The Home Field Advantage

Another day of practicing landings but at my home field today.  I have a 7pm flight tonight; I love flying this time of day.  The sky is spectacular and the weather has cleared from all the rain this weekend.  I arrive early just to take it all in; I love just being at the airport.  There a few friends just finishing up flying and a few fixtures sitting around out front talking about the weather and today’s flying adventures.  It’s a great place to connect and just build on each others experiences.

Sunset after my flight tonight
Sunset after my flight tonight

I hear Robert on the radio and he is approaching with one of his new students.  I don’t usually get to watch others landing from the ground but today I’m sitting outside taking it all in and listening to the radio announcements as they make their approach.  I really need to get my landings video taped so that I can see what it looks like from down here, of course, I’d like a cockpit view too.  I’m going to have to work that out soon because it just seems quite handy for reviewing afterwards.

Tonight I have the airport to myself once we are loaded and ready to head out as everyone has departed.  It’s great on one hand to practice with no other traffic but on the other hand, I’ve gotten used to it since Monroe is usually relatively busy.  The pattern at home is a lot tighter since it’s a 2800 foot runway and our pattern altitude is 1600 feet instead of 1700.  By the time I’m up in the air and flaps are retracted, it’s time to turn crosswind and almost immediately I’m ready to turn downwind.  The sun is setting to my left behind the city blinding me from the runway below, but I have some landmarks that I can use to keep me on track for turning base leg.  Once I’m turned and setup, I make my final approach.  I’m getting comfortable coming in over the trees.  I can see when I’m too slow or too high and have been able to start making the adjustments required to compensate for either issue.  I’m dropping my left wing tonight and Robert corrects me as when I’m pulling back on the control, I’m pulling down instead of staying level causing me to drift a little off the center of the runway.  That’s not a good habit at Wilgrove since the runway isn’t that wide, so correction noted and locked into my head to not do that next time around.  He says I can get away with that at Monroe, but not here.  One thing about landings at Wilgrove, it will hone my skills.  I’m glad that’s the case as it will make my landings better in the long run.

Since it is a short runway, no touch and go’s allowed here so I’m doing full stop landings each time. I’ll be back taxiing to takeoff on runway 17. The sun is getting lower each time I come around and at one point, I begin my takeoff and Robert is mentioning that occasionally we have deer wander on to the runway and that if that happens I should be prepared to pull the power and stand on the brakes if it doesn’t look like I can clear them.  I glance at him and say, “I do what?” and he reaches over and pulls the power, we were about to be airborne and he says to me to start breaking gently since there is no deer this time.  Now I know and of course, I’m a little more aware of checking for deer this time of day.  Who’d have thought to look for deer?  Well, I guess I will definitely be on the look out at my dusk flights from now on.

Six more landings under my belt.  It was a good practice tonight and I’m feeling much more confident with my landings. Each lesson is different even if I’m practicing the same things.  Sometimes I’m practicing at Monroe and sometimes I’m practicing at Wilgrove.  Sometimes it’s a different approach due to wind conditions and each runway has different obstacles to contend with when you are landing.  At Wilgrove, it’s all trees on one end and the other is hardly any trees but a road and power lines to come across.  At Monroe, you have a displaced threshold at one end and the other is the cleanest of the ones I have to land on with no obstacles.  Sometimes there is a crosswind, sometimes it’s smooth but no matter the situation I feel like I’m getting practice for each type of setting and although it’s different, in the end I think it helps me in being able to modify my landings for different approaches.  I believe it will make me better in the long run.

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