Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lesson 5: Slips and pattern work

Plane: Cub, 65 hp
Instructor: Joe
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Scattered clouds, 74 degrees, wind 240 degrees at 8 knots

The weather gods must have been on my side today because I got to fly in smooth, mostly clear skies at 7 pm. We have been getting rocked by severe thunderstorms for pretty much the entire month and today was no different, but the last line pushed through around 5 or 6 this evening. Power was actually out when I arrived at the airport and they said that 55 knot gusts (that's 63 mph) had recently come rolling through with some wicked lightning.

I found out where the backup fuel drain is on the Cub during preflight, and it's basically a hose that drips the Avgas down underneath the cowling. We got her started and I taxied over to the end of the runway, went through my CIGAR checklist, and then Joe took off and gave me the controls as soon as we were off the ground. After going around the pattern and departing to the East, I climbed up to 3,500 and we practiced Forward Slips. If you recall, I tried them for the first time with Dave during Lesson #3 but I was having trouble up there this time. Seems my brain wasn't connected to what my hands were doing for a while but I got that straightened out and started to get a better feel for how much aileron/bank and rudder to use to keep the airplane headed in the desired direction.

Two rounds of slip practice complete, I flew us back to Stewart and into the traffic pattern. From here, we made three circuits - so four total landings and three takeoffs. This was the first time that I really took off on my own, although Joe had to pull the power back once or twice on me to get things straightened out. He was talking about applying power as you turn onto the runway and I think that I was focusing on applying power when I should have focused more on turning onto the runway. Once I corrected that thought process, I actually managed to make two half-decent takeoffs. The plane still wanted to veer to the left more than the right (partly due to some physics phenomena that I'll discuss another time) and I am only beginning to get a feel for how much rudder you need to use to keep the plane pointed down the runway as you pick up speed. It is just one of the many things with learning to fly where plenty of practice will eventually make perfect.

Tomorrow I get to experience spins for the first time, which could be interesting. Me and carnival rides aren't best friends so when Joe told me to think of a spin as being on the teacup ride spinning around but also dropping out of the sky, let's just say it didn't make me all giddy inside. But I'm not worried and so far have enjoyed pulling G's in steep turns and bouncing around the sky much more than I would have expected. Either way, I'm won't be eating three eggs, hash browns, and an extra large order of bacon for breakfast in the morning.

One final note tonight - I'm announcing a new feature on the blog. I recently purchased a great little device (AMOD AGL3080 GPS Logger) that
continuously records your GPS coordinates including position, altitude, and speed. While it is designed for storing locations where you take photos - called Geotagging - I also bought it to record my movements up in the sky.

So now in addition to reading about my lessons, you can open up the tracking file in Google Earth (it's a free download - click here) and view my flight in 3-D! At the bottom of every lesson above the flight time there will be a link to that flight's KML/KMZ file. Neat, huh? I forgot to turn it on before takeoff tonight, so it starts in the middle of practicing slips - oops.

Click here for detailed instructions on how I use my AMOD 3080 to record GPS tracks and convert to Google Earth format.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File

Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Total Time: 7.1 hours


  1. Steve,

    Great blog, glad you are enjoying your flight training. As a CFI-in training, I enjoy seeing it all again through your eyes (though I flew a spam can for my private, rather than a nice Champ or Cub!)

    FYI, the pre-solo test(s) you took actually *are* "formal" tests, they just aren't *standardized* tests. A pre-solo written test is required by FAR 61.87(b) - One of many student-related FARs I'm in the midst of studying myself.

    Good luck with your flight training!


  2. VQ,

    Thanks and I appreciate the feedback! I did know that the pre-solo exam was required and it's good you pointed out that my words in the post didn't make that clear... I have re-worded that sentence to clarify the point.