After over a month since my last flight, the weather cleared, the plane was ready to fly and my instructor was in town. Perfect conditions for a flight during lunch. I think it’s time to finish up my flight training and seriously prepare for my checkride. During preflight, we discussed air work and maneuvers from a practical test standards perspective to make sure we covered everything in our effort to review for the checkride. Regardless of what I have in mind for a practice flight, my CFI always seem to throw in something extra and it turns out to be a ton of fun.
We departed straight out to the south from runway 17 and climbed to 4000 feet. First, I practiced entering and maintaining slow flight, with turns. After recovering from slow flight he had me do steep turns to the left and right. I was able to maintain altitude within about 50 feet and crossed over our own wake turbulence nicely. We then went into stall practice – power on (turning) first and then power off. Then we worked on a new maneuver – the emergency spiral decent. It sounds like a complicated and challenging technique. However, he broke it down simply for me: power to idle, pitch for roughly Vno and enter a 60 degree banked turn over my target. In this case the target was my brother-in-law’s grass strip. We descended from about 5000 feet to pattern altitude and set up for a landing. Had I hit my best glide speed a little earlier, it would have been perfect. I maintained too much of a descent and would’ve come up a little short without adding just a little power. He gave me the option to land if I felt comfortable, so I put her down on the strip.
After a much better short/soft takeoff than last time from this strip, we decided to fly over to Lyons Landing – a nearby neighborhood with a grass strip. My instructor had obtained approval to land prior to making the short 5nm hop over to Lyons. This was the first time I had ever flown into a grass strip I’d never seen. It gave me the opportunity to learn how to make a few passes to assess the runway, approach path, etc. I did an initial approach and go around to overfly the runway in addition to alerting residents that we intended to land. My first approach to land was a little rushed and so I executed a go around again to give myself more time. On the next approach, I extended my downwind leg, giving me more time to get setup and slowed down for a short field landing. Having more time allowed for a more stabilized approach and a pretty good landing that used about a third of the 3000 foot runway. After taxiing to the end, I performed a soft field takeoff and headed back towards the airport.
Back at the airport we set up to make several normal landings for practice. I needed the practice too, as I haven’t flown in over month – and the rust showed. It took three landings before I was consistent in setting up my approach, nailing my speed, hitting the centerline early, etc. These are things I will need to have down solid for my checkride. As my instructor stated, I need to show the examiner that I have control over the plane and not vice versa. Consistency will prove that. With a fresh solo endorsement in my logbook, I’m ready to do just that – practice, practice, practice.
Special thanks to Derek Shelnut (@Unit715) for the landing photos above.
As my instructor was entering our flight into my logbook, he asked if I was ready to schedule my checkride. He feels good about my air work / flight experience. He wants to grill me on the oral information before the ride, but feels like a scheduled date will give me a timeline to finish. I couldn’t agree more. I’m ready….I think.
- PTS Maneuvers
- Actual Short/Soft Landings
- Actual Short/Soft Takeoffs
- Lyons Landing
- Falcon Aerie
- Lyons Landing