Friday, January 27, 2006

PIC Time....

After a successful procedure in out patient surgery for my lovely bride, I was excited about the perfect weather and a chance to fly. Mary and I returned home around noon, stopping only to grab some lunch at the (local)famous charcoal Pit.

I phoned to schedule flight time for some solo work at 3:30 this afternoon and secured 2746C. It was a strange feeling today all by myself. I completed my pre-flight and taxied out to the run up area. With my run up complete I taxied to the r/w 27 hold short and went through the last checks before announcing my intentions. Fuel both and on, trim set, mixture full rich, flaps up. Checking the base and final for 27 I call my departure on 27 and remaining in the pattern. Off I go rather quickly with a gentle headwind, turning to a heading of 285 for noise abatement and a continued climb to 1200. Turning cross wind and announcing position I suddenly spot a low wing below me transitioning from the SW to NE. It all happened so fast, I cranked my head and neck around to get a better look and see where he was going while maintaining a cross wind to downwind turn. I am now heading east as I watch him turn out from Brandywine. I settle down and get to the task at hand, fuel both, mixture full rich, flaps up, landing taxi lights on. Ok, almost abeam the numbers and I notice two aircraft waiting at the 27 hold short but I don't hear a thing on the radio. I continue with my turn to left base and final, keeping a sharp look out for traffic on final or aircraft moving into position for take off. I am now thinking I have no Comm 1. Short final, speed a little fast, trying the radio a last time to call short final. While cutting power and raising the nose slightly to loose some of that speed I managed to come across the numbers with only 20* of flaps. GRRrrrrrr......a bit fast around 70 kts, roundout nice.....and an ok flair. I touch down and get a Little bit over zealous with the rudder corrections and I hear a series of chirps as I move to align myself. I get slowed down just past my taxiway so I call a back taxi to alert others waiting. As I clear the runway I dial in 123.075 on Comm 2 and again call clear active. I finish my after landing checks and request a radio check. Another instructor at T A S responds loud and clear.

I head back out for 4 more rounds of practice. Each landing was better then the last, with speed right on 60-65 kts, touching down just past the numbers and having to give a touch of power to roll to the taxiway. After clearing the active I checked my watch and decided to end on a positive landing. .9 hours in the book and I'll be back at it Sunday if weather permits.

I am not sure when my next lesson is scheduled maybe a weekday if not next weekend. Mary and I will be attending the Lancaster fly in tomorrow. Well, for us it will be the LNS drive in :). I am going to have my hand held with us to hear the flights inbound for the event. I am off to print the list of attending aircraft with tail numbers !!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ground School...Flight Planning 101

Monday night, yes that's right, going to a lesson at night. What a switch for me! I scheduled a 7:30 pm lesson to cover flight planning. I have been working through problems in the "Cleared for take off" manual but the real thing was much more fun!

Bill went through each step and we plotted a course from N99 to ESN, Easton, MD. Together we marked out checkpoints, discussed the 1-800-WX-BRIEF and filled every form out to completion. I felt pretty confident when we finally ended the session. I am scheduled for Thursday the 26th but it looks like high winds will prevent the lesson (short and soft field landings).

Since my lesson was canceled I worked on plotting out a flight from N99 to THV York, PA., followed by a short hop to LNS, Lancaster, PA., and then back home to N99. I have one question I need to ask Bill and that is if I apply the isogonic line correction to all flight paths or just the north south. I thought it was all flights so that's how I will plan.

Mary has a medical procedure scheduled for this Friday, the 27th, so I will be off work. I may call and schedule some solo pattern work if the wx and winds are looking good. I'll call Friday morning and then again in the afternoon.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lost My Supervised Solo Tag Today :)

Another typical early start this Sunday morning. Maggie, our Italian Mastif follows me out to the truck for her morning "ritual" to be followed up with those special peanut butter cookie dog treats. It's pretty bad when she goes to the closet and sits. I should train so easy .

Weather reports from PTW and 40N are noting winds 320-340 at 5 kts. visibility exceeding 10 miles. It's going to be a nice day today. I pick up the keys and clip board then head to 2746C for a preflight. Pre flight complete with no squawks, I decide to saddle up for T&G's today. Bill stated that he will be on the radio if he is needed and he will be watching. OK, off I go to the run up area and complete the required checks. One last check for fuel, trim, mixture and flaps and I announce 2746C departing r/w 27 brandywine. As 46C growls she rolls out to the runway almost as eager to get airborne as me. Full power and right rudder we are rolling and get into the air rather quickly with a slight course change for noise abatement. All five rounds of T&G's go really well in the pattern. I hit one very good landing with stall horn, gentle chirps with the mains and an easy roll out to exit on to the taxiway.

The other landings were good but I seemed to fight the speed today. One landing the winds shifted and hit me with a tailwind, and I felt like I was getting pushed past my landing point. I decided a go around was in order so I announced my intentions while going full power and removing a notch of flaps. Once clear of any obstructions I took out the last notch of flaps and resumed a normal upwind departure. Overall not a bad day, it felt good, I had fun and I felt like I was getting better with my perception of my position and corrections needed.

I'm back at TAS for ground school tomorrow night and then flying again Thursday. I will also take some time Friday afternoon to do a few laps around the track to work on that spped thing on final. I'm getting closer everyday and the excitement is really mounting.....I am going to be flying this year on my own, what a great new world!!!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Soft and Short Field Takeoffs...

My typical early flight lesson (8am) was a bit nip to say the least. I packed the flight bag just in case we were heading off to a towered airport as previously planned. I was prepared, not to be confused with paranoid, as I packed knee board print outs of RDG, ILG and LNS to also include airport diagrams for taxi instructions.

My lesson today after arriving at N99 was changed to, as the title states, Soft and Short field takeoffs. I nod with approval as I head out to pre flight. Preflight along with pre start and start engine checklists also complete has us saddled up and headed to the run up area. I see we have company today, a Cessna 150 setting up for their run up to the far right of the taxi lane leaving room for my ride to tuck in on his left. With all systems good to go, I give a visual check to the 150 pilot (who is busy in the cockpit with his run up) and move ahead and taxi out to runway 27. Ok, a final check before we go; fuel on, fuel both, trim set, flaps to 10*, mixture full rich, elevator controls for slight tail low and announce Brandywine traffic Cessna 2746C departing 27, to remain in pattern Brandywine and we are off. A nice gentle constant roll with no braking (simulating soft field conditions) checking right for any sneaky traffic on final , all clear, keeping turning into position, heels on the floor and full power. Nose high, looking out the side of the wind screen and side window to keep my alignment with the edge line of the runway followed by mains lifting off. Adjusting for nose down/level flight with the yoke holding there to take advantage of the ground effect and gaining speed to 60-65 kts. Speed good, climbing out and clear obstacles so I take out the 10* of flaps. I am on my way to a typical pattern. Together with my CFI we log six rounds of soft/short field takeoffs. I had one landing where I had the mains down and I put my right hand on the yoke to keep the nose up. Whew.....caught flack for that, with a "where did you learn that, no bad habits that I don't teach you". We discussed that maneuver and I really had no reason, other then I did it. Needless to say I did NOT do that again, that was the first and last time. :)

Next lesson may be another supervised solo and then I should be cut loose, that's if weather is good. If weather is "ok" we may do more tower work at one of the above mentioned locations. If it's really crappy out we will have a ground school lesson for flight planning. I figure either way I can't loose!! I am up again Sunday.

Bill and I discussed my progress and together gave a rough estimate on where I am at in my training. I am always the one to check my budget vs my progress. I have read to many stories about guys that get "that" close and can't finish for months or years. I DO NOT want that to be me. Anyway, ballpark maybe 20-25 hours away. My flying is looking good and navigation is coming along nice. I also have to figure on oral test prep, written test prep and my checkride prep. I am reviewing for my written test and will take that in the next few weeks. It sure would be nice to vacation this summer in Newport News/ Williamsburg and not have to drive there!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Supervised Solo

Packed the truck and was out the door bright and early for my lesson. Today was supervised solo time. My Instructor was going to hang out front of the terminal next to the taxiway as I went from start to finish. Typical preflight with the added wait for frost. My CFI did give me a hand turning the aircraft so the sun heated up the wings to melt the frost.

Checklists complete and a run through the start up procedures brings 46C to life. Here I sit looking around as I taxi out to the active knowing it's all me today. How cool is this ? I still call out clear lefts and right even though I am by myself, its habit and I feel comfortable doing so. I finished up my run up and taxi to runway 27, stopping at hold short I run through my last quick checks, fuel both, fuel on, trim set, flaps check, mixture full. OK, I announce I will be departing 27 and remaining in the pattern. A nice take off with a slight heading change for noise abatement and a steady climb to 1200. Announcing my location with each change in the pattern I focus on the procedures. Leveling off at 1500, throttle back to 2000 rpm's, trim, HAVE FUN! Good view today and nice to see the aircrafts shadow track across the ground. As I am midfield in the downwind leg I check fuel settings, mixture and turn on landing/taxi lights. Just abeam the numbers I decrease throttle to 1500 rpm, settle, add 10* flaps, settle and add nose up trim. With the runway at a 45* angle over the left shoulder and about to cross my ground reference point I check the pattern for anyone on long final and proceed to turn left base. Adding another 10* of flaps I settle and trim nose down. ALT and speed looks good, checking off to my right again for anyone sneaking in on final so I don't get clocked I Call, out my turn to final. On short final I add the last notch of flaps and notice my speed is about 70 knts so take out any remaining throttle. Over the numbers, a bit fast, holding it off, sinking, holding it off (not enough, no stall horn) and a quick chirp followed by taking pressure off the nose wheel and getting slowed down. That little bit of speed caused me to flair long.

The following two circuits were spot on for pattern work, but today I seemed a bit fast on landings. As I taxi back my CFI says to pick him up by the taxiway. Bill jumps in and said I looked fast on final and seemed to dive towards the runway slightly. He wants to have a go round and see what's what. On the following final he explains to get to my speed by less throttle and nose up then set it and go for landing. As he explains once I am at speed and trim is set let that work for me. Bill also reminds me to keep holding it off even after touchdown, focus on that picture of my angle of attack when landing. I am instructed to stop on the taxiway so he can get out, followed by give me two more and we'll call it a day.

Next two go rounds were much better. I was on my target speed and as I came over the numbers to round out and then flair I heard the stall horn, held it off for a very gentle touchdown and really short roll out. Ahhhhh, I think I'm getting this!

I am up again on Monday for more work on flying to an airport with a tower. I'm thinking either ILG or RDG we shall see! The cross country work will be fun, I really enjoy the navigation, besides, I'll get to enjoy a bit more of the flight and see the sights!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

On to Cross Country....

Passed on supervised Solo here today, to windy.

We decided to start XC work and headed out to Reading. Nice trip, I followed RT 100 north to the PA turnpike then west until over Morgantown. I called reading approach with the correct info; "reading approach, 2746C, Cessna 172, 3000, inbound for landing with "M"ike" Reading gave me a squawk code and then as I got closer turned me over to reading tower. I called "reading tower, 2746C with you" The tower gave me an advisory and directed me to report final for runway 31. I acknowledged "report final r/w 31 2746C". After reporting final I was cleared to land but my read back went like this...."cleared to land 2746C" I forgot to add r/w 31. On landing I flared a bit high but set it down for an ok landing. Taxied back to 31 and requested advisory for VFR back to Brandywine. I was holding short for traffic,then departing when cleared and again read back "cleared for take off 2746C" and not noting r/w 31.

When switched to Departure I called in and when I was to respond, I drew a blank....DUhhhhhhh.....still thinking about not reading the complete info back on take off. The flight following went well and acknowledged looking for aircraft that I was alerted to.When service was terminated I switched back over to N99. The rest of the flight went well tracking the 160 radial for the Modena VOR then turning to the 54* radial for a 6 mile 45* for downwind 27. It was fun getting back home and landing knowing how much fun the XC work will be. Oh, my landing at N99 (home) a bit fast, a short skip and set down was ok from there. I was relieved to call down and clear the active.

I need to get back on Comm 1 and work on my radio work. Bill said for the most part my radio work was very good (except for the departure brain fart). I didn't feel really bad since I heard some other guy call the tower direct only to get switched to Approach for sequencing to land. I am up again Tuesday morning 8am for supervised solo. At that point I should be cleared to go this weekend with out the CFI sitting out at the terminal watching.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

In a word......SOLO !

I have been working on dealing with this perma grin that has been stuck on my face like the joker's smile on the old batman series (showing my age). Not even a problem with my Airport contract can take this smile off today.

After calling 40N AWOS, PTW and ILG ASOS for the latest and greatest weather I loaded up my flight gear and headed to N99. I decided to take the back way in this morning, which provides a good look at that windsock. Hmmmm....winds indeed are from the east and how nice that sleepy windsock can barely lift itself up to acknowledge airport activity.

Did I mention I was at the airport 30 minutes early? , yes got there early and mentally landed my Benz SUV a couple dozen times at least. I walked out to do my preflight taking special notice of each and every aircraft parked neatly in their rows and met a nice gentleman who commented on what a nice morning to fly as he performed his preflight. I said good morning and then voiced my agreement. He then asked where I was off to.......I quickly answered off to SOLO I hope! He wished me luck and it felt good. My CFI joins me and follows me around checking as I finish up and buckle in for today’s flight.

I taxi out to runway 9 this morning which is a first to me. Hmmm right hand traffic pattern and I'm thinking I'll need to look for my visual guides but in reverse. Bill decided that I should do a few T&G's. I listen to the aircraft ahead of me call out a back taxi on runway 9 as I move to the hold short for my run up (I was the last in line). As I watch the other aircraft take off I announce my back taxi and then soon follow with my departure to remain in pattern. Three T&G's later my CFI decided to have me let him out at the terminal. He asked if I felt ready and I said yes, still wondering why my knees weren't knocking yet. Bill exited the aircraft and once he was clear I taxied into position. I made my announcements which I thought sounded different for the first time. I felt confident and ready to have some fun. I talked myself through each step (out loud of course) and as I passed each taxiway noting "clear”.

Throttle full and I am under she is off in no time and I find myself holding a slight nose down to maintain climb out at 80 knts. Ok 1200 feet and turning cross wind everything felt great. I continued through the pattern with no problems maintaining ALT and going through the steps. Landing one was very smooth on center, felt great. Landing two was a bit early on the flair, but I had good airspeed and held it off to settle in for a nice landing. On my last go round my pattern was even cleaner hitting my visual marks and really soaking up the feeling of doing this on my own. What really threw me was how settled I was, not even nervous, collected and ready for my final landing I was over the numbers moved slightly left of center and brought it back and set 2746C down. I taxied back to parking and finished my checklists. Bill was walking over as I shut down and reached in to shake my hand and pass along congrats. The owner of the school walked over too and said congrats and remarked the aircraft can even go back out......we all laughed and I thanked them both for the use of the aircraft and Bill for getting me to this point.

After securing the aircraft I only had to lock the door and I noticed my hands were now shaking as I struggled to get the key in.......Bill said NOW it hits you? LOL....I guess, I just realized that something I wanted since I was a boy, that dream of flying came true. Life is good! Thanks to Mary my super supportive bride and Bill my CFI for keeping me to task.

I had company in spirit today. I know my Pop was there in the right seat with the same S&*% eatin' grin that I had. It will be eight years in April he is gone and I miss him as much today as the day he passed. Thanks to my parents support and guidance growing up and making me the man I am and to believe in myself that I can acheive any goal that I work hard enough or dedicate myself to obtain.