Wednesday, May 21, 2008
A more perfect day for flying, there could not be. No clouds in sight, high sixties, and a nice breeze out of the northwest. However, this enticed many pilots to take to the skies, so Flying Cloud airport was pretty busy.
As we took off and turned south, a Beech jet was on base leg turning for final (base leg is perpendicular to the runway, and final is lined up with the runway) so we had to hold off on turning towards the practice area until he was established in final. It was cool seeing him land 1000 feet under us and about a half mile to our right. At this point, my instructor ("Jimmy") contacted Minneapolis-St.Paul Intl. airport control and requested traffic advisories since it was so busy. They weren't too busy so they assigned us a transponder code and kept us on their scopes.
Now I've been itching to take off since I started lessons, and it's been obvious that Jimmy has been easing me into it. He said that if you can't taxi straight you can't take off because it's just a high speed taxi. So apparently he thought my taxiing ability was up to snuff today and he let me operate the rudder during takeoff (he still handled the yoke and the "pulling up" part). It wasn't as hard as I thought, though I drifted left of the centerline a bit.
The new stuff to learn today was talking on the radio and stalls. Talking on the radio is a pain in the ass at first, but I'm warming up a bit on it (I'm a ham radio operator so it's not that alien to me). Stalls are pretty easy if you know what to expect and what to do. In a nutshell, point the nose down to break the stall, then pull back up slightly to start your climb again. Altitude is paramount. Stalls at low altitude are pretty dangerous so there's quite a lot of emphasis on stalls in the lesson plan. I look forward to them because they are kind of fun.
However, I made my instructor go "whoa" today when we were practicing power-off stalls, or stalls that might occur close to landing when your power is pretty much at idle. We were at roughly 3500 feet (or, 2600 feet above the ground) and I executed a power off stall per Jimmy's instructions. The plane's stall horn sounded, the plane shimmied a bit, and then we nosed over. Well the procedure is to lower the nose and break the stall, so of course I shoved the yoke all the way forward. In about 2 seconds I was staring straight at the ground. Jimmy made a suprised sound, and either he or I pulled up immediately on the yoke and everything was fine. There was no danger but I did get Jimmy's attention a bit. My other stalls went off just fine.
We landed without incident (I flew in as usual to base and final, working the flaps and keeping landing airspeed steady) but we were coming in a bit high so Jimmy used a skid approach to bring us down quickly but not increase our airspeed. Very interesting to fly that way. Again, Jimmy is a very good pilot and a good teacher, so I think I'm pretty lucky.
Next lesson: How to buzz the tower when the pattern is full.