Thursday, March 24, 2011

Getting to Work...

Pre-Maneuver Check - Fuel Pump, On; Landing Light, On; Recognition Light, On; Mixture, Rich.  Pre-Maneuver Check Complete

Sorry for the gap in posts, but training has really ramped up.  After my initial flight with Chris, we met with Nancy, and apparently, I was given top marks on my airmanship.  We agreed that I would shoot for the minimum amount of hours necessary to attain my Commercial Certificate.  This equated to 16 hours in the Cadet and 20 hours in the Arrow.  So, here we go!

Our next flight was an introduction to commercial maneuvers, as well as more of the local practice areas.  One thing I've noticed about Vero Beach, is the winds during the day are quite strong and gusty.  This makes landings interesting, and low-level maneuvers difficult (at best) to get as accurate as possible.  We started the lesson with Lazy-8s.  A lazy 8 requires a fine touch to complete correctly, as it involves near constant change in bank and pitch, though the whole maneuver.  Essentially, without changing the power setting, you begin a slow roll (left or right) and pull up at the same time.  By the time you reach 90 degrees from the beginning of the maneuver, the aircraft should be about 20 degrees, nose up, with 30 degrees of bank.  As the nose falls through the horizon, the bank angle gets taken out, and the airspeed rises.  At the end, the aircraft is 180° from the beginning heading, at the same altitude, at the same airspeed.

I nailed the very first one.

We moved on to Chandelles.  Roll 30 degrees, smooth pull-up 20-22 degrees and hold it.  As the airspeed falls, and the aircraft passes 90°, the bank angle is slowly taken out, but the pitch stays the same.  The second half of the maneuver is much slower than the first, due to the high pitch-angle and slow airspeed, but at the end, the aircraft should be about 500 feet higher than the starting altitude, 5-knots below stall, and 180° from the start heading.  These went well, as I had a good concept of how to perform the maneuver to begin with, but weren't perfect.

As we continued the Chandelles to gain altitude, we also made our way towards Valkaria Airport (X59).  At around 5,500 feet, Chris pulled the engine and asked me to perform a steep spiral maneuver into a power-off landing at the airfield.  To add that extra bit of challenge, Chris told me to make it a spot landing at the 1,000' markings on the runway.  All those glider flights and spot-landing contests with JJ came in handy, as I had a nice smooth touchdown within 50 feet of the mark.

We finished up with Eights on Pylons, a low-level, horizontal figure-of-eight with varying altitude.  I had the most difficult with this one, but after the third attempt, I started to get it.  The winds were around 12-15 knots and quite gusty, so my difficulty with the maneuver wasn't entirely my fault.  With a bit more practice, I feel I can get this one down too, no matter the conditions.

Our next flight was in the late evening, the next day.  Chris wanted me to go solo, but I wanted to get one final feel for the area, with him there, and a few more dual-looks at the maneuvers I had been practicing.  We took a look at the southern practice areas, and practiced some proceeders, followed by some more Chandelles.  We finished off the quick lesson with some touch-and-gos at Fort Pierce (KFPR) and headed back to Vero Beach.

Next post will be about my first solo flight, at night, and at an unfamiliar airport... Stay tuned!

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