Best Landing of My Training So Far

After dealing with yesterday’s cross wind landing at Caldwell, with calmer wind condition today we were able to fly to Morristown to land with some different perspectives.

Highlights:

  • Two good landings at Morristown airport;
  • Heavy radio communication during training, and I spoke too fast even myself couldn’t understand everything when I listen to my own archive;
  • Some nose push during last phase of landing after leveled off, which should be prevented in the future.

 

As usual we pre-flew the airplane and Bob pointed to me a flat area on 5253R resulted from last night’s landing, which is the reason we roll the airplane to check the tires.

After normal taxi and run-up, off RWY 22 we go. I got a little slow in the first landing at Caldwell, and the transition was slightly unstable. The second run was slightly off to the left of center line, and then I knew that I need to be on top of my game. Granted there were some traffic in the circuit but it shouldn’t be my excuse. On downwind of our third landing attempt, we picked up the weather from Morristown and are expecting RWY 23. Bob announced to Caldwell tower that we will be departing to Morristown after this landing. This landing was a good one, which laid a good confidence going into Morristown.

After taking off from RWY 22, we kept climbing to 1500 ft. and during the climbing Bob asked me to set the frequency to 118.1. As soon as we were cleared for frequency change I announced to Morristown tower that: “Cessna 811JD just left Caldwell airport in bound with Bravo for some touch and goes.” Morristown tower had me repeated once and directed me to fly straight in for RWY 23. In fact, we were 45 degrees to the runway and I could have flown a wider into the airport so that I would have already lined up to 23. But because the angle was small, I had to turn back to the right a little to fly a base-ish pattern.

As we descended to pattern altitude and getting closer to the airport we saw two jets which one of them was a Falcon (the other one I did not remember) lined up in the run-up area. I pulled power back a little bit because I thought we were a little high, but Bob told me that because the runway here are bigger so it will appear high than we actually were. As we put in slightly more power and 10 degrees of flaps we started our descend. With a stable approach, airspeed and altitude was right at where they should be. Not only that, the aileron and rudder pressure were also at the right spot to correct for the wind, and I was on center line the whole time. During transition, I rounded out at the right altitude, not too far nor too low, and touched down you almost could not feel it. “This was probably your best landing so far!” Bob gave me very high appraisal for that one. But we didn’t have time to celebrate as we accelerated down the runway for a second landing, and one of the jets departed right after us.

The second one was a little complicated. On upwind tower lined up the Falcon and asked us to report when we have it in sight. As we turned cross wind and downwind the Falcon accelerated to T/O. We reported back traffic in sight and then control cleared us for the option. Bob was handling all the radio talk at this time because of complexity of everything there, so I missed this clearance and asked again. I only found out about this when I listened to our liveATC archive. We were watching the Falcon to note where it lifted off as we must fly above its path to avoid “wake turbulence” induced by the Falcon’s wingtip vortices. As we speak, the second landing was also successful.

In our third run, another Skyhawk also came in to do touch and goes. Meanwhile there was another aircraft holding short of runway 23, so we had to extend our downwind and waiting tower to call our base. The Skyhawk landed first, then the other aircraft was cleared to take off, and then we turned base for our landing. This one was just like last one, because we extended our downwind we had a long final for me to judge my airspeed and power setting so that I can make corrections. Just like last one the landing was successful, and I could tell Bob was happy.

Now is the time to do our last landing before heading back to Caldwell. Again there were other aircraft in the pattern, so traffic control had me turn crosswind earlier than normal on upwind. While turning to downwind I noticed that the last jet was in holding short position. Bob and I thought the jet will depart first and we would have to extend downwind like last time. To our surprise the jet was not cleared for take-off. We got our clearance for the option and I started landing procedure. Because of all that happened, I was in a little hurry, or maybe it was because I misjudged my position to the runway, I might have turned base a little early, so we were actually high on the approach. I intentionally overshoot a little bit on final and put down more flaps, but this approach was not the same as those two previously. Prior to touch down, I leveled off too early and pulled back too much, so we ballooned a little bit. Anxious to perform the landing like before, I pushed the nose down hoping to level the nose. This however, was a mistake I should not do.

Going back to Caldwell was not hard, we announced our position and intention tower asked us to report at square lake. When joining the pattern we were a little wide from the runway, but it was corrected. I got little slow on final, and it felt like I was very close to the fence because I pushed down to keep 60-65 without adding too much power. I guess if I had added a little power it would be a much softer landing. Nonetheless, we turned off on bravo and back too Fischer.

Next time I hope to do some more fly in ground effect, both during landing and simulating soft field T/O. Maybe Bob will take care of the power, so that I can focus on pitching and banking and ruddering. Till next week, so long!

Dealing with Crosswind While Learning to Land

In today’s training we stayed in Caldwell closed circuit, dealing both a little crosswind and learning to land. When we taxied to RWY 22 at intersection N, we found at least 5 other airplanes waiting to takeoff. We did our run-up at the end of taxiway H. When everything was OK and we were ready to take off.

Highlights of today’s landing practice:

  • I held my airspeed in my hands, didn’t let it get away from me.
  • My pattern work was nice and clean, but still occasionally a slight deviation.
  • I learned about control pressure throughout the landing. We can’t release control pressure not few feet before touch down, not right after touch down, but to hold and continue add more after we landed.

The first couple landings weren’t so successful, I did not have a very good transition and also landed a little sideways due to not putting the nose straight down the runway, mostly because I was not holding rudder pressure correctly. Later on, during some landings I released the rudder too early, thinking “well I’m about to kiss the ground better keep everything natural”. Turned out that this was wrong. Bob patiently taught me to hold the pressure even after we touched down, and as we become slower we actually need more control, as aileron and rudder control become less effective.

 

The fourth landing was the least well executed. I got into the infamous porpoising motion as I first bounced the plane, and did not hold back pressure enough to avoid a nose down attitude. As a result we bounced again and started getting into porpoising. Bob was trying to stabilize our next touch down, but I decide to go around. Power in, flaps up, carb heat in, but I forgot to stop the flaps going up, and we did not have a good initial climb.

 

After this run, I became more cautious, and the next few landings were better. But releasing the rudder pressure was a big problem of today. Wind was from left, so I banked to the left and rudered to the right. In my eyes we needed to release a little bit right rudder to get back to straight but in fact not really. We had to keep that pressure and even more pressure if needed.

 

In one landing, we tried to fly in ground effect. So instead of touch down, I tried to maintain altitude just a few feet above runway. This was a soft field landing technique, and I would like to have tried more if we can.

 

Tomorrow, if weather permitted, we might go to Morristown to land with some different perspective. I will try to address each tower by their name like “Caldwell Town” instead of tower while in the pattern. And I would not abbreviate our call sign unless air traffic control does it first.

 

First Flight Blog

After flying for almost 50 hours I am finally starting to blogging my flights, in “English”.

A little background of my flying lesson since this is my first blog. I have flown with Dave, Felix, Owen and Bob for about 50 hours, and is now preparing for my solo, which means I’m struggling on consistent good landings. While initially struggling on some maneuvers, I am fairly comfortable with slow flight, steep turns, and stalls now. I haven’t really managed ground references on s-turns and turn around a point, but having flown in the pattern at Caldwell so many times I at least have rectangular course set up here at KCDW. One more thing to note is when I started my training I flew piper only but starting April 2016 I switched to Cessna following Felix’s suggestion.

Alright let’s dive into today’s training with Bob.Today was a good day to fly. A little windy but a clear sky. As I said I’m practicing making good landings, we flew to K4N1 Greenwood Lake for our practice. Nice take-off and climb, we reached 2,500 ft. shortly. To remind myself in the future, I should hold 900 ft. before crossing high way I-80. No time to enjoy nice view of the Wanaque, I found Greenwood Lake common advisory frequency from my chart. After noting down the weather at Greenwood Lake, we decided that Runway 24 is favoring the wind and we were in a 45 degree entry to the pattern. During descending, I passed the pattern altitude 1,800 ft. by 200 ft. In an attempt to hold altitude I became slow, I was fumbling to add power to get back up but only found myself abeaming the number. As you can imagine, this approach was not smooth and accurate, so we went around even though we were not too far. The next time, Bob covered my airspeed indicator so that I can only judge my airspeed by attitude outside of the window used power setting at each leg to set the correct configuration. My downwind leg is always too close to the runway, so there isn’t much base leg for me to descend. For practice purposes we did not land, instead we low passed the runway and went around the pattern again and again.

To correct the mistake on downwind, we turned crosswind early while still climbing. This allowed me extra time in crosswind leg so when I turn to downwind I have enough space between the runway and me. In the end we made one landing at Greenwood Lake then headed back to Caldwell.

At Caldwell my descending was good. And when turning from base to final the airspeed was almost constant between 65 to 70 knots. Bob was giving me instructions to add or reduce power, and I was fighting the gusts by rudder controls. As we approached the runway I pulled my yolk too abruptly, without a transition from nose down to level. With enough air speed we did not stall and touched down on the main gear.

This training ended on a higher note, although the transition could be done better. Next time we are going to practice power off approach again, to make sure I have better air speed control.