Stranded In The Southland

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Soloing

Argh, I neglected to mention .8 hours of solo last week, in which I yet again had terrifying go-around. As before, I bounced a couple times, then slammed on full throttle. As before, the plane lurched to the left, the wheels squealed, and I barely avoided hitting a runway sign on the side of the runway as I scrambled back into the air.

Fortunately, this time, as I called up Dad to rant about it, it occurred to me that maybe if I was hitting full throttle, I really needed to throw in a bunch of right rudder to avoid that lurch to the left. Plus, really, I don't need full throttle but just more throttle. Hopefully that problem is solved and I won't scare myself any more.

I had a great cross-country flight today. I was a whole lot more comfortable, and it all just seemed to flow. When I taxied out to the run-up area, there was a beautiful WWII T-6 Texan next to me, which promptly took the runway and headed out. I then had to hold at the runway edge for another plane to land, which turned out the be an equally beautiful WWII P-51! Yow, I hate flying outta this place!

I got turned over to a pleasant controller as soon as I got into the air, and zipped along up to 6,500 feet. It seemed like there was a bunch of haze in the air, and I was concerned about cumulous clouds in the distance, but it turned out that the haze wasn't that thick and the clouds were over the ocean. I got smoothly handed off a bunch, lined up on the runway, and neatly landed behind a classic Aircoupe and a Piper Tomahawk (one of the plane I'm interested in buying).

The folks on the ground weren't exactly on the ball, and I had to call up a few times to get set up, but I suspect that like me, the ground controller was a student. And, if I think that flying is hard (after 40 or so hours of training), controlling must be really hard (since it takes about three years to get rated).

I took off again, got flight following from a military controller (who'd earlier been vectoring around "Top Gun Three"), and headed home. Out of habit, I'd claimed I was climbing to 6,500, but the controller was kind enough to gently remind me that I wanted 5,500 (there's a convention that you fly at odd thousand altitudes to the East, and even thousands to the West). Zipping back across LA I heard the controller call me out as traffic for a couple Southwest flight which came impressively close by me (cool!) as they maneuvered to land, and then disappeared into the distance. Woo hoo!

I came in close to my home airport, managed to avoid the Lifeflight helicopter that the controller pointed out, and made a beautiful landing! Woo hoo.

I still need to do one more cross-country -- I need five hours of it, and have 4.6. My instructor convinced me that the examiner will be suspicious if I have exactly the five, and I should go for a bit more. I figure that the point of learning to fly is to fly around, so I'm not complaining about a bit of extra time. Plus, my instructor will sign me off to go someplace else (finally) that I went with J. just before he passed away. This should be fun, and a bit more challenging, and I'm looking forward to it. After all, if I'm going to be able to fly just anywhere as soon as I get my certificate, I oughta be able to make a simple flight down the coast to someplace I've visited before!


  • 'Ole Dad Sez,
    Sounds like it is realy getting to be fun. Lots of power when moving slow means that the vertical stabilizer and rudder don't have much grip on the air, while the prop pushes on the vertical surfaces. Experience and practice are also good things. Even with a licence, you still need to practice all the skills.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:10 PM  

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