Sunday, January 19, 2014

4 Days 4.5 Flights

Its been a busy flying time for me recently... in the last 4 days I've flown 4.5 times. Which is a lot for someone who doesn't work in the business - yet :)

Day 1 - Full Moon Bay Tour

I took a friend of mine for a SF Bay Tour. We'd been talking about doing it for a while and finally had the time and the weather line up. After a plane switch due to a mechanical issue we were off in the Arrow I usually fly. The weather was perfect, the sky clear and the moon was huge! The moon was full and just rising over the east bay hills. It lit up the bay like a spotlight as we flew up the peninsula. The spotlight of moon light slide over the water, the bridges and boats sitting in the Bay. ATC was very friendly and helpful and the Golden Gate Bridge was its usual orange and beautiful self. Then we turned east towards Oakland and flew along the Bay Bridge. The new span of the Bay Bridge was lit up in a beautiful LED light show. It was my friend's first flight in a small plane and she spent the flight glued to the window silently watching the world go by. It was a wonderful flight.

Day 2 - Diversion

Friday evening, after work, I took off to practice commercial maneuvers. I flew out to the practice area next to South County airport (E16) and did my Lazy 8s, Chandelles, Slow Flight, Steep Turns, etc, etc. Then I went over to South County and did short and soft field take offs and landings... I took off for my last time around the pattern there to do a Power Off 180 and head back to RHV. On climb out a small plane announced his intention to enter the pattern and land, he also mentioned RHV was closed due to an accident at the field. By the time I was on downwind three more planes were coming in from RHV, all reporting the same thing. I figured I may as well just land and learn what I could from the incoming planes.

By the time I landed I had a text on my phone from my husband who was at RHV when the incident happened. A plane had lost power on takeoff and attempted to return to the airport. He was successful getting back on airport property but not to the runways. The plane touched down between two hangars, slid past a light pole and then slid into a 172 taxiing on a taxiway before it came to a stop. Fortunately no one was injured and the airport was re-opened in a couple hours. I took advantage of the opportunity to meet up with my friends who live near South County for dinner before flying back to RHV after the excitement was over there.

Day 3 - 1.5 Flights

Another student of my CFI's is preparing for his own CFI check ride. His check ride is planned to be an "observed" check ride where the DPE and an observer from the FAA will be in the plane. None of us practice a lot of commercial maneuvers with extra weight in the back and he was concerned about the affect of the extra weight. So, I volunteered myself as ballast for a flight so he would get the experience of extra weight and an extra observer in the plane. As a side benefit I got to tag along for most of his "lesson" with our CFI as they reviewed systems and various fine points of the airplane. I found out I knew more than I thought I did and I got to learn even more by observing the lesson. It was fun to fly along and observe. (I'm calling this a .5 flight since I was in the back but still learning.)

After those two were done with his lesson it was my turn with my CFI.  The only maneuver I had left to practice as far as I was concerned was power on stalls which I had never done in the Arrow. And I needed to learn how to talk more. So we went up and did the power on stalls, a couple lazy 8s, chandelles and emergency descents. I had a major flash of fear in the first power on stall as the plane tried to roll to the right. But the fear eventually reduced. The other maneuvers were all within the PTS spec and I talked through the checklists that I needed to vocalize in a way I never did before.

The flight went very well. Next time up we will do a full mock check ride and see where I'm at. The DPE that I'll be using for my check ride can't do the date I wanted, but it may turn out that I do my check ride sooner than later.

Day 4 - Practice Again

This morning I went up for another round of practice. I did all of the commercial maneuvers except stalls and steep spirals. I spent some extra time in slow flight making sure I was comfortable with the plane right on the edge of a stall and able to control not only the altitude but heading with precision. On my approach back to RHV I had a lovely tailwind that had me pulling out all of the stops (power at idle, flaps full and major forward slip) to get down to the runway. In spite of it all, I did land exactly where I wanted to for my final landing. Pretty cool.

I went home to watch my team, the Broncos, win the AFC Championship Game. Not a bad way to end a string of good flying days.

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