Monthly Archives: July 2008

Flight School Day 25

This was my last required cross-country flight and the longest one of the ones I have done so far.  I flew from Madison County Airport to Chattanooga to McMinnville, Tennessee and back to Madison County.  The entire flight took 2.1 hours including time at both airports taxiing back after landing.

The flight to Chattanooga was a little bumpy due to wind blowing over all the hills on the way.  I tried to get flight following from Huntsville International as far as I could, but it wasn’t long before they said the terrain was preventing them from getting me on radar.  The flight into Chattanooga was really pretty–I followed a valley right into the city.

The airport was a little busier than Huntsville International has been the times I went there.  I was 4th in line for landing on runway 2.  They had me fly a few miles south of the airfield while waiting for the other planes to land and then come straight in from about 5 miles out.  I heard on the ATIS that a taxiway was closed–I was prepared and brought a map of the airport with me and was able to tell where it was closed.  After landing I asked the tower if they wanted me to turn off at the next taxiway which happened to touch the closed section and they said it would be better to go to the next one.  They eventually had a passenger jet enter at that taxiway and back-taxi down the runway so they would have room to take off.  Ground control gave me instructions back to where the taxiway closed and you had to get on the runway to either back-taxi or make an intersection departure.  I asked tower for an intersection departure and they let me go before the passenger jet.

The flight to McMinnville was nice–there is a huge valley carved out by the river that empties into Lake Guntersville.  It looks like you’re flying off the edge of the world when you get to it.  There was no traffic at all at McMinnville and I did one landing before heading back to Madison County.

All my landings were three-point landings.  I feel like I am a lot more in control of the landings than I was in the past.  I feel like I can sense when the nose is not pointed how I want it and am coordinated enough with the stick and rudder to get it how I want.  So the landings felt nice–just no wheel landings for this flight.

Flight School Day 24

Today was supposed to be my long solo cross-country flight.  It was going to be to Enterprise but Aaron expressed that it would probably not happen.  When I got there the weather in lower Alabama looked like it wasn’t going to cooperate, so we went ahead with the plane I made to fly to Chattanooga and McMinnville (which is where my flying test will be).  We got the wind and everything calculated.  Then I went and preflighted the airplane.  It started to look like fog was cropping up in the valleys towards Chattanooga, but it quickly turned into a line of thunderstorms.  Then we thought of going west, but the weather west was also beginning to deteriorate.

In the end, we decided to put off the cross-country flight and I flew around the pattern and neighboring area.  There were quite a flew scattered clouds to the west and thunderstorms to the East, so I stayed west of the airport.  I did a lot of turns, trying to get more coordinated with the rudder at various speeds.  I tried some ground reference maneuvers and they seemed light years easier than last time, but the wind was also much more relaxed this time.

It suddenly occurred to me the other day that the airplane is trimmed to a certain dot on takeoff for a reason and that has to do with an optimal climb rate that occurs at approximately that trim setting.  So I tried to perform my takeoff climb with as little manual pressure on the elevators as possible while keeping careful watch of my airspeed and it turns out it climbed a lot steeper than I normally do, but at an optimal climb speed.  Normally when I takeoff I feel like I’m in an awkward state of actually pushing forward on the stick to keep from climbing too steep.

I also read in my magazine I got from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association that when your engine fails, if you simply pull all the way back on the trim, the plane will automatically fly at approximately best glide.  He said planes are designed not to stall in that configuration.  I tried it and felt exactly like I was going to stall, so I pulled it very gradually and let the airplane automatically adjust to the change, but still never got where I was automatically flying at best glide.

Flight School Day 23

We did some more nigh flying and simulated instrument flying tonight.  He had me try some steep turns to disorient me more and see if I would believe the instruments and fly accordingly.  We also tried some power off stalls while I couldn’t see out the window.  This was the hardest part and I pitched too far forward in my recoveries.  We tried two night wheel landings–they both turned out fine but still need some work.

I was expecting to have forgotten some since my last flight was about a week and a half ago, but it seemed I remembered everything and I felt like I am still improving over my previous flights.

The flight to Enterprise sounds like it is probably not going to happen.  I can’t leave earlier than 8:00am and need to be back by 2:00pm.  The weather would likely need to be almost perfect also.  He told me to plan a couple of other shorter cross-country flights in different directions so almost regardless of weather I’ll be able to fly somewhere.