Yesterday on our way to Fischer we got stuck in a huge traffic jam that held us hostage in the city for about an hour so once we finally arrived we were 40 minutes late. Because of this and the fact that someone had scheduled Bob after us at the last minute the lesson was only about half an hour long. There was a crosswind so we took that time to practice a little pattern work and crosswind landings but we only got 2 landings in before we had to go in for the day. We did get a chance to go over the pre-solo test I took a bit which is the last measure that needs to be taken before I solo so hopefully we can finish going over that soon and I’ll be officially ready to solo (at least legally, anyways). I do feel I’m ready though and I can’t wait for the day when it finally happens.
For today’s flight we worked more on emergency procedures and go arounds (important skills for when I start soloing). We also went up to Sussex which I haven’t been to in a while which was fun. We started off flying to the north and did a simulated engine failure near a retired grass strip that’s now a soccer field. We then headed towards greenwood lake but then diverted to Sussex using Sparta (A VOR) where we did another simulated engine failure. On that one I had to make a pretty close approach but I got it down safely and with plenty of runway to spare. On the runway we saw a grand caravan with skydivers taking off which was pretty cool to see. After the landing at Sussex we went back to Greenwood lake (using just visual navigation) and made an approach to land but the approach didn’t look good to me so I went around and we went back to Caldwell. At Caldwell we did some work in the traffic pattern and then called it a day.
The last time we went to Blairstown we had to turn back to Caldwell before we made it there because of worsening weather but for this lesson the weather couldn’t be better. Weather stations reported low winds, high visibility, and few clouds – the only adverse weather condition was a thunderstorm that was supposed to hit the next day (which was far enough away not to affect our flight) so we had no doubts about getting to Blairstown this time. We took off as usual and started following I-80 west towards Blairstown (practicing visual navigation). Once we were clear of the NY Class B airspace we climbed up to 3500 but Bob told me to keep climbing and we finally leveled out at 6500 above the clouds. We kept following I-80 until the VOR that I had set on a radial over Blairstown centered, indicating that we were over the airport. I circled until I caught sight of the field and then entered the pattern to land. On my first
On my first approach I was too high and I decided to go-around once I determined that I couldn’t make the landing safely. On my second go I landed it and turned off at the middle of the field. We flew one more pattern and my last landing was pretty good also; I almost pulled off on the second taxiway but I was just a little too fast so I pulled off at midfield again. We then flew back to Caldwell using I-80 again (this time under the clouds) and landed. After we packed up the plane Bob asked if I wanted to visit the tower – I said yes and the tower OKed the visit so we went up to the tower with my dad to see the controllers. It was awesome.
We started off this lesson reviewing my checkride and talking about what I needed to work on. The only major issues that Tom found were my LCGUMPS checklist use and my go-arounds. We talked about LCGUMPS (The recommended checklist to use before going into any maneuvers or landing – lights, carb heat, gas, undercarriage, mixture, primer, seatbelts) and then departed Caldwell northbound to Warwick airport. At Warwick we did one simulated engine failure – this one I finally got into ground effect above the numbers and could have touched down in an emergency but because it was such a short field we went around for safety. We stayed in the pattern and I finally landed on the third attempt (my first ever landing at Warwick). We flew back to Caldwell and with the help of the localizer I flew a 5 mile straight in approach. I floated a little in ground effect because I was a touch fast and I only used 30 degrees of flaps but I was able to pull off on taxiway Bravo anyway.
This is a bit of a catch up post because I haven’t blogged in a while. It kind of works out, though, because all the lessons covered in this post were essentially focused on getting me to solo.Lesson 35:
Lesson 37 – My Checkride:
It had finally come – the last step before I could solo. To test my skills Tom first told me to go somewhere where we could do maneuvers safely so I chose Greenwood lake (that’s where I usually do flight maneuvers and it’s straddled by two airports so if anything went wrong we could land safely). We did the usual maneuvers; slow flight, stalls, and steep turns. After the maneuvers Tom gave me a simulated engine failure near Warwick so I entered the pattern and I almost made the landing but I was a little high (again). We had a bit of a miscommunication on the go around, though; I thought Tom would tell me when he was ending the simulation and he thought I would call the go around so he waited as long as possible to let me call it but eventually told me to go around. We returned to Caldwell and my landings there were pretty good so once we landed Tom told me to just practice go-arounds and I would be ready to solo.
On this lesson we planned to go to Blairstown. We got in the air quickly because there were supposed to be thunderstorms later in the day and we wanted to steer clear of that. The radar looked clear for the time being, though, so we decided to make the flight. I decided to follow route 80 which goes directly to Blairstown but about halfway there we caught sight of a dark and dense area near our route that didn’t look too safe so we turned around. We probably could have made it to Blairstown but we would have had to wait for the weather to pass on our way back if we wanted to return to Caldwell. We decided to scout out the weather on our way back and it turned out it was rain (and very low visibility) so our decision to turn back was probably a good one. We also lost our GPS signal on the way back which was a good reminder that you can’t rely on any instrument too much, no matter how convenient it is. We used visual queues to make our way back and landed safely.
This lesson was a review of flight maneuvers which I needed to know for my solo checkride. We flew to Greenwood lake and practiced slow flight, stalls, and steep turns. After finishing these we flew over to Warwick and Bob gave me a simulated engine failure. I followed all the procedures but didn’t judge my turn to final quite well enough so we had to go around. Bob gave me another engine fail near Greenwood lake and on that one (with the help of 40 degrees of flaps and S-turns) I was able to land safely (my first successful emergency landing initiate outside of a traffic pattern).
This lesson we practiced cross country planning, dead reckoning, pilotage, and diversion. We flew to Orange County first (using VORs), landed there, then took off on our way to Sullivan. Mid-way to Sullivan Bob told me to divert to a different airport so we went to Resnick (formerly Ellenville) airport. Resnick is a small airport so we practiced short fields there (important for my third solo flight which will be to Greenwood lake). It’s a pretty cool airport because it’s in a valley and it’s right next to a prison which we flew over on final approach. We used a mix of pilotage and dead reckoning to make our way back to Caldwell.
On this lesson we practiced landings, wake turbulence avoidance, and general big airport procedures. Departing Caldwell we were held up a bit by a military helicopter that landed on runway 28. It stayed on the ground for a while and then it asked for takeoff clearance on one runway, started taking off, then changed its mind and asked for clearance on a second runway and then started taking off on a third runway. When it finally left the entire tower was laughing in the background on their radio calls. Once we got airborne we went to Morristown airport (MMU) and stayed in the pattern there, practicing landings among jets and other aircraft. I worked on getting rid of my flat landings and improving my traffic pattern procedures (both very important for my first solo).