On Friday, I was scheduled for a trip over to New Holstein, but the weather was marginal along the route, so we cancelled that plan and shot some takeoffs and landings at KOSH. Winds were 320 @ 7 kts and gusty — perfect for crosswind practice — but up at pattern altitude times were exciting with all of the turbulence and gusty winds. In any case, my precision improved somewhat, which gave me confidence that in fact I can master the skill of side-slipping. I made 5 landings and my last one was fairly good so I ended there.
Would a Liberal buy fair trade certified coffee from Wal-Mart?
I flew three times last week. On Friday, T instructed me to fly at 3400′ around Lake Winnebago counter-clockwise and land back at Oshkosh. Well, all of the weather forecasts, satelite images, and ATIS broadcasts indicated clear skies, no clouds. As I headed south towards Fond du Lac, however, I noticed a layer of clouds (scattered) developing right at 3000′. So it was an opportunity for me to exercise some good judgement. I tried things out above the clouds, but I didn’t exactly feel like cruising at 5500′ and the clouds looked like they were getting thicker so I descended through a hole and made the turbulent circuit at 2000′.
I am finding that a great way to learn about procedures is to listen to other pilots talk to the controllers and vice versa. For example, I heard a pilot tell the Oshkosh controller that he was going to travel through the Oshkosh airspace at 6500′. The tower asked him to keep them apprised of any altitude changes, so later, when those clouds came into view for him, he notified them he was descending to 4500′ and later to 2500′. Also, I’m finding that when there is a question about some communication with the controller, it is alright to just ask the question and sometimes even explain why you have the question.
Extracting the mission team from the bush involved a trip to the Bamenda Airport, since it was easier to fly in and out of. Terry and I shuttled people and supplies around town and helped refuel the airplane.
The Bamenda Airport has a staff of maybe five who show up to work every day even though the airport only gets used ten or fifteen days out of the year. They were there to receive our paperwork and chat during idle times. I chatted with the manager for some time and found out he had been the manager clear back to the time the airport was built in the late 1980s but since there have not been any commercial flights to Bamenda in over ten years, the terminal is now an army barracks and the tower is not in use.
As I carried on this conversation, it occurred to me that if my wife, or her dad, or dad’s dad were having this conversion, any one of them would immediately ask for a tour of the tower. Furthermore, I knew that I could not look any one of them in the eye when I got home and tell him that I had not asked. So I asked.
"You can please land now."
The manager showed me how to get up to the tower where we looked around for a few minutes and then went back down. Presently I figured the other fellows would like to take a look inside the tower, so we took a couple of trips up there and I wanted a picture of Godlove and Emmanuel in the control chairs. I told them so and they sat right down and started acting like they were the controllers. They picked up the handsets and started giving orders and thought it was just a jolly time. I thought so too.
For lesson 21, T sent me a list of instructions: Go to the airport, take off, and cruise at 2800′ to the north end of Rush Lake. Turn South and fly to Ripon, thence to Fond du Lac, and thence back to Oshkosh. If you have time at the end, practice more takeoffs and landings. Focus on becoming familiar with pilotage and with entering and exiting the Class D airspace at Oshkosh.
Well, this is what flying is all about — getting out and seeing the world from the perspective of a bird; so I looked forward to this flight. It was enjoyable and just relaxing and I felt completely comfortable making the requisite calls to the control tower entering and leaving the airspace. I shot two landings and both were improved from last time, but I made sure to leave some room for improvement next time.
Also, SR just told me he doesn’t ever see me get excited…except when I talk about flying. Then, I get excited.
This time around, I called for a flight briefing and the day looked good, so I called T and he gave me instructions. Go to the airport, fly for an hour, stay in the pattern, and practice your takeoffs and landings. So I cruised around the pattern 5 times and landed 4 times (I went around once). The gusty winds and the fact that I haven’t had a lot of practice on runway 18 made the day frustrating. I would sure like to do a lot better than I did.
I suspect one of my main problems was that my airspeed may have been 5-10 mph too high on approach, so I drifted down the runway quite a few times and ballooned sometimes too. Correcting left and right continues to be a challenge, but I believe it is one that can be overcome with more practice. The key for me there will be to learn to use small corrections.
At the start of the 19th lesson, T informed me that he would be checking me out in the pattern and if all went well, he would just go home and leave me to fly traffic patterns as long as I wanted. CP was able to ride along for this first part.
The checkout went alright, so we went back to the hangar and T gave some last minute instructions and then watched as I started up and taxied back out. There did seem to be some spotty reception by my radio two or three times that day, making it an interesting time to solo.
Well, after I took off, T left the airport, but CP remained to observe. I ran through 6 takeoffs and landings trying to improve each time. Again I improved with each one, so I’m encouraged that more practice will mean more precision. None of the landings was perfect — some were worse and some were better.
On the fourth pattern, I heard a Piper report 8 miles to the Southeast inbound for touch-and-gos. just as I took off. Well, I was making left closed traffic on runway 27, so I knew he would be meeting up with me. On the downwind leg, the controller instructed me to “make a right two-seventy.” I didn’t understand the instruction, so I hesitated, trying to figure it out. He repeated the instruction, and I copied it back in the form of a question, “70G, make a right two-seventy?” He answered, “70G, make a right three-sixty for spacing, start now.” Well, that registered in my brain and I understood, “70G, make a right three-sixty.” So I made a mile-wide circle and reentered the middle of the downwind leg and the Piper and I flew three patterns together.
I noticed on the fifth landing that I was beginning to get fatigued, so I only allowed myself one more. Next time I fly, T will not even meet me at the airport. He will simply give his blessing and I will go practice some takeoffs and landings.
Whilst in the bush, we were 12-hours from the nearest road. People ask how the food was was there; I say it was pretty good. There were three cooks on the team who made some delicious meals: chicken, beef, rice, cabbage, corn (made into fufu), and njama njama.
On Sunday, the beef and chicken ran out, so the fellows wanted to buy a chicken from someone in the village. We asked around, but nobody was selling so the fellows said, “we need to buy some bush meat.” Bush meat is wild game — generally monkey or cuttinggrass. The fellows found a man who had trapped a cuttinggrass. They bought it from him and we had bush meat for supper. The cooks cut the critter up into morsels, wrap each morsel so it does not fall apart, boil them, and then fry them in palm oil and spices. Honestly, the meat tasted fine, but the picture you see modified my perception of the matter.
Lesson 18 was all about flying at night. We took some time to go over what special proceedures are required for night flight, some of the advantages and disadvantages of flying at night and then went flying. GH got to ride along. We took off and flew down to Fond du Lac where we practiced some takeoffs and landings. I started the night off with a lot less precision than I would like to have, but added a little each time around the pattern. I was improving in my crosswind correction, but needed more practice. At least by the last pattern I wasn’t forgetting anything. We headed back up to Oshkosh and landed two more times with more of a crosswind component. On these last two, I did much better on the crosswind correction. In fact, the last one was textbook with perfect alignment, with the major exception that I turned the ailerons the wrong way on touchdown. Of course that was a little hairy for a second so I was glad T was there to catch it.