In ground school, I have been learning about weather patterns and how high pressures and low pressures affect the area. Most of the week we were in a low pressure that brought a decent amount of rain, but I could see a sweet high pressure coming for the weekend. I had flights scheduled for the sweet spot of Friday and Saturday when this high pressure was right over us. With another low arriving late Saturday, early Sunday I was glad my normal Sunday flying couldn’t happen due to other things on my schedule.
We took off as normal, and headed to the practice area. I requested that we work on some coordination because I felt as if I was relying on the ball too much for coordinated flight. I didn’t have a good reading on the horizon or by the seat of my pants. My instructor introduced me to dutch rolls. A dutch roll is performed by essentially rocking the wings back and forth and keeping your nose on a fixed point in front of you. This requires you to push on the rudder as you rock the wings to keep coordinated. I liked this maneuver because it not only forced me to use the pedals in a lively manner but I also got a good feel for how much pressure is really needed.
Ok next, back to my arch nemesis… steep turns. After blowing my altitude by 150 feet in a left hand steep turn….. again. My instructor took the controls and asked me to just watch at what point on the cowling I was lining up with. BINGO! For some reason, probably 30 degree turns. I was lining my site picture up with the wrong spot. Next I took the controls and performed a 45 degree steep turn to the left and lost about 50 feet. Which is within PTS standards. I noticed that I rock the wings a bit in the 45 and I think that is attributed to a little oscillation and subsequent altitude loss. I will tighten that up.
Next we performed a couple of quick slips and then headed back to the airfield for some pattern work.
First landing went well, site picture was good, speed good… touched down decently. My instructor then pushed in carb heat and pulled the flaps and said to throttle up. My first touch and go!
The next 3 went about the same, with touch and goes performed and she complimented me on holding center line on the landings. At this point I asked her how much she was helping on the landings and she responded that she was only helping verbally. Rock!! I’m doing it!
On the fifth approach I noticed her hands went to her lap instead of the usual fingertips on the yoke. I touched down, not the smoothest but ok, and she said, “see I wasn’t touching anything”. What and Awesome feeling. I felt good that I was understanding my approaches and landings but wasn’t sure how much help was being given. It is a double edge sword. You like the comfort of knowing that the instructor is right there with you but also in the back of your mind you are not sure you are completely engaged with everything that needs to be done and not 100% how close you are to that understanding. Knowing today that I landed the airplane by myself was a great mental boost. There wasn’t much wind so not really the toughest of landings and I know that I have a ways to go with crosswinds etc. For now, it feels good.