Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Right Seat Views

M and I flew over to OKV last night to take care of some paperwork. Since we no longer are needing to work on maneuvers (yay!), we decided to have a little fun with things. On the way over, we went through some crew resource management (CRM) stuff to get me used to splitting things up for when Husband and I fly together. Basically, one of us did radios and navigation, and the other flew the plane. Since he doesn't get to do a lot of flying, I let him fly mostly, and I handled the radios. It was way more enjoyable than just looking out the window.

After getting the paperwork completed, we headed back to JYO. But for this flight, we decided to switch things up even more. I took the right seat and he took the left so that I could do a little right-seat practice in case I ever need it when Husband and I are flying together. It sounds simple to switch seats-- just do the opposite of what you do on the left, right? I mean, I still know how to fly and everything. But it was actually pretty disconcerting. Your hands aren't sure how much pressure to use on the throttle or the yoke; your eyes have trouble finding the instruments (on the opposite side of the plane); even your feet have trouble getting it straight on the rudders because the strange sight picture is messing with your head.

I sort of the got the hang of taxiing down-- and M had me practice putting in and taking out the power. Though it was tough to find the centerline, it felt a little like learning to drive a right-hand drive car (which I did in South Africa). But in the air was really when things got interesting. I even had a hard time telling (without looking at the attitude indicator) if I was straight-and-level. Lining up on downwind was tricky-- I had to keep asking M if I was aligned properly (of course, the slight crab that we had to keep in for the winds didn't help things). Making left turns felt a little like making steep turns to the right does from the left seat-- I was never quite sure if I had the proper bank angle and rate of turn. And I definitely didn't know without looking whether I was coordinated. I was convinced I was going to need M's help to get this thing on the ground! But he just kept talking me through it, helping me see where I was off the alignment, when I needed to adjust one way or the other. Somehow, I managed to pull off a pretty smooth landing-- though it felt a little like my first landing!

We did one more turn around the pattern in OKV and the headed for home. It was getting dark as we crossed the ridge and entered the ADIZ. And it was really hazy. But I still found the airport, and the water towers that we use to help guide us for entry to 17 in plenty of time. After spending so much time flying around the OKV pattern lately, it really does feel like coming home to find the safety of the JYO pattern. All-in-all a really fun flight. Nice and relaxing, though I realized later that we forgot to turn on the XM radio. That would have just been the icing on the cake. It's possible that that was my last flight with M, though I'm hoping to get one more in before he leaves to go learn to fly jets. For any CFIs out there who are wondering if they make a difference, I have to say that I will always remember M for teaching me to fly-- and for taking that job so seriously... I got so much more out of it than just learning how to control an airplane. It's freedom, confidence, fun, and a really cool thing to share with Husband!

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