Sunday, July 24, 2005
Flying Lesson #38: Solo Practice
Today I finally got to fly on my own up into the practice area. This felt more like a "first solo" than those three measly touch-and-goes I did a few weeks ago. Today I decided for myself where I wanted to go, and figured out how to get there. It was a lot easier to concentrate on what I was doing without an instructor talking to me all the time. I felt a lot more like a "real pilot" than I ever have before.
I flew N9127F, the plane that I don't like. But it didn't seem so bad today. Without the instructor sitting next to me, I was free to spread out my knees so that the yoke didn't bump against the tops of my legs when I turned it. The DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) in 27F doesn't work reliably, but I knew where I was at all times, so it didn't matter. It doesn't have a clock on the dashboard, so I had to use my watch. (It actually does have a GPS unit with a clock, but I haven't learned how to use that.)
My mission for today was to practice slow flight, steep turns, and turns around a point. I stayed within sight of GA 400 so that I wouldn't get lost (visibility was only about five miles), and did most of my flying over a familiar area near my apartment. I started with the slow flight and a couple sets of steep turns, then descended down to 1,000 feet above ground level to do turns around a pair of water towers. After doing three sets of left and right turns around the towers, I climbed back to 3,500 feet and did some more slow flight and a lot of steep turns. I think I've got a good sight picture for the steep turns, although I'm looking forward to a day where I can actually see the horizon.
Returning to the airport, visibility was too poor to see the runways from the reporting point, but I was able to follow the highway until I saw the big tank farm that's north of the field, then I pointed in the general direction of the airport. I used the VOR to double-check my course, but didn't want to lean on radio navigation. The runways became visible when I was about four miles out.
Logged today: 1.9 hours solo/PIC in N9127F, 1 takeoff and 1 landing. Cost: $203.