Successful 3rd solo

7/11/15: I kept and eye on the weather and it turned out to be a nice day for another attempt at my third solo.

KCDW was very busy this morning, planes were taking off and landing this morning. I could understand why, the morning was gorgeous! Everyone wanted to go flying! On my way to the airplane to start my preflight,  I notice a family of 3 just getting back from flying. They all had smiles on their faces, clearly indicating they had a great time.

After my preflight check and KCDW ground clearance to taxi to runway 28, we (Tom and I) held short for take off a little longer than usual due to the heavy traffic (planes in pattern, on final approach, taking off from other runways etc. ). Finally, ” Cherokee 8350R you are cleared for take off on runway 28!! ROGER THAT!!

We took off and headed North. Tom was quiet so I knew I was doing a good job flying. He instructed me to perform 45 degree banking turns. Without hesitation I first performed a clearing turn ( turned the plane 90 degrees to my right and back to my left. Checking for other aircraft in the area as good safety measure). “Take us home” Tom said.

Returned to KCDW and landed nicely. I retracted  flaps to 10 degrees and gave full power, ” Don’t you want to fly your solo?” Tom asked. I said, Yes! ” So why are you giving full power? Get off the runway and contact ground so you can drop me off and proceed to the flying area by yourself”.  It was music to my ears! After dropping off Tom at the Bravo parking area, I checked ATIS then contacted ground. I requested take taxi to take off for north departure with information Charlie (latest weather report).

Although KCDW was busy, It was a great and relaxing flight. Once I reached my destination area and cleared Bravo airspace, I practice a few maneuvers after my clearing turn of course. It was awesome! I could see myself flying out and about often and as soon as I complete my private pilot FAA check ride. I did not want to come back to base (KCDW) but, I know Tom would kill me if I stayed out longer then I should So, back I went.

I returned to the airport safely, my landing was very nice and smooth, I must say… Turned off runway 4 and contacted ground control.  ” Taxi via Papa, November, Alpha to the Fischer parking area” per KCDW ground control. I repeated instructions and proceeded back to parking are. SUCKS!! I wanted to take off again and enjoy more flying!! I live to fly another day.. Nothing mattered more to me today except the fact that I flew alone and enjoyed every minute of  it!

Thanks Tom!



3rd Solo attempt today

7/10/15: Today we were hoping for a third solo flight out to the training area but due to cross winds and ugly landings it was best to hold off on soloing.

We flew to the training area and I performed maneuvers to ensure I was capable of handling solo flight alone. The maneuvers went fine and making my way back to the airport was no problem but, during my landing I encountered cross winds from left to right and boy did I screw those up!

I was pist (at myself) over my first ugly landing attempt and it showed on the following two attempts to land smoothly with cross winds! Those were ugly too. Tom explained, mentally holding on to mistakes does one no good, let them go and start with a fresh metal attitude. That can be a tough thing to do knowing how I am, and the pressure of wanting be a good pilot. Bottom line, practice, practice, practice, is what makes a good pilot. know your weaknesses and work on improving them.

I will do better on my next flight for sure! I will try for my 3rd solo tomorrow, today is not my day to do it. I am ok with that, its all about safety.

Soft-field Take offs and Landings

7/6/15: The weather was not conducive to safe solo flying. Visibility was not good (Heavy Haze) So we decided to  practiced Soft-Field landing and Take Off.  KCDW airport was very busy this morning and was not permitting pattern work at this time so we flew to KMMU (aka Morristown Airport).  A hope, skip and a jump to get there.  This was my first time flying to KMMU and was actually a pretty simple airport to practice on.

The technique requires your understanding of A/C performance and characteristics such as knowing Vx ( 66kts/76mph) and Vy (75kts/86mph ).  The trick is to” transfer weight from the landing gear  to the wings  as quickly and smoothly as possible to eliminate drag caused by surfaces such as tall grass, soft dirt or snow”.  In the event you want to land and takeoff at an airport with soft surface terrain such as grass, a pilot  should know how to maneuver in such conditions. (2014)

Tom had me simulate taxi on a soft surface using full back pressure on the yoke to maintain full-up elevator( in my case stabilator) with enough power to keep plane moving ( helps transfer nose wheel weight to the main landing wheels). It also helps protect the propeller from hitting the ground due to uneven terrain.

I set flaps to 25 degrees and as soon as we were cleared for take off i proceeded onto ramp with out stopping and holding yoke full back to raise nose-wheel. decreasing back pressure as plane speed increases. As the plane lifts off ground I reduced  back pressure and let the airplane lift but keeping it in ground effect ( Plane is flying level several feet from the surface) till I reach Vx and start to pitch my plane for climb and gradually reduce flaps to 10 degrees then full out or zero flaps. That was fun!!

On landings, the weight transfer is opposite. We want to transfer weight from the wings to the main landing gear gently and slowly as possible while keeping nose wheel off ground during most of the landing roll. This will help prevent nose wheel from sinking into the ground and sudden abrupt stopping. Tom had me fly the normal landing configuration with full flaps.  During the flare I had to hold to plane just above the ground for as long as possible with some power until the main wheels touch down and with nose high, holding nose wheel off ground for as long as possible. This also requires minimal braking as best as possible again, to help avoid issues related to soft surfaces.


Jeppesen (2014) Guided Flight Private Pilot maneuvers, Englewood, CO.



SOLO #2 landing on all 3′s

7/2/15:  Day was clear, warm and hot. Tom and I took off for closed traffic.  Tom was ensuring I was good to go for another day of solo. After a few touch and goes, I was on my own.

Feeling very comfortable, I proceeded with the normally radio communications with KCDW ground then tower. First take off from runway 22 @ November. Staying  in pattern and on down wind I radio the tower requesting permission for full stop. Tower cleared me to land.

From base to final and on to runway, nice smooth landing. On the following two landings I was landing flat. I had forgotten that I was minus one person in aircraft therefore I should take my time and land further past the numbers  because of less weight in aircraft.

Weight and balance of any aircraft is very critical to know and understand. It can and will affect your aircraft performance which you must understand and prepare for.  My problem was I didn’t take advantage of the lighter weight in aircraft to preform a very smooth landing just by flaring a little longer.  I rushed it down. It was unintentional but had I taken my time, it would have been a lot nicer of a landing.

Remember!! The planes performance will change when your total aircraft weight is either increased or reduced. There are other factors involved with weight such as fuel, baggage etc. but, in my case my performance changed because my instructor was no longer  in the airplane with me.  Lessons learned.

Overall, it was good and I had a lot of fun! Looking forward to my next solo to the training area and back. Its almost time to cut the umbilical cord! ;)

Thanks Tom

SOLO DAY!! Remember your training! Have Fun!

6/30/15: The day was perfect! Winds calmer then me! Clear day! Tom checked required documentation and my frame of mind. I was calm in the outside but very excited in the inside ( felt like a little boy going to a joy ride!) Preformed my detailed preflight and off we went!

Tom and I flew a few touch and goes together. Obviously to ensure I was up to the task of  soloing.  Satisfied to his expectation, I was instructed to  land for a full stop. Once off runway 22, I contacted ground and requested taxi via Papa, Tango (Led us to another aircraft parking area which has a full view of the runway).  ”Be Safe, have fun and watch for my hand singles” Tom said. I allowed Tom to clear the aircraft ( It was like having your dad/mom release their hands off your bicycle without training wheels for the first time). I contacted KCDW ground and requested taxi to runway for closed traffic.  ”Hold short of runway 22@ November via Tango, Papa” said KCDW ATC. I repeated instructions to the mentioned runway. Holding short of 22 @ November, I  switched radio Freq.  to KCDW tower and requested take off clearance. Tower responded with weather information and I was cleared for take off!

It felt instinctive. Lights, Camera, Action ( ensured lights were on, Transponder on,  Mixture full rich, primer in and locked position, Power as required and gauges within required limits). Carefully looked in both directions of runway and  OFF I WENT!! It was a great feeling! I was not nervous and felt very safe. It was a little hot in the cockpit due to the days temperature but, who cares! I was flying alone!   I did three full stops and taxi to hold short area for each one. As I passed Tom during each taxi and watched for hand signals. THUMBS UP!! (meant to continue).

The training paid off, pattern work was great! I was very pleased with the results and so was my CFI  Thomas Fischer! I will be smiling all day today! Looking forward to my next flight!

Thanks Tom!

Pre- Solo flight with Professor Tomoharu

6/26/15: Flew for a second pre-solo check with Tomoharu.  The day was nice some clouds but not too bad. We maintained below clouds.

Tomoharu reviewed  required maneuvers with me.  I used my rudders more (helped maintain heading with cross winds  and center aircraft nose to the center of runway during landings) as mentioned in the  previous flight  It made a big difference. A lot easier to fly and maneuver. All went great.

Returned to KCDW and landed on runway 4.  Another nice landing!  All in all, I got the green light for my solo.

Looking forward to safely performing my solo next week.

Finally found my way home, using my Nav tools!!

6/24/15: Another great flying day!! Once again, we ventured out to the training area.  Preformed pre-solo training (clearing turns, Power On/Off Stalls, 45 degree turns etc)

After a good training session, “Take us home” Tom said. This time, I used the  VOR to triangulate my position  on my chart (ensured each VORTAC was identifiable), once I got the general idea as to were I was.  Using a pencil I was able to align my position with the VOR compass circle. 165 degree will take me home.. All the while my fearless instructor was quiet as to say, DONT ASK ME! GET US THERE!

I began to recognize  the area!  At approx. 8miles out I called KCDW tower advising  I was in bound and approaching Lincoln Park Airport. They advised me to Ident and call in once I reached the Lincoln Park water tower. I followed instructions (Left pattern for runway 4). Entered downwind at a 45 degree and called in my position. “8350R, you are cleared to land on runway 4″  said the KCDW ATC. I repeated the information ending with my call sign. Another safe landing!!

It was a good day, practice, practice, practice paid off!! I feel I am ready for my solo….

Made a Mistake, Note it, Move on, keep flying, Pilot In Charge with old tools

6/22/15: Beautiful day for flying, sky clear, no sign of rain and winds calm on take off.

I wanted Tom to review my 45 degree steep turns, and stall maneuvers after my pre-solo check ride. (power off, Power on). We reached the training area at 3500ft. We began with steep turns. The turn were not bad but could use some touch up. Tom reviewed turn handling and pulling back on yoke just enough to avoid altitude drop and coming out of the turn just before my reference point. After a several goes at it, I was very comfortable.  The same with the stalls and the sequence leading to stalls.

I realized that it wasn’t as hard I thought it was. Practice, Practice, Practice demonstrated that it was not.  A student should not solo until he/she has stall maneuvers down packed. If you ask me now, am I ready for my first solo around the pattern? I would say YES but my flight instructor has the GO/NO GO on this. We can understand  why.

Returning to base (KCDW airport) once again for some reason was challenge.  I doubted myself, I mentioned using VOR Nav while in flight but I did not use it once I discovered where I was in relation to my chart. I was upset at myself for not being more proficient navigation and held on to that feeling/thought and boy did it show!During my first attempt to land! I was too high coming in on final. I mentioned going around but waited till last minute to do it ( guess I was waiting on my instructors approval but really I was PIC). We went around and landed with a right cross wind ( I know I can DO Better!)

What did I learn: 1. Stop second guessing! know where you are and use the tools you have in place (VOR Nav radio, ATC etc). 2. Don’t mentally hold on to minor mistakes during your flight (note them and review later).  3. If your thinking of going around because you don’t feel comfortable, DO IT! (No shame in being safe) 4. Full power if you have to go around, don’t touch or adjust anything until your safe and in correct configuration. 5. If you are Pilot In Command (PIC),  take charge and make a safe decision. Don’t wait for anyone to make them for you!

Note: During the return to base, some may think, Why not  use your GPS?! It’s easy and  will get you home! Well,  the lesson here is, train with the basics first (Chart, ground reference,  VOR, Compass reading) the old and reliable way first! The old tools do not run out of battery life or shut off on unexpectedly. Using the basic tools is really “learning to be a good pilot from the ground up!” (Fischer Aviation)


SOLO Pre-Check Ride With another instructor

6/19/15:  I was paired up with  evaluation instructor Tomoharu. Tomoharu went over aircraft  weight and balance and how it can affect aircraft performance. He did a great job with training instructions.

We took a walk to N8350R and I began my preflight as he carefully observed. I ran through the normal steps and before you know my single engine aircraft  was on (CLEAR PROP!!)

I contacted Caldwel ground for taxi clearance to active runway with information Oscar. They had me taxi to runway 28 via A, N. I performed RUN UP procedures then moved up to hold short line. Tower advise of take off clearance via runway 28. I acknowledged by repeating their last transmission and ended it with 8350R…And “OFF we go into the wild blue yonder,Climbing high into the sun…” (quote from the Official US Air Force Song)

At the training area we performed power on/off stalls, 45 degree turns, clearance turns and return navigation.  Yes, I was nervous having a different instructor and knowing I was being evaluated didn’t help. I screwed up on a few things or areas I need to improve  upon.  In the end, I landed us safely!! WooHoo! Tomoharu mentioned my landing was good ( I was very pleased to hear that).

What did I learn: I need to work a bit more on controlling my rudder rather then my aileron during take off and stalls, I was a bit “enthusiastic” with rudders (Tomoharu’s words) : ),  over shot my heading as I got out of 45 degree turns. I know I have done better in the past  with Tom Fischer but I think most of the errors were from being nervous with having someone evaluating me.  All in all, It was good training and mental preparedness for the day I have to perform my FAA check ride.  Good Job Tomoharu!

Lost?! Use VOR!!

6/10/15: We flew today heading North. Tom had me perform maneuvers and prepare me for instructor check out prior to my first Solo.

After completing maneuvers  Tom instructed me to head home… I looked outside trying to match what I see with what I have on my map.  I decided to move towards a large lake several miles in front of us . As I approached the lake, I still could not figure out where I was!  I was calm but disappointed in myself. I could not locate my position, mean while I was thinking of VOR and Nav radio but yet did not use them. Finally Tom pointed out where we were on the map and needless to say I felt Stupid.

I have decided that next time Tom asks me where are we, I will use the NAV tools we have in our aircraft, after all that’s what they are for!  I do have a IPAD with GPS but Tom does not approve of using it until I am proficient with VOR radio and map referencing (Makes Sense to me)

What did I learn:  Use the darn tools you have available to you! You can always radio for direction or gain altitude for a better view of the ground which makes it easier to compare with your chart map.