Today, the airport was pretty quiet. People out on cross countries and probably lots visiting with family. No better time to go up for a lesson.
Once preflighted, we sat down to go over what we were going to learn. First, since it was quiet, we were going to try to get in some engine out spiral descents over the runway so I could get a feel for a good descent with a fixed site picture. It helped a lot and I think will be useful when we have these engine out practices over fields. Next she had me take a short quiz, basically stating whether I thought I was satisfactory or not on a bunch of different maneuvers. In this case, Satisfactory meant safe not perfect. In that case, I felt like I was satisfactory across the board. But definitely not perfect by any means. After finishing the quiz, my instructor informed me that we were going to go up and she was going to stay as quiet as possible and take notes on my performance.
Up we go….
First we performed two spiral descents from 3000 msl over the runway. She asked me to land on the first 1/3 of the runway… first time.. I turned base too early and was a little high landing about halfway. The second time, I was pretty spot on, this time knowing that I had zero wind and good altitude, I measured my turns a little better and landed on the first 1/3 of the runway.
Next, off to the practice area. First maneuver, was a steep turn to the left. I stabilized and started my turn, “You just failed your check ride”…. then it occurred to me… clearing turn. doh. After performing a clearing turn I setup for a 45 degree left turn. I performed the turn but losing about 100 feet. Next I setup for the right turn. “You just failed your check ride”. AHHHH. This becomes a common phrase because for some reason, I can’t seem to remember to perform a clearing turn before each maneuver. I did really well on the 45 degree right turn, nailing the altitude.
Next we setup for slow flight. “Show me 60 kts clean”. Ok, so I stabilized and started to pull the throttle. You can guess what I heard next… yep “You just failed your check ride”. I am at a loss as to why I can’t get it through my head… as I was stabilizing I thought to myself that I need to do the clearing turn. The clean 60kt maneuver wasn’t too bad. Next she wanted 50 kt dirty slow flight. After failing my check ride yet again, I perform the maneuver but during the turn gain 200 ft of altitude because I seem to be flummoxed on why we are gaining altitude. we descend back down to our maneuver altitude and try again… this time I say, “Going to do my clearing turn”, she says “That is a wonderful idea”. After the clearing turn, I enter 50 kt dirty slow flight, and perform a 180 degree turn while staying slow and dirty. One thing I thought I did well today was holding my heading with right rudder in slow flight. That part felt a lot better. We re-enter cruise speed at 2500 ft msl.
Next I hear, “Tell me what radio we are tracking outbound from the Liberty VOR”. No big deal, dialed it up and showed her that we were on the 115 outbound radial.
Finally, she asked me to take her back to the airport, make all of the radio calls and land without her help. COOL!
I call our 3 mile entry over the river as I am descending to pattern altitude. Enter the pattern, oops forgot my in range checklist… I run through that real quickly… she didn’t say a word. Then I performed my before landing… which is committed to memory. Pattern felt great, on target. Turned final at 500 ft agl, right on target… shot the numbers to the ground, flared and hear a light chirp and barely even felt it touch down… right on centerline. I hear from the right seat, “Fantastic! My old instructor would call that a snotty landing”. Good way to end the lesson.
I was pretty frustrated with myself, even though it has been a few weeks since I have done these maneuvers, I had higher standards for myself. Other than failing the check ride about half a dozen times, I only busted PTS on one maneuver. She told me that was pretty good since I was still pre-solo. Small victories I suppose. As I have a habit of saying, as frustrating as it was…. I still got to fly an airplane and that is cool.