|Autumn (Post flight wind 050/14)|
Remember how in the last post I said we had a very small window with which to have calm winds here at Calhoun County? I guess I should have listened to myself and Autumn, the administrative assistant here at KPKV (folks that work at airports learn a lot about flying – even if they’re not pilots). Winds at 8:15am were from 090 (east) at 6 knots. Twenty minutes later they were 080 at 7k. Another half hour later, 8kts. Noticing the trend? Even though I had reserved the airplane from 10am - 12pm, Autumn said I should get up there and fly before the winds picked up. I knew I should have as well. But I was so nervous because today, I was going to fly all by myself.
Flying By Myself means that there’s no instructor, no safety pilot, no backup. Just me. Anything that could go wrong would be up to me to fix. My preflight took forever. I asked Autumn a million questions, like, can you watch me pull the plane out of the hangar? She said she’d do it, but I figured it was high time I did it myself.
I took forever to taxi (during which I announced my action on the UNICOM frequency, using the wrong airport name), forever to do my runup, mostly because I did everything twice (or at least read the step twice out of the checklist). An aircraft announced his intent to land here while he was still over 5 miles away while I was holding short of the runway and still I decided to wait til he landed. I didn’t want to get lined up for takeoff and feel pressure to go, go, go!
He landed and left the runway for parking. I lined up on the runway and “sang like a bird” like my instructor Sara had taught me: “Windsock check, Runway numbers check with Magnetic Compass and Heading, Mixture rich.” Ok, let’s do this! I pushed the throttle full forward and sang, “Check takeoff power set (back on the centerline), Oil pressure and temp check (centerline), airspeed alive (centerline), waiting on 55knots (centerline), rotate, pitch to Vy (best rate of climb – 74knots).”
I did three traffic patterns first, just to warm myself up. The wind increased a couple more knots, but not too bad still, so I left the pattern and flew to the practice area. I took this time to get comfortable sitting in the left seat again, and looking at the sight picture (argh, staring too much at that fancy G1000!). I did some clearing turns and then some steep turns. Steep turns are simply turns done at an increased bank angle while maintaining constant altitude and airspeed. I started out seeing if I could do the 45’ ones (standard bank angle is 30'), which are the private pilot standard. Winds out here were kicking up to 16-25knots, depending on my altitude, which meant that I was getting bounced around again. When I was pretty good with those I did the 50’ ones which are required for commercial pilots. That was a bit harder. I was all over the sky.
Ok, so let’s stretch the comfort zone.
Slow flight is a maneuver to demonstrate the handling characteristics of the airplane at speeds just above a stall, without actually stalling. I set myself up, and started doing some turns, at which time you’re supposed to get the stall horn because of the increased load on the airplane which increases stall speed. But my airspeed indicator was bouncing all over the place so I recovered.
All right, since it’s such a strong wind, how about some S Turns. These are 180’ turns done to either side of a road with the wind perpendicular to the road so that its effect can be seen in the rate of turn that you’d need to make equal semicircles on each side. For example, if you have a tailwind, your ground speed is higher, so you need a steeper turn so you don’t get blown away from the road. With a headwind, your ground speed is slower, so you have to draaaag out the turn so you’ll go an equal distance on the other side.
All right, now I was really getting a ride. The winds were clearly gusting and working against me. However, there was one thing I really needed to do before I went back. Can you guess? A stall.
So I did a power off stall, where you simulate that you’re on final for landing and you let the airplane get too slow as you continue to pitch up and run out of enough airspeed to maintain lift. Done. (Yay!) Time to go back.
I taxied back in, and believe it or not, my post flight showed no damage to the airplane. I couldn’t believe that I had logged 1.3 hrs. In a way, it seemed like a very long flight, but I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot. Couple more flights, with a lot more preparation and I think it’ll show a difference. I’m very impatient with myself to get this done, but I have to remind myself that I am basically completing the private, commercial and CFI training simultaneously. Although I’m progressing quickly, there are some things I just have to work on and through!