Posted by: Brian | January 10, 2010

4 Fundamentals & Dutch Rolls

Today went a little better than yesterday did.  I got to the office about 30 minutes early so that I could file the flight plan and do my Pre-Flight Checklist.  After my checks, I mounted my camera.  The angle my camera sits at makes it hard for me to know exactly what buttons I am pushing.  In short, I must have hit the wrong button, so nothing was recorded.  Fail.

Once my checks were completed, I got my CFI and we did a quick run-through of the days objectives.  After that, we headed out to the airplane and got moving.  The taxiing went a bit better today than it did today.  Hey, as long as you are improving, right?  We conducted our “Before Takeoff” checklist and up we went.  Climbed to 700′, turned right to 045 degrees and continued our climb to 1000′, as which point we switched our radios over to Potomac Approach to inform them we were with them.  Once we got to 1200′, we turned right to a heading of 090, and continued our climb to 1400′.  Once we hit 1400′, we turned right to 150 degrees and headed straight out to Deale again.

We started with Dutch Rolls, which is basically turning right and left, and using the rudder pedals to maintaining the current heading.  We found our reference point in the distance to focus on and my CFI demonstrated the demo.  I must say, this wasn’t as easy as it sounded.  My issue was that I didn’t have a proper grip on the yoke, so when turning, I’d either push or pull on the yoke, instead of keeping the altitude of 2000′.  At one point, we’d climbed to nearly 2200′, so I had to descent back down.  My CFI told me [over and over] what I was doing wrong, and at the tail end of the exercise, it began to click.  We then jumped into climbs and descents, and turning while doing so as well.  This went better than the Dutch Rolls did.  We practiced those for awhile, then transitioned to glides and approaches in landing configurations.  Those weren’t that difficult; very interesting.  The planes won’t just fall out of the sky if you lose engine power.  They glide fairly well.  The powered back and hit our glide speed of 65 KIAS for this type of airplane (172).

By the end of this exercise, it was about time to head back towards Freeway Airport.  I found our reference point (water tower), reduced our power to 2100 RPM and slowly descended to 1000′, which is pattern altitude.  One the way, we spotted the airport, switched frequencies back to Freeway Tower and turned west over US Route 50 & 301.  We followed the highway and entered the pattern just northeast of Freeway.  We checked for traffic and entered the pattern downwind.  My CFI had me really pay attention to the three major indicators (airspeed, heading, altitude).  We hit 80-90 KIAS downwind and dropped 10 degrees of flaps.  Once the runway numbers were at our 45 degree oblique, we turned base, dropped another 10 degrees of flaps and made the call to tower.  This was immediately followed by turning for final and adding the last 10 degrees of flaps.  Again, the crosswind was hitting us on our left, but my CFI made the landing with no issues.  We taxied back to our parking spot and completed the last portion of the checklist.

It was a fairly straight forward day.  I had some issues with the Dutch Rolls, but I think that was kind of expected.  I made one radio call today to Freeway Tower, which was a basic radio check. “Freeway Unicom, N400GE, Radio Check”.  I will be making more and more calls with every outing.  Anyhow, I tied down the airplane and headed back in.  We closed out the ticket for the day and discussed what we’d be doing next time, which is a lot of what we did today.  I hope to also have the technical issues sorted out with my camera for next session.  Ok, user-error, whatever…

Hours Today/Total: 1.1/2.6



  1. Hey Brian, I keep following your input….can you at times already relax and enjoy the view or are you under contant stress not to make any mistakes?! I think I would be stiff as a board!

    • I am not quite at the ‘relaxed’ stage yet. If you ask my instructor, I feel as tense as a rock at times. I’m not nervous, just a lot going on in the cockpit all at once, and I’m just trying to memorize it all. It’s fun but stressful.

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