Sunday, December 14, 2014

California Greening

NorCal turns Green
Today's flight took me south of the home airport for the first time since the rains started and what I saw delighted me. Northern California is turning green again! The land that was brown a month ago is now a brilliant green and more and more green is coming. 

I love the way our hills and valleys turn green when the rest of the country turns brown or white with winter. Growing up in the desert this particular shade of green was just unknown to me until moving here. Green carpets all of the land not already carpeted with trees. 

Practice Makes Better

In addition to the green I had a fun flight today. I'm working on commercial maneuvers from the right seat now. Some are easier than others. Today my plan was to do 8's on Pylons, Chandelles, Emergency Descents and Lazy 8s. 

The 8s on Pylons didn't happen. I found flock after flock of birds right at the altitude I needed to use to execute the maneuver correctly. So I switched to Chandelle's quickly with Emergency Descents to go back down once I climbed high enough. I didn't have much success on the Chandelles. I got to the point I was doing the correct bank and turn rate but I ended up 10 MPH off the desired indicated airspeed every time. Just not pitching up high enough I think. Once I found I wasn't changing my results I stopped that maneuver. 

Next was Lazy 8's. I haven't practiced Lazy 8's extensively since my commercial check ride. I had a blast. I "lazy-eighted", as I like to say, my way from north of San Martin to almost Hollister. In the process I found different ways to improve the performance of the 8. I still have a bit to go to where I want them to be. Most were within commercial spec, but I know it is within my ability to fly these very close to perfect and that's what I want to do. 

Look, Ma, No Hands!

After almost an hour of flying I decided to take some pictures of the beautiful views I was seeing. I had the plane trimmed for hands off flying, so I did while I took pictures. It was much easier than trying to take pics one handed. Then I thought I'd try some rudder exercises. Instead of using any ailerons to turn, I make a lazy turn down the valley with rudder only. I turned the other direction with the opposite rudder and relaxed, observing how the plane behaved when only rudder was used to roll the plane from left to right and back again. It was a relaxing and enlightening experience.

On return to the airport I landed the plane well. I taxied back to the ramp and sat in the plane for a while. I was happy and content. It is great to have flying days like today... even better if everything was perfect, but I'm OK with how I did. Where I'm at is not where I will be tomorrow. I'm learning so much more about flying than I could have ever guessed there is to learn now. I'm noticing more than I ever did and gaining a greater understanding with every day, sometimes with every moment I think, study, observe, listen and fly. 

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