Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How Many Is That?

Last night, a friend and I were supposed to go for a little flightseeing... but the weather had other ideas. With visibility under 10sm (statute miles) and VCTS (thunderstorms in the vicinity) and some hz (haze) reported, I told her I didn't think it was a good idea to trek all the way out there (almost an hour from our office, even further for her to get back to her house), given that it was likely to be pretty hazy for flightseeing. But after canceling my flight Friday night, my flight with Husband Saturday afternoon, and our first IFR flight lesson Sunday-- all for weather, I decided to go out and see what happened. As it turns out-- it was too hazy for a good VFR flight out to the practice area... but it was just fine for a little pattern work.

So I did landings. I think I did 8 of them all total. It was great. Just me and the plane and the empty sky (except for some clouds!). In the beginning, there was a nice crosswind going-- so I got in one or two good crosswind landings (on a crosswind landing, you definitely want to hear three chirps-- the wind wing, the other wing, and then the nosewheel). I worked on my shorts, too. I confirmed my suspicion that those are getting rusty. And I practiced my soft fields. Those are my favorites. I especially love soft field take offs.

On a softfield t/o, you hold the elevator back as you taxi so that the nosewheel is way up (on a soft field-- like a grass or gravel strip-- you wouldn't want the nosewheel to get caught in a hole or anything-- it's fairly fragile). Then, once you are on centerline, you smoothly add the power and the nose goes up even further. As the power comes in, you start releasing pressure on the elevator. Then slowly, the airplane starts flying, one control surface at a time. It's kind of like waking up from a deep sleep, where first you start to feel or be aware of one arm, and then the other, and then your legs, and then finally, you open your eyes and you're awake. The plane slowly starts to fly, and you sense the different pressure on the controls and feel the wheels starting to lose their traction, and then the plane gives a little wiggle once it's fully off the ground. Then, you start to move the yoke forward, tiny bits at a time. Because though the plane is off the ground, it's not going fast enough to fly away from the ground (you could google "ground effect" if you want to know why), so you have to keep it just off the ground, flying along just feet above the runway, until you gather enough speed. Finally, when you reach your climbout speed, you release the pressure that you added to the yoke and the plane seems to soar up and away, finally ready to fly away from the runway.

Only a few other planes took off or landed while I was up. One of them was an instructor and his student. I had watched them preflighting earlier. It looked like it might be the student's first or second lesson as he was still learning to preflight-- and it took them a lo-o-ong time to make it to the runup area and get off the ground. When they came back from their flight (they must have only been in the air a few minutes), the instructor asked me over the radio how many landings I'd done... I thought about it for a sec and told him 5 or 6. Later, I saw them when I was parking the plane (they were in the next spot over), and he told me he thought it was pretty cool that I was out practicing, even though I already had my rating. I just seem to get a little stir crazy when I don't fly!

So I think I did a total of 8 landings- 1 crosswind, 3 shorts, 3 softs, and 1 regular (I like to end with a regular because I always want to end on a high note!)


Anonymous said...

Just stumbled across your blog. Nice write-ups. Congratulations on getting your certificate!

Mark (based KGAI)

Head in the Clouds said...

Thanks! I've flown over KGAI several times, but haven't had a chance to stop in yet.