Successful 3rd solo

7/11/15: I kept and eye on the weather and it turned out to be a nice day for another attempt at my third solo.

KCDW was very busy this morning, planes were taking off and landing this morning. I could understand why, the morning was gorgeous! Everyone wanted to go flying! On my way to the airplane to start my preflight,  I notice a family of 3 just getting back from flying. They all had smiles on their faces, clearly indicating they had a great time.

After my preflight check and KCDW ground clearance to taxi to runway 28, we (Tom and I) held short for take off a little longer than usual due to the heavy traffic (planes in pattern, on final approach, taking off from other runways etc. ). Finally, ” Cherokee 8350R you are cleared for take off on runway 28!! ROGER THAT!!

We took off and headed North. Tom was quiet so I knew I was doing a good job flying. He instructed me to perform 45 degree banking turns. Without hesitation I first performed a clearing turn ( turned the plane 90 degrees to my right and back to my left. Checking for other aircraft in the area as good safety measure). “Take us home” Tom said.

Returned to KCDW and landed nicely. I retracted  flaps to 10 degrees and gave full power, ” Don’t you want to fly your solo?” Tom asked. I said, Yes! ” So why are you giving full power? Get off the runway and contact ground so you can drop me off and proceed to the flying area by yourself”.  It was music to my ears! After dropping off Tom at the Bravo parking area, I checked ATIS then contacted ground. I requested take taxi to take off for north departure with information Charlie (latest weather report).

Although KCDW was busy, It was a great and relaxing flight. Once I reached my destination area and cleared Bravo airspace, I practice a few maneuvers after my clearing turn of course. It was awesome! I could see myself flying out and about often and as soon as I complete my private pilot FAA check ride. I did not want to come back to base (KCDW) but, I know Tom would kill me if I stayed out longer then I should So, back I went.

I returned to the airport safely, my landing was very nice and smooth, I must say… Turned off runway 4 and contacted ground control.  ” Taxi via Papa, November, Alpha to the Fischer parking area” per KCDW ground control. I repeated instructions and proceeded back to parking are. SUCKS!! I wanted to take off again and enjoy more flying!! I live to fly another day.. Nothing mattered more to me today except the fact that I flew alone and enjoyed every minute of  it!

Thanks Tom!



3rd Solo attempt today

7/10/15: Today we were hoping for a third solo flight out to the training area but due to cross winds and ugly landings it was best to hold off on soloing.

We flew to the training area and I performed maneuvers to ensure I was capable of handling solo flight alone. The maneuvers went fine and making my way back to the airport was no problem but, during my landing I encountered cross winds from left to right and boy did I screw those up!

I was pist (at myself) over my first ugly landing attempt and it showed on the following two attempts to land smoothly with cross winds! Those were ugly too. Tom explained, mentally holding on to mistakes does one no good, let them go and start with a fresh metal attitude. That can be a tough thing to do knowing how I am, and the pressure of wanting be a good pilot. Bottom line, practice, practice, practice, is what makes a good pilot. know your weaknesses and work on improving them.

I will do better on my next flight for sure! I will try for my 3rd solo tomorrow, today is not my day to do it. I am ok with that, its all about safety.

Soft-field Take offs and Landings

7/6/15: The weather was not conducive to safe solo flying. Visibility was not good (Heavy Haze) So we decided to  practiced Soft-Field landing and Take Off.  KCDW airport was very busy this morning and was not permitting pattern work at this time so we flew to KMMU (aka Morristown Airport).  A hope, skip and a jump to get there.  This was my first time flying to KMMU and was actually a pretty simple airport to practice on.

The technique requires your understanding of A/C performance and characteristics such as knowing Vx ( 66kts/76mph) and Vy (75kts/86mph ).  The trick is to” transfer weight from the landing gear  to the wings  as quickly and smoothly as possible to eliminate drag caused by surfaces such as tall grass, soft dirt or snow”.  In the event you want to land and takeoff at an airport with soft surface terrain such as grass, a pilot  should know how to maneuver in such conditions. (2014)

Tom had me simulate taxi on a soft surface using full back pressure on the yoke to maintain full-up elevator( in my case stabilator) with enough power to keep plane moving ( helps transfer nose wheel weight to the main landing wheels). It also helps protect the propeller from hitting the ground due to uneven terrain.

I set flaps to 25 degrees and as soon as we were cleared for take off i proceeded onto ramp with out stopping and holding yoke full back to raise nose-wheel. decreasing back pressure as plane speed increases. As the plane lifts off ground I reduced  back pressure and let the airplane lift but keeping it in ground effect ( Plane is flying level several feet from the surface) till I reach Vx and start to pitch my plane for climb and gradually reduce flaps to 10 degrees then full out or zero flaps. That was fun!!

On landings, the weight transfer is opposite. We want to transfer weight from the wings to the main landing gear gently and slowly as possible while keeping nose wheel off ground during most of the landing roll. This will help prevent nose wheel from sinking into the ground and sudden abrupt stopping. Tom had me fly the normal landing configuration with full flaps.  During the flare I had to hold to plane just above the ground for as long as possible with some power until the main wheels touch down and with nose high, holding nose wheel off ground for as long as possible. This also requires minimal braking as best as possible again, to help avoid issues related to soft surfaces.


Jeppesen (2014) Guided Flight Private Pilot maneuvers, Englewood, CO.



SOLO #2 landing on all 3′s

7/2/15:  Day was clear, warm and hot. Tom and I took off for closed traffic.  Tom was ensuring I was good to go for another day of solo. After a few touch and goes, I was on my own.

Feeling very comfortable, I proceeded with the normally radio communications with KCDW ground then tower. First take off from runway 22 @ November. Staying  in pattern and on down wind I radio the tower requesting permission for full stop. Tower cleared me to land.

From base to final and on to runway, nice smooth landing. On the following two landings I was landing flat. I had forgotten that I was minus one person in aircraft therefore I should take my time and land further past the numbers  because of less weight in aircraft.

Weight and balance of any aircraft is very critical to know and understand. It can and will affect your aircraft performance which you must understand and prepare for.  My problem was I didn’t take advantage of the lighter weight in aircraft to preform a very smooth landing just by flaring a little longer.  I rushed it down. It was unintentional but had I taken my time, it would have been a lot nicer of a landing.

Remember!! The planes performance will change when your total aircraft weight is either increased or reduced. There are other factors involved with weight such as fuel, baggage etc. but, in my case my performance changed because my instructor was no longer  in the airplane with me.  Lessons learned.

Overall, it was good and I had a lot of fun! Looking forward to my next solo to the training area and back. Its almost time to cut the umbilical cord! ;)

Thanks Tom