Stranded In The Southland

Friday, July 11, 2008

Makin' A Bit More Progress

Now that I'm finally checked out on a reliable plane and signed off for solos to other fields (and signed off for the written), I'm trying to get my act together and get some flying done. I signed up to fly Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, (and to do my first solo cross-country Saturday).

Monday and Wednesday, the weather wasn't cooperating, with thick haze keeping me on the ground. I'd been studying for the test (and taking sample tests on the web), so when I couldn't fly Wednesday, I went in take the test. I spent about ten minutes cramming on the minutia, then got ready to sit down at the computer. Oops, except I had to spend 15 minutes debugging the office network, so that the testing station could download the test. Argh. In any case, I managed to miss one question out of 60 (a question about the ancient Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) technology that virtually no planes still have), so I got a 98%. I was kinda hoping for a 100%, but I can live with this (I needed a 70% to pass; as a couple of people pointed out, there's a point at which it becomes asinine to waste time studying when you don't need to!).

After a week of lousy weather, I went ahead and slept in Friday, only to be surprised by visibilities right at my minimums, so I could get out! I raced down to the FBO, twiddled my thumbs while they reinstalled the radio they'd taken out to work on, sweated my butt off in the Southern California heat, and took off on my third solo flight (and first in about four months).

The idea was that I'd be practicing for my cross-country -- I need to fly 150 NM round-trip, with stops at three separate airports. I'll be hauling butt to an airport 75 NM away, then coming back to stop at a local airport before heading to my home airport. So I wanted to try a couple landings at the local airport, just to get me comfortable with the idea.

Unfortunately, it turned out that I was less comfortable in this aircraft than I thought! My first landing involved three bounces, with the plane sliding towards the edge on the final bounce. I jammed in some left bank to correct, and just as I slammed the throttle wide open, heard the stall warning horn! Yow. I managed to execute a go-around (accidentally leaving the flaps in for most of it) and got back in the air. I can't imagine what they thought in the tower (although I'd announced my student pilot status on my first call up, so they probably weren't too surprised).

I finally cleaned up the airplane, got it up to pattern altitude, came around again, and executed a greaser, with hardly a squeal from the tires as I gently set it down. Doh! Then I botched it again, requiring a go-around, and then made another pretty decent landing.

I decided to leave with the good landing, flew back to my home airfield, made a quick touch-and-go, and came around again to land. All those landings worked out fine (I probably should've made a practice landing at my home field, first), so hopefully I'm ready to for the big cross-country. I'm glad I had this chance to mess around, as I can only imagine how all that mess would've unnerved me on the big cross-country. Hopefully the weather will accommodate tomorrow!