Jonah’s been feeling bad all day, and has spent most of the day in bed with a headache. My phone battery died and I didn’t notice until about 6pm. When I replaced it, there was a message from my instructor, which he’d left at 4:30, saying “There’s no wind! Call me!” I called him even though it was now much later, and he told me to meet him at the airport so we could practice my landings.

The wind had picked up to about 15knots, and it was still ridiculously hot even though it was evening. After doing the engine run up, I called ground and asked for a closed pattern departure. She told me to taxi to Runway 17. Runway 17 requires over a mile of taxiing. Which isn’t the end of the world, but is really sort of a waste of time. Especially when I’m 50 feet from runway 21. Winds were 180 at 1t 13. I asked for Runway 21 instead, and the she agreed, provided I was willing to do my pattern work on 17. Crosswind takeoffs don’t bother me too much, even though it’s not obvious how much wind correction to use. At least not to me, yet. Supposedly, if the plane is shuddering down the runway trying to stay straight it’s not enough, and it’s too much if the plane is listing into the wind. As soon as I get the wheels off the ground though, the planes rolls around, yaws into the wind and establishes a comfortable crab angle all on it’s own. Then I feel at home again, and try to climb smoothly while tracking the runway outbound.

My landings were better today. My biggest problem with crosswind landings seems to be that I’ve got a hard time judging whether or not the plane is pointed straight down the runway. I’ve discovered that if I force myself to look out and down the length of the runway, toward the end, it’s much easier for me to judge if I’m going to land straight or not. Part of the reason crosswind landings are so difficult is because instead of coordinated turns, opposite rudder and aileron are necessary. The plane doesn’t like this, and complains. This is necessary to make the plane fly straight with regard the runway, but sideways wirth regard to the relative wind. What generally happens is that I land sideways, which is bad, and could be very bad if I were to land very sideways. I’m getting better.

I concentrated on trying to make coordinated turns in the pattern. I’m starting to be able to feel it! Almost not so much feel it as see it. This is good. Rudder. It’s all about rudder. Sure, the plane will turn without it, but it’s all so much better if I can stay coordinated. It’s easier in some of these planes than others. The one I tend to fly more often than not never really needs left rudder. It just needs greater or lesser amounts of right rudder. I’m doing the best I can to teach myself to do it without looking at the ball. Do what I think is right, then glance at it to see if I am, indeed coordinated. I’m getting better, I just need more time.

After about 5 touch and go’s, Mike had me ask for a full stop on runway 21 for several reasons. A full stop so he could get out and I could fly solo again. Runway 21 so that I could try a landing with significant amounts of crosswind, and so I wouldn’t have to taxi the aforementioned mile to let him out. He told me to do five touch and go’s, to use runway 17, keep my approaches steep, don’t drag it in, and various other bits of advice.

I wasn’t at all nervous this time. I called tower, who told me to Taxi to runway 17. I did, held short, went through my checklist, and called for takeoff. I was the only person in the pattern, and in fact, the only plane on the radio call during my five landings. That was nice. I found that I’m a lot more relaxed without an instructor, since I know I’m not going to get pounced on for anything. I looked around a bit. Tried to enjoy flying in between doing all the things I had to do. My first landing was pretty good. My second one was pretty bad. I probably should have just gone around after getting high and slow, but I recovered just fine, and didn’t think about going around until I already had it all under control. The next 2 landings were okay. I ballooned up a bit on the the second to last landing, but the actual touch down was completely straight and smooth, even if I was using the left half of the runway. Hey, it’s 100 ft wide. I’m in a very small plane. My last landing was great. The stall horn just before both mains squeaked in at the same time, the nose wheel touching shortly thereafter.

After I parked, I turned off the avionics, pulled the throttle to idle and the mixture all the way out. The plane sputtered. And sputtered. And sputtered, but wouldn’t die. I didn’t want it to keep running lean, since I know that’s pretty bad for an engine, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I advanced the throttle and it sputtered faster. I pulled it back out, it sputtered more slowly. I pushed the mixture control back in, then back out. It still wouldn’t die. So I turned the mags off. I told D. what happened, and he told me I should have turned the fuel off, not the mags. Right. Of course. Ooops. I probably should have been able to figure that out, but no one had ever mentioned what I should do if pulling the mixture doesn’t kill the engine. And the fact that I’ve got a fuel selector valve never entered my head– probably because I never touch it. I look down to make sure it’s on “Both” a lot. That’s about it. There’s not much use for it in normal flight.

Oh well. Now I’ve got an hour of PIC time now. Yay.

Joanna seems to be doing better, but I doubt she’ll sleep tonight after spending the day in bed.

We rented Kill Bill yesterday, and watched it on her computer. It’s not a bad way to watch movies. A 19″ monitor is a little small, but we can sit up close, and it’s much higher resolution than a TV.


One response to “Solo II”

  1. Nathan Avatar

    Reading about Berck’s adventures in flight is kinda like watching MacGyver. You start off wondering if he’s going to make it out alive but then you realize that he’s POSTING the darned thing so obviously he’s ok… And if they killed off MacGyver then what would they do for a TV show?
    I propose you have Joanna post all journal entries, that way we won’t know how they turn out until the end.

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