Friday, August 1, 2008

Lesson 15: Fatigue sucks

Plane: Champ
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 86 degrees, wind 250 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 18

You could certainly say I'm not a morning person - and probably never will be. So even though I work during usual business hours I am often awake much later than I should be. I'm just a night person. Up to this point in my training I have always done my best, however, to go to bed earlier any night before I have a lesson. Last night I did not, plus I just way more tired than normal all day long. What does that add up to? Less than ideal flying.

Clearly, my brain was not processing information as efficiently as usual today. I found myself doing strange things up there; things that I have never done before that were pretty much counterintuitive to what I was trying to accomplish. For example, when I was high on final I would go into a forward slip but did not bring the throttle all the way back to idle. That's pretty much like keeping your foot on the accelerator while slamming on the brakes... um yea, no logic in that. I also did not watch my speed on final nearly as well as I have in the past and just felt "behind the plane" for most if not all of the flight. It was a great lesson in aeromedical factors (one of the subjects on the FAA knowledge test I have to take soon, by the way) and an important reminder of the possible consequences of something as simple as being too tired.

I may have been better served to cancel today's lesson and rest since I do not really feel I got as much out of it as I should have due to the fatigue. On the other hand, it was great to go up when I had an instructor in the back seat and see how moderate fatigue would affect me in the air. It's not like I was totally incompetent up there; half my takeoffs were actually rather good. The strong, gusty headwinds made for a little trouble around the pattern - mainly when to turn base and keeping on the proper glide path. I was often too low or too high and had to either add power or throw the plane over into a bit of a forward slip, respectively. But seeing as how I do still struggle on landing with stronger winds it was good to go up and work on it. Plus, Dave actually said he would have climbed out of the plane if the winds weren't so gusty. With a lesson tomorrow and another on Sunday it looks like I might have flown around the Ohio sky on my own by the next time I'm sitting at my desk in the office!

Key learning experience from today - it's clear that fatigue has MUCH more of an impact on me in the sky than it does on the ground and I will make decisions accordingly for as long as I fly.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.3 hours
Total Time: 18.2 hours

1 comment:

  1. I do strange things too....just the other day I forgot to turn the carb heat off after landing and taxiing back. (CFI Mike pushed it in before shutting down the engine) Now I'm beginning to wonder if I turned the transponder back to standby. Hummmmm

    I definitely need adequate sleep as well, but I think I'm more of a morning person. We'll see how my night flight goes :D