It’s 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, and I’m getting ready to leave work to go flying. Life is good; I’m scheduled for a 4:30 flight today and it’s 100 degrees outside. I don’t care, all I can think about is getting back in a plane and mingling with the clouds today. It’s a beautiful clear day, but a hot one.
During pre-flight I found a problem with the plane; I told you it’s important to pre-flight every time. There was a loose bracket dangling in the engine that could have caused some real damage if it was missed and not repaired prior to take-off. We had the mechanic come and correct it so we could go ahead and fly. Fortunately, it was a minor repair and didn’t take long.
This lesson is about getting more comfortable with the plane, getting it started, checking the instruments, getting it taxied and holding it up for the run-up procedure prior to take-off. During this time, you set the break, check the full deflection of the control and make sure your ailerons are moving correctly. Time to run up the engine to 1800 rpms, test your mags, carburetor heat check and now put your rpms back to 1000. Verify your engine instruments are all in the green, transponder set to altitude, fuel boost pump “on”, seatbelts fastened and set your flaps as required for take-off. Radio your intentions, check for traffic and it’s time to fly!
I’m pretty comfortable with getting the plane in the air as well as maneuvering it now. I climbed to 3000 feet today and took it up to practice handling the plane with different configurations, changing the power setting, using different levels of flaps to get a feel for how the plane responds under each new setting. I did several ascents and descents in these configurations to better understand how the plane feels each time you increase or decrease drag on the plane.
Robert started giving me directional headings using compass coordinates since we have studied this in Ground School already. I like this much better as I can see based on the compass where I’m headed or how far I need to turn the plane to get in the direction that I want to go. This is so much easier to me than trying to visually determine if I actually made a 90 degree turn or not.
The runway at Wilgrove is pretty short, around 2800 feet and it’s completely surrounded by trees, a tall cell tower near one end and a water tower just to the other. It’s a bit of a challenge; the first time I ever landed there, I swear I didn’t see the runway till we were on top of it. Today I can see it because I know what I’m looking for now. I feel like if I can get proficient landing here with all the trees and obstacles around then I should be able to land just about anywhere.
I’m not very comfortable with the landing yet but I’m learning to work it into the correct position and speed as I turn for base leg and head into final approach. Full flaps are on, speed is low and I hold my breath because it looks like I’m going to land on the trees as we come in closer. What feels like a miraculous event is just me clearing the trees, and I start looking at my spot on the runway where I want to set it down. Holding the nose up as I pull back the power and it glides gently down, continue holding the nose up a little more till my back end gets a little lower and let it down. Bump! I landed the plane. A little more bump than I’d like but still on the ground and rolling. I gently start to break and make my way down the runway and slowly pull her into park.
Now that was an amazing day! I’m sweating like there isn’t a drop of fluid left in my body, and I never even noticed that it was that hot when I was flying around. Back to Earth and I’m pretty sure I just got out of a sauna with my clothes on. Oh well, I can’t wipe the smile off of my face as I leave the plane and head in for my flight debriefing.
I just flew a plane from take-off to landing and I can’t imagine anything else that compares to how I feel right now. It’s a powerful feeling and I can’t wait to go up again!