Flight Lesson 10: Let’s get the rust off

Today was my first flight lesson in 20 days.  Bad luck with the weather, TFRs due to presidential visits, and family obligations have kept me on the ground.  Today turned out to be a good day to fly with scattered clouds way above the training altitude and calm winds.

Preflight, ATC communication, run-up, and takeoff went pretty smoothly.  My time away from the controls had little impact on those aspects of flight.  Tom directed me to fly north.  After departing runway 28, my first mistake was attempting to fly over Square Lake while climbing over the pattern altitude which is a no-no according to Tom due to the possibility of other aircraft flying in the vicinity when in the pattern for 4/22.

I continued my climb but went slightly pass 2500 feet.  Tom had to remind me to level off in order to keep below Class B airspace.  It was a mistake I wasn’t too happy to make but I’ll attribute it to “rust”.  When we were outside of the Class B overhang, we climbed to 3500 feet.

Over the training areas, we went over maneuvers from the past such as slow flight, power off stalls, power on stalls, and steep turns.  I performed all maneuvers better than I had performed them in the past, but there are still areas for improvement:

Slow Flight

    • Remember to use power to control altitude (Region of reverse command, just like when landing)
    • Difficult time keeping a steady heading when flying slow.  Not sure why this happened

Power Off Stalls

    • I need to keep the plane coordinated with rudder and wings level when pitching for the stall.  First stall attempt it felt like I was about to enter a turning stall or even worse, a spin

Power On Stalls

    • When pitching for the stall, I need to get the bottom of the “U” on the artificial horizon on to the horizon line
    • After breaking the stall, need to gain airspeed before re-establishing positive climb to prevent secondary stall.  However, climb must be re-established as soon as practicable

Steep Turns

    • Need to establish bank before adding back pressure
    • If drop in altitude is detected, shallow the bank, adjust pitch, then re-establish full bank

It was time to head back to KCDW.  We descended back down to 2500 feet and Tom tasked me with finding our way back home.  I trimmed the plane (which I’m getting better and better at) and took out the NY TAC chart to find my bearings.  I followed Route 80 all the way back home.  When I spotted the Boonton Reservoir, I made sure to head north of the small island in the middle in order to avoid Morristown Class D airspace.  After listening to ATIS, I called KCDW tower to report position over the reservoir.  We were instructed to next report Square Lake and enter the downwind for runway 22.  We had time left so we then did some touch and go’s.

My pattern flying was sloppy.  I flew too close to the field during the downwind which made my base leg very short and I ended up turning to final too late.  I found myself too high and off the center line.  The landings were salvageable by cutting power to idle earlier in the final approach.  I did a decent enough job with the flare and touchdown interestingly enough.

When we were coming in for a full stop, Tom initiated a simulated engine failure at the base.  I didn’t handle this too well and other than trying to establish best glide speed, got little else of the procedure right.  Yet another thing I need to work on, especially after learning about this:  http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2014/05/small_plane_lands_on_west_caldwell_golf_fairway.html#incart_river

A fear of mine is that I’m becoming dependent on the PAPI on 22 as an aid to determine my proper glide slope.  I don’t want to get in a situation in which I’m dependent on one in order to land.

After landing and securing the aircraft, Tom and I debriefed.  He said I need to slow things down and do things in a deliberate manner.  I do believe that as I log more time and become more comfortable, I’ll feel less of a need to rush things.  Another error of mine is that we drifted towards the northwest while traveling to the training grounds instead of heading north.  I need to be more mindful of my direction of flight.

Logbook Entry N5253R (C172)

Flight Details