Pattern Work

View from the space physics floor of the Geophysical Institute, Fairbanks, AK
View from the space physics floor of the Geophysical Institute, Fairbanks, AK. Fairbanks has a bit of snow left on the ground, but it’s melting fast. A beautiful day to go flying.

I can’t wait to solo again, but I definitely need to work on my landings first. We did all pattern work today, and it was actually fun. Did 9 takeoffs and landings. 2 landings were simulated emergency landings and 2 were practicing slips.

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My normal landings were mostly straight; all good except for one. I was lined up dead straight, but forgot to reduce power to settle onto the runway. We flew in ground effect all the way down the runway, and I was very confused and miffed when told to do a go-around. I completely messed that up by first raising the flaps. Oops. Dropped onto the runway and was lucky we had enough pavement to get back up into the air. Sigh. Correct steps: throttle, carb heat, then take my time with the flaps.

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I find that I really enjoy CFI6’s style where he gives you plenty of warning before asking you to perform a procedure. I know that in real life, you never get a warning before you need to perform a slip to lose altitude or an emergency landing….but hey, I’m a student pilot. I’d really like to practice those procedures at an unhurried pace at least once – I don’t feel I’d gotten that before today.

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My simulated emergency landings were fine; I am now at the point where I don’t need to be told when to put flaps in (come on Christina, you know what the sight picture looks like when you are lined up on the runway). Trimming for 70kts sure does take a lot of turns of the trim wheel.

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[http://www.glenndale.net/flight_training/training_aids/slips.php]
[http://www.glenndale.net/flight_training/training_aids/slips.php]
I’d practiced side slips in the pattern and forward slips at 2000′, but today was the first time I did forward slips in the pattern. We were on runway 20L with a left base so my first slip was the ‘easy side’ with the nose to the right. I managed to hold the configuration all the way down to the runway which surprised CFI6. Chalk it up to a lack of fear. It felt really fun.

On the next pattern lap, I was to forward slip to the left with a reminder to keep my airspeed up (I’d gotten really slow on the last run, and as we all know, if you stall in a slip when coming in for a landing, you spin…and bad things happen). So, the forward slip to the left wasn’t as good as the right because I was so worried about being too slow. But I walked away from it all with my desire to try it again intact – so I’ll call it a good day.

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Notes to myself:

  • Don’t stop setting the plane up for landing when tower starts talking to me. Aviate, navigate, communicate.
  • Visually confirm that I’m in the white arc of airspeed before putting in the first 10 degrees of flaps. I always ‘feel’ that I’m slow enough but I really should visually confirm that I am. Keep the nose up when I reduce power to ensure that the airspeed will actually decrease! (plane is trimmed for cruise airspeed at pattern altitude. If one reduces power, the nose will naturally dip to keep the airspeed up at the speed the plane was trimmed for).
  • Ask CFI6 if I can handle the radio work in the pattern next time.
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