As the title suggests, it was a beautiful day for flying. After many simulator sessions, we were finally able to spread our wings and enjoy the great weather. Of course, my instructor enjoyed the view and I got to inspect the instruments for most of the flight. (The instrument glass is really clean, lol)
Even though I was under the hood, I was able to enjoy the cold smooth air. It was a great opportunity to compare and contrast the simulator training vs the real thing. The one thing I noticed right away is that once trimmed out, the real thing flies like a proper airplane. No neurotic altitude and heading changes. You can really appreciate how much a trimmed airplane can help lighten the workload.
During preflight, I had discovered that we had some light frost on the aircraft. I wasn’t expecting this since the temp/dewpoint spread for the last 24 hours was decently large. Of course the lesson here is that weather can be very local and differences are a thing. No worries, rotate the airplane in the sun in order to remove the little bit of frost accumulated. Some sun tan lotion and a pair of sunglasses and the skyhawk would be right at home at the beach. 😀
Start and runup went pretty well. Other than me being a bit slow on how to cold weather start. It is simple so not sure what is going through my mind on how to handle the mixture as the airplane starts. Maybe it is just nerves.
Runup went well so we taxied to the runway to depart into the wild blue yonder. After a few runway checks, we were off!
At 700 feet I get the order to don my fashionable foggles. (They’re all the rage this season) I comply and once back at the yoke I setup to track the liberty VOR. It was now that I had the first, “Hey something isn’t right here!” moment. The VOR was centered vertical and horizontal. I know that I am not that good coming off the runway so something is up. I check that NAV 1 is tuned properly so what gives? We are high enough that we should be receiving. At this point, my instructor chimed in about the CDI being set to GPS and that if I want to use to track the VOR, I should use VLOC. Doh!!!
Ok, so we are tracking right along and I get the airplane trimmed out. Pretty well if I do say so myself. Once we reach altitude, I trim up for a slow cruise. Why? Not really sure other than the slow cruise configuration was at the top of my noggin.
My instructor asked me to perform a couple of heading changes and then we broke out the A Pattern. The pattern went pretty well, no real surprises here. Again, it was good to compare and contrast from the sim and I have to say, the real thing is easier. I say that now but I can almost visualize the serenity of this pattern then fast forwarding a few lessons where I am overloaded to the point I can’t remember my own name while trying to fly, navigate, talk, etc. I can look back on this lesson like “Still easy?”
After Pattern A was complete, we performed a stall series, first an approach stall and then a departure stall…. and then a departure stall. For the first departure stall, at current cruise speed I just pushed the throttle in and pulled back. I felt a little weird about the process, like something wasn’t right. However, the cold air made us climb like crazy and I could hear “Dangerzone” from Top Gun in the distance, so climb on!
After the recovery I get the question of, “Have you been taught how to do this for ACS?” Oh… yeah… I remember now. I need to slow to climb speed, then throttle on and climb. Ooops! It was an impressive climb in the cold air though. Haha!
So, for the second departure stall I killed the Top Gun music and slowed to 65 and then began a proper departure stall.
For the final bit of our flight, my instructor had me fly with my eyes closed. Left turns, level out, right turns, left, level, left, right …… I kind of enjoy those types of things. It was pretty cool when she told me to open my eyes when I thought that we were level but, in actuality, we were in a slow left turn. She also indicated that as soon as I closed my eyes, I immediately turned us to the slow left turn. Crazy how your body interprets the feelings versus reality. It is a good exercise to show you that you should trust the instruments.
“I have the airplane”, my instructor has me close my eyes as she banks and climbs/descends so I can setup for some unusual attitude recoveries. I could tell she was enjoying this part. Overall, I think they went pretty well, nothing too exciting.
After a few vectors and altitude clearances like I was communicating with ATC. I was told to remove the hood and we were set up on 45 degree into the pattern. After doing the landing thing, I buttoned up the airplane and we debriefed.
I think the takeaways that I got from this lesson are a few:
- Properly trimmed airplane is awesome for these maneuvers (Smooth air doesn’t hurt either)
- I need to write down my altitude instructions ( I couldn’t seem to retain that information)
- Knowing your pitch/power settings makes life a lot easier
The last one I felt was huge today. This is where I think the extra sim time in the beginning is paying off. In the sim, you can cheaply learn how to use these settings. They seem to work better in the real aircraft than I could have imagined.
Also, I think that once you figure out that your pitch power settings are just a starting point, it helps you as well. Example, I started out with 2100 rpm and +1 pitch angle for ~ 95 kt slow cruise. Today, I quickly figured out that it was really 2000 rpm and right around +2 degree pitch angle. It was pretty easy to get things stable since I committed standard numbers to memory.
Lots of fun today and looking forward to the next lesson!
If you want to see the crazy track today, –> Clicky Clicky!