Flight Lesson 13: One Step Closer to Soloing?

Before my lesson with Tom, I had some extra time to burn.  I figured why not come a little early to the school and study while enjoying the amenities?  I helped myself to a cup of complementary coffee and studied the maneuvers.  In the future, I may make it a habit to arrive 10 minutes before each lesson so that I can review the latest weather information that is usually updated just before the hour.  That way, I’ll be fully prepared to fly when the lesson starts at the top of the hour.

Before flying, Tom asked me how I was doing with the written exams that were given to me at the end of flight lesson 12.  I was slightly embarrassed to say I didn’t start them.

We went through the pre-flight briefing in which I was told the objective of this flight is to go over all flight maneuvers learned up until this point (slow flight, stalls, steep turns, s-turns, turns around a point etc.) and show a certain level of proficiency with them (not necessarily up to practical test standards, but still safe).  This was one of the steps towards me being able to solo.  I was also warned that at any time, Tom could initiate a simulated flight emergency to test my knowledge and skills.

Not only student pilots train at KCDW, but also “student” (developmental) air traffic controllers.  This was evidenced by a botched ATIS recording made by a controller who sounded as unsure of herself as any other student pilot can over the radio.

After departing runway 28, we flew due north to the training grounds over Orange County, NY.  I was asked some hypothetical scenario questions by Tom, one of which was what could cause a VSI or altimeter to not function properly (a blocked static port).  Another question was how to determine wind direction when in flight.  I used smoke that was visible to determine this.

We were on the lookout for a long and straight road as a ground reference for s-turns.  I identified a road that looked perfect and was about to initiate a descent to the designated maneuver altitude (600-1000 feet AGL) when I spotted what looked like a crop duster flying in our vicinity.  Both Tom and I wanted nothing to do with flying near this guy so we then proceeded to practice stalls.

The steep turns and power off stall I attempted was done decent enough to move on to a power on stall.  This is where things didn’t turn out the way I hoped.

During the power on stall maneuver, I kept banking off to the right when attempting to break the stall by dropping the nose.  We practiced the maneuver multiple times and I felt I was getting better.  This is what I need to keep in mind the next time I practice power on stalls:

  1. When initiating the power on stall, the power needs to be added smoothly while simultaneously increasing pitch.
  2. Use more right rudder when pitch and power are increased.
  3. When airspeed indicator needle starts to stutter near stall speed, quickly induce the stall by pulling back quickly on the yoke.
  4. After stall in induced, quickly drop the nose by pushing forward on the yoke to the starting position.
  5. Build up airspeed and resume climb.  Retract flaps.

It was soon time to head back to KCDW.  On our way in, ATC asked us to report the Lincoln Park water tank.  Although I reported it in previous flights, I wasn’t 100% sure if I knew where it was this time.  I asked Tom and he pointed out a light powder blue cylindrical tank without legs that was situated at a longitude between Lincoln Park airport (N07) and Route 23.  The latitude of the water tank is south of N07.  Here is the location of the water tank according to Google Maps:  Link

There was time for us to do a touch and go and a full stop landing.  We were asked by ATC to enter a right base for runway 22 with permission to perform a touch and go.  My base and final approach were okay, although I leveled off over the runway too late and pretty much touched down on the runway without even flaring.  Despite that mistake, it was a surprisingly soft touchdown.

I took off again, and flew without incident until I reached the turn for base.  I screwed this up horrendously, turning way too soon which shortened my downwind and made me enter the base way too high.  To make matters worse, I leveled off after my turn to base way too late and was flying at an awkward track towards the runway which made me start the turn to final earlier than I anticipated.   I made another error in that I dumped in the rest of the flaps during the turn to final which is not a good idea since it can make you unstable and turn you over.  Add flaps when your wings are level.  My airspeed was also too high since I didn’t control my pitch during the turns (I let the nose drop).  Long story short, I was an unstabilized mess.  In retrospect, I should have just aborted the landing and executed a go around.  That was what I would have done if it was just me in the plane and I didn’t have an insurance policy named Tom Fischer.

Even after touching down and clearing the active runway, I let my bad approach affect me.  When contacting Ground and asking for a taxi back to Fischer, I read back the incorrect taxi instructions which Tom had to correct for me.  After engine cutoff, Tom noticed I was steaming and pissed off at myself.

Post flight briefing words of advice from Tom:

  • When flying toward a Class Delta airport (i.e. KCDW), contact the tower about 10 nm out.  This give you and ATC extra time to plan for your arrival, especially if the frequency and airport are busy
  • Listen to ATIS before you contact the airport
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself and learn from your mistakes.  Everyone has bad landings

I’ll admit that I’m my most harshest critic.  I need to stay cool if things don’t go the way I anticipated and learn to make adjustments.  I know this will come with time.  It looks like I’ll have to wait longer to solo, which is okay now that I think about it.  I still have work to do.

Logbook Entry N5253R (C172)

Flight Details