Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Kick the tires and, uh...
The stage check is barreling down on me like a freight train. I'm ready for the oral portion, and my takeoffs and flight maneuvers are pretty solid. The last bit that needs polishing is, of course, my landings.
We were going to do three takeoffs and landings today, but it turned into four for reasons that will become obvious in a moment. I'll stick to my normal format here and break down each of the landings.
Jimmy, my instructor, keep reminding me to loosen up and make small control inputs, not large jerky ones. Sadly, I already know this but I was nervous. This wasn't a checkride but I knew that landings were the last obstacle to taking the stage check and soloing. While my pattern looked good (if a little clunky) and my approach was decent, I flared too much and Jimmy had to take the controls to salvage the landing. I wasn't happy with this, as it seemed like a step backwards. We reviewed my mistakes and took off again.
Good pattern, solid approach, lined up perfectly. Flared way too late. BANG. Nothing bent. To elaborate a bit, I instinctively abandoned the flare when I heard the stall horn. Note to self: stall horn OK during the flare.
Pattern and approach are a lot smoother, I'm shaking off the jitters. This time I flared too high and had to let it float down a bit. Jimmy helped on controls a bit but the landing was salvageable.
Pattern and approach are not a problem anymore. I crossed the threshold, chopped the throttle, let her settle a bit, and started my flare. Then I pulled back slowly but completely, and the plane settled down on the runway with a satisfying "chirp". Jimmy suggested we stop on a high note and I agreed.
Essentially, we both agreed that I need another landing practice session before I take the stage check. He thinks I'm ready but not confident enough. I agreed 100 percent - I need more landings under my belt. So Tuesday of next week I have a session scheduled for landings, and then Wednesday or Thursday he's going to schedule the stage check. I feel like I'm on the verge of putting all the elements of landing together, but it hasn't clicked yet. We shall see. Oh yes, we shall.
Next lesson: greasing every landing.