Today, after preflight, we went over several tests that I had to take to qualify pre-solo. One test was on the Cessna 152 POH. Things like facts and weight & balance as well as takeoff distances and landing distances. We also had a quiz on the club SOP’s and finally a quiz on the FAR. These were open book quizzes so that was a plus. I did quite well only missing a couple of questions due to me reading them incorrectly. Tricky questions with the wording not unlike what I will see on the written test. With that out of the way, I am one step closer to my solo.
We talk about todays flight and we are going to work on simulated instrument conditions which means I get to where a site limiting device most commonly referred to as foggles. The purpose of these stylish glasses are to limit your visibility to within the cockpit, so you can’t see outside and the horizon.
We departed runway 3 and from the downwind leg we departed the pattern to the West. We climbed up to 3000 feet and I donned the new headwear. I have many many hours of instrument in the simulator so I was familiar with the principles. I have also read many stories of how people did not trust the instruments and tried to fly with their feeling as you do with VFR. This leads to very bad things, most likely a spiral until you meet the ground.
We did simple maneuvers where my instructor would call out headings and I would turn keeping an eye on the instruments. We would descend and ascend all while looking at the instruments. Nothing too taxing since this was my first time. The idea here is to get use to a continual instrument scan. You have a pattern and a temp in your head to which you scan the instruments. My instructor explained it to me like a waltz, you keep tempo “1 and 2 and 1 and 2 and 1 and ….” You start with your attitude indictor then move to your airspeed, then back to attitude, then to heading, then back to attitude, then to vertical speed, then back to attitude then altitude. Once you compete the scan… you start again. This keeps you from focusing on one instrument too much.
I seemed to do well with the basics so she threw in some extra work load and I started to fall apart a bit. “Show me which radial we are off of on the liberty VOR”. Now I had to add my chart to my scan and tuning the VOR, so things started to get shaky. I did it again with the RDU VOR and I think I did a bit better the second time. Overall, I think I did ok for my first time under the hood, but it will need to be tightened up. I have to get in 3 hours of hood time (simulated instrument) as part of my Private Pilot requirement. As of today, I have 0.4.
After I was released from the foggles, I had about 5 minutes to just relax and let my instructor fly me. I figured this was a quick reward as it is pretty draining. once back at the controls, I hear ” You just lost your engine, what do you do?” I pitched for 60, found a field off of the nose and setup for downwind. Ran through startup checklist, turned base, then final with full flaps. “Go ahead and go around, we would have survived that one”. YAY! I like it when we survive. 🙂
We have been wandering around, from my point of view with now site, and while I was able to relax I found a few suitable fields for emergency landings, which came in handy the paragraph before but also when she asked “Ok, where are we?” I had already identified a brick kiln and a major highway and quickly pointed it out on the chart.
We headed back to the airfield for a little pattern work. Nothing too crazy here, first landing felt really good, the second landing was on a simulated engine out, then we performed a go around and a final landing. During the pattern work my instructor said she thought I was ready and asked how I felt. I told her I felt pretty good, much better than I did just a few weeks ago. I am pretty comfortable in all phases of flight and confident that I can get up and down safely. I am hoping to Solo before Christmas, would be a cool gift. We will see how it works out, I have some obligations coming up that will keep me on the ground more than normal. I also have the written test coming up. I may sacrifice some air time in order to make sure that I am prepared. As I have always felt, I will solo when my instructor and I think i’m ready, doesn’t matter how long it takes.