Sunday, November 1, 2015

It's Coming Together

I've been working on soft field landings in a Piper Arrow... Arrows are notoriously difficult to do soft field landings in. Add to that soft field landings have always been a weak area for me. I've been "good enough" for check rides and such but this time I was getting stuck. While most other maneuvers have all been within spec I'd not been sure my soft field landings were soft enough.

I worked on it on my own but still wasn't happy... so turned to my CFI for help and he took us down to a grass strip to give me experience of what a real soft field is like. That was an eye opening experience and a lot of fun. We had a stiff crosswind on the grass field and I got to practice both soft field and crosswind techniques. Then I went out and worked on my own again and got a lot closer. I had a revelation about what I was doing that was keeping that last bit of perfect away from me.

This log book entry confirms..
I'm very close!!
Yesterday I shared my revelation with my CFI and we worked on correcting the behavior. Immediately the landings became very good... some of the best I'd ever done. On the ground I showed my CFI commercial and private pilot syllabus' and lesson plans. All of them hand written/typed by me. He was very positive about them and their presentation. We agreed, I'd fly on my own Sunday and Tuesday and we'd meet up again Saturday, most likely after Saturday he'll be contacting the FSDO to schedule my check ride!

Believe it or not, that's not the most exciting thing. Today I went up to practice as many maneuvers, take offs and landings as I could. I nailed all of the landings, even the soft field ones - which I did a couple times just to be sure. The best landing was the last... I was coming back to the field after doing ground reference maneuvers and I had a 7 knot left crosswind component. I wanted to do a soft field landing too.... so I set up for the landing at the soft field landing airspeed and corrected for the crosswind (upwind wing low, rudder to keep the nose straight). Over the runway I rotated, shifted my eyes to the end of the runway, fought for the centerline and didn't let it land. Right before the plane touched down I pulled back even more on the elevator. The upwind main touched down lightly scrch. I kept the back pressure increasing carefully. The right main touched down lightly scrch. I kept increasing the back pressure and then gently let the nose wheel touch - very lightly scrch. I kept the nose wheel very light in proper soft field landing form and taxied off the runway. It was beautiful!

All the hard work is starting to pay off! It sure feels good.

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