Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lesson 10: Lunchtime pattern work

Plane: Champ
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Scattered clouds, 79 degrees, wind variable at 4 knots

It's all starting to come together. Last time you'll recall that takeoffs started to feel good and that continued today. But the newest area of progress is landings - finally! I still am about five times more comfortable with my takeoffs but I had at least one (my first, actually) great landing this afternoon and the others were decent. It felt like I was flying pretty well and Dave seemed to agree, since he said how great I was doing on quite a few occasions. I'm glad I was able to get up again so soon after Sunday's lesson so I could work on the landing issues I had while they were still fresh in my mind. We made four complete trips around the pattern, although it only appears like three show up on the Google Earth GPS track. Not sure what happened with that. Anyway, here's how it played out...
  1. Taxied out to the runway, applied power, and tracked down the center quite well. A little yawing here and there so I had to use the rudder pedals, but we got off relatively smooth. Flew around the pattern and caught some thermal (rising air) action on downwind, so I ended up a little high. I compensated for this by reducing power sooner the next three trips around. The Champ likes to float so I was still quite high on final and put the plane into a forward slip to bleed off altitude. Dave said I did a great job adjusting my bank angle and using the rudder as the plane tried to drift off the runway centerline. We came in fast so we floated about 1/3 of the way down the runway before enough speed bled off and I flared to bring us down with a slight bounce.
  2. This time was better than the last on takeoff, I really nailed it. There wasn't much yawing on takeoff and I got us up off the ground very smoothly and tracked straight down the runway. Even knowing that we'd hit the rising air on downwind I still ended up a little too high and slipped us in on final. However this time we landed much closer to the beginning of the runway and we came down with just a slight bounce.
  3. Best circuit of the day, bar none. Takeoff was great until we hit a bump in the ground (the joys of grass runways) that launched us into the air - nothing wrong with that as I was about to lift off anyway, just a slightly more fun way to take to the air. I kept us right on altitude throughout the pattern by using a forward slip on the base leg that allowed us to fly final right on glide path. Once we cleared the trees, I went into a small slip to bring us down then rounded out and flared for a total greaser of a landing - woo hoo!
  4. Seems like my last takeoff or landing is never the best of the day, I'm going to have to work on that. Takeoff was decent and kept it in control with the rudder even though I veered a little and got us off the ground. I did manage to keep us pretty much right on the glide path once we started descending abeam the numbers on downwind, not having to slip on base. This time, I started to pull back a little too much too soon on my flare so Dave pushed on the stick to keep me from ballooning up and we landed without any real bounces.
I brought my camera and asked Dave to take a few photos from the air that I've posted below. You can see what the airport looks like from pattern altitude (1,800 feet which is about 850 feet above the ground) and some of the surrounding scenery down in Waynesville. As far as learning goes, I still need to work on paying attention to some other details in the pattern. I have to be better about not banking too steep and watching my nose relative to the horizon to keep the airpeed where I want it. I also want to try and look at the altimeter on final (yes, my eyes need to be outside the plane - but I want to get an idea for exactly how high I am to go along with the sight picture) when I'm over the trees. But considering where I was just two lessons ago, I'm really feeling good.

Climbing out shortly after takeoff

Some rather large houses we pass on upwind

Still flying the extended runway centerline on upwind

Turning crosswind

Going past the airport on downwind - the road is Rt. 42

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 0.7 hours
Total Time: 12.2 hours


  1. so the google.earth stuff is really cool, excellent feature. good luck with the wind, it is always "fun" on the bikes, but i think we'll stay 2 wheels (most of the time). looking forward to the next installment...


    Go Blazers!

  2. Glad you're enjoying the GE tracks - they really have been useful for me as well. It's interesting to see what I feel up there plotted on a map and see improvements over time.

    They say a lot of pilots are also motorcycle fanatics, so maybe I'll get sucked into another expensive hobby some day...