Lesson 21 – In the Air Again, Finally

Thursday made three weeks since my last flight. When I got to the airport, the ceiling and visibility were OK for a flight but the wind was 18 knots gusting to 24 knots. We debated about whether flying in that wind would be helpful or, just frustrating. In the end, we decided to put the lesson off until Friday morning. That wouldn’t add much to my, already too long, layoff and the conditions should be better.

Friday morning was indeed a much better day. The winds were light and variable, but generally from the northwest, making for good landing practice. We decided to go to Grand Geneva where we would have a crosswind on runway 05-23.

On the way to C02, Sandy had me do a couple steep turns which I haven’t done for a long time. They went OK but, I was definitely rusty. She also had me do a power-off stall. I was getting set up for it fine, speed coming down to 65 knots, when Sandy asked me if I had missed anything. I did a quick look around the panel and realized I had totally forgotten the flaps. Once I got them down, the rest of the stall went very well. So many details to remember!

We flew on to Grand Geneva and overflew the field to check the wind sock. As expected, it was pretty much a crosswind slightly favoring runway 05. As I turned back to enter the right downwind, I lost sight of the runway and ended up too close in. I headed more away from the field and flew a longer than normal downwind to correct. The rest of the approach and landing went OK and I touched down just a little long. Another Cessna from the school had entered the pattern behind us so, we pulled off to let them land then followed them as they back taxied on the runway.

The next landing was pretty much the same as the first one. The difference was the wind. It kept shifting from our left to our right which made for good practice holding the centerline. The third time around, we took advantage of the shifting wind to do a low approach for side slip practice. Sandy said it was good but, I’m still not real comfortable with tracking that centerline all the way down the runway. I feel like I am all over the place.

The fourth time around the pattern I intentionally rolled onto final too high so I could try a forward slip. We had been trying to get these into the lesson plan for quit awhile but, conditions were never right. Today was a good day for an introduction to them and, this first one went very well. Sandy had said that, if I was doing it right, we would slip to a landing. If it wasn’t going well, it would be a go around. I managed to switch from the forward slip to a side slip while staying on the centerline so, we went for the landing. I was concentrating so much on staying on center that I messed up the flare, ballooned and plopped it down a little hard. I have to get everything working at once instead of just getting parts of the landing right.

As we turned around after the taxi back, the wind sock showed that we now had a slight tailwind. Since the wind was so light anyway, we went ahead and took off with the wind behind us – no problem at all. One more normal landing – the wind was from in front again by the time we got around the pattern – and we headed back to Waukegan. I was high on final back home so, I got to practice another forward slip. I was holding my airspeed at about 80 knots in the slip and I didn’t get rid on it fast enough before the flare. As a result, we floated a little on the landing. We got down fine though and taxied back to the ramp.

I was a little rusty after the three weeks off but, I got back into the swing of it and the lesson was a good one.

Just as a side note, the school where I train has changed it’s name from Waukegan Wings to Skill Aviation so, I have to remember to tell ground control that I am at Skill – not Wings. For now though, tower will accept both names.