Stage Check with Tom

I scheduled a stage check with Tom today. After yesterday’s frustrating review I wasn’t sure how well I would do today. I thought to myself, it’s not the end of the world if I screwed this up, but it’s more important to get some different perspectives.


  • Maneuvers were better than yesterday;
  • Emergency checklist wasn’t finished to the end (I will talk about later);
  • Landing was “dad gomn it”;
  • Needs more work on pilotage.

Right off the start, Tom pulled the control lock from my side pocket to the back, saying it won’t be able to poke my leg that way. Then he pushed my bag to his back and put his bag to my back. These were things I don’t usually do but a small chance could make things much easier and makes more sense.

Although I tapped my brake before the end of the hanger, Tom aggressively slowed down to almost a complete stop before the blind spot to look out for fuel trucks. He commented on the new stop sign for the other direction of traffic that it will not prevent accident but only assign blame after it, so it is still our job to slow down.

This morning the controller was talking on both frequencies, meaning we could hear him giving clearance to land or take off on ground frequency as well. After taking off, we climbed out fast and flat. And after the flight he told me that the fact that we set the trim at take-off mark does not guarantee it is at the correct position. So next time we need to look out to verify.

The outbound flight was eventless. We climbed up to 3500 ft after clearing Bravo. Tom didn’t seem like to have a preference of 2500 or 3500, so I went up to 3500 since I practiced at this altitude yesterday. I clearly performed pre-maneuver check list before clearing turns, but I gained almost 200 ft during clearing turn… So before entering slow flight I descended down to 3500 and started to slow down. This maneuver was nice, except maybe I can control my heading a little better during recover.

Then we tried to do power-off stall. As I slowed down my aircraft, I dumped the flaps all the way just like I did in slow flight. Tom had a word about it and says I was supposed to set up as we were landing, so we should slow down to 80 knots and lower 10 degrees of flap then 20 to set up the descend before raise the nose.

The power-on stall was more problematic because I left the carb heat out the entire recovery, causing me to lose about 25% of power from the engine and a longer time to climb. It is the same problem during go around as I pushed in the carb heat too slowly. The break on both stalls were not as clear as we would hoped to see, I have yet to make sure the break actually happens. Maybe I held back pressure too much?

Then we did steep turns, the maneuver I didn’t get to practice yesterday but should have the highest confidence. The altitude and heading were good, but the airspeed was lost about 35 knots. The second time, Tom asked me to pick something outside to aim at and add about 200 rpm as I roll in, which solved the speed problem!

The simulated engine failure was ok, as I rolled in my trim 4 times it was about 70 knots. Then I picked Sussex as my field over the golf course right underneath me. The checklist was ok, but unfinished, because I did not communicate and prepare for evacuation (D, E part in the checklist ABCDE). Tom also taught me how to secure the engine, as we want to protect the engine from burned down. We have to: throttle to idle, mixture cut-off, fuel off, magneto to off. That way we have supplied no fuel, no oxygen, and no spark to the engine which are necessary to start a fire. He also caught me on my mistake on the cycle magnetos, I wasn’t exactly sure on why do we cycle, nor do I understand if we should go to off position when cycling. The answer was not going to off, in case we shut off something was actually working.

On the way back, I wasn’t sure how far I was from the airport, but I know I was close. We were south of Wanaque and north of Booton, but I could already see Lincoln Park, so I was actually 5/6 miles from the field. Tower assigned left base for rwy 4 and report square lake. I lost again on where square lake was. Finally I started my landing after verifying the pre-landing checklist items. But since it was direct base without downwind leg, I did not put down flaps soon enough and had carried little more power little longer.  I thought I managed my airspeed, but Tom said it was varying about 10 knots. Ok, the most scary part was touchdown, I dived to the number at about 70+ and leveled off too late which lead to Tom pulling the yoke to prevent, not a nose-wheel but even a prop strike. I think I failed him on the landing part.

Next step I think I should be practicing landing consistently with more pilotage practices. Flying at 8 am was, good :) !