Archive for November, 2010

I can now fly the plane in an elementary way and am considered “safe”. I can check it over, start up, talk to ground control, get it off the ground and put it where it is supposed to be in the sky – without falling out of the sky – and I can do the basic emergency drills to a degree considered OK – though the truth is – they all involve looking for a soft spot to get down on after you have blown out the fire with a dive or tried to start the engine and it has not. The local beaches are good emergency runways though we pull out at 500ft and don’t actually perform the (simulated) emergency landing!

Lesson today. Landing is the HARDEST part and it is all we did today. You have to do it again and again and again. I did 10 approaches today. On 2 we deliberately flew the length of the runway just 5 ft above it. This is to practice slow flight control and to “feel” the plane just before it touches down – which you can as it rides in a cushion of air between the wings and the ground. It is actually quite hard to get it to sink through this last bit.

Of the other 8 approaches – on one – the plane ahead of us on the runway did not get off the runway fast enough and so we flew a “go around” where you power up to full power and go back up – which is not quite as simple as it might seem because you have the plane all set up to go down – not up. On another – another aircraft to the north did something wrong and we went around to stay out the way.

When we were “in the pattern” around the airport and not landing the jets taking people to other airports were taking off and landing. Oh and just for fun – the National Guard showed up to practice touch and goes in their C-130 transport aircraft. It was a busy 90 mins and 6 actual touch downs later I finished my lesson.

Double lesson on Saturday to practice……….more landings. Damn they are hard!

We are going to Minnesota for Thanksgiving. I’ll miss my lesson. I search around on the web and find a flying school at Crystal Airport just north of Minnesota. It is called “The Flying Scotchman”. It is surely fated that I fly here. I email them and a nice CFI called Steve Fischer agrees to take me up for a lesson on the Friday.

Got to hand it to these guys for their winter flying. Plough your way to the hanger door and pull the plane out. Take it over to the pre-flight hanger – heated. Pre-flight. Check survival gear in the back. Open door push out, start up and GO. A tip at preflight from Steve who also teaches gliding. Shake the wings. He rigs gliders a lot after towing them to a field on a trailer. You shake the wing to make sure it is firmly bolted on. Doesn’t do any harm on a Cessna to make sure it is still attached too!

We fly north over the lakes to sight see. If you are looking for an emergency landing spot – pick a field – there are a ton to choose from. Just don’t pick a frozen lake. We let down at a strip at Cambridge. It is about 50% snow and ice but this doesn’t seem to bother Steve. After our first landing another aircraft in the pattern calls down and asks about the braking effect. Steve replies it is “good”. I look at him. “Well for this time of year” he says to me!

Got to play with Carb Heat for real (at Providence we are fuel injected and don’t have it) and the ADF. There are fewer VOR’s around here and still quite a lot of ADF stations. We do a few landings at Cambridge and head back to Crystal. Steve gives me some tips about landings. A great lesson on a beautiful clear day.