Awe, the fog, she be the devil today. I was scheduled for an 8 am flight but Robert called early and rescheduled me for 1:30 pm because we had such poor visibility this morning. I miss the early flight but will be glad to be back in the air today at least. It’s been seven days since my last flight, partly because of the weather and partly because of scheduling issues.
After pre-flight, we were ready for takeoff. I put the plane in the air but I’m feeling tighter than a tick on a dog today and yes, it’s already hot. Robert noticed very quickly that I was holding on to the controls with a death grip today. He told me to relax and take my hands off and let the plane fly itself for few seconds. I took a deep breath and relaxed a bit. It’s hard when you’re training and away from it for a week. Instead of feeling comfortable, I can hear my mind going over everything trying to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. It feels like chaos in my head and it’s more distracting than comforting today.
I’m heading to Monroe to practice landings again, it’s a little bumpy up here but not too bad. There is more traffic today than I’ve experienced so far but still only about 4 planes around. I can hear them on the radio calling their positions so I know where to look for traffic. I want to try to get them in my sights so that I am aware of their exact location to make sure I’m avoiding them and keeping a good distance between us.
I’m making the approach to get in the pattern at a 45 degree angle. We are turning downwind parallel with the runway; I see one plane getting set to land. I make sure he is down before I turn base leg for final approach. I’m beginning my descent and making the correct adjustments as I turn final and line up with the runway. I’m landing on runway 5 again today, and I have to clear the displaced threshold before I set it down. I’m coming in good, speed is great, not too high or too low. I start looking where I want to land it and pull the power off, glide till we cross the displaced line, keep my nose from coming up too high or too soon and we are on the ground so gently that I barely noticed we were down. My best landing yet! It’s such an amazing feeling when you have a great landing.
Robert wanted me to do full stop landings today, so I’m down and taxiing off the runway. I taxi the plane down to make my way for another takeoff. There is one plane landing and another in front of me waiting to takeoff as well. I pull up and wait till my turn to go. I radio the traffic when it’s my turn, “Monroe traffic, this is Cherokee eight, niner, seven Mike Bravo, departing runway 5, Monroe.” I check for any traffic, pull out onto the runway, push my throttle all the way in, keep the plane lined up with my rudders, wait till it’s up to speed, pull back on the yoke and we are airborne!
Staying in the pattern and practicing landings for the next hour is tough work on me; the next 4 landings were disappointing after the first one. I just couldn’t seem to get it down low enough before setting it on the ground. I know that landings are the hardest part and getting consistent obviously requires a whole lot more practice. I got frustrated today. I know I put too much pressure on myself; I want it to be perfect and sometimes, it’s just not. It might be me, it might be the wind or another distraction but I have to remind myself that I only have 7.8 hours of flying time so far and I haven’t had to do a go-around yet because of not being able to make a landing. I’ve made them all so far but I also understand that if I need to, I won’t have a problem making the call to go-around and try again.
After 5 landings and takeoffs, we head back to Wilgrove for the final one of the day. Coming in over the trees is less of an issue for me now than it has been, and I had another good landing after all that frustration earlier. Robert says it happens a lot when you come back from Monroe that almost everyone lands better at home. At least I had a good one to end on.
I’m still frustrated and trying to let it go because it was still a successful flight today; it just didn’t meet my expectations. So, what do I need to do? Practice and I will continue to practice till I get it down. I will replay it over and over in my head so that it becomes instinct and not something I have to concentrate so hard on to achieve. I will because I believe that I can do it. Another 1.2 hours logged for a total of 9 hours in the log book.