Flight Lesson 21: Practice Practice Practice

The objective of today’s flight is get in some practice in preparation for my pre-solo checkride.  This flight was unique in that it is the latest during the day I’ve attempted to fly (2230Z).  I’ve actually managed to never use any sunglasses up to this point.  In anticipation of the sun being close to the horizon, I made sure I had a pair of sunglasses handy just in case.  My beloved N5253R wasn’t available due to it’s 100 hour check so we flew in N811JD instead.

After taxiing to runway 28 per ATC instructions, I put the plane through the run up procedure.  During the mag check, the needle on the tachometer was bouncing more than normal which indicated the engine was operating rough.  Before I could say something, Tom put the throttle to maximum and leaned out the mixture.  I suspected he did this because the spark plugs were fouled and he confirmed my reasoning.  We waited for a minute at full throttle and rechecked the mag drop and differentials which were now good and operating as expected.

We departed runway 28 as we typically do for flights to the training grounds to the north.  Runways 22 and 28 were in use at the moment of departure from CDW.  Typically, this means that at Morristown (MMU), runway 23 ILS approach is in use.  This was confirmed by the CDW ATIS.  My first mistake of the day was trying to climb past through 2000 ft into the MMU ILS flight path.  I should keep the aircraft at or below 1500 feet until I fly west of Lincoln Park Airport (N07) which is a good indicator that we’re clear of the flight path and ready to climb.  I should also try to steer clear of Square Lake and start my turn before I reach it.

At the training grounds, we quickly went through the maneuvers (slow flight, power on stalls, power off stalls, and steep turns).  They were performed to Tom’s satisfaction.  The only big hiccup had to do with the throttle friction.  During run up, I noticed that the throttle felt really stiff so adjusted the throttle friction to make the throttle action require less force.   Turns out it was on the stiff side for a reason.  During a maneuver, the throttle backed itself out, which led to a lower than anticipated power setting.  This is something I’ll have to be more cognizant of in the future.

Soon it was time to head back to CDW.  Near the southwest end of Greenwood Lake, Tom pulled the power out to idle and said, “The engine went out”.  I immediately trimmed for best glide speed and head straight for Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1).  Taking the wind into account, I anticipated landing at runway 6.  We overflew the airport at a 90 degree angle and entered the left downwind for runway 6.  We turned to base and then to final.  We were coming in a little too low so we had to add some power but we came to full stop landing just fine.  Throughout the process, Tom was announcing our position and intentions over the CTAF while I concentrated on flying.  I hope that I’ll eventually become more comfortable and be able to do both tasks simultaneously.

We then departed 4N1 and headed back to CDW for some touch and go’s.  Near the field, there was a Piper Archer flying off to the right of us also inbound for CDW.  ATC informed us that we were to follow the Archer for runway 22.  The Archer was below us and difficult to see so I was fixated by trying to keep it in sight instead of flying the airplane.  This led me to being behind the curve and flying into right base for runway 22 without doing a pre-landing check.  Also, when Tom asked me to slow down in order to increase the separation between us and the Archer, I started configuring the plane for slow flight which wasn’t necessary.   All I had to do was pull the power.

We did a touch and go and then a full stop landing.  On the touch and go, I made the turn to base too soon which led us to be high on final approach.  When we were on the ground and securing the plane, I forgot to take the keys from the ignition and put them on the dash board which I usually always do.  Sloppy and unsafe.

Logbook Entry N811JD (C172)

Flight Details

CDW to 4N1 to CDW