May 20, 2004

Unusual Attitudes and Ground Reference Manuevers

The title is not referencing my attitude but that of the C-152 I am learning to fly. As you may have read, I have moved my flight training to Blue Ash Airport, a small uncontrolled field. Today's lesson was my first in almost a week. It felt great to get back in the plane. We took off and flew out near Paramount King's Island, the very theme park where Mike Brady lost his theme park expansion plans - good times. Just east of King's Island is the training area for Blue Ash students.

Here my instructor told me about unusual attitudes and how sometimes pilots look up to realize the plane is in an unusual attitude. For instance it might be nose high, turning left and losing speed. I guess this can happen when the pilot comes disoriented from looking at a map in their lap too long or from weather. If you were gaining speed, the proper way to recover from unusual attitude is to reduct power and level the wings. If you were losing airspeed, you should add power, push the nose down and level the wings.

After mastering those moves we worked on to ground reference maneuvers. In ground reference maneuvers we brought the aircraft down to about 1,000 feet off the ground. Then we looked for a nice straight road. I then started doing "S" turns back and forth over the road with the top the "S" beginning on the road and then having the plane cross the road again, wings straight and level at the middle of the S before turning the other direction to intercept the road one last time. I learned how to gauge the wind and vary my degree of bank in order to execute an S turn while staying on target along my course.

After the "S" turns we picked a tree in the middle of a field and I practiced circling the tree at a steady distance. This also required bank and speed adjustments in order to stay equidistant from the tree at all times.

Today's lesson was one that I really enjoyed. I felt I really got the chance to fly on my own with little assistance from my CFI and I am feeling much more comfortable flying the plane. We finished the day with four touch-and-gos and a full stop landing. All of the landings I performed on my own. I was satisfied with my progress landing especially since this runway is shorter and more narrow than the one I was accustomed to at Lunken.

I fly next on Saturday morning.


Posted at 9:23 PM | Post Category: Cessna 152, Flight Lesson | Comments (4) | Save & Share This Story

May 14, 2004

Learning to Land

Tonight I finally learned how to land. By that I mean how to execute a nice easy full stall landing that touches down gently on the runway. In my training thus far I have experienced ten landings. Only one of those would I have called smooth. Tonight I executed my two best landings yet and it felt great!

Prior to the flight today my CFI and I reviewed weather reports. With the weather improving we decided that we would fly to Blue Ash Airport as planned. Blue Ash is a single runway, uncontrolled airport about 20 nautical miles away north of Lunken.

We had 12-knot winds with gusts of up to 18 making for a bouncy departure. But, the air seemed to smooth out en route to Blue Ash. I did a good job of maintaining our heading and altitude once we reached our cruising altitude for the flight.

As we approached Blue Ash I notified traffic in the area that we would be entering the traffic pattern for a touch and go. The winds were coming across the runway requiring me to make a crosswind landing. I had to work hard to keep the plane lined up with the runway. The landing was good but not great. We throttled back up and decided to go through the pattern for a second landing. My CFI explained how to better use the rudder to keep stay on target during approach with winds. The second time I brought the plane down I flared at the right moment and the plenty gently touched the runway. We powered up and were gone again.

We started heading back to Lunken. As we reached our cruising altitude my CFI decided to test some of the skills I learned previously and pulled the throttle to idle and announced that my engine has been lost. I executed the emergency landing procedure and found a nice field that I prepared to land on. I was able to successfully bring the plane to within about 500 feet of landing when we completed the exercise and climbed back to our cruising altitude.

I contacted Lunken tower for clearance to land and they directed me to runway 21R. I was already pretty much online with the runway about 4 miles out. I made a nice easy approach towards Lunken. Cruising by parallel to me landing on runway 21L was a nice Lear jet. At that moment I really felt like part of the aviation community. I returned my attention to the landing and watched my glide slope and brought the C-152 down nice and easy. Shortly after crossing the threshold I executed my flare and brought the airplane down for the best landing I have had thus far. It was a great way to end the lesson.

I am off for the weekend. That will give me time to catch up on my ground school reading. I return to the wild blue yonder on Tuesday night.


Posted at 8:33 PM | Post Category: Cessna 152, Flight Lesson | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

May 13, 2004

Buzzin' the Barnyard

Tonight, I once again received help from Mother Nature when some light thunderstorms cleared the area about 30 minutes before my lesson. Prior to the lesson, I reviewed what I would be learning during tonight's flight. As usual, we reviewed previous learnings, new items on the list were steep turns at 45°, power-on stalls and emergency landing procedures.

The steep turns were difficult to master at first but I think I showed significant improvement toward the end of the lesson. As the turn starts to increase towards 45° the plane wants to pitch nose down and requires a fair amount of back pressure on the yoke in order to maintain the altitude. To earn a private pilot's license, the student needs to be able to do a 360° turn at a 45° bank without varying in altitude by more than +/- 100 feet, airspeed +/- 10 knots, bank +/- 5° and then roll out of the turn within 10° of the starting heading. This most be successfully done in both directions. I need a little more practice to meet those requirements, but feel great about my progress.

The most interesting part of tonight's lesson was the emergency landing procedures. My instructor demonstrated, then I executed a simulated emergency landing procedure. We were cruising at about 80 knots when my instructor advised the engine had been lost and turned the engine down to idle. I followed procedure by pitching the airplane in a manner that would bring the airspeed down to 60 knots the most efficient glide speed for the C-152. Next, I identified a safe emergency landing space. I chose a large flat farm field. I used the barn at the corner of the field as my reference point to be used when I would turn onto final approach.

I was surprised at how well the plane performed at an altitude of 3,000 feet with the engine cut. I manuevered around to make my turn to final approach towards the farm, flying into the wind to maximize my lift. At this point I was about 800 feet off the ground. As I completed my turn to final approach and down to just over 500 feet above the soil, I realized could have landed in that field if needed. However, to obey FAA regulations, I pushed in the throttle and started to gain altitude to ensure I never came within 500 feet of the ground near the sparsely populated farm land.

I think seeing how well the plane performed without the engine gave me a lot of confidence in the plane.

I return to the skies tomorrow night. We will be changing things up and instead of spending most of the lesson in the Lunken practice area we will be flying to Blue Ash Airport which is north of Lunken.


Posted at 9:45 PM | Post Category: Cessna 152, Flight Lesson | Comments (5) | Save & Share This Story

May 5, 2004

Night Flight to Uncontrolled Airport

Because I believe in challenges I planned my second lesson at night, or 'cause that was the available time. But I am glad I did, as this evening was a beautiful night to fly.

After pre-flighting the aircraft on my own, my instructor and I taxied out and took off to the Lunken practice area. We spent about 25 minutes going through the things I learned last week. For the most part I retained most those learnings. So it was time to try something new. We had Clermont County Airport on the horizon. Clermont is an uncontrolled airport and the home of Sporty's Pilot Shop. My Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) explained how to communicate our intentions to enter the pattern and land to our fellow pilots in the area. I almost seemed more confusing than talking to a controlled environment.

We did one pass of the airport then entered the pattern and prepared to land on runway 22. As a smaller airport, the runways are much more narrow which kept giving me the false impression that we were higher than we were. But we made a nice approach then performed a touch and go.

After departing Clermont, we headed back to Lunken. This time my instructor asked me to call in for tower clearance to return to Lunken. I did not expect to be tongue-tied but by the time I was done with my request there was no doubt I was a beginner. But the tower personel were very friendly. This will be an area I will continue to practice on.

I handled the descent and approach to Lunken. I am becoming much more comfortable in the pattern and preparing for a landing. Before I always felt like I needed my CFI to take over to complete the landing. This time I felt like I had it going perfectly and she let me bring it down with minimal support. It felt really great.

As expected I cannot wait to get back out. But I will not be heading back up until Tuesday.


Posted at 11:23 PM | Post Category: Cessna 152, Flight Lesson | Save & Share This Story

May 2, 2004

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Lucky for me we came down safely each time we went up. Today, I completed my first full flight lesson, logging 1.1 hours of flight time. My instructor and I spent about 30 minutes taking our time going through the steps of pre-flighting the aircraft and ensuring it was air worthy.

After that we loaded up and departed Lunken airport (view an aerial photo provided by TerraServer.com). I handled the taxiing, the takeoff and the climb to about 2,500 feet. At which point my instructor reviewed some basic flight manuevers: straight & level flight, climbs, descents, level turns and climbing and descending turns. After a brief review she handed off the controls to me to practice. I felt really comfortable controlling the aircraft. My instructor was pleased with my performance.

Next we returned to Lunken for some pattern work. We practiced entering the traffic pattern and doing touch and gos. A touch and go is literally what it sounds like. We make our approach, touch down on the runway, then throttle up and take back off and go around and repeat. We ended up doing three passes. Each time I would handle the approach, then hand off controls to my instructor to land, then I would handle the return to flight and circling around for the next pass. On the final one I handled the approach all the way down to a few hundred feet and then let the instructor handle the landing.

I think it will be a few more lessons before I feel comfortable enough to make the actual landing but I cannot wait.


Posted at 8:15 PM | Post Category: Cessna 152, Flight Lesson | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story