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.

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