I was healthy, the landing gear was repaired and the weather, while not great, was acceptable Friday. I watched the METARS deteriorate all morning. More and more airports to the west of Waukegan were going from VFR to marginal VFR. Just before I left work at noon, UGN went down to 2900 broken. That was still good enough for pattern work though.
The Cutlass was in the hanger so I got to do the preflight in comfort. Then, we pulled it outside, jumped in and fired up the engine. ATIS was now reporting 3000 broken so Pete suggested we head west to try some air work. We did manage to climb to 3000 feet but didn’t get any higher. As we went west the broken layer turned into an overcast and clouds were lower. Pete had wanted to do some more step climbs and descents but, the ceiling would not allow it. I did a couple steep turns, a little slow flight and then we turned back toward the airport for some full stop landings with taxi backs.
I did ten patterns with eight landings and two go-arounds. We did a couple of those landings without flaps. Those were no problem for me. Doing that many patterns in just a little over an hour doesn’t allow for any relaxation. We would complete the before take off check list as we taxied back and tell the tower we were ready while still rolling toward the runway hold line. Once we had to hold for landing traffic but most of the time we were cleared for takeoff and just kept moving onto the runway and into air. I worked hard on this flight. It showed on the last two landings which were not as good as the first six. I ballooned on one and was way off center line on the last one. Fatigue really does have a big impact on performance.
I am now comfortable with the takeoff and landing routines. Even though we stayed in the pattern, I went through the gear raising, cruise climb power and propeller adjustments and so on like I was departing. Then, on downwind, I would drop the gear, put the propeller full in and treat it like I would if I was just arriving. Good practice for real world flying.
I now have 6.2 out of 10 hours, 19 of 25 landings and 4 out of 5 go-arounds completed. Pete would like to go somewhere with a short, narrow runway (Westosha?) for the next flight. I think I will suggest a short cross country for the following one. After all, the Cutlass is a cross country airplane. Maybe I can get the requirements done in two more flights.
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