One of those lessons

I was really looking forward to today’s lesson. The weather looked nice: clear, cool, but a little windy.

We were in 333, the first time I had not been in 40B in a long time. That meant some adjusting. Each of the three 152s has slightly different handling characteristics and feel.

Preflight and takeoff were uneventful. We headed toward the practice area to work on power on stalls. It had been some time since I practiced them, and since I need to demonstrate these things to the chief flight instructor (soon, apparently) before I solo, I needed to refresh my memory. At 3000 feet, pulled back on the throttle, slowed to 60 knots, then full power and pull back, back, back. With P-factor, I needed a fair amount of right rudder to maintain coordinated flight. I had done pretty well in 40B at centering the ball, and I thought the ball was well-centered again. In fact, I know it was.

What happens when the plane stalls in coordinated flight is both winds drop together and you stay fairly upright. In uncoordinated flight, one wing will stall before the other and will drop, causing a significant bank angle. As I stalled, the right wing droped a lot (more than 45°); enough to give me a little scare. It was more of a “what’s going on?! The ball was centered” scare than “oh no, we’re going to crash”, but it was unnerving. I recovered just fine, and I asked what happened, explaining that the ball was centered. Maybe it’s the plane.

We went for another one, except I went a little light on the right rudder. Same thing! Arg! Why? Still a good recovery, but it shouldn’t be dropping so violently to the right. Gene asked to do one to see what was going on. He did. It was “normal”, no wing drop. So, it must be me. He said he did it with no rudder. Wha…?! Why did that work? I still don’t know. I tried one more with no rudder, and the plane did exactly what I expected it to do… left wing dropped first and fast. The only thing I can think of is that Gene recognized the stall much sooner than I did and didn’t let the plane drop much at all before recovering. I tend to let the thing “obviously” stall before recovery. At any rate, the behavior of 333 and 40B was significantly different for me and stalls. I’ll have to try more of those later and see if I can discover why. In any case, Gene said I was recovering very well from the stalls, so the problem wasn’t such a big deal. Very frustrating, though.

After that, we went for a couple more power off emergency landings in a field. The wind was blowing us all over the place, so everything was a bit challenging, but I was mostly relaxed — even after the stall frustration. We picked a spot, and pulled the power. As we got closer, there was (once again) misunderstanding of what the spot was and it changed to something that looked worse than I thought. The descent was normal, but I drifted too far away (bad wind, bad) and would’ve come up short, landing in the trees. That’s not too comforting, is it? 🙂

The second one was a little better, but not much. I still came up short. I’m told one can survive a crash in the tree tops if you go slow enough over them. It wouldn’t be pretty, though. Despite my mistakes, I wasn’t stressing like I had the first time. I know what I’m supposed to do, it’s just a matter of practicing it and getting it right.

We headed back to the airport for a couple touch and goes. Since we were on the west side of the airport and needed to land on runway 21, we decided to cross over the airport at 2000 feet and do a descending turn to enter “the 45“. When we were overhead, Gene told me to make a radio call, but half way through the call, I realized I wasn’t sure exactly what to say, so I goofed and said we were on the 45 (already). Oops. Gene made a follow-up call to clarify. There are situations that don’t have suggested phraseology and require casual explanation instead. I’ll keep that in mind next time.

My landings weren’t the best in the crosswind we have, but they weren’t terrible either. I’m still too timid on the aileron needed to keep from drifting. More practice…

Taxi back went fine. We had about ten minutes left so we spent some time on how to use the radio for navigation. 333 has a digital readout that’s different than the other 152s and is a bit awkward at first, so it was time well spent.

Today was a mentally draining lesson and I left a bit frustrated at myself, but not like before. Half an hour of relaxing in the club lounge and I felt much better. It was a good experience, but I like it better when at least something goes well.

Another 1.3 hours brings me to 18.1 total.