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 11, 2004

We Are Going to Do What?

When I arrived at Queen City Flight Training today my Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) reviewed the lesson plan for today. First off, we were slated to review what I learned the week before. In that lesson I experimented with the radios and learned about traffic patterns. Then my CFI reviewed the new maneuvers we would work on, including power-off stalls.

I knew stalls were coming up eventually in my training. But when I heard I'd be doing them tonight, I have to admit that my stomach turned a bit, though I don't think it was loud enough for her to hear. Until this week I had a complete misconception of a stall, thinking it was an out-of-control nose dive towards the ground that the pilot wrestled with before pulling up just prior to becoming a pancake.

Knowing that stalls were coming up in my training I did some reading about safe slow flight than how to transition into a stall. A stall is a rapid loss of lift caused by the separation of airflow from the wing's surface brought on by exceeding the critical angle of attack. According to my training book, Guided Flight Discovery - Private Pilot by Jeppesen, a "Power-off stalls are practiced to simulate the conditions and aircraft configuration you will most likely encounter during a normal landing approach."

Once we climbed out of Lunken airspace to a safe practice altitude of about 3,000 feet we started flying at slow speeds, 45 knots compared to our typical 70-100 knots. We had the plane in landing configuration with 30 degrees of flap, throttle out and carb heat on. Then after a demonstration I lowered the power and began to pull back on the yoke. The nose was rising and the speed dropping and the controls became slushy. Next, the stall warning started to whine as the plane continued to slow and pitch up. I announced to the cabin "stall is imminent" and the stall began, the nose dropped and we began to lose altitude - I immediatly pushed in full power followed by pushing carb heat in (off) and raised flaps to 20 degrees. A second later the plane responded and we began to level off. We only lost about 50 - 100 feet.

We completed a few more successful stalls which were much easier than I had expected and I think I actaully enjoyed it.

The other exciting part of today's lesson was that I handled almost all radio communications. My first attempt at using the radios the week before was less than stellar. But this time I felt much more comfotable and realized the tower is there to help and understands I am still learning the radios.

As we returned to Lunken we did two touch and gos then did a final full stop landing that I completed on my own. I admit it was a little bouncy but the passengers did not seem to complain.

I fly next on Thursday night.


Posted at 9:16 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (3) | 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