Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bits of Coolness

A couple short flights made for a fun week last week as I got my groove back and my daughter got to explore what it's like to fly a plane.

Slight Tweaking for Me

The first flight for me was with my CFI so he could diagnose the little difficulties I've been having in the pattern and with my straight in landings. In no time he figured out what I was doing in the pattern. I was flying too close to the runway, turning too soon and not staying on top of the power as much as I needed to. These problems were much more obvious at South County because I was using different visual cues to line up on downwind and turn than I use flying a right pattern at Reid-Hillview. Some quick tweaks and I was back on track in the pattern.

Then it was time for the visual straight in to Reid. This is something I've never really been good at especially in faster planes. I was good enough in 172s but tending too high and fast in 182s and Arrows. We talked through it thoroughly on the ground and instead of staying high as long as I was used to, I was to get down to pattern altitude 3 miles out at 15" of MP then go ahead and do the landing process. One the way back my approach was better but I was still a bit behind and high and fast, but not near as high or fast as "usual". We talked about the final tweak I needed to further improve after landing and I felt confident I could execute on the plan next time.

A Chick Flies

My Daughter
"Clicks Fly!"

Then it was my daughter's turn. She was going to go up and do a pinch hitter training flight. The same thing that got me flying 3 years ago. She's 14, almost 15, and it is time to get her to the point she can land a plane if the worst happened to myself or my husband while flying. She went up in the Arrow. I figured she doesn't know these planes are complex, its just a plane to her. Turns out I was right. She did fantastic. As a young lady she doesn't have the adult baggage and she's bright, she's been observing us flying for 5 years now and she listens well when she's engaged.

In what seemed like no time she was back from her flight. At first she didn't say anything but she later ran out to tell me how great she did. She had fun flying and said she was over her fear of landings now. She landed the plane twice she said. My CFI later reported she darned near landed herself twice and she only needed one more flight. Just to navigate a bit and try a couple more landings.

Two days later she went back up for her second flight. CFI took off, turned the plane downwind and gave her the controls. She programmed the GPS for South County and flew herself down to that airport and landed the plane. After that my CFI had her take off from South County (he helped with that) and they flew back to Reid and landed again. Done, in two flights and less than two hours my kiddo has better than a snowball's chance to save herself in case of a medical emergency in a small plane. She also got a small taste of what its like to be in control of a light aircraft and fly. I think she liked it!

It Works

Saturday I went back up in the Arrow to practice what my CFI taught (or re-taught) me. I took a friend with me and we flew down to Hollister. The winds there favored runway 24 which I had never landed before, which was very good. That meant I couldn't rely on unconscious clues to fly. I was much improved down there and even did a series of correct adjustments to make my pattern even better.  It was quite fun and my friend was great company helping me spot planes in the pattern and opening the passenger door on the ground to cool off the cockpit.

Only one more thing to try, the straight in to Reid. On the way back I reviewed what I would do. Down to 1300 feet or 1200 feet 3 miles out at 15" of MP. Then level off, gear down, manage manifold pressure and start the process with the flaps much quicker than before. It worked and it made sense. I ended up on glide slope, not too high, not too fast. I had to do some minor tweaks with the power to adjust for winds and up/downdrafts but had a very nice, smooth landing. It was a beautiful thing.

This week my daughter and I both got to experience some real joy in flight and that is just plane cool.


  1. Congratulations. Among other things, it sounds like your daughter wants to become a pilot, just like Mom and Dad. While she cannot solo for a few more years, Mom and Dad can make some ground school reading available - just in case she's interested... Great post.

  2. I don't know yet if she wants to be a pilot but if she does, she'll have our full support :) As you say, plenty of ground school reading material is available at home if she chooses to review it. I am very happy to be able to share this aspect of what has become so important for me with her.