Moving along

The weather was mostly great today. It sure looked nice from the ground, and the wind was calm, but at 3000 feet it was 9 knots, so we got blown around a bit.

A normal preflight and takeoff was followed by some slow flight practice. Really slow flight. As in Vmc (minimum control speed). Low engine speed, high angle of attack (leaned way back), full flaps and level flight with the stall warning buzzer sounding. We were “cruising” along at a whopping 40 knots, just over the stall speed, and I could still control the plane. The only time 40 knots is achieved in a normal flight is right before takeoff and just after landing. It’s amazing it can fly slower than people drive on Olive Chapel.

After that fun, we set out for more engine out emergency landing practice. All three went fairly well. I was a little high on one of them, but we would’ve made it down and probably would’ve stopped with room to spare. Gene seemed more relaxed today than the last time we did these. Not sure why, but maybe it was me that was more relaxed. As much as I hope I never have an engine out emergency and as uncommon as they are, I can see how it helps to practice these over and over. Making it nearly routine should help eliminate the panic that may otherwise ensue in a real life emergency.

After that confidence booster, we made our way back to the airport to get in a few landings. My first was very nice. I can’t say it was perfect, but eveything fell into place and it was slow, smooth and on the center line.

The second one I rounded out too soon, got too slow too high, and needed to add a little power to prevent a hard landing. That’s the first time I’d done that, but I recovered well. No panic; we had talked enough about it before that I didn’t hesitate on the power. I probably should’ve gone around, but the runway is so long and it was otherwise a good approach.

On the last landing, my nose (the airplane’s nose, that is) was wandering all over as I tried to make minor adjustments to keep in on the center line. As we touched down slightly nose low, Gene pulled back to show me (again) where it should ideally be on touchdown. Since we still had some extra speed, the plane started flying again. Only a foot off the runway and only for a couple seconds before we touched down again. The worst part is that I didn’t realize it untill he said something. I think I was just too busy listening to him teach. It did seem like an awfully smooth rollout at first. 🙂

I asked Gene about the nose wandering and he pointed out that I wasn’t using the rudder along with my minor aileron corrections to maintain coordinated flight. Oh! I don’t know why, but it didn’t occur to me that I needed to. It should’ve, though. The golden rule of coordinated flight is to always using rudder with aileron. Even in a slip, where opposite rudder is used to counter the effects of crosswind, coordinated rudder (relative to their position in the slip) is needed with aileron changes to keep the nose where you want it. I hope that makes some sense to those that care.

Gene says I’m doing well and getting closer to solo. I’m starting to feel confident enough to solo, too. After 1.2 hours I’m now at 19.3 hours total.