Thursday, January 12, 2012

Steep Turns

December 9, 2011
Paine Field
Cessna 152
1.4 hours (.2 hood time), 3 landings

As usual, the whole drive before my flight my nerves were on edge. By this time, I’ve come to accept these butterflies of excitement. I know they’ll fade as soon as I begin my preflight. My preflighting has come together nicely. I’m able to anticipate what’s next on the checklist, and then double check that I didn’t skip anything. My CFI simply stands there watching as I complete this list. I get the feeling that next time I’ll be preflighting alone, which I look forward too. A sign that I’m ever slightly advancing.

We jump in the plane, and my instructor mentions that I’ll be talking to ground today. I knew this was coming, but I was not looking forward to it. I also remember him telling me he’d give me a type of cheat sheet to make talking to them easier, which I never receive. Not that it really mattered to me. Learning the hard way is usually more beneficial. I did great the first part, but crashed and burned the second half. It went a little like this, and mind you I sounded like a 12 year old girl terrified out of her mind;

Me: “Paine Ground Cessna one two three alpha bravo, at location b, would like an east departure, we have Hotel.”

Ground: “Cessna one two three alpha bravo, Paine Ground, Taxi to runway one six left via Golf”
Me: ”three alpha bravo:”

Ouch. I spaced and forgot to repeat back their instructions. So now I was a 12 year old girl who had no idea what she was doing. My instructor had to step in;

CFI: “one six left via golf three alpha bravo”

I did a mental and physical cringe. How the hell did I forget to repeat back what they were saying? You always repeat it back! I don’t know what was going through my mind. But even now I cringe looking back on that. I should be thankful I was able to get the first part out. It probably was due to the fact that I wrote it out before saying it. Not so hard then. Always remember:

Who are you talking to?
Who are you?
Where are you?
What do you want?

Soon we were taking off and getting ready for slow flight. Oh, how I dreaded slow flight. As with before, I did horrible. At least this time I was able to almost make my headings, so that was an improvement. But, as for the rest, utter failure. Slow flight would be the death of me. I couldn’t even remember the procedure and had to yet again, be walked through it.

After a left and right turn in slow flight, my instructor had me do my first steep turn. Up until this point I was afraid of turns. Even doing a 20 degree banked turn made me nervous. Seeing the ground suddenly facing me made me sick to my stomach. Probably because I’m afraid of heights, and yes I realize for being afraid of heights flying a plane probably isn’t smart. But I’m a fear conquering kind of girl. Being afraid of heights wasn’t going to stop me, at this point I’d even considered spin training to get me more comfortable with the plane.

When doing a steep turn, if you noticed the airplane losing or gaining altitude use minor power adjustments to fix that. Be careful not to put yourself into a steep spiral dive. Yikes! From the bits and pieces of what I read this happens when there isn’t enough back pressure being applied so the plane begins to descend. To which point the pilot pulls back on the yoke to stop the decent. A pilot can then be too busy focusing on the back pressure that they forget about their bank and actually over bank the plane. Thus, the steep spiral dive. Sounds fun right? Ha, I doubt it!

So, I did my clearing turns and got ready to do my first steep turn, I went in a little nervous but half way through it, wow! I loved it! I made sure that while doing the steep turn I didn’t lean away from the turn, I stayed seated banking with the plane. It was exhilarating! Oh, you want me to now do the turn to the right Mr. CFI? Well, gladly! I was trying so hard to hold my girlish giggles in. I was enjoying the turn so much I wasn’t paying any attention to my instruments, yet somehow I managed to not lose or gain more than 100 ft.

Sadly, the time for steep turns ended as my flight instructor told me to turn to the north so I wouldn’t be facing the sun anymore (I don’t yet have sunglasses). Still in awe by my steep turns I started banking the plane more than necessary for the turn. “You can let out a little bank, that’s more than you need,” I did as I was told and tried to bring myself back down to reality. I did .2 hours of hood flying as well that day. Ick. Let me tell you, I am most certainly NOT excited for my instrument rating. Not if it’s going to be like that 10 minutes! My CFI handed me these weird goggle glasses thing and told me to put them on. I didn’t like how they let the sound of the plane seep in through my headset making it harder to hear him, and I definitely didn’t like not being able to see anything but my instruments. Those were the longest 10 minutes of my life. At first I did absolutely horrible, I wasn’t able to develop the scan right away, and when I finally got the scan down I would forget what instrument’s needed attention. We started off straight and level. The plane started turning to the left. I finally straightened it out, or so I thought, we started climbing, and then we started descending. “Okay, now turn to the left.” I couldn’t even hold straight and level flight yet! I did as I was told and the turn was more of a descending turn. Then to the right, I started climbing. After a good few minutes of utter failure I finally started to get it. Back to straight and level, bam! I knew what to scan and where to scan; I was flying level, with an ever slight left heading. The turns, oh they were so much more beautiful. I definitely was nowhere close to being pro, but I was able to hold my own. Would I trust myself if I got caught up in a cloud? HELL NO. But for 10 minutes I felt I did pretty well.

After that we headed back to do some touch and goes. My landings were still horrid, but by this time I was getting a feel for the traffic pattern, and slowly but surely developing a pattern of my own.

After this flight I felt worn out. All my previous flights were exhilarating, and had me basically floating back to my car. Yet, this day I felt sluggish. Which I took as a sign that my brain was doing its thing and processing what the day had offered me. Being worn out was good, it meant I was pushed. After we officially landed for the day I called up ground for clearance to taxi back. This time I didn’t forget to repeat their instructions back to them!

Total cost invested thus far: $1230

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