Monday, September 15, 2008

Lesson 23: Taking the 150 up by myself

Plane: Cessna 150
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Overcast, 63 degrees, wind 280 degrees at 5 knots

In spite of yesterday's insane weather, today was a remarkably decent day to go flying. The ceilings were between 2,500 and 3,000 feet and the overcast layer kept it quite cool. Most importantly, it was good enough that I knew I would finally be able to get the 150 solo endorsement knocked out. But first we had a couple other things to take care of.

Last lesson we stopped short of practicing Short Field landings, so that was the first order of business this afternoon. Dave demonstrated the maneuver to me one time and then I made three approaches myself. You want to extend your downwind and not cut power abeam the numbers like we do for normal landings. Instead, you continue flying (I'll call it roughly one mile) and wait to cut power until turning base. Then you bring in about 20 degrees of flaps, turn final, bring the flaps down to 30 degrees, bleed off more airspeed, and then bring in the rest of the full 40 degrees of flaps.

Once you're established on glide path at 50-55 knots, you use the yoke (elevator) to control the airspeed and the throttle to control the descent rate. The idea is to come in low and slow and touch down as soon as possible on the runway. Once clear of any obstacles, you cut the power, flare, and step on the brakes (lightly on the grass, fully if on asphalt) once the wheels are down to bring the plane to a stop. We have the trees on the end of Runway 26 so our approaches have to be made a little higher than usual for a Short Field landing.

My first approach was decent, the second ended up high, and the third one was right on the money. It's amazing how little runway you are able to use to bring that tiny Cessna to a stop. We honestly used less than 500 feet from the time I touched down to the time we were turning off on that last approach. A normal landing is still short when compared to larger planes, but it easily takes 1,000 feet or more of runway. It's a fun maneuver and I'm looking forward to practicing it at an airport with a paved runway next lesson to really lay on the brakes and test out how well I can get the plane down in a short distance.

After the Short Field practice, I made a couple normal takeoffs and landings. On the final trip around the pattern, Dave took the favorite instructor trick out of his bag and pulled the throttle on me to simulate an engine failure. I ran through the checks (pitch for best glide speed, check the magnetos, carb heat, mixture rich, throttle open) as I turned for the airport. We were actually high so I ended up bringing in all 40 degrees of flaps and landing a little way down the runway but with plenty of room to spare. There's just something about engine-out approaches that's fun, at least if you ask me.

Finally, the long-awaited moment of truth. It's not nearly as monumental as your first solo, but nonetheless rewarding to know you're about to take plane up on your own the first time. Dave hopped out of the trusty old 150 and told me to make three takeoffs and landings and meet him in the office. I happily obliged and made three uneventful circuits of the pattern. Just as with the Champ, it does climb quite a bit better with one less body on board and you should be able to easily pick out the three solo takeoffs on the GPS track. Back inside, Dave endorsed my logbook and that was that. I can now officially fly the Champ or the 150 on my own as I continue on my quest towards the almighty Private Pilot Certificate!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.8 hours
Solo/PIC Time: 7.1 hours
Total Time: 35.8 hours

No comments:

Post a Comment