Today started off well.  Though 10 miles visible seemed a bit suspect.  More like 5-7 visibility and even that seemed sketchy.  My instructor commented on how easy it was for VFR pilots to get in trouble as the conditions slowly deteriorate.

We started out with some steep turns left and right.  Today I did ok turning to the right again but my left 45 degree turn was terrible.  I am definitely in my own head on these things.  We next transitioned to slow flight which I did pretty well.  Only lost about 50 feet in altitude.  Though, I did not add right rudder, and lost 20 degrees of heading… doh!.   Next we did some slow turns and did a dirty stall at 50.  Again,  didn’t add rudder, and if we would have truly stalled,  probably would have entered a spin.  If you can’t tell, I need to work on my coordination in slow flight.

We then headed back to the airfield for some more pattern work.  As we were heading back, we got a little bit of a scare as we had a Cessna 172 report their position and it seemed like we were in the same airspace.  My instructor abruptly dropped altitude as she asked for a verification on the position of the 172.  We then picked them up visually and wasn’t an issue but a lesson in awareness.  The winds picked up and favored runway 21.  After notifying the incoming traffic, we all agreed on the shift to runway 21 which set us up for a fly over the runway heading east to setup for the downwind.

I felt a little behind the aircraft since we were entering halfway as we crossed the runway, but got setup and stabilized.  First landing, I was a little fast and we ballooned a bit.  Then, back to runway 21 for the next trip around the pattern.

The second trip around the pattern felt pretty decent, I was stabilized and flew pretty well all the way around.  As we turned base, I let the nose come up a bit, still need to work on keeping my site picture.  I felt a little low so waited to add the flaps until we turned base.  Flaps added, and we were a little high, so cut some throttle and shot the numbers at 65 kts.  This time, not too bad… needed to pull back just a bit more in the flare.  Overall, I felt like I was with the airplane.

Third trip around the patter, I was spot on.  I hit the numbers all the way around.  As I touched down and heard a little chirp of the tires and a “Nicely done!” coming from my instructor.  That landing felt really good.  As we taxi’d across the hold short line I was good with ending on a good landing.  Looking at the clock showed, I still had the airplane for 45 more minutes so I decided for one more.  You know how that goes… I’m sure you can see it coming.

This time we were looking good all the way around but as I came in, we seemed to be a little high even with throttle pulled back to idle.  I think my instructor saw this as well as she voiced “Deer on the runway!!! Go Around!….. Throttle full, carb heat off, retract 10 degrees of flaps”.  I performed my first go around.  As we were climbing back to pattern altitude I said “I’m glad you saw it because I didn’t see anything”.  She replied, “Well, it was the imaginary type”.  I am not totally sure if she planned it or allowed me to escape because we were coming in a little high.  Either way, it was a good thing to learn.

So for the last time around the pattern, everything felt good… that was kind of the theme today for pattern work.  I even felt my final approach was the best.  We seem to be coming it real close to the numbers… so much they didn’t disappear under us at the normal height above the ground.  As a consequence and me feeling like I was in a new site picture… I flared a bit too early and ballooned a bit.  Still touched down ok, but it was definitely not my best of the day.  Should have quit on the good one.

It didn’t really matter too much as I felt pretty good today about hitting the numbers for altitude and airspeed around the pattern.  I really need to get these steep turns figured out and remember my rudder during slow flight / high power configuration.  It is just sloppy.  It all comes down to muscle memory and I haven’t gotten that far yet… I will get there with time.  Not a bad way to start off my Sunday.