Lesson Three
27 October 1997
1200 o'clock
1.7 hours

Following Adam's suggestion, I spent most of today's lesson flying around in circles. That sounds a bit silly, but I found it really helpful, as I was able to get a pretty good feel--at last--for the attitude of the plane in 15 degree and 30 degree turns, as well as when flying straight and level. What we discovered is that Adam's view of the relationship of the nose cowling to the horizon is quite different from mine. Before, he'd say things like, "Keep the nose just above the horizon, but if I did that the result wasn't at all what he had in mind. Now we're singing from the same hymbook, as the expression goes. Anyway, I did a lot of 360's, level, ascending, and descending, and now I feel a lot more in tune with the aircraft.

Here are the references I found:

Level flight: horizon four fingers above the top of the instrument panel.
30 degree turn LEFT:  horizon a little to the right of the center cowling bolt (about 1/3 of the way to the first right bolt).
30 degree turn RIGHT:  horizon on the left corner of the top of the instrument panel, or a little above the highest part of the cowling.

Rats.  What about 15 degree turns?

I also began paying attention to the attitude indicator, as I should have been doing all along (and used to do before). That helped a lot, and I was able to hold altitude within 50 feet, even in 30 degree turns.

On take off, I felt much more comfortable, too. Watched the airspeed, and rotated reasonably smoothly when it got up to 55. Pulled up a little too steeply at first and was climbing at only about 60--knew better, but managed somehow to think about it wrong. Adam reminded me, and I eased the nose down until we were climbing at 70. (67 produces the best rate of climb, called Vy, in a Cessna 152,but I suppose he says to hold 70 because that's easier to remember than 67 and farther from stalling. 54 is supposed to be Vx, the speed for clearing objects; and 80, or Vsomething, is the best speed for covering distance while climbing. I've got to memorize that stuff!

After running up the engine and checking the other stuff, we stopped at the holdshort line and Adam called in for take off. Then we got to talking about something, I've forgotten what, and just sat there for a minute or two. Fortunately, Adam thought to call in again--because it turned out that someone was on final, and if we had taxied out onto the runway, there would have been a rather awkward situation.

Considering how little traffic there normally is at Chesterfield County Airport, this was a big traffic day for us. As we were about to enter the pattern to land, some guy called in that he was "south" and would be crossing the airport at 1400 feet. Where "south" was was unclear, and to be sure that nothing else awkward occurred, Adam took over until we spotted the other plane and could be sure where he was heading. Sure enough, he crossed the south end of the runway at about 1400 feet, heading north. Then it was our turn. We entered the pattern on downwind, and I remembered ahead of Adam's prompting to throttle back to 1500 rpm and wait for the airspeed to drop off before letting it pitch down.  When the needle was within the white arc I put in 10 degrees of flaps. Turned base, flaps to 20 degrees, holding the speed about right. Turned final a little late but got lined up okay. Adam pointed out that the glide slope light was white, indicating that we were at the right altitude for that distance from the runway. Flaps to 30 degrees. Over the end of the runway, coming down, throttle back to idle. We flared out pretty well--although I think Adam was helping there, because it was very smooth--and we were down so nicely that we could turn off on the first exit (of three). Taxied to the holdshort line and switched the transponder to standby, while waiting for another plane to clear the taxiway, then taxied to the ramp. Went through the before stopping engine checklist and shut everything down.

Okay, so what did I accomplish today, besides flying around in circles, getting the look and feel of the plane? Can't think of anything specific right now. Maybe that's enough. Keep on studying the books and visualizing the flying.  Work through the book of exercises, too, to be sure I really know that stuff.

Make a separate list of the data that keeps eluding me.

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