that feeling it might be a wash out. As I tucked in for the night I did have that hope that today would be the day. It was a long weekend knowing what was in store. Oh well.....I am scheduled again for Friday afternoon, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good weather.

I did spend an hour in ground school working on navigation today, which at least made the trip worth it. Yes, I know, bad weather and STILL went to the airport. A guy can hope can't he?

I'll be spending the day working with my new test prep CD from Gleim's and my new navigation CD that Santa also left under the tree. In between study time today I would like to figure out the workings of my new Lowrance 1000 GPS...All those buttons!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Commit them to memory...

Today was a fun lesson, learning and working with something new yet hoping to never have to use the knowledge. Kind of strange huh? That's right, today was control surface failures and a few rounds of emergency procedures for engine failures in pattern and while in, to and from the practice area.

Control surface failures started with the loss of elevator control which had me flying by trim wheel and power to control the pitch of the aircraft. Interesting concept, makes for busy times to this student. Talk about trimming right for landing with no elevator would be um...different to say the least. I thought I would have some float that's for sure, but proper approach speed and flaps as needed would get me there. We practice Aileron failures and practice controlling with the rudder, it felt sloppy and skiddish but I got the job done. Next failure was rudder and aileron and my CFI asks what do I do to turn now. Without hesitation I said (with hand motions) I would bless myself. Well after he laughs and said that's always good but.......opening the doors would lend to a slow and wide turning radius. I'm thinking that would scare the hell out of my passenger.....but then thinking if "I" blessed myself that might cause a pucker for the passenger too. Dang....just fly the airplane Gary!

Next on the list was a no flap situation. This tells me my speed is critical so get it right. I am in the pattern today and as I turn final my ALT looks great, rate of decent good but a bit to much speed. I pull back on power even more with a tad nose up to hit my 65-70 knts then make for my landing point. Looking good but airspeed moving to a tad bit high so I slip in and really nail a landing, man that boosts the confidence level. Not to enjoy that to long for the next time around I'm a bit fast and a tad high so I announce a go round and head back out. I get an atta a boy for making a good decision without hesitation.

All in all a fun day in the air. My CFI warned from here on out he will be on me for every detail and demand even more as we progress, stating that my checkride will demand as much or more from me too. I am up for the challenge, ok well at least I hope so! Yeah....I'm up for it.

As we taxi in my CFI asks if I feel I am ready. I tell him I feel comfortable in the pattern and confident. He says I don't want to kick you out of the nest if your not sure yourself. I reaffirm that if he feels I am ready, I do too. In my mind I am saying turn me loose mother goose!!!!!!!!! but I contain myself for sake of embarrassment.

I'll be reporting Monday morning after my 8am lesson.....It's going to be one hell of a long weekend waiting......but OH WHAT A CHRISTMAS PRESENT !!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Emergency Procedures review was a bit nip out this morning as I packed the truck for the flight lesson. After playing with Maggie (10 month old Italian Mastiff) I gave her some treats and walked back out to the ML which was nice and toasty.

I started my preflight early and was ready when my CFI walked out to the plane. Today Brian went along since Bill was off for the weekend. I'm jealous, he was most likely off flying and I hope it was for pleasure not business. Ok time to saddle up. I comment about the pitot tube cover missing and the slight leak/buildup on the steering dampner is fixed. Brian says the bird just came out of its 100 hour inspection. I know I read somewhere about not being the first to fly after that but Ahhhhh......just my mind playing tricks.

Taxi time to the run up location and all is completed. We decide to sit tight at the run up location to let the oil temp climb a bit before taking off. At 8 am it's just us and the 150 so we hold position and chat about my prior lessons and where I'm at with my regular CFI (Bill). OK, well into the green, oil temp good so time to roll. With a quick call, "Brandywine traffic Cessna 2746C departing 27, Brandywine", we're off. Brain directs me to fly the pattern and land once then we will simulate engine out for some practice/reviews. There is a Cessna 150 in the pattern with us today so I am mindful of both our positions. First round not to shabby, I really have the hang of that flair, just need to slow down a bit from 70 knts. Round two and on the downwind leg the CFI pulls back all the power and says there ya go, now what? Well I'm at pattern ALT (1500') I immediately trim to maintain 65 knts, check my position to the runway. No flaps, glancing at airspeed, head on swivel, position to runway looking good, I call out my base as I make my turn and continue right around to final while checking to make sure I don't get center punched by someone on final that didn't see me or hear me. With no wind today I have it made! Looking good, I dump in some flaps and follow the centerline. Just as I am about to touch down my CFI calls for a go round. FULL power, control the nose, don't let er' come up and stall. I take out a notch of flaps, maintain best climb speed, positive climb and take out second notch of flaps. Climbing strong now I take out last 10* of flaps and position myself for noise abatement. Well that was fun! Off for three more rounds with a couple of emergency procedures thrown in.

Today on roll out after landing that "new" steering dampener gave me a scare. On one of my full stop landings (which had nice flairs) I was rolling out and as I applied light brakes it started to shimmy shake like crazy!!! Holy crap batman it wants to pull the yoke out of my hands. Applying brakes and struggling to control I come to a stop well beyond my last turn out. I quickly call out my back taxi knowing there is traffic in the pattern and clear when beyond the taxiway hold short. Brain says one more and that will be it and he will have that dampener checked out. I taxi back with no problems and fall in behind a twin heading to the run up area. Traffic picking up now, two helicopters the 150, the twin and one other aircraft taking off. One more go round for a final full stop with the shimmy again adding a pucker factor. Man that ain't right....I taxi back to my tie down location and secure the aircraft. Needless to say that will get a SQUAWK in INK ASAP! I'm back at it Tuesday morning for control surface failures and then I am cleared to SOLO!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Final flair tune up.....

Another day of landings.....but it sure went smooth! I remembered my birth certificate today for the folks in the office, so that is taken care of. It's really me and I am a US citizen.

After turning 46C so the sun would melt some frost we were ready to get underway. A nice taxi out followed by the final checks during run up. I hear one aircraft entering a 45* for downwind runway 27 so I announce "46C departing runway 27 to remain in pattern...Brandywine" and roll on out to take off. Power full gentle right rudder and we're off. It's a really different look with snow covering the ground. My normal horizon visual marks are ok but my normal ground references are blending in :) Landing procedures are seeming to be as natural as breathing....I NEVER thought I would say that! Turing final I have a slight headwind (what a change) lined up very nice, maintaining 70 kts, pitch good, rate of decent good, adding last notch of flaps power off, over the numbers.......flair......sinking...a bit more back pressure....sinking....not letting the ground have me yet...more back pressure and then a gentle chirp that was almost impossible to hear. SWEET !!!!!!! flaps up, full power, 46C rolling and off we go for more rounds. Today was fun, the landing felt great, no pressure, feet were not heavy and the hands seem to be getting better each time out. I did however have a brain fart announcing position on a cross wind to downwind calling out "turning left base".....DUH!! CFI asked "where are we?" um....well I'm thinking a bit TO FAR ahead. I came back on the radio with the 46C turning left "DOWNWIND" 27 Brandywine and of course with a tone that clearly stated I was a nit wit!

All in all a fun day! I am up again Wednesday morning and I will need to just review emergency procedures and then I hope to be cleared for my solo. I am also reviewing info on Reading KRDG for work on the tower control airports and dealing with approach communications. I have a final in my Legal communications class tomorrow then no more night class until I get my PPL. Between running multiple contracts at work and studying for school I am having a hard time finding time to review for my PPL. HEY, I have my priorities.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Accomplishments and Memories.....

The best lesson to far! Got in early to pre-flight so we could be ready to go around 8am. The temps were low overnight and there was a bit of "frost on the pumpkin" so to speak. Prior to start up we pushed 46C so that the sun could shine directly on the tail and wings. After a light cleaning of the windshield (thanks to my AOPA membership card)we saddled up for today's fun.

All systems go and checklists completed we taxi out to the run up area and complete my final checks before take off. There is one aircraft entering the pattern on a few mile 45* for downwind 27 so I give it one last check for fuel, trim, mixture and flaps and roll out while announcing "Brandywine traffic, Cessna 2746C departing on runway 27 remaining in the pattern, Brandywine". We're off and making a slight turn for noise abatement. Today's lessons were on the T&G's with emphasis on the flairs. Well today it all finally clicked, that's right I can pat my head and rub my tummy, ok well maybe that's a stretch but you get the picture. Four landings as smooth as could be with only one with a slight flair a bit to high but a sweet recovery and realignment back on centerline to set 46C down very gentle. I think my CFI was very pleased, heck I was thrilled!

We taxied back and my CFI said I was ready. I need to supply some info (birth certificate) and go over a checklist of the lessons and then it's time! I am up again Sunday morning if the weather holds off. It looks like solo time and then a flight to Reading for the start of XC work.

Today is one of those days I will never forget. I wish my Dad was here to see me, I know he would have been proud. Today also helps put a new light on my birthday, back in 97 my Pop had a stroke on my birthday while here celebrating, which started the ball rolling downhill with him passing only four months later. I haven't enjoyed a birthday since. I now look forward with his memory tucked away and also with a new excitement for the next chapters to come. Mary, my lovely bride took me out for breakfast after flying today. After ordering, she handed me a card along with a beautiful crystal airplane to commemorate today's flight on my birthday. I am a lucky man! Mary if your reading this....I LOVE you Hotty !

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Maybe a birthday solo ?

A great day to fly today, wait just about any day you can get up there is a great day to fly. I had fun today working with slow flight just over the runway surface. Bill was right on because I think it cured me of the "I'm close cut the power and land it feeling". I exaggerate a bit with that statement but at times that’s what it felt like. Today after taking off I headed to Chester County 40N for a few rounds of T&G's. After reporting a long final and utilizing the ILS I was crossing the numbers with full flaps holding of the nose with each time it started to sink adding a touch of power, it was feeling great. As I sat just above the runway holding it off I pulled out the remaining power and "gently" settled down on runway 29. WOW, now that’s how it's supposed to feel! OK, flaps up power full and we're off for a few more rounds. On one of the rounds I caught a good gust which put me down on one main and had me skewing to one side of the runway......not pretty as I added rudder and power. Bill called "my plane" added more power and then handed it back to me to set it back down and complete my roll out. As we cleared then taxied around we went over what was right and what was wrong. Again we were off for two more rounds and both went very smooth, the confidence is finally catching up to my progress. It felt great as we took off and headed back to Brandywine, leveling off at 2500 and enjoying the short hop home. I looked about and thought about how long I've wanted to do this and now it's finally happening. I spot the two water towers and align myself to spilt them and look for the "hockey puck" (another holding tank but more like a refinery type tank) which puts me on a 45* for runway 27.

I reported a 4 mile 45* for downwind runway 27 at Brandywine while keeping a look out for traffic. Helicopters as usual and a few single engine aircraft were entering the pattern. I turn final and the numbers are looking good; speed rate of decent and alignment......nice. Looking downfield at the windsock it's headwind all the way....what a pleasant change. Ok, over the numbers and holding it off....nose up....adding a bit of power...holding it off...wind change!!!! THUD on the runway, oh man that was ugly and not comfortable. It seemed like the headwind just came to a stop and I was not quick enough with the touch of power. OK, one more go round so as not to end on a bad note. This time on final slight crosswind, alignment nice slight bank into wind and adding opposite rudder.....looking good I came over the numbers, held it off, slowly settling down, just a touch of power, nose up and a real sweet landing. Ok that’s a wrap for today!

I'm going to fly Thursday morning at 8am and I hope to solo then. Bill said I did a nice job. He commented that if I just trust what I learned I'll be fine. Bill said my instincts are right on now I just need to believe in my abilities. As I made my way to my ground transportation I felt pretty good, right then Bill poked his head out of the office door and said nice job today Gary real nice job. That was a first and it really helps boost the confidence. Is it Thursday yet?