Lesson 61 – Dual to Racine

I see why CFIs recommend that their students fly at least once a week and preferably more often. The two plus week layoffs I have been going through lately always leave me rusty. Today was a perfect day with clear blue skies and smooth air. Just the kind of day I want for my long cross country. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an airplane until 2PM; way to late for me to have done the trip and gotten back before dark. Instead, Sandy and I did a dual session of maneuvers to knock off some of that accumulated rust.

Once in the practice area, we went through the usual high air work of slow flight, steep turns, and stalls. A simulated engine failure to got us down closer to the ground where we finished up with some turns around a point. The rustiness was obvious as none of the maneuvers were really good. They weren’t bad, just not really good. I plan to do a couple solo sessions to work on getting my techniques back to what they should be.

Next, Sandy told me to fly to the airport at Racine, WI for some landing practice. She picked Racine because my pilotage would have to be sharp to keep us from busting any airspace. The route to the airport is a tight squeeze between the Kenosha class D and the class C at Milwaukee. By using the GPS to fly over the Sylvania airport and following a highway from there to Racine, I made it without any problem.

My patterns at Racine were good and my landings were not bad. I still have a tendency to balloon a little in the flare so that is what we worked on. After a small balloon an the first landing, the next two were much better.

Our time was running out so, we headed back home directly through the Kenosha class D. I am all for laid back controllers but, some just take it too far. I called the Kenosha tower as we left Racine to request transition through their airspace. The response was;

“Cessna 8ES, thank you”.

I looked at Sandy and asked if that meant our transition was approved. She wasn’t sure either so I called again to tell the controller where we were and that we wanted to fly through his airspace. Again he comes back with;

“Cessna 8ES, thank you”.

This time Sandy got on the radio and asked if we had approval to transition through the class D. The controller responded that we didn’t need his approval, we just needed to establish two way communication. While that is true, I would prefer to have a clear confirmation that the controller understood my request and does not have a problem with it. If you ask me, a simple “Transition approved” would be a much better response than “Thank you”.

My landing back at Waukegan was a little flat, I was probably trying too hard not to balloon, but otherwise fine. I didn’t even have to tie the airplane down this time since the next student was waiting for us as we taxied onto the ramp.

I will try to get a solo to the practice area in on Sunday and then fly the long solo cross country one day next week – if we get any good weather days.