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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!

 

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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!

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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

You’ve Been Coddled

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

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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Short Field Landings..Hold That Altitude

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Another day in the pattern today. I’d be getting annoyed if it wasn’t so much fun landing lots in the pattern. Practiced short field landings mostly today.

The idea is to land on or slightly beyond the numbers of the runway. I was not too bad but the instructor is wanting me to do everything all proper (can you imagine that!). The proper way is to hold altitude to clear a “mythical” obstacle by 50th, then drop and slow to 60kts by putting the power to idle but pitching up to slow to 60 (we should be at 65 to clear the obstacle). After 6 landing I sorta got it. I don’t have any problem with the actual short landing part but am very bobbly with the business of holding the obstacle altitude and then dropping right after.

I also managed to have issues “centering the ball” and keeping my turns not steep and coordinated. Since we were doing a left handed pattern it was odd using the left rudder I’m so used to using the right rudder (for climbs and right hand patterns). Sigh. Practice practice.

Categories: Uncategorized