This lesson was my second cross country flight (the first one was to Allentown last summer) to Sullivan Country Intl so I brushed up on cross country planning before the flight. The night before I finished my King online ground school written exam course and I’m planning to take the written before June 15th because they are changing the test standards to the new ACS format. I planned everything I could (all the true courses, VOR radials and frequencies) the night before and the morning of I got the weather and calculated the rest of the information I would need (wind correction angles, ground speeds, magnetic headings, etc). It was a pretty calm day weather wise so after reviewing the flight plan we decided to get the plane preflighted and get in the air. Bob warned me to double check the landing gear because he saw a coyote snooping around and he was worried that is might have chewed on the brake lines. On the way to Sullivan we intercepted and tracked a radial inbound to Sparta then outbound, then inbound to Huguenot, then outbound from Huguenot to Sullivan. I was tracking the VORs pretty well and keeping 4500′ so we didn’t have any problems getting to Sullivan. We landed behind a Piper Warrior – I was a little low on the landing because of the illusion created by the bigger runway but the touchdown was OK. We then taxied back to the start of the runway and prepared for takeoff. The takeoff started out normally but as we were climbing about 50 feet above the runway Bob pulled back the throttle, “failing” the engine. I instinctively pushed the yoke forward but I underestimated just how much I would need to pitch down to have enough airspeed for the flare so Bob took the controls to get us down safely. On the second takeoff he pulled the throttle again and this time I pitched down enough so he pushed the throttle back in and we departed normally. For the return leg we used dead reckoning and pilotage to get back rather than VORs – we were a little bit east of our proper course but we eventually recovered and got our bearings. The approach at Caldwell was pretty good and so was the touchdown but the flare was a little bit jerky — I need to fix that if I ever want to take passengers. Over all it was one of my better flights — other than the aborted takeoff I handled everything pretty well and it was really fun as always to get a taste of cross country flying.
In this lesson I was with Bob again but in N5253R (N811JD was booked). We decided to stay in the pattern to work on my flat landings. To do this Bob told me to do soft field landings (where you flare but add power to stay in ground effect before touching down so you can choose your touchdown spot). The first 2 were pretty bad (I touched down before the spot) but the 3rd was right on the spot. We then saw Tom land and turn off on the first taxiway (the taxiway we took off on) so we decided to do some short fields. My short fields were pretty bad in the beginning but they started to get pretty good towards the end. My last landing, however, I was going way too slow. I guess I just need to keep practicing to find the perfect airspeed and glideslope to pull off a true short field (like Tom’s). One things for sure though – I would much rather be fast and high than low and slow. I can always go around (like I did in lesson 30) but recovering from a stall 100 feet above the ground isn’t so easy.
This lesson was my first lesson in a long time (since March) and my first lesson with Bob in even longer. We began the lesson catching up and reviewing what I’ve done while he’s been gone. We then decided to go to Greenwood lake airport to practice some short field landings and flight maneuvers. We took off normally (although my ground operations were a little rusty; I forgot to put down the flaps before the preflight and take out the controls lock) and headed north to Greenwood lake. My entry of the pattern started out normally but I didn’t space myself from the airport properly so I entered the pattern high and fast. I wasn’t able to correct this and sure enough I was way high on short final so I decided to call my first unprompted (from the tower) go-around. We did two more landings at Greenwood lake and they weren’t terrible but they were very flat (not on the nosewheel but close to it). We then exited the pattern and flew back to Caldwell. My landing at Caldwell was also abnormally flat. The main lessons I took from this flight were to make sure you enter the pattern at the right altitude and airspeed (for the quality of the landing as well as more safety from collisions with other aircraft) and to make sure I touchdown on the main wheels well before the nosewheel.