Thursday’s lesson ended up being a ground school session because of thunderstorms in the vicinity of the airport. We went over non-directional beacons and ADF use. I have a feeling that all those calculations of relative bearing, magnetic bearings, magnetic headings to and from the station, etc. are going to be very hard to do when I am in the airplane with so many other things going on too.
The plan for yesterday (Sunday) was to go out and practice the NDB stuff from Thursday’s ground school. As it turned out, we couldn’t do that. Only one of the C172’s has an ADF in it and it was already booked. We will fly the NDB lesson soon but, for this one, we would do some short field takeoffs and landings and I would get my first try at flight by reference to instruments.
I did a short field takeoff leaving Waukegan. The takeoff was fine except that I drifted to the right too much. I have to remember to look out the side when in that nose high attitude required for best angle of climb. After reaching an altitude that was well clear of our pretend obstacle, I dropped the nose a little to build speed then raised the flaps and continued climbing at Vy. The rest of the climbout was normal as was the climbing turn to the west.
Once outside the Class D airspace, Sandy took over the controls while I put the training hood on. This is a visor like device that limits the wearer’s view to only the instrument panel. I started out with just holding the airplane straight and level while practicing my instrument scan. The scan requires me to use the attitude indicator as a hub and move my view to the other instruments in succession – AI, airspeed indicator, AI, altimeter, AI, directional gyro, AI, turn coordinator, AI, vertical speed indicator, AI, tachometer – repeated over and over. That went OK except that I had a tendency to turn to the left just a little.
Next, Sandy had me do standard rate turns to the left and right, rolling out on headings she assigned. After a few of these, I felt I was starting to get the hang of it. Finally, she had be do a constant speed climb which means that I added power then pitched the nose up to hold 80 knots while climbing to an assigned altitude.
I only got .2 hours of simulated instrument time during this lesson but, it was a good introduction. I will be doing a lot more of this over the next several lessons and the time under the hood will get longer.
Sandy took the controls again while I removed the hood. Once I had the hood off, she asked me where we were and where Westosha was. I recognized Lake Geneva to our west so knew that Westosha was to our right. A turn in that direction had the airport right on our nose. I made a call to let traffic know we were inbound then set up to enter the downwind for runway 3.
The last time I landed at Westosha was during my Stage 2 check flight. That 38 foot wide runway really gave be problems then and I only managed to land once. This time went much better. My short field technique is still far from perfect, but I did land three times out of four attempts and only used about half of the 2800 foot length. The one go-around was because I was way too high on final not because of being off centerline. My biggest landing problem now is that I am letting the nose of the airplane wandering just before touchdown. I have to work on that.
Before we took off for this lesson, Sandy and I went over the tasks still left to do and came up with a tentative schedule. Weather or other delays will probably force us to re-evaluate later but, regardless of the exact timing, the check ride is coming up fast. I still feel like there is a lot to do to get ready.
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Sounds like things are coming along nicely. I’m assuming the cross countries are next up for you?
I will be interested to hear your expericences with that, as I’m just starting those myself (had my first dual XCountry just a few days ago).
About how long are you expecting it to take to finish from here?
I have done two dual cross countries and I am getting ready for the solo XCs. I need some more hood work and my stage 3 check then I’ll be moving into the solo XC and check ride prep stage so I’m probably within a couple months of finishing.