More pattern work. I was gone for three weeks, didn't fly (or drive) a day. I'm back for a week.. flew Monday, flew today... scheduled to fly Friday. And the task of the week is pattern work and more pattern work. I wasn't horribly rusty. But I've had my challenges this week so far.
Monday's problem the way I kept "looking ahead in the turns". This is a great thing to do when racing cars. This is NOT a good thing to do when flying an airplane. Yes, you want to look before you turn to know what you are turning to. Yes, you must look before you turn to make sure you don't turn into the path another aircraft. But look ahead as you go THROUGH the turn? No no no! If you are looking ahead in a turn, you aren't looking at your pitch and then your airspeed goes to hell. Its all about airspeed (and therefore its all about pitch). But I felt like I had the trim worked out better and trim was a problem for me before I went out of town.
Today's problem? Well, I fixed the looking ahead problem, but this time I was struggling with trim. And when I wasn't struggling with trim (pitch, power THEN trim damnit!) I was struggling with pitch. I was struggling with pitch because I was chasing the damn airspeed indicator. I would pitch for what I thought was right, look at the airspeed indicator, it wouldn't show what I needed so I'd make a big adjustment and then over adjust up and down and up again. My CFI finally got so sick of it he put a sticky note over the airspeed indicator and had me fly the pattern without it. All of the sudden I was able to nail the pitch all the way around.
Other problems today, leveling off at pattern altitude .. I kept overshooting by 100 ft, but I dialed that back in eventually. Crosswind leg to long or too short, this is because we were flying a left pattern instead of right pattern and the right pattern I'm used to has a noise abatement turn before the crosswind.. not doing that noise abatement turn really changes the timing. But I dialed that back in. Turning too late onto base, still working on that, it was rather windy I think that was impacting me. Turning too steep from base to final (we do power off approaches, so its really important to preserve airspeed).
But.. a break through. The last loop through the pattern I finally understood. If I put the nose at the pitch I know is right.... I KNOW the right pitch. I've proven it.... The airspeed indicator will eventually read the right thing. It has to chase me, not the other way around. So Friday, I will put that new understanding to practice.
On another note.. it was windy and gusty today. The plane got bounced around more than a little, and it didn't bother me one bit. What a huge change from earlier this year when I was terrified of even small turbulence. Another little tidbit. I flew the whole time with the door unlocked. I didn't realize it until I landed and went to open the door at the end of the flight. That's is a bit scary to me. I also, for the first time, tried to go through a checklist from memory.. not on purpose, but I found I didn't use the checklist 100%, and it showed. I missed a couple different steps on different checklists. I need to make sure to really GO THROUGH THE CHECKLIST. Every checklist.
Today was a really good learning day, as frustrating as it was. Hopefully Friday will show the fruits of that learning.