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).