Lesson 25 – Polishing Landings

Scheduling a morning session paid off. When I got to the airport at 8AM, the winds were only 6 knots with a 2 knot crosswind component for runway 5. That is a big change from my usual 10 to 15 knots gusting to 20 or 25.

I did my preflight then went back inside for the lesson briefing. We did a quick review of speeds and configurations for each leg of the pattern and talked about how to handle problems like ballooning and bouncing during the landing. Sandy said she was going to let me do the landing on my own. She would talk me through the first one then talk less and less until I was doing them without any help at all from her.

The first circuit was a left hand pattern that I took out a little wide. I held a little extra power on base to keep from getting too low and it worked out OK. I saw the wind blowing us to the right on final but got a slip in to correct. I ballooned just a little but corrected without the need for power and touched down smoothly.

The second pattern was another left hand one and I managed to keep it in tighter than the first one. It didn’t make a lot of difference though because tower had me extend my downwind for landing traffic. I held my altitude and turned when the controller called my base. I ended up on about a 2 mile final going a little too fast. I got everything corrected and stabilized by short final and ballooned even less this time.

Another left hand pattern for the third time around and Sandy wasn’t saying much anymore. I was low on final this time so I added some power and held off on the last notch of flaps. That got us back on the glide slope and the landing was the best one yet.

Before takeoff number 4, the controller threw me a curve and called for a right hand pattern. For some reason, that messed me up a little on my headings. I got it straightened out but flew a somewhat sloppy pattern. Sandy didn’t say anything this time. I did balloon again but, I added a little power and got it back so that the touchdown was fine.

Before I took off the fifth time, tower told me this would be anther left pattern. He didn’t mean it though. Just after I lifted off, he called and said;”Cessna 8ES change your pattern to right hand traffic.” I switch my thinking to the right and made the first two turns OK but turned base too soon. This put me pretty high on final so I had to take out a lot of power and go to full flaps early. This flare demonstrated some of my best ballooning yet. I managed to balloon at least three time on this one landing! I controlled them all though and landed just slightly hard.

Pattern number 6 was our last one and was back to the left. This whole pattern and approach were good and I came down right on the glide slope. I was determined not to balloon this time with the result that I over corrected by not pulling back enough and bounced the landing. Just one bounce though and I got it down firmly but not really hard.

This was a very good lesson. The last three landing were on my own with no CFI input at all. I was sharing the pattern with another student doing his first solo and, for the first time, I believed that I too really can do this on my own. Solo is very close now. Sandy thought so too and scheduled my stage check for Sunday. I turned in my pre-solo written test so that is out of the way.