This early morning was a pretty quick lesson but filled with a heaping helping of new. During our brief we talked about visiting another airfield KHRJ. Not too far away, it would expose me to a new pattern with a different runway that was about 1500 feet shorter and a little more narrow. We also plotted our heading and found some waypoints along the way to navigate via pilotage.
We took off and for the first time, I turned east instead of toward the west practice area. Was kind of weird but cool. I like new things. We picked up a river and power lines and followed a heading of 120 toward the town of Lillington. I was looking out for a couple of areas of water that were positioned south west of the town and would be right off of runway 5 at HRJ. After a little help, I spotted the airfield and made radio calls out to the one other plane in the pattern. Oh yeah, I am making radio calls today. Another new. As we talked about before, the shorter runway means less time to get stabilized and boy is it. It is only 1500 feet shorter but it seemed like as soon as I hit downwind I was almost abeam the numbers. Luckily, I have been doing fairly well at that and it didn’t take too much concentration to get us stabilized at 70 kts and 1200 ft pattern altitude. As I hit abeam the numbers, I dropped the throttle to 1500 rpms, 10 degrees flaps and descent site picture. I made the radio call for base… again weird that I am doing it now. Dropped 10 more degrees of flaps and added a little throttle because I felt low. Again, radio call for final, and shot the numbers at 65. Was a little high so dropped to idle, shot the numbers and made a nice landing, a little right of center line but decent. I cleared the runway, made the radio call and taxi’d back to runway 5 for run up and take off.
Once in the air, we followed the river and power lines back to Raleigh Exec, paying attention to scary tower (Radio antenna that is 1700 ft msl).
We made a cross field entry to downwind. I made all the radio calls here as well. Everything looked good on approach but as I crossed the numbers I felt my instructor push on the yoke a little. I let my airspeed drop to 60 from 65kts. 🙁
Touched down, a little floaty but ok and kept up a little speed since we had someone right behind us. Cleared the runway and made the radio call before I crossed the hold short line…. made a mistake. We taxi’d back and I told her the things that I did wrong and she agreed. I think adding in the radio work put me a little behind the aircraft today. Not a bad lesson today, flew to a new airport, learned some pilotage, made a couple of landings in a new (to me, not really new, still 1978) airplane. And, handled all of the radio calls. Not a bad Saturday morning.
On the approach to the airfield I heard two other pilots on the radio talking about meeting up later. One exclaimed how much they have done already and what are the non pilots doing on this beautiful day. The other said, sleeping. It reminded me that we were up in the air doing something that others rarely do… and on a beautiful Saturday morning underneath some wispy Cirrus clouds, I couldn’t think of a better place to spend it.