What follows is an imperfect description of an imperfect traffic pattern lesson. I'm on the ground, so its OK. I'll be perfect as soon as possible!
Preflight (initial, interior, exterior)... Move seat forward so I can press the rudders fully and reach the controls. Seat belt, harness, strap on knee board, headset plugged in. Close door, leave window open, its HOT. Start Avionics On, radio check, ATIS, altimeter set. Taxi, Pre-Taxi
Reid-Hillview Ground, Cessna five two four niner two at Squadron2 with Pappa. Ready to taxi for closed traffic.
Cessna five two four niner two, taxi to runway three one right via Zulu.
Three one right via Zulu, five two four niner two.
... stay on the center line. No faster than an old white guy can run. An airport old white guy, not a marathoner old white guy. Stay on center line, adjust throttle to 1000 RPM, go around the waiting Cessna, turn and face the tower, straighten the nose gear. Close window. Run-Up, Pre-Takeoff, Takeoff Abort plan ready! Taxi up to hold line.
Reid-Hillview Tower, Cessna five two four niner two ready on the right.
Cessna five two four niner two, cleared for takeoff runway three one right.
Cleared for takeoff runway three one right, five two four niner two.
That part only happened once the rest is repeated for each time through the pattern. We did a couple times on three one right, then the tower told us to go to three one left and make left traffic. The description below is the sequence for the best and last time through the pattern, left traffic for three one left. I won't mention some of the other ones. *smile*
... taxi onto runway, line up with center line, feet off breaks, onto rudder, power on full, stay on center line, right rudder, more right rudder, stay on center line, 55 mph, pull back slightly, plane off the ground, more right rudder, fly just off the ground, let airspeed build, pitch up to Vy... slowly. Left hand on yolk, right on throttle. Keep Vy pitch, trim if needed. Wings level, fly straight, Vy pitch, right rudder, Vy pitch. 500 ft AGL. Upwind leg done.
Time to do crosswind leg - look left, pick target point, look straight, no right rudder and turn left. Vy pitch, Vy, Vy. Wings level when aimed at target. Check airspeed (Vy) and track.
Time for downwind leg - Look left under wing, pick target point, look straight, no right rudder and turn left. Vy pitch, Vy, Vy. Wings level when aimed at target. Check airspeed and track. Check altitude... 1,100 ft time to level out, pitch for straight and level, pull power slightly, trim. ... he will do radio calls ... I fly ... aviate, navigate, communicate. Stable in level flight, check distance from runway. Runway approx half way up strut is approx 1/2 mile away. We are now free to move about the cabin (ha!) about 30 seconds. Abeam the numbers, time to reduce power, carb heat on, reduce power all the way, engine on idle. Do not let the plane lose altitude. Need some left rudder. Speed below 85kts, 10 degrees flaps, do not let nose rise, need some right rudder. Speed down to 70 knots, nose down a bit to pitch for 65. Trim 1-2-3-4-5-6. Look over left shoulder, runway about 45 degrees behind.
Time for base - look left under wing, pick target point, look straight, left rudder, left aileron, keep pitch for 65, do not stare at air speed gauge. Wings level, check airspeed and track. Glance at runway... draw center line out from the airport, should run through the middle of the instrument pack. Airspeed and track. (PS, if you turn too early for base, you end up too high on final, keep that in mind next time).
Time for final - look left under wing, pick target point (runway center line). Look straight, left rudder, left aileron, keep pitch for 65, do not stare at air speed gauge. Turn. Roll out of turn, right rudder, right aileron... line up with extended center line. Keep pitch for 65. Correct line up makes it look like we're too far right... but don't go too far right. If it ain't right, fix it. Check VASI, can't do power off approach *on* glide slope. White over white is OK. 10 degrees more flaps. Keep pitch for 65. Keep eyes on runway, getting closer... wait and wait. OK, now start round out slowly. Very slowly, eyes move to the end of the runway... stare at the end of the runway. Plane does a bit of a sink, keep the nose up, fly just above the runway, pull back a bit more. scrch! gear on runway, keep nose up and up and up... slowly let nose down. Slide feet up to brakes. Slowly slow the plane, get off runway, turn onto Yankee.
He says that I did it an unassisted landing he didn't touch the controls once. It doesn't hit me right away.
Cessna five two four niner two, terminating.
Five two four niner two cross three one right to parking, continue monitoring this frequency.
Time for after landing checklist. Flaps up, carb heat off, power back to 1000 rpm. He has flight controls, I clean up. I have controls, stay on centerline, debrief on the way. Taxi to parking spot, avionics off, mixture full lean, mags, master. securing checklist Headset off, window open, door open. Out and park the plane, tie down and finish securing plane.
In the end we did 5 takeoffs and landings in an hour, two of them I did unassisted (physically anyway). The last one was best... almost just like I visualized it when "couch flying" for the last two weeks.
Pitch for airspeed. Look straight. Stay on center line, if it ain't right, fix it! Close isn't good enough and I sure was reminded what happens when it isn't right... Absolute heaven! I have spent the last 10 years with people telling me to accept less than perfect, its OK. Now I'm being pushed to strive for perfect. I love it...
and... for those few brief seconds in the pattern I realize... I'm flying the airplane and turning and going up and down and not scared to death. I'm an awkward bird, but getting a bit more graceful all the time. I'm not going to be able to fly much over the next few months, with travel and weather planning to interfere. So I know I'll be doing a lot more pattern work, and each time will fall back a bit then go forward a bit, just like today. Today was a pattern I hope to see repeat.