Friday, February 20, 2009

How to Slow an Arrow

After working with R on Saturday, I decided to do a little Arrow practice in the pattern on Sunday. Husband came with me and sat right seat for the flight(s). He had with M and I on a previous pattern flight-- but only in the backseat where there are no headset jacks. So this was still pretty new to him. It was also my first time to fly the Arrow without an instructor.

We were focusing on soft field operations. I felt good about short field, but wanted to make sure I had the softs down. The first two take offs and landings went pretty well. I felt reasonably good about my control of the airplane-- and then takeoffs and landings were both within tolerances. Given that I had a volleyball game and needed to leave the airport soon, we decided to do one last circuit-- and this time I'd do a power off 180 just to make sure I was polished on those.

As we came abeam the first stripe, things looked good. No one was in front of me though it had previously been busy in the pattern, so I could do the landing as planned. Unfortunately, with the stiff headwind, I didn't turn quickly enough toward the runway, and put in flaps too early. We weren't going to make it. I did the "smart" thing and applied full power for a go around. No problems. I'm good with go arounds, though it does get my blood pumping. Little did I know just how good I'd become with go arounds before we were finished!

Coming back around for a second try, we ended up as number 3 on downwind. No worries-- I've been there before. But... this isn't my nice slow Cessna. Before I knew it, I was creeping up on the guy in front of me. So I powered back, and even threw in a notch of flaps to slow myself down. What I didn't count on was that this guy insisted on going to the end of the earth and back before turning base! Seriously-- I'm pretty sure he went close to the edge of the Bravo airspace! I didn't want to keep going and bust the Bravo myself... but it didn't seem like a good idea to do a 360-- there were too many other planes in the pattern, and too much crazy airspace around. So I decided to slow it as much as I could and turn almost immediately after him. All should have still worked out-- he landed at the very beginning of the runway. I saw him miss the first turnoff... but no big deal, he'll get the second. Then he missed the second! And he's going pretty slowly! My forehead is now starting to perspire a bit and I'm biting my lip. He finally started to turn at the third turnoff, but I was way too close. I'd already made the decision to go around a second time.

I thought for sure we'd get down the next time around. I knew to power back to try not to get too fast. But someone had slipped into the pattern just ahead of us, and yet again, I found myself needing to go around. By this time, Husband was trying to give pointers. I was just trying to stay calm and to be disciplined in doing my before landing checks. Definitely the time when it would be easy to make a mistake. After this, I powered way back. From the beginning of downwind. And luckily, though there was again traffic in front of us, I had plenty of room. And so we finally made it on the ground-- after three go arounds. If nothing else, I felt far more familiar with the airplane. Almost like it was an initiation rite or something. Fun times.

1 comment:

sylvia said...

But... this isn't my nice slow Cessna. Before I knew it, I was creeping up on the guy in front of me.

I have this issue in the Saratoga a lot. It can be murder in a busy circuit where even with the power pulled right back, I'm faster than the other aircraft. If they do a wide circuit then there isn't much I can do other than go around and try not to catch the next one! It can be frustrating.