First Takeoff and almost landing!

The weather was much better this evening. Not too hot, not too humid, fairly clear and only 4-5 knots of wind. After the usual weather and preflight checks (done entirely by me), we were ready to go.

I went through the pre-start check, started the engine, and taxied out, holding short of runway 3 for the pre-takeoff check / run-up. I went through all the steps. The runway was clear and we were ready to go. Much to my surprise, he told me to taxi out to the runway and, without stopping, to go full throttle. Keep it on the center line. As we accelerated, it didn’t take long to get to 50 knots. Holding back on the elevator a bit (I think to keep pressure off the nose gear) and then slowly pull back more until we were airborne.

Given that a) I didn’t know beforehand that he was going to have me take off, and b) we hadn’t covered the exact steps of taking off, I did pretty well. I got a tiny bit of assistance, but it was 95% me, so I’ll count this as my first takeoff.

We climbed at the usual 65 knots, full throttle and after some number of feet that I don’t remember, I made a slight turn to the west and exited the pattern toward the practice area.

The horizon was a bit difficult to see, so it really wasn’t as clear in the air as it looked on the ground. No worse than any other flight to date, though. I practiced a few turns, 90 deg. turns, then a couple 180s, at different bank angles, all the time trying to maintain 2500 feet.

After a while of working on slow flight, descending turns and some more flap work like last time, it quickly turned into pattern work. All of a sudden I was doing exactly what needs to be done in the pattern before landing, so we just went right into that: slowing down at level flight, descending at 70-75 knots on the downwind, flaps at 10 deg., a descending turn on the base leg, flaps at 20 deg., keep it above 70-knots… and that’s where I sort of lost it — not lost it as in going nuts, but where I botched the perfection that was my fourth hour of flight :-). Descending turns were proving challenging because I had a tendency to pull back too much, which slows the plane down. You don’t want to slow the plane down too much or not good things will happen. None of this was anywhere close to the ground, though, so no big deal.

We worked on the pattern a few more times and then headed for the airport. To my surprise, again, he had me enter the pattern (downwind at 1250 feet and 75 knots). I went through the exact same steps as we practiced, up until half way through the turn to final. Once again I lost too much airspeed (to about 60 knots instead of the 70-75 desired), so he took over and talked through the rest of the landing. It’s clearly a lot more difficult to land than it is to take off, but it’s still quite early in my training.

After clearing the runway and doing post-landing stuff, I taxied back and parked it. While finishing up with the paper work, he mentioned that the pattern work was a bit premature; he doesn’t start most people on that so soon, but being happy with how I was picking things up he decided to go ahead with it. I suspect we won’t continue to progress at that rate. I don’t want to go too fast.

I logged another 1.3 hours; the most in a single lesson so far. Until next time!