Touch-and-Goes: Will It Never End?

A set of 10 takeoffs and landings on 2R with CFI1 & the 150 today. He is the only instructor at the school who I hadn’t done pattern work with yet, and I was curious if he had any magical hints. As it turns out, he did give me a really good comment: “don’t suffer from complacency syndrome”. His analysis: I can almost always get myself set up beautifully on final….then I stop being as hypervigilent and let up on the right rudder. That in turn makes me drift left, I use right rudder to correct, and then relax my foot again when I shouldn’t => oscillations left and right cause me to ignore my cues to flare at the right height, and I land left of centerline.

I loved the feedback because I’ve done this minor mistake on every landing, but no one has phrased the fix quite as he did. 🙂 But today’s flight did highlight why I chose to stop flying with him for my pre-solo work: he is too nice. And not just with criticism; I felt him making minor corrections for me with the rudder (because I kept whining about wanting a perfect landing) and I’d really prefer that he didn’t. When he was showing me the first time, sure, he can do whatever he wants to. But I want to have full control the rest of the time.

On initial descent on the downwind leg, I noticed today’s vertical descent rate was consistently larger than it should be (like when I flew the 152 last time). I think I’ve figured out that it comes from remembering CFI2’s constant taps on the yoke to remind me to pitch down further on my landings…So I’m now pitching down too much on downwind, and not enough on base and final. Gah…

I was either too high or too low on all landings today (a full 4 red or 4 white) but I’ve figured out how to perfectly correct for both during final, no instructor words/inputs (yay!).

Non-centerline mistake of the day: When starting the initial descent, I put carburetor heat on and then forgot to throttle back. I just pitched down, wondered by it wasn’t slowing to the white arc, and wondered why it sounded strange. Didn’t notice until CFI1 tapped on the tach. – we were already at the point where I was supposed to turn base. Arrr.

CFI1 mentioned that I may be looking too far down the runway (I’ve only ever been told to look at the end of the runway) – meaning my depth perception is off. I was surprised to find how how significantly closer to the plane he looks than what the other instructors have been telling me (not just in front of the plane of course, but maybe ~200 ft.) Of course, everyone’s eyes are different – I’ll see if his advice is helpful in my next lesson.

CFI1 is the most proactive pilot I’ve seen when it comes to wake turbulence. A 737 departed the parallel runway while I was in the pattern (I was the only one on the general aviation side of the airport) and CFI1 got clearance for us to sit on the runway as we waited for 2 minutes to pass. It was a little windy today so the wake turbulence probably blew away quickly, but waiting the full 2 minutes after the 737’s takeoff was very prudent.

CFI huddle after the lesson: everyone says the best fix for my rudder problem is to do some rudder-only landings (no aileron). I’ve done a few in the past but they haven’t quite done the trick yet. Today’s rudder-only landing was spoiled by me because I turned final too late and had to angle way back towards the runway. No real time to try out the small rudder corrections they wanted me to. The other suggestion was having an instructor mark each shoe with a sharpie (L and R) every lesson we forget to use the rudder – not sure why it was effective with the other students….the shame? 😛

It is kind of strange to me how much people at the flight school talk about each other about us, the students — in a good way, of course, because they want you to do better (and because all the students fly with so many different instructors) – but that doesn’t make it any less awkward.

Fun moment of the day: on one landing, just before flare, CFI1 asked to take control to show me just how ‘crazy’ I can get with the ailerons – and how one can still remain over the centerline. It was downright terrifying how much bank one could do (or so it looked anyways) – and so close to the ground! ATC’s opinion my my piloting abilities must have gone down a lot after that ‘landing’.

Late note: 9am is a beautiful time to fly in October Fairbanks – the sun is just rising and the airspace is super quiet. My car was harder to clean off than the plane – lots of frost and graupel.

150 got a new keyring 🙂
I love that airplane keys are so small compared to the ‘bulk size’ of an airplane….and that they resemble padlock keys

Poor 150; it had a fuel tank leak after its next student so it will be in the hangar for a few days, having its tanks pulled out. Awww….


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