Under the Hood

That was a lot of hood-work  today.. and it was pretty tough. A couple of minutes after takeoff, I put on a visor that blocked my view of the outside (it was hazy outside anyway Рnot much to look at). I tracked to the Sparta VOR and then away from it.

Tom had me do a Vx climb and a steep descent while trying to stay on the radial. We did turns, unusual attitudes, power-off stalls, and power-on stalls all under the hood. It got fatiguing and I found myself deviating more and more in altitude, track, heading…

We gave New York Approach a call and asked for a vector back to Caldwell. They had us squawk 0305 on the transponder and told us where to go. We also managed to get cleared into the Class Bravo airspace. Finally, when we were at 2000 feet with Caldwell about 5 miles in front of us, I took off the visor.

…and then we practiced some short field landings and soft field takeoffs. Most tiring flight to-date.

Plane: N272LP (C172)
From: CDW
To: CDW
Duration: 1.2

Second Solo

The weather finally cooperated enough to do a second solo. This one, however, was not as eventful as the first. It was kind of.. normal, with the attitude of: “OK, I gotta go do three landings to check it off the list.” Don’t get me wrong, it was still fun!

First, I did three landings with my instructor. They went smoothly. Since it was calm air, the airspeeds were pegged at 80, 70, and 65 for the various flap settings. The third landing was a simulated emergency landing, with a little forward slip needed to get us down.

The solo landings were pretty good too. The first was a little bumpy, but hey since I’m alone, I’m only smacking around myself¬†on those! The next ones were smoother.

Pretty standard.

Plane: N272LP (C172)
From: CDW
To: CDW
Duration: 1.2

VOR Orientation

I haven’t had enough luck with the weather to get my second solo done yet. But, we have started radio navigation using VORs.

We tracked a radial to the Sparta VOR. Tune it in, identify the station (with morse code! – who uses that anymore), turn the OBS dial until it centers with a “From” indication, and fly the opposite heading to the station.

We were also able to tune in Huguenot VOR (who made that name up) and get a triangulated position. Once we knew where we were, we drew a line to Warwick airport, flew that heading and estimated getting there in 11.5 minutes.

We also used both VORs to create our own intersection at Warwick. We found the radials from each of them that intersect at Warwick and set the OBS dials. When they started coming in line, we knew we were close. And voila, there was Warwick. Who needs GPS? Psh. (I played with the GPS on the ride back – it’s cool.. I guess).

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW
To: CDW
Duration: 1.6

Hovering

We practiced hovering today.. what? You didn’t think you could hover in a Cessna 172? You can if the winds are strong enough. While practicing some maneuvers, I notice our ground speed on the GPS was about 52 knots while our airspeed was around 95 – 100 knots. Tom took the controls to do some slow flight. We tried to go backwards, but I don’t think we achieved that. But, the power lines out my window weren’t moving.

In the spirit of hovering, I have these helicopter pictures. The BatCopter happened to be in the hangar today, and getting back from our flight, we saw a Chinook landing.

Besides hovering, we did some slow flight (with distractions – Tom made me get the temperature, check frequencies, and altimeter settings).

No soloing because it was a bit windy. But we did get to practice some ground reference maneuvers. We also took N677DM instead of good old 2LP. They’re twins, but it was my first time flying a different plane.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW
To: CDW
Duration: 1.3

Short and Soft Field Takeoffs and Landings

The ceiling at Caldwell was about 1900 feet today. I’m not allowed to solo unless it’s above 3000 feet. So we went on to the next unit and practiced some short and soft field takeoffs and landings.

A short field takeoff requires holding the brakes while powering up. Since we were doing touch and goes, we didn’t actually do the short field takeoff. We started with soft field takeoffs followed by short field landings (mixing it up a bit). Then we started doing soft field landings.

Soft Field Takeoffs

We kept the plane moving as we took the runway. The flaps were at 10 degrees and the elevator was fully back. As we took off, we leveled the plane to stay just above the runway (in ground effect) to pick up speed. Then, we climbed out normally.

Short Field Landings

The approach is a little different than normal. Instead of 65 knots, we used 60 knots. We aimed for the runway threshold and planned to stretch the glide to the numbers. The approach is a little bit steeper. I managed to drop it right on the numbers once.

Soft Field Landings

The approach for soft field landings is the same as the short field. This time, though, we planned to stretch the flare as much as possible and hold the nose wheel off the runway as long as possible. That prevents the nose wheel from digging into the grass (not that we had a real grass field).

And that’s all there is to it. I still have to work on landings, though. They can be smoother.

Plane: N272LP (C172)
From: CDW
To: CDW
Duration: 1.5

First Solo!

I just had my first solo! That was awesome. And it all comes packaged with some memorable events.

I think I was scaring Tom a bit before the solo when the landings weren’t all too smooth. They were consistently high and fast, but we got the kinks out of that.

He asked me if I wanted to go off alone, and of course I said yes. So, I dropped him off on a taxiway, gave him my camera, and I was off.

I was still on the tower frequency and asked for taxi to the runway. Oops. Then, when holding short I forgot to switch back to tower. Oops again. Alright, but those weren’t any major mishaps.

First Takeoff and Landing

My first takeoff off of Runway 4 was good. I started turning crosswind 300 ft below pattern altitude. When I look out to the left, I realized, “Wow, I’m still really close to the airport”. No kidding about the ‘plane being much lighter’ thing. On landing, I had a similar issue. The plane kept floating and floating and the runway kept getting shorter and shorter, so I decided to go around. My first real landing worked out better. I was a bit rough, but manageable.

Second Takeoff and Landing

The second takeoff was a bit wobbly. Over-compensation in the rudder seemed to make it go left and right a few times. That was fixed. I let it reach pattern altitude before turning crosswind. Much better.

The approach was a pretty steady, but the landing was a bit rough again. My landing also delayed another plane coming in on a straight final. Oh well.

Third Takeoff and Landing

Third time’s a charm. And it was. The takeoff was good and the landing was smooth. I played ‘keep the nose wheel off the runway’ and it seemed to work.

And that’s it! Some pictures afterwards, a certificate, and the satisfaction of flying a plane on my own.

By the way.. it was a gorgeous day. Little wind, not very hot, awesome.

Plane: N272LP (C172)
From: CDW
To: CDW
Duration: 1.8

Solo? mm.. nope

It was too windy today for a solo, so we practiced some crosswind takeoffs and landings. The wind was coming at 7 knots gusting to 17.

The first couple were a little bouncy and misaligned, but they got much smoother. Tom told me to keep the nose wheel off the runway for the entire touch and go. That resulted in using a lot more elevator back pressure than I normally use, which turns out is the right amount of back pressure to use.

Hopefully the weather cooperates on Monday.. if it does, I’ll be soloing at 8am!

Plane: N272LP (C172)
From: CDW
To: CDW
Duration: 1.1

Pre-Solo Checkride

I passed… woo!

I went out today with a different instructor, Kyle, to do a checkride. Basically, he tested me on the various maneuvers to see if I’m competent enough to fly on my own.

We went out to the North and did some slow flight, steep turns, power on and off stalls, and emergency procedures. We came back for 3 landings.

A couple of items to work on from this:

Steep Turns – I didn’t use enough power in the turn and as a result my altitude dropped more than 100 ft and my airspeed was low. I need to use more power.

Emergency Procedures – I picked a not-so-good field to land and delayed in making the decision. I also delayed on communicating the distress and forgot to squawk 7700. I need to run through these in my head many times so it’s second nature.

Landings – They weren’t horrendous, but I should start the transition earlier and be smoother in pulling back in the flare. That’ll make them a little smoother.

Thanks to Kyle for coming along for the ride.

Plane: N272LP (C172)
From: CDW
To: CDW
Duration: 1.3