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You’ve Been Coddled

Thought we were going to be doing pattern work, but there was a pretty hefty crosswind so my instructor thought we’d go up north and practice some stalls and steep turns. Had to mentally switch gears but just peachy!

So we head off north to an area that has a “concrete plant”. Which is about 10 or so miles east of KFDK. Been there many times and it’s a good area out of the SFRA for maneuvering. I’m told to do some slow flight practice first in the clean configuration and I nail it very good. The plane’s stall horn starts squealing at about 50kts. I turn to various directions and all is fine.

Next I’m to do a power on stall…where you practice pulling the nose of the plane up (too far) until you stall. The damn thing DID NOT STALL today! It was hilarious. I’ve got the nose way up and we slow to almost 30kts or less and the stall horn is wailing but it is not stalling! It turned out that there was a huge headwind…like 40kts. It was very amusing and wierd. We make believe it stalled and I recovered ok, a little too steep, but not horrible.

Now I do some steep turns. Some were ok some not great. You’re supposed to turn at a 45 degree angle and keep the altitude, and do this until you turn the plane a full circle (360 degrees) around. You turn to the left then the right and I was ok for some too steep for others. Practice practice.

Finally the more amusing part of the lesson was navigating back to KGAI. My instructor really wants me to figure out where I am and to navigate back home without any GPS. At first I wasn’t sure where we were starting from we had travelled a bit away from the concrete plant and were close to Carroll County airport. So we eventually get back to the concrete plant. To avoid total ignorance a few days ago I had picked out the locations that I knew had the water towers that we normally use. I looked at them on a map and have a decent idea of the relationship and directions of them all. In addition I know that if you travel along a course of 180 from the concrete plant you head direct to KGAI.

So from the concrete plant I head around 190 (we were west of the plant) and I’m puttering along fine. It also turned out (similar to last time when I was very lost) that we had a huge headwind. My rpms were showing 110kts but the ground speed was like 70kts. I manage pretty well locating Mt. Airy and then Damascus. We get close to KGAI and I can’t see the Germantown water tank (from which following 140 straight to the airpark). We putter along more and I eventually spot it…I still can’t see the damn runway. I’m puttering along and my instructor says “where are you flying to?” I respond “I can’t see the runway”. He grabs the controls and turns the plane about 90 degree to the right and lo and behold there is the runway. I take over and he says “You’ve been coddled” 😉  Fun fun…I hate when he’s right. I did/do have a bad habit of relying on the GPS which shows a nice magenta circle for the airport. Need to get better at using those landmarks and recognizing stuff around.

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