Archive for February, 2017

Take Offs Are Optional; Landings, Mandatory

Right, then…

To date, I’ve had approximately 17 hours of flight training.  As I’m a bad student, I haven’t been tallying my log book entries, so I’m not exactly sure of that.  But I think it’s about right.

During my lesson last Sunday, I had the sneaking suspicion that my instructor did not assist with at least one touchdown.  I say that as it was a bit more harsh that the other 6 or so.  But I didn’t give it much thought.  Yesterdays lesson, however, was different.  5 or 6 of the 8 times I was the one flying on touchdown.  A somewhat frightening thought as I really have no idea what I’m doing, yet somehow I’m doing it.

OK, that’s not right – I have a novice’s idea of what I’m doing, I guess.  I just lack the cohesive understanding and confidence to fully comprehend what I’m doing.  Regardless, I was in control when the plane connected with the runway, unsmooth as it was.

And I have apprehensive joy over this.  Yes, it’s a milestone – sort of a major one, when you consider the importance of landing.  Moreso when you consider the additional importance of a) being able to walk away from it, and b) not breaking the plane.  But still, my less-rational mind recoils in horror, muttering “Ye, gods.”

There’s still a lot to work on, though.  My calibration as to too high/too low on final is still in need of adjustment.  Sometimes I recognize the situation and correct it, sometimes I don’t recognize it at all, sometimes I recognize it but wait too long to correct it.  Sometimes I come in too flat and wind up punching the throttle in order to clear the fence.

I still have this fear of pointing the plane at the ground.  When I’m at 500 feet, not a problem.  But, if you do that long enough, you’re eventually at 200 feet, then 100, then 50…that’s when the urge to pull back on the yoke kicks in, and my right brain is yelling “We’re flying into the ground, and you’re about to trip on the goddamn fence for fuck’s sake!”  The problem with this, is that by pulling back on the yoke, I’m slowing the plane down, getting close to stall speed.  If I get too close, the plane will stall – of course – and then drop until there’s enough air going over the wings to stop the stall.  At 3000 feet, not a big deal; at 50 feet, much more problematic.

So, there’s still a lot to sort out.

Regardless, my instructor informed me that his ultimate goal is to be able to nap [figuratively speaking] while I take off and land the plane.  I think we’re getting a lot closer to that.  About 4 or so hours ago, he said that I’d be ready to solo in about 7 or 8 hours.  So in the foreseeable future, I might be soloing.  A thrilling, yet terrifying thought.