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!