Poweron Stall…oops

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Had a good long lesson today…flew out to Fredrick.

Was supposed to do some power on stalls and I managed AGAIN to screw up and not remember exactly what to do. Instructor got a tad annoyed. I was annoyed because I had actually reviewed the procedures with some practice sheets the school gave me a long time ago. The settings on the sheets for example reducing speed to 1500RPM were not what I was being told now…go to 1200RPM. GRRRRR.

Anyway the sheets were not the problem I just got a tad confused between power on versus power off stalls and so on. We practiced some more emergency landings at KFDK and I was ok not great but not that bad. We headed back to KGAI and I did a couple of steep turn practices also not so good as it was a long time since I did those.

Last but not least did a short field landing and did ok, I at least hit a little bit past the numbers and was able to exit the runway at the first taxiway. Onward.

Categories: Lessons

That Battery’s Fried

January 9, 2012 1 comment

Get to the airpark and am told to take N52632 an ole’ reliable plane that’s one of the two planes I’ve flown the most. Check everything out no problem. The temperature was cold but not awful, it was about 32 or 34F not freezing. Pushed the primer twice and pushed in the throttle a few times like usual. Flip the main electrical switches on, turn the key, COUGH COUGH. The plane turns the prop a little bit but it doesn’t turn over. Instructor not happy. We wait about 10 seconds prime it a little more, turn the switches on, turn the key and COUGH. Only onece this time. Instructor declares that the battery is fried. Apparently this thing is not like a car where you can try cranking for a little longer. Apparently yesterday also (unbeknownst to me) the plane also had some starting issues.

I thought we’d have to scrub the flight but instructor says hang tight and he calls in the mechanic to drive over a battery charger thingy (that’s a technical term) that he plugs into the side of the plane and with that jump we’re off and running!

Start off with a reasonable short field takeoff and I’m told to head off to Carroll County (KDMW). From Gaithersburg it’s about 30 degrees east of Fredrick so I didn’t have too much of a problem navigating there. We do some power on stalls which I did fair at, and then reach KDMW. Did about 3 emergency landing practices there, one as a go around and it was a good bunch of practices. I started high on one and much lower for an other and all the different scenarios were quite instructive. I did OK not great but in general much better then the previous lesson.

Back to KGAI and nothing unusual except for some amusing chatter on the radio. While listening to Potomac Approach someone called in and says crossing over or something like that..and the approach asks “you need SFRA code?” and he responds…”I’m already in the SFRA” !!! Most amusing. Pretty sure it was a jet and he did know what he was doing from the tone of the chatter…but I can imagine if I had that situation the F15’s would be coming quickly.

As we get close to KGAI all was normal except another instructor from the same school was in a plane and sounded like he was at the same altitude and also approaching the 45 to runway 14 just as we were. We couldn’t find him and kept talking to him (or his student I’m not sure)….and he kept on giving his position in fairly useless ways. We just continued past the airport a bit until we could finally figure out what he was doing…my instructor was mostly annoyed at him which was amusing for me to watch!

Did a short field landing and did reasonably well not quite what I wanted, a tad too slow in the end but I hit the runway pretty good and was able to exit at the first taxi way, a sign of a good short landing. Brought the plane to the school’s hanger so they could fix the battery and that’s all for the today.


Categories: Uncategorized

Emergency Practice and Stall Fail

January 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Off to the Wooley gate today to practice emergency landings. (been there done that) Nothing unusual on the way to Fredrick (KFDK) and I spotted the runway pretty well, and navigated there just fine without the GPS thank you very much.

So on the pre-brief my instructor pointed out what he wanted me to do for distances and altitudes and some techniques to lose altitude when your engine is out. (gaining altitude with no engine is somewhat problematic)

He has me come in very high (2000AGL) to KFDK and pulls the throttle I raise the nose to 65kts and turn off carb heat. All is well but I’m kinda slow in the brain figuring out what to do in terms of losing altitude. I would have been happy to just mozy on the downwind but eventually figured out to do some S-turns and then lower 10 degrees of flaps. I wind up putting all the flaps down too quickly but manage a fairly reasonable landing. Instructor was not that happy…he’s getting grumpier these days.

We go around for another and I screw up coming in too high and we do a go around and I get yelled out for my go around technique…which I haven’t done in quite a while..sigh.

Go around for another try starting lower this one at 1500MSL and just the altitude much better turn from downwind to crosswind to final fine but kinda screw up the height aspect again. He really wants me to hit a specific portion of the runway as opposed to just getting the plane down which throws me a tad. I did wind up with a spectacular smooth slow landing however that he did like.

After the emergency practices we go to practice a stall in the landing configuration and as this was totally not in my brain, I manage to screw up thinking what to do when. I eventually figure it out with some hints and do the stall flying fine. But overall not good.

We head back to Gaithersburg and I navigate pretty good without the GPS. We get to the 45 for runway 14 and I’m told to do a short field landing. Which I was very glad to hear because I wanted to nail it. So I manage to screw it up pretty good. I level out on the final too high don’t drop down quick enough and land wayyyyyy too far down the runway. Grrrrr.


Categories: Uncategorized

Holding that Altitude

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Another lesson in the pattern today. (seems to be a trend lately) Practiced soft field takeoff twice and short field takeoff twice…did ok. The plane sure has a tendency to just lift off so holding it down for ground effect on the soft field takeoff is kinda strange.

Did some soft landings fairly decent so I think I got that shtick down. Then we did a few short field landings. For the first one I got a tad too low (or so my instructor thought) and he did one of the “I have the controls” routines where he took control of the plane from me (kinda annoying actually but I’d probably do that too if I was in his shoes). First he’s stressing to me to get low then it was too low. The issue is that I don’t anticipate the lag of the response of the airplane.

Anyway on the 2nd and 3rd times I did much better and got to the desired altitude (650ft) fine and held the altitude and speed fine. However after the mythical obstical I just let the plane decend slowly. That’s wrong! You are supposed to keep the altitude at 650 and then where you’re sure you will make the runway  pull the throttle to idle and go down quickly rounding out at the end before the numbers so you hit just at or a little past the numbers. I’m almost getting it and now that I FINALLY understand the correct procedure I’m looking forward to the next lesson where I’m determined to nail it!


Categories: Uncategorized

Parasites, Induction, P-Factor…no flying for you!

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

So I head off to the airpark today, the sky was very grey all day, but the overcast was high enough around 4800-6000ft. It was starting to snow a little. Hmmmm. I get to the airpark and the visibility just crashed to 1 mile and then less so no flying…bummer!

However I wound up doing a full hour of ground school. With the relatively new instructor I started from the very beginning. The thing is I never really had much of any ground school so I didn’t mind and it was actually fun and informative. I new (sorta) most but learned quite a bit.  In addition I’m now able to really understand why we step on the right rudder on climbs (p-factor) and the different types of drag (parasitic and induction) and hopefully during the oral part of my check ride (whenever the hell that is) I will have a more intelligent discussion with the examiner. It’s kind amusing that after nearly 90hrs of flight time, and having already passing my official FAA knowledge test, I’m now doing some ground school!

Categories: Uncategorized

Navigating to KFDK and Soft-ish Landings

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment

So we start off the lesson with  my instructor asking if I know how to get to Fredrick (KFDK) and I say “without the GPS?”, “yes” he replies. To which I say “not exactly but I know the general heading”. “That’s the most important thing” he says. He tells me to pull out my chart (I’ve never done that for lessons!) and I of course know where KFDK is and it’s approximate heading. He asks if I know if P40 (that’s Camp David which is in the neighborhood) is expanded to which I respond that I didn’t ask. (slap hand) Of course I did not know we were heading to KFDK and he asks if I know all the weather and NOTAMS and such, and of course I didn’t exactly know however I’m on an email list and knew that nothing odd was going on. I also did know the weather conditions via an earlier lookup on the iPad. Anyway his point was to get all the info and I can’t argue with that.

So we head off to KFDK just fine and I navigate reasonably. I even pretty much spot the KFDK runway (for a change) and get into the pattern there pretty good. I’m supposed to do a soft field landing and I don’t land with the nose high the first couple of times but by the 3rd time I actually figured out the thing and landed nose high. I seem to have a tendency to let the plane land as opposed to keeping it off the ground (letting it bleed speed as your supposed to do).

Also did, or attempted to do, a short field landing and I kinda botched that up because in my brain I figure that after the (mythical) obstacle just get to the runway numbers. However you’re supposed to level out at the desired altitude to clear the obstacle then after clearing kill the throttle and keep the speed at 60rpm, round-out and then hit the numbers. I have no doubt of my ability to actually land on a short runway, as I’ve done it a few times, but getting the proper technique down is kinda tricky.

We head back to KGAI and I do fine and actually spot the runway way ahead of time which is a real change! The navigation back was not too bad just questioned a few landmarks but I’m getting there. As we get to the pattern I’m supposed to do another short-field landing and I do better but still have issues rounding out at the right time. Onward!

Categories: Uncategorized

Soft Patterns and Flight Logging

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

No flying today the weather is awful, misty with low 1100ft cloud cover. But can you believe I forgot to blog about yesterday’s flight!!

Back to pattern work. This time the emphasis was almost exclusively on soft field landings. Not all that difficult really but the instructor wants me to really land “properly” with the nose up…the bastard. I tend to land in a flatter angle. Also there was a decent crosswind which made things a little tricky but it’s great practice that I do need. Crosswinds are particularly interesting in that you’re supposed to land on one (or the other) rear wheel. Sheeeesh.

I wound up doing about 6 landings and had more difficulty then I should have holding the correct altitude on the pattern. I almost always overshot the pattern altitude of 1500 ft, and hit 1600ft a lot, totally annoying. The landings themselves weren’t that bad but weren’t that great either. It’s high time I start nailing them more consistently.

On a totally different note, I’ve started using a web site called http://www.flightlogg.in to log my flights (in addition to the physical paper logbook). It’s free and does all sorts of cool things like addition so I can total up my hours 😉 More interesting is that you can total up and graph hours for each airplane you’ve used. So the figure below is my hours in different planes…cool huh!

hours by tail number

Hours by Tail Number

Categories: Lessons