Friday, August 8, 2008

Solo Practice 1: Everything but the kitchen sink

Plane: Champ
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Partly cloudy becoming clear, 75 degrees, wind 340 degrees at 7 knots

Alllllll byyyy myyyyyseeeeeelf. Or so goes some song. But that was me today, truly going up solo for the first time since my official solo last Sunday. I had scheduled the Champ for last night but an unexpected line of thunderstorms moved through and it's best not to fly in those. Today the weather was gorgeous and became even nicer as the evening went on. So how'd it go? In a nutshell, quite good. Got her started and made a very smooth takeoff, stayed in the pattern until abeam the numbers on downwind, and then climbed out to around 3,000 feet to work on maneuvers.

Looking towards Caesar Creek Lake

Having been working towards soloing for most of July - and therefore staying in the traffic pattern - it had been a while since I had done some things up in the air. So today I decided it would be worthwhile to work on just about everything. Dutch Rolls were not my greatest strength last time I tried them so I did them for a couple minutes about three times today. Let's just say that I can definitely tell my coordinated aileron/rudder usage is vastly improved from before. I really kept the nose rolling nicely around the longitudinal axis (front to back) of the plane. Did stalls (both power off and power on) a few times as well, and it took me a couple to remember just how far you have to yank back on the stick to bring the nose up in the Champ to get it to stall.

Most of the other things I worked on related to turns in one way or another. I practiced turns around a point using a water tower by the lake (you'll see a bunch of lime green circles around the Western edge of the lake in the Google Earth track) and it's clear I still need some more practice on those. Chalk that up in tomorrow's "lesson" plan. I also spent a lot of time doing Steep Turns. Either I'm way more used to pulling some G's or I wasn't banked where I thought I was because they just didn't feel that forceful. And believe me, the horizon was quite angled - I think I pulled it closer to 50 or 60 degrees on some of the turns. So maybe I am just getting used to the G forces. Anyway, I held my altitude within test standards - although not as good as I would like - and was doing a great job of rolling out right on the desired heading.

Before heading back to the airport for some takeoffs and landings, I did a couple S-Turns using power lines as my reference. I did not fly evenly sized semi-circles but overall they were decent. Pat to self on back - check out the S-Turns in the Google Earth track, which are the most Northern part of the track. Pretty darn S-ey if I do say so myself! Also, you'll see the track starts kind of suddenly to the East of the airport. That would be due to the fact I forgot to turn the GPS on before takeoff. Lo siento.

One final note about why flying is awesome. After my first landing back at Stewart both of the Cubs along with a Cessna flew right over the field at a couple hundred feet in tight formation, which was beyond cool to see. Two pilots had the Cubs rented and I watched them fly in formation down low across the farmland and down in the valleys over the rivers and creeks nearby. Color me jealous. Looked like a great time and it's just one of those things you might only be able to do in a small plane.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.6 hours
Solo/PIC Time: 2.0 hours
Total Time: 22.1 hours


  1. Steve,

    Belated "way-to-go" on the SOLO!!! It's a big deal and I know I'll never forget the feeling. Thanks for the comment on my blog and I am enjoying reading about your progress! It's so figgin hot here in Arizona, reading blogs is as close as I am getting to a plane until it cools down a little!

    Congratulations on the solo and I hope you continue to progress in the C150. Be well!

    P-Flyer (a.k.a. Frank)