Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lesson 30: Hood work on a gusty, bumpy day

Plane: Cessna 150
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Few clouds, 56 degrees, wind 030 degrees at 15 gusting to 20 knots

Holy windy day. The wind picked up even more than forecast this afternoon, resulting in a hefty crosswind. Some pilots might not fly in weather like this but I consider it a great chance to put your skills to the test and get in some serious practice. I also had some more hood work to knock out and the very bouncy air made it plenty challenging. But again, it was a great opportunity to practice in real-world conditions.

I spent an hour under the hood, double what I had done up to this point. Combined with the bumps in the sky that were rolling the plane left and right, it kept me disoriented enough to have to really focus on the instruments. Dave had me change altitudes and headings, make constant speed and rate climbs and descents, and intercept a radial off the Richmond VOR. Altogether, I kept us on course quite well throughout the maneuvering. The altitude fluctuated within about 200 feet up or down while flying through updrafts and downdrafts. I held the heading within plus or minus 5 or 10 degrees as well, good considering how much we were being tossed around.

It's fun to look at the GPS track and see where the heck Dave had me fly

Looking back over my minimal hours so far under the hood, I have definitely improved in my ability to scan the instruments and manage all the information and maneuver the plane. I also see many areas for improvement. My scan can still be much better and I often focus on one instrument longer than I should. When we hit a downdraft I did not catch that the RPMs were increasing towards red line very quickly and Dave had to remind me to pull back on the power. I also find it very interesting how much my focus increases when I have that hood on. There's no conversation or other thoughts in my head; all I do is scan the instruments and fly the plane.

Moving on to the crosswind practice, oh what a day it was. I'm feeling very good with my takeoffs and I held aileron into the wind and let the plane weathervane into a crab smoothly nearly every time we left the runway. At one point we had what seemed like a 30 degree crab angle - that's how windy it was. Landing-wise, Dave made an observation that I think will help me achieve smoother touchdowns. He said when I pull the power to idle near the end of the runway I keep the nose too high. If I lower the nose and lose more altitude to drop into ground effect before I round out and flare, it results in a softer landing. Unfortunately it was so gusty today with the crosswind that I was just happy to use a sideslip and bring it in for a solid but safe touchdown. I'll definitely heed Dave's advice and watch my nose attitude on short final next time I fly.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 2.0 hours
Solo/PIC Time: 18.4 hours
Total Time: 60.3 hours


  1. Hello,

    I just found your blog. I too am a student pilot, but not nearly as far along as you are. It is interesing to read about the things that I have to look forward to.

    Good luck.


  2. Thanks and glad you found the blog, Tony. It's great to connect with other student pilots out there - I've found quite a few who I talk to know as a result of having this blog. Good luck in your training and keep me updated on your progress!