Piloting the C172

Ah, I break my personal ‘rule’ again: flying while not having enough money completely finish my training and take the checkride. In all fairness though, my favorite CFI4 is leaving the Fairbanks area for good and it was probably my last flight with him, aw šŸ˜¦

The only plane available was the 172 – a really nice 183hp plane, digital tach and electric flaps (hold the lever down 3 seconds for each 10 degrees of flaps). I’ve only ever piloted Cessna 150s and 152s (w/ roughly 125hp max) so the extra power I knew the 172 had was intimidating – especially since I wasn’t expecting to fly today and definitely had not done any of the normal studying of procedures I would have done.

CFI4 suggested we go to the practice area, do steep turns, slow flight, stalls, and come back for some pattern work. All these would be really good for me to get use to the 172; because there is more power than in a 150/152, more right rudder is needed to counteract the left-turning tendency. Not using the rudders was something I’ve been able to get away with in most of my past flights – something I’m actively aware of and know that I need to fix. “Don’t get behind on flying the plane” said CFI4….mmm, I’d love not to but we shall see.

Took off on 20L and immediately saw what CFI4 meant about needing more right rudder. It was a really good workout and surprising to me how much pressure was needed.

My steep turn to the right (45 degrees) was okay except I forgot which heading to roll out on. Steep turn to the left was okay except I accidentally lost about 200ft in altitude. Got a little light-headed in the turns today which surprised me. Must remember to ask if there is something extra I could have done to avoid it.

Power on stall – since we were using full power, an incredible amount of right rudder was necessary to keep us straight (were pointing at the thick black smoke cloud from the fire in North Pole). I was anticipating a dramatic stall but it was shockingly mild.

This distant smoke plume (I was about 30 miles away from this) made a good aiming point for doing my stalls [http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/north-pole-man-charged-with-arson-for-durango-trail-fire/article_6f611a46-fb9c-11e4-a534-cfe0a810b364.html]
Next, power off stalls. I finally understood how much pressure is needed to keep from turning in slow flight today (a question I remember I had in 2013 – but no one had really demonstrated the answer to me). Again, incredibly mild stalls where I only felt a slight flutter while sitting in my seat. Pulling the yoke back was really hard for me – I definitely felt the post-workout burn in my forearms afterwards. It kinda didn’t feel fair to have to those scary sharp stalls if one flies a 150/152; one could avoid them by having more money to fly the 172 šŸ˜‰

Flying the pattern: not my best work ever but truly not bad either – especially with the gusty crosswind. It looked like I had finally understood the crosswind last-minute-‘kick-it-straight-with-rudder’ move on final, yay. After pulling the engine to idle and flaring, pulling back on the yoke took considerable effort and both hands for me – not something I think I’ve ever needed before. Maybe today’s lesson is really highlighting my need to visit a gym šŸ˜‰

A fancy-pants picture of the Fairbanks east ramp. The 172 I flew is silhouetted (dark and moody) at the bottom of the picture.
A fancy-pants picture of the Fairbanks east ramp. The 172 I flew is silhouetted (dark and moody) at the bottom of the picture.

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