Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ground Reference Maneuvers

December 16, 2011
Paine field
Cessna 152
1.2 hours, 3 landings

I didn’t anticipate going up this day, I remember the clouds looked angry and threatening. I checked the METAR, and then called up my instructor to see what he thought. Seeing as how he’s at the airport he would be able to see first-hand what the weather was like there. He said it was clearing to the south, so we should have nothing to worry about. Fine by me, I jumped in my car and hurried to my lesson which I hardly made it to on time because of all the holiday shoppers..

Just as I had expected preflight was all me today. How I ever thought preflight was overwhelming I’ll never know. I breezed through it, only having one question when my instructor headed out. We got the ATIS and called up ground, I was still nervous, but I made sure to write down what was said back to me and repeated it back easily enough. By this time my taxiing was coming along, I still wasn’t great at it, but I could stay on the centerline for the most part, my only challenges were turns and lining the plane up to do the before takeoff checklist. Steering with your feet just doesn’t feel natural, soon enough it will for me, but for now, it’s still as awkward as ever.

Once we were in the air we headed towards Woodinville to do some ground reference maneuvers. First up: turns around a point. This maneuver was a little tricky to me; it took me awhile to figure out the bank needed for each part. When flying directly downwind the steepest bank will be required, shallowest when upwind. Not surprisingly, I didn't have enough bank so the wind blew me off my course, then trying to compensate I ended up closing in too quickly. It was a mess of a circle. He had me do a second, which turned out a lot better. Next: S-turns which I ended up liking a lot more. When doing this maneuver you want to be turning throughout but you want your wings to be level right as you pass over your reference point, so in my case my wings would need to be level as I crossed the telephone wires. It is important to keep in mind that when your angle of bank increases you may experience a slight loss of lift, so to compensate for that you’d need to add back pressure to increase your lift. Yet, you don’t want to forget about that back pressure because as you let out some bank, if you’re still pulling back, you’re obviously going to start flying up. So throughout this maneuver you’ll constantly need to make adjustments. I did my first S-turn perfectly. I forgot exactly what my CFI had said, but I remember it being a compliment, and a confidence booster. Finally, something I nailed without having to practice repeatedly. My airspeed stayed the same, and I didn’t lose or gain more than 100ft of altitude. How I pulled it off, no idea, I just did the S-turn and somehow it came out wonderful.Finally: the rectangular course, which is like the traffic pattern. Enter it a 45 degree, and make your appropriate turns. Simple enough and easy, how many times had I practiced this already with my touch and goes? Plenty of times. I believe I did this once or twice, and then headed back towards the telephone wires to do one more S-turn before heading back for some touch and goes. I remember my instructor telling me to make this S-turn as beautiful as the first. Well, I tried. The first had came out perfectly and the second would have been perfect if I’d had straightened up quicker, unfortunately I didn’t. But I’d like to think it wasn’t too shabby for it being my second.

Total cost invested thus far: $1494

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