Posted by: Brian | January 9, 2010

Four Fundamentals of Flight

First and foremost, I did have my camera mount up today in the cockpit, however, the angle wasn’t set properly, so you saw a lot of the instruments and my back.  Not to mention, I did get my audio cable in today, however, I’m missing an adapter, so the audio wasn’t where I wanted it to be.  There is only so much you can hear with the engine up and running.  I hope to get the adapter in later this coming week, so until then, the audio won’t be great.  So, I will ensure that tomrrow’s session is a better video recording, though.  Hey, it’s trial and error, right?  Video aside, here is a synopsis of how my afternoon went…

I made it up again today, and it was fairly unexpected.  My lessons had been cancelled all week due to the high winds in the area.  This weekend was supposed to be no different.  After cancelling yesterday, my CFI said that we’d be meeting up today regardless, to go over some more ground issues and to prepare me for my ground school starting a week from today.  I got to Freeway Airport about 10-15 minutes early today, and immediately checked the windsock.  It wasn’t fully inflated, which was a nice sight.  I can’t remember the exact knots, but if it’s fully inflated, it simply tells you the direction of the wind and that the wind is over 15 knots.  When I entered the office, I checked the wind speed indicator, which was reading about 9 knots, with gusts up to about 15-18 knots.  So, I was hopeful that we’d get in the air today, but wasn’t holding my breath.

As I was about 15 minutes early, I just watched other C-172’s fly over and land.  Pretty much on the dot, my CFI exits one of the Cessna’s and approaches the main office.  He looks around, closes out the student’s file for the day, looks over at me and asks if I’m ready to go up today.  I don’t think “yes” came out fast enough.  We immediately got to work; he had me file the DC SFRA flight plan, which was the second one I did.  This time around was a bit smoother.  When filing, you are supposed to state that you are a student pilot, in an effort to get Flight Services to slow their roll a bit, ensuring I get everything.  The last time, I don’t think the guy cared much.  This time, he was very understanding of my position as a student pilot.

After filing the flight plan, we went out to the aircraft we’d be in for the day, this time with me conducting the Pre-Flight checklist on my own (with him watching of course).  I must say, with a week of not flying, I had a ton of motivation to study, so it went fairly smooth.  I forgot a few things, but it’s expected this early in the game.  Once the pre-flight was completed, we went back to the classroom, where we discussed the objectives for today’s flight.  The primary objectives were to work on the 4 Fundamentals of Flight: Straight and Level Flight, Turns, Climbs and Descents.  After ensuring I understood what we’d be doing, I called to receive our Squak Code fand frequencies for the day and headed back to the plane.  We untied the final tie-down and went through the “Starting Engine” checklist.  This was all pretty straight forward, as are most of the checklist procedures (PS – always follow the checklist.  Don’t try to memorize it).  We entered our Squak Code and frequencies, and started our taxi…

Now, steering an airplane is NOTHING like steering a car.  You use the rudder pedals, brakes and throttle (not the yoke).  My CFI taxi’d to about the midway point, and once we got on a straigh-away, he let me take over.  This was probably the most difficult part of my day.  I wasn’t ever providing the right amount of input.  You really have to depress the pedals all the way down and keep it there.  They are spring loaded and take a second to take affect.  Providing quick inputs (like I was doing) doesn’t really do much.  So, needless to say, my CFI had to jump in a lot and assist.  I will get it.  Eventually.

We pulled up to Runway 36 and held short.  We jumped into our “Before Takeoff” checklist, and pulled onto the runway.  My CFI explained that we rotate at 55 KIAS (the minimum speed needed to pull the plane off of the runway (Vr) for this type of airplane and that we will climb at best rate (Vy), which is 74 KIAS.  We increased throttle and began our takeoff.  Like he said, at 55 KIAS, we rotated off of the runway.  We climbed to 700′ at 74 KIAS, turned right and exited the traffic pattern 45 degrees from our heading we were on.  We continued the climb to 1200′ then turned right to a heading of 090 degrees (if I remember correctly).  Our training area is always over Deale, MD, which is southeast of the airport.  Our crusing altitude was 2000′ when all was said and done.  There was a bit of turbulence, but it was expected as the winds were 10-15 knots.  Nothing too scary.  It didn push us around a bit on the landing, but I’ll get to that later.

Freeway Airport to Deale

“Keep your head straight and stop leaning on me”.  We immediately jumped into the 4 Fundamentals of Flight, starting with turns.  He had me doing 30 degree turns, keeping the plane at altitude (2000′), while keeping the ball centered in the turn coordinator (using the rudder pedals).  Another issue I had (albeit only briefly until I remembered) was to keep my head straight in turns.  I would lean into the turns as if I were on a motorcycle.  This is highly frowned upon because if you try to keep your world level, then you may forget that the plane is in a turn, which could be devastating in the end.  Now, if I can just remember that for tomorrow’s lesson.  Anyway, we breifly worked on climbs and decents (naturally on the decents, as we had to land).  After about 30 minutes of turns, turns and more turns, we headed back to Freeway Airport.

Another objective was to read your terrain and use “pilotage” to navigate back.  He pointed out a distant water tower, near the airport.  As we got above the tower, we turned left and followed US Route 50, made another 45 degree left turn to enter the traffic pattern downwind.  As we did that, the airport was to our right.  At our 45 degree, we made our turn for base, closely followed by our turn on final.  Although I didn’t land the plane, he wanted me to keep my hands on the yoke and feet on the pedals to ‘feel’ what he was doing.  As mentioned above, we had a good head wind, which pushed us around a bit.  But my CFI is pretty awesome and landed with no issues.  After landing, we taxi’d off of the runway and back to our parking spot.  We ran through our “Securing the Airplane” checklist, which was pretty smooth.  After tying the plane down, we proceeded back to the office and closed out the ticket.  He told me what I needed to think about before tomorrow’s lesson.  No, quitting wasn’t it.  🙂  Just about some of the procedures for takeoff (checklists, etc) and to think about what we did on the turns and how to do those.  My CFI said that I had a good day today.  I think it went fairly well.  I wish I’d have done better maneuvering on the ground, but I think I will get plenty of practice at that down the road.  I have another session tomorrow, followed by early next week as well.  Again, my goal is to fly at least 2-3 times per week.

Hours Today/Total Hours logged: 0.9/1.5 hours

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