Emergency: do over

Today’s flight was from 12:30 to 2:30 instead of my normal morning flight due to no planes being available. It was a nice day, though. Highs in the low 80’s and mostly clear, but, the winds were crazy. The plane bounced all over the place and it was consistently difficult to control. It didn’t bother my nerves much, but it made the exercises particularly challenging.

After the usual procedures to get in the air, we went to the practice area to work on some forward and side slips. I haven’t practiced these as much as I need to. I understand what I need to do and I can physically do it, but being an uncoordinated move, it still takes some thinking about what I need to do with my hands and feet instead of being second nature. Gene mentioned in our very first lesson that he likes to teach pilots to be “master of the plane”; that is, to get to a point where I can make it do exactly what I want it to do without having to really think about it. I’m not there yet, especially with slips, but he mentioned that I’m getting closer in general.

The slips went so so. Side slips are difficult when were so high; I can’t seem to tell if we’re moving sideways, so I don’t have a good idea on how well I’m doing. Forward slips are much easier, and more fun. I can tell when I’m flying forward, and it’s pretty obvious that the nose is pointed to one side and we’re leaning to the other.

After a few of those, we climbed to 3000 feet to work on my favorite exercise: simulated power failure emergency landings… that which frustrated me so much a few lessons ago.

With the incredibly unpredictable wind, I wasn’t looking forward to this. The first one started at 3000 feet. We found a nice field and Gene pulled the power. Pull back to maintain 60 knots and trim trim trim nose up. Around we went… 5 times before getting down to 1000 feet above the ground! Gene said he has never gone around that many times from 3000 feet. The wind was keeping us from descending. That’s a good thing in a real emergency. We would have more time to plan and try to restart the engine and talk with ATC.

I was able to think about it more since the last lesson and found how to quickly read the direction indicator to tell when I needed to turn downwind, base and final, all of which happen pretty quickly. The final approach was a little high, but only a little, so a beautiful forward slip and we were right on target. My use of the flaps was much better after discussing that it’s just a matter of practice to know how much and when to use them.

We started the second power out from 2500 since we didn’t need to go around so much. I was passed this one for me to handle all by myself. Goodie. As we got down far enough, I turned downwind and waited, waited, then turned base. Gene said, “Let’s see how it works out when we go this far.” I immediately thought to myself, “I’ve gone too far” and it seemed that maybe I had, but in the past I turned way too soon, so I wanted to err on the other side for once.

As I turned final, we just coasted in and didn’t lose the altitude we expected. It turned out to be a pretty good approach after all. Those crazy winds. A surprise for both of us, but a nice one. Two successful emergency landings and I was feeling much better about them.

We headed back to the pattern to get in a couple landings. We only did two. One of them was assisted because the wind changed directions right as we were crossing the threshold and I, not yet being master of the plane, was not prepared for that. The other was fine, but nothing special.

A total of 1.2 hours for the day, much of which was spent circling around the emergency point and climbing back up from the same. That gives me a total of 14.4 hours.