Saturday, October 15, 2011

Feeling like I'm making progress

This week was a good week for me in flight training and progress toward my PPL goal. As my CFI and I agreed, we started to move forward on the checkride prep process. Instead of waiting for me to perfect my one final maneuver, we are just going forward. So far I feel like its working :)

I did my first mock checkride Thursday... given my habit of over preparing for things, especially for flying, I deliberately did absolutely nothing to prepare for the checkride. I didn't study the charts the night before. I didn't get my kneeboard ready with info for expected airports easily on hand. I barely checked the weather. I certainly didn't study, I didn't even review the PTS standards before the ride. I just showed up.

The ride went relatively well I thought. I wouldn't have passed by any means, but the things that I failed on are things that I normally do very easily and well. The things that I did well on are the things I had been struggling with before. Maybe I was overconfident on some things and that bit me while the things I was not overconfident on did not? Dunno, but it was ok. Things I did well, the takeoffs and landings, the simulated emergency, power on stalls, power off stalls, maintaining altitude during the steep turns. Things I blew, radio work of all things, getting complete ATIS information.. both of which I normally do so well and have done so well for so long, that I don't even think about it anymore (probably my problem!) I didn't maintain altitude when I went into slow flight - never had that problem before. So yeah, I would have failed, but I failed at things I know I can do.

The thing I really liked, I didn't get all flustered when I made the mistakes. I just kept on going and kept my head. That was the thing I was most wondering if I could do. Of course, it was just a mock check ride, but I've made mistakes flying with my CFI before and gotten more and more and more flustered when it happened. So maybe I've turned a corner with that particular problem.

Today we went down to E16 to see if I know enough about flying in that area to get signed off to practice at a non-towered airport on my own. I'm glad we did that, because it has been so long since I've flown to a non-towered airport under my own direction that I totally screwed it up. There are some basic rules for flying to an airport (#1 don't fly TO the airport once you've spotted it) that I had completely forgotten in the months of flying in circles around RHV. So, I got a very good refresher. We did some simulated emergency work as well. I made the field... just. My radio work was much better today but I didn't look at the windsocks on my first landing so blew that. So much to keep track of up there. But today I'm not worried. I learned/re-learned some things today. In the end I'm signed off to do takeoffs and landings at E16 now. So I'll be able to go and practice a skill I definitely need to improve on. Hopefully tomorrow.

A final cool note, coming back into RHV I was high and fast on the approach. So I put in 20 degrees of flaps and did a forward slip to loose altitude. Then I eased out of the slip right on glide slope and landed. I didn't do the soft field landing I wanted *sigh* but I landed nice.  (Gotta look at the end of the runway to land a soft field landing well - didn't do that.)  When we were taxiing back my CFI commented on the slip and how very well executed it was and what a big difference that was from the first time I did one. Nice to have some airmanship recognized positively and very nice to feel like I'm moving forward.

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