I’m not exactly sure why Joanna thought I wasn’t allowed to fly in the rain… Around here I need 3 miles of visibility, and I have to stay 500 feet below, 1000 feet above and 2000 feet horizontally from all clouds. I also need 3 miles of visibility.
The ceilings were above 12,000 feet, there was better than 10 miles visibility, and light rain today. We flew.
Actually, D. didn’t think I could fly either. “I dunno about the weather,” he told me. By now I’d already bicycled there. I’d gotten a weather brief. The briefer said, yes, there was a dry line to the west of us, but that was the only convective sigmet. I told D. I didn’t see any reason we couldn’t go on the cross country flight I’d planned. There was a cloud layer, 3300 scattered at Paul’s Valley. Winds aloft were LIGHT AND VARIABLE??? D. got a weather briefing himself while I preflighted the plane. He came back worried about the convective activity west and moving our way, very slowly. It wasn’t supposed to get here for another 2 hours, minimum. We decided that I could practice my landings. I needed practice.
Apparently every one else had the same idea. The controller said there were already four people in the pattern, and he didn’t really want another one. So we decided to go to a nearby airport and do touch and go’s. After we were climbing through 3,000 feet, it became obvious just how beautiful a day it was to fly. The air was perfectly smooth. The visibility cleared up quite a bit, and I could see farther than I usually can when the sky is clear. D. decided that we should, after all, fly my cross country.
There was quite a bit of rain falling from the clouds, most of it didn’t reach the ground. (The name for this is virga, but Joanna didn’t know this word, so you might not either.) Little holes in the clouds opened up every so often, allowing the sun to blast through in a little circle on on the ground. It was all very pretty, and a nice change from the clear skies, sun beating down on you days.
I got us to Shawnee okay, using nothing but my sectional, the compass and landmarks. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but I’m getting better at it. I was rather frustrated that I couldn’t find the airport, until finally I saw it, clear as daylight, a little to the left of where I thought it was. Why I couldn’t find it, I don’t know. We did a couple of touch and go’s there, then flew to Paul’s Valley, then back to Westheimer. As I rolled out on final, the controller said, “Winds…calm.” No WONDER. I couldn’t figure out why it seemed like I was going so fast. It was really weird landing without wind, but actually fairly easy. So easy I wanted to go do a bunch more. I’d never landed in much less than 10-15knots, and it’s usually 20-30 knots, and that’s a big difference. It looks like you’re just flying along way too quickly, but that’s just because the air mass you’re flying in isn’t moving relative to the ground like it usually.
I told D. I wanted to fly more. “Hmm. I should solo you.”
So, after 1.5 hours of cross country instruction, I went in, got another weather briefing, and took off again for the south, this time by myself.
D. told me I needed an hour. The big thing was that I was supposed to head to the practice area and come back to the airport all by myself.
“Go do some maneuvers and come back.”
“What, like barrel rolls and upset recovery?”
“NO! Do steep turns or something. Don’t do too many stalls.”
So, I did steep turns, and that was boring, so I did steeper turns. Steep turns at 60 degrees is more fun. A 60 degree turn while maintaining altitude is a 2G maneuver. I got dizzy after awhile, and played around with some negative G-loads. Just enough to start to lift me out of the seat, nothing very extreme. I didn’t like not having a specific task. I would just go have fun, sight see, and enjoy flying, but I was paranoid that I’d get lost or something. “Just fly the river, you can’t get lost if you’re on the river,” D. told me. I couldn’t fly very far out, because I was getting into some heavier rain and visibility sucked that way. I couldn’t go North, because then I’d be in class D airspace. After about half an hour, and I headed back to Westheimer and opted to do some touch and gos, since that’s what I really need some practice with. I did 4 landings. The second one sucked. The third one was beautiful. By then the wind was at 10 knots from 170 and I was landing on runway 21, so that’s a substantial crosswind. The last two landings I landed almost perfectly straight, which sufficiently impressed me. D. was flying the same time I was, so he didn’t see them. “You sound like a real pilot on the radios, though,” he told me. At least I sound like one.
I got 1.5 hours dual and 1.0 hour PIC today. Maybe I’ll get a private certificate eventually.