Yesterday was my first flight in a week. I had to take Thursday off because of work commitments. The plan had been to do a quick review of slow flight and steep turns then start on an introduction to ground reference maneuvers. Sandy changed that plan even before we took off. She had just come back from a flight with another student. They tried to do ground reference work but found that the air was just too rough to get any benefit from them. Instead, we would do more work on slow flight, power off stalls and steep turns. Sandy told me up front that they would be much harder to do in the bumpy air but she thought the added difficulty would be good practice for me.
I had one flub on the radio. The tower controller told me to position and hold. I acknowledged and started out onto the runway. As I crossed the hold line, the controller came back on and told me to acknowledge. I was sure I had until Sandy pointed out that I hadn’t pressed the push-to-talk button the first time – oops.
The gusty winds and rough air were apparent right from the takeoff. As soon as we left the ground, I had to fight to keep the wings level and stay on the runway center line. I drifted back a forth a little but never so far as to require CFI help to get back.
Once in the practice area, we started with slow flight. This was the first time I had tried it without flaps. Holding heading was hard work with the wings getting knocked up and down constantly. The nose was getting pushed up and down too but, once I got the trim right, I didn’t have too much trouble holding speed. It was a work out but, overall, not too bad. I still need to watch that right rudder though.
Steep turns were next. My first one to the left was better than the last time out. I only lost about 100 feet compared to 300 feet last time. Before I could congratulate myself though, I started one to the right. This one was pretty bad. The first half of the turn went OK but I must have lost at least 300 feet in the second half. Yes, some of it was because of the rough air but I can’t blame it all on that. In my defense, Sandy tried a couple and even she found them very hard to do. Still, I know that I do need more work on my steep turns.
Next up was a power off stall. I thought I did it pretty well. I kept the ball centered, stalled straight ahead and didn’t drop the nose too low on the recovery this time. The only criticism Sandy had was that I didn’t get the nose up into the stall quickly enough so I lost a little more altitude than necessary. It must have been OK though since she only had me do that one. We did not try any turning stalls because of the bumps.
All-in-all, it was hard work but a very good lesson. Hopefully we will have a smoother day next time so we can get started on the power on stalls, turning stalls and ground reference maneuvers.
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