I started my formal commercial pilot training last weekend. Today was my second training flight for the new rating. It was fun. It was fun because I talked with my CFI candidly about my level of comfort in the plane and my desire to try to keep the flying fun and not fixate on specs. My CFI is a darned good CFI. It seemed he had already detected my comfort level wasn't where it needed to be and when I told him how I am particularly sensitive to different sounds in the plane he decided he would address that as well. I've learned what the Arrow sounds like on normal climb out, cruise and descent. I am not familiar to what the plane sounds like when it is taken through its paces with full power and power off, full prop or prop full back, full power climb and no power descents. Planes making unfamiliar noises set off warning bells in my mind.
Today's flight started with a focus on the different sounds the plane will be making... the squeal of the landing gear horn when the power is pulled back to idle. The bit of a surge the engine makes, sometimes, when the prop is shoved forward or the manifold pressure is suddenly reduced. The changes in the sound when doing steep turns at 18" of manifold pressure. The brief cough in the engine when power is reduced or increased quickly. The feel of the buffet on the edge of a stall, the actual feel of a power on stall and the pitch required to make it happen.
After I got comfortable with the vast variety of sounds and pitches we started working on the components of chandelles. Taking the components one piece at a time worked really well and with increased comfort at the high pitch required for the second half of the maneuver I was able to roll the wings level very smoothly and slowly. The last one I did was to commercial spec without much effort at all.
Another thing to note on that last chandelle was a 172 was below us doing slow flight. We noticed him and did not get too concerned about it just made sure to "see and avoid". It turns out the Cessna had an ex-DPE we knew in it. He was watching us and caught up to me later to tell me he saw my chandelle and said it was very nice and smooth.
One thing chandelle's do is they make you climb, so, I got to learn how to do a steep spiral to descend quickly. That was fun too... then it was time to go back to RHV. I did a nice straight in approach and landing, ending on a high note for me.
I think a large portion of why this particular flight went so well is me being up front with my CFI about my level of comfort, sensitivity to sound and desires for the tone of my flying. In my opinion, being able to be honest with your CFI, having a CFI that is able to adjust to and address your concerns and needs, and then trusting that CFI and putting your best into whatever they tell you to do critical to successful flight training. It's a relationship that requires both people, CFI and student, to work together for a common goal. I'm happy and grateful to have a very good relationship with my CFI developed over many years of flying together. That relationship will drive my future successes in flying :)