Based on my work schedule, we decided to have a normal lesson before my first true cross-country, which will be tomorrow. The only thing we really haven’t worked long on is short and soft field landings, so we practiced those.
The wind at Westosha was a moderate head-wind, so it definitely helped make my short landings VERY short! Even at Westosha I was able to make my landings fit in the first 25% of the runway (at a very short runway to begin with). Actually, before this lesson I always had a tendency to come in fast for my landings, so this really helped me dial in a lower approach speed and still stay comfortable. Plus, not having to worry about making it too soft took a lot of the pressure off. Just plunk the plane down and stop it…not that difficult!
After shorts, we dialed in softs. Having took off a few times from the grass strip at Westosha, I did have some experience with the necessary techniques. I find it fun to keep the plane moving and go straight from taxi to takeoff in one fell swoop (feels like what the airlines do frequently). I’m still trying to perfect my flare, as I’m not as consistently soft as I would like to be, but my CFI says my softs would pass the checkride just fine….I guess that’s good news. The last landing of the night, though, I nailed and it was pillow soft!
This lesson I logged 0.9 hours of flight time and 8 landings.
So my last lesson (this past Saturday) probably should have been the day I go solo for the first time, but it was very windy and directly across the runway at Westosha (thanks a lot, Chicago weather). So, we worked on crosswind landings yet again. I’m happy to report I had some of my best landings to date this day, even when conditions were extremely challenging. Also, the crosswinds afforded us the opportunity to practice various landing types I’ve done only sparsely in the past: no flaps, little flaps, and shortened runway.
All-in-all, the lesson wasn’t very eventful and I’m very much looking forward to a non-windy day at Westosha so I can finally solo. Hopefully it’ll be tomorrow!
This lesson I logged 1.5 hours of flight time and 10 landings.
As part of my pre-solo check flight last time flying, that CFI recommended I only need to work on crosswind landings before going solo. So, that’s what I worked on this past lesson…for over two hours! Luckily there was a fairly decent crosswind of about 10 knots or so, directly across the runway. As such, we had the option most of the time to takeoff and land from either direction, which made for an efficient use of time! All-in-all, the lesson wasn’t terribly interesting as we literally just stayed in the pattern and worked on landings and takeoffs over and over. Some were better than others, some were pretty ugly, but ultimately by the end I had a much improved grasp on this complicated maneuver. I still wouldn’t want to tackle heavy crosswinds all by myself, but that’s what practice is for. I also now finally get (and can verbalize properly) how to put the ailerons while on the ground with wind…that got me last time out.
Hopefully next lesson will be the big one…my CFI told me “not to wear my Armani t-shirts”…I figure that’s a good sign. This lesson I logged 2.3 hours of flight time and 16 landings.
P.S. – While en route to Mexico for my vacation last week I listened to ATC while on my United flight. It was funny and interesting to hear air traffic control in Spanish half the time once we crossed the border. Our pilot/navigator was definitely having a hard time understanding them sometimes and had to have commands repeated multiple times (in the heavily accented English). I was expecting the controller to swear in Spanish, but they always kept their cool.
This Sunday I had yet another lesson of mostly takeoffs and landings. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we’re finally starting to change into Spring around Chicago (it’s about time). I had my “alternate” CFI again, although I probably shouldn’t call him my alternate any longer since I’ve had 3 of my 8 lessons with him. Anyways, we decided to head over to Burlington (BUU) airport to practice. It was nice to go somewhere moderately far (although I think it’s only about 20 miles away). My CFI had me running the radios mostly, which was a bit intimidating, especially since Burlington is much busier than Westosha. Burlington has a much wider runway than Westosha (seems twice as wide) and I thought I’d nail some landings that day there, but I never got one quite perfect. My CFI said I’m progressing fine, but I still wasn’t thrilled. After about 7 landings, we headed back to Westosha.
My CFI taught me a lot of the visual cues to navigate back and forth from Westosha, along with an introduction to radio navigation. Back at Westosha, I attempted 4 more landings. We had a slight crosswind, and I got only one perfect (but I think it was just luck). I had one go-around as well (the wind and the plane were just not cooperating). We also worked on forward slips, a technique to get the plane down in altitude fast without raising the air speed (so you can still land the plane). Slips are pretty neat, it’s like skidding through the air down towards the runway (see the attached animated picture). Anyways, like my early lessons, this lesson threw a lot of new stuff at me in a short time period.
This lesson I logged 1.9 hours of flight time.
It seemed like forever since my last lesson (last Thursday) and it was great to get back into the air. My usual CFI doesn’t work on Sundays and I flew with the same CFI I had last lesson. He’s another great instructor and it was nice to work with him again. The weather was nice today compared to the rain we had we had all week, but still chilly for April (only about 40° F) and decent winds with gusts of almost 20mph. All-in-all quite manageable and kept traffic down to nothing (which was nice).
After taking off we headed to the usual practice area (within sight of Lake Geneva) and reviewed ground reference maneuvers (which I started on my Fourth Lesson). Some turns around points and s-turns helped me gain more understanding of how wind effects everything. These maneuvers are also required for the practical FAA test. I’ll be practicing these much more once I’m soloing, but for now my CFI was satisfied I understand them and can manage on my own.
We then headed back to Westosha and worked on landings again. I’m getting more and more the hang and feel of the proper glide slope and the last “flare” before landing. Working the pattern is becoming second nature, and I’m getting the “normal” power and flap settings ingrained in my head as well. Due to the wind some of my landings were a little bumpy, but nothing horrible. We practiced a go-around also (admittedly out of necessity because the wind really took us off centerline).
All-in-all another tremendously fun lesson. I logged 1.8 hours of flight time this lesson (my longest flight yet).