Lesson 32
19 February
1.5 hours

A beautiful clear day, but windy--270 at 12.   Later on it was 9, gusting 19.

Lots of up- and downdrafts today, some taking us up or down 200 or 300 feet in a few seconds, like invisible escalators.  Once I was trying to regain 200 feet and was climbing at full throttle and 80 knots, but we lost 100 feet, instead, until flying out of the draft.  Another time, I throttled back to 1900 rpm and pitched down to decend--glanced at the vertical speed indicator and saw that we were climbing at 1000 feet a minute.

Did lots of stalls, both power off and power on, and several power-failure emergencies.

All went well today--except that I got too slow on landing and forgot to keep the flaps to only 20 degrees to compensate for the high wind gusts and we dropped, floated, and finally hit fairly hard.  On the other hand, I compensated for the crosswind pretty well, both taking off and landing.

In the terminal, Adam wanted to talk about my progress--said I'd pass the FAA checkride right now if I had done the cross-country stuff.  That was heartening--although I'm not quite that confident, myself..  He said that Dominion Aviation's standard procedure is to reverse the order of two stages in the Jeppesen Syllabus and have the solo checkride before the solo, instead of after it.  Most people, he said,  take that checkride when they have 35 to 40 hours dual time--which is where I am now.  He said also that it's taking about 60 hours of flight time these days for people to get good enough for the FAA checkride.

The solo checkride, he said, is with the head of the flight school, Becky Luther.  She evidently is a real bear on crosswind landings and power failures.  He said she cuts power on takeoff, on downwind, and almost any other time she gets the chance.  That'll be fun.

One of the things I learned all over again today is not to take shortcuts in my head.  On the way back to the airport I knew approximately where we were and could see the arrowhead-shaped reservoir that points right to the field--but it was a bit hazy and at only 1500 feet I couldn't spot the field, even though I knew we were flying more or less toward it.  The reservoir was about two miles to the south, and I was making an imaginary line in my mind in the direction it pointed, but still couldn't see the field.  Adam said to fly to the reservoir and then I'd be okay.  I thought that ought to be unnecessary--but did it anyway.  And, sure enough, as soon as we got above it, there was the airfield, right in front of me.  I'd been fooled by the haze and was looking far beyond it.  So the mental shortcut was no good.  I've been seeing that same thing happen as I study for the FAA written test.  I can do many of the problems in my head--but when I don't take the time to write everything down on paper I tend to make dumb mistakes.  So I'm learning to do the whole job, go the whole way, even when I think I don't need to.  That's just when I do!

To prep for next time:

When practicing stalls--keep looking WAY out.   Add power a little quicker (power-on)

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