Flight School Days 26 and 27

Flight school day 26 was a week ago.  It had been a while since my last flight and the weather for Thursday (when I was scheduled to fly) looked bad, so I called Wednesday afternoon and scheduled solo time in the airplane.

My goal was to get better at my landings and stalls.  I flew the pattern a few times and despite my efforts, I kept coming in too slow for a wheel landing and ended up doing three point landings with my tail touching quite a bit before the main gear.  Aaron says there is nothing wrong with that, but it feels unnatural and I think I’d prefer for the mains and tailwheel to touch down at almost the same time and believe it will make for a gentler landing.  I paid close attention to my alignment with the runway, both keeping centered over the centerline and headed straight down the runway.  For some reason if I don’t force myself to think about it, I’ll end up over the centerline but pointed off to the side a little.  This is usually corrected immediately on touchdown with quick and strong rudder inputs as the airplane seems to want to make the error more severe.  At first, I felt like I couldn’t even tell when I was pointed wrong, but now it’s more obvious but I need to remind myself to be looking for it.

I flew east of the pattern for a while and practiced some stalls.  I don’t know what the difference was, but it was the first time I tried them solo and they seemed a lot better than normal.  Just after the airplane stalled, I slightly released some back pressure and added power and didn’t lose very much altitude at all.  In the past, I probably lost 100-200 feet per stall.

Just as I expected, the weather was too bad to fly on Thursday.  I booked time with Aaron for Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week instead.

When I got to the airport on Tuesday I found out while Aaron was flying to Moontown with another student, he came upon the wreckage of a plane that had just taken off from Moontown.  He reported the accident and found out he knew at least one of the pilots who died in the accident and was pretty upset about it.  He landed at Moontown and spent much of the rest of the day over there to talk to the FAA/NTSB folks and canceled all his flights for Tuesday and Wednesday.

I was originally planning on using all of Tuesday and Wednesday’s flight time to practice wheel landings with Aaron and was going to wait until Aaron seemed like he wanted to fly again to schedule any more time.  On Wednesday, the flight school called and asked if I wanted to rent it solo and I decided to do so.

There wind was almost all crosswind today, so it was good practice for my takeoffs and landings.  One think I learned was I don’t trim the plane near as much as I should for landing.  Aaron always says to trim for hands-off flying at 70-75mph depending on if we’re doing wheel or 3 point landings.  What ends up happening is I trim a little bit but end up still having to pull back on the stick to get it all the way down to 75mph.  Today I pulled the trim a lot farther back while actually allowing the elevator to go loose in my hand until it really was at 75mph.  The rest of the approach seemed a lot less demanding and while my first few landings were just 3 point, they ended up perfectly straight and pretty smooth.  I wouldn’t mind landing the first landing exactly the same every time.

I then decided to try a wheel landing and it ended up being so smooth I almost didn’t feel the wheels touch.  I kept the tail up until it started to feel hard to keep up and set it down.  One odd thing that never happened until after flying for a month or so is occasionally the tailwheel will get a “shimmy”.  It is attached to the rudder by two trampoline-looking springs and my guess is when I set it down just wrong it starts it oscillating and somehow the speed of the plane feeds the oscillation giving a side-to-side jerking sensation.  The first time it happened Aaron just pushed forward on the stick a little to lessen the pressure on the tailwheel and the vibration stopped.  So I deal with it the same way every time it happens.

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