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Archive for March, 2017

Inching Closer to the Edge

Right, then…

Had a few more lessons since my last posting, but not every week.  Normally, every week is preferred but between then and now, I’ve experienced a) an aging mother that was (in my opinion) prematurely released from a physical rehab facility, and b) a series of fairly stout storms in the Bay Area.

As for mom – after spending 6 weeks in a PT facility, they up and decided to send her home, saying she only needed minimal help, which was a shocking lie.  She needed assistance with literally everything, so my 2 day stay wound up being 8 days while I worked with MediCal and lined up a caregiver.  I’m paying for the caregiver out of pocket until MediCal kicks in, but – as a friend stated – it was like making bail:  It was the only way I was going to able to go home.  So, expensive, but somewhat worth it.  Regardless, that was one week that I missed a lesson.

I think the week I returned, there was a series of heavy storm systems that pummeled California, giving us much needed rain…all at once.  So, in addition to real problems like flooding and the Oroville Dam almost failing, I had my flight lessons interrupted.

I got a couple of lessons in, then last week, when there was no storms and beautiful weather, the only available plane that I had reserved was down:  It was recently maintained, but some critical paperwork was missing.  So, I played around with Aero FS (simulator) on the iPad.  Not the same as flying, but a nice distraction.

Now, I don’t know if the simulator actually has any value other than entertainment, or if something sort of clicked in my head, because today’s lesson was different than most.  Up to now, I’ve been doing things more or less by rote:  Pull back power to 1500 RPM when I’m abeam of the numbers on the runway, 1 notch of flaps, slow to 80 kts, turn base, slow to 75 kts, 2 notches of flaps, turn final, slow to 65-ish, 3rd and final notch of flaps as I’m over the pond before the runway, power to idle as I go over then fence, point the plane at the numbers and then level off and flare at some unknown point, touchdown.

While some variation of that happened today, the thought process was different.  It was not so much “I do this now, because I am here” but more “OK, I’m looking to do this, so I’ll try that, and if that doesn’t work, then I’ll try something else, so long as I maintain the right airspeed and altitude for where I am in the pattern.”  It was almost like I was actually flying the plane instead of merely following instructions.  True, some of the landings were a bit harsher than others, but I did all of the touchdowns (per my instructor).

Of course, there are things I need to work on, such as when I’m going too fast and I pull back on the yoke, I need to not pull back so hard that I climb.  I also need to pick a definitive point when I’m going to flare…this is hard because there’s no good visual.  Also, I haven’t done any radio work, really, other than taxiing and takeoff.  There’s still another world of comms that I need to get in to.

For the next lesson, my instructor set a rule that if I go below 65 kts or over 75 kts, I’m to do a go around.  The purpose is twofold:  1)  to better stabilize my approach speed (I suspect) and 2) to have experience performing go arounds.

But at 22.4-ish hours, I think I’m approaching solo pretty damn quick.

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