During lesson 38, ZH and K rode along. Again I spent most of this flight under the hood. We flew up to Brennan Field where we executed a low approach and along the way there and back, practised several recoveries from unusual attitudes while under the hood. ZH thought that was great fun, especially the time when we were nose low and fast. K fell asleep within the first fifteen minutes of the flight, which is comforting, funny, and unusual. I recovered fairly well from the unusual attitudes, but like a lot of things, I thought through the process too much and recovered too slow. By the end though, I was just doing it without thinking it through first. I’m also improving at some of the other things like asking for repeated instructions when necessary and adjusting the mixture whenever changing altitude. We executed a soft-field landing at the end of the lesson and it went fairly well. Initially, I didn’t get the throttle down quite low enough so I ate up a lot of runway, but the landing was soft and the nose was high.
During Lesson 37, TO rode along. TL asked me to perform a soft field takeoff. I did much better this time, but still have some learning to do. I held her in ground effect longer and better, still not long enough and not well enough though. As soon as we took off and turned east, T had me put the hood on and most of the flight was under simulated IFR conditions. We landed (my first turf landing) and took off at New Holstein and then headed right back to Oshkosh, again under simulated IFR conditions. So I was entirely blind to my first flight across Lake Winnebago and back. T had me perform the approach under simulated IFR up until 1 mile out. That was a satisfying experience.
T says I am already performing IFR flight with some skill and strongly encouraged me to pursue an IFR rating down the road. He also suggested my skills might come from time spent playing video games. Well, I never spent a lot of time on video games, but I have spent a lot of time on flight simulators. I suggested that my skills probably were developed flying a simulator on an Apple IIc in 1987, because the view out the window on that simulator (I think it was Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0) was of little value. You had no choice but to fly the instruments!
I should like to take this opportunity to thank Mom and Dad for that first flight simulator. I don’t know what they were thinking as they purchased one of our first software packages for that little Apple with the nine inch monochrome monitor, but I was in awe.
Flight number thirty-six was another solo cross-country. It was not required for the private pilot certificate, but T and I agreed it could only help to have more experience. I found the cross-country navigation to be fairly straightforward, even though there are few landmarks between Oshkosh and Adams County. I flew from Adams County to Wautoma, a very short flight, and thence back to Oshkosh.
I need to work on:
- Remember to adjust the mixture every time I change altitude.
- Remember to start the stopwatch before taking off.
- Adjust for a crosswind that is stronger or weaker than I expected.
- Never give a “roger” when you did not understand the entire call.
It holds that every time I fly solo I encounter something new. This time there was quite a bit of traffic using OSH and a twin Cessna (faster than our 172) was coming straight in for runway 36 so the controller asked me to turn base immediately and then land ahead of him, halfway down the runway. Moreover, the pilot asked to taxi to AeroShell Square. I felt like I was in some small way a part of the AirVenture arrival procedures.
During flight 35, G got to ride along but his headset wasn’t working properly, so he could not hear us, although we could hear him. We started with a soft field takeoff and proceeded west while T discussed some of what I might expect on the practical test. We reviewed navigation, diversion to an alternate field, and use of the navigation radios. Then I spent some more time under the hood. T says I do really well under the hood but I still need two more hours of IFR instruction. That’s going to take a while to get. We ended with a soft field landing, which I performed satisfactorily, but not excellently.
On the next three flights, I worked with T on short and soft field takeoffs and landings. Flight 33 was solo. Both techniques were unfamiliar and a challenge at first but with noticeable gains in proficiency by the end if their respective lessons. Again, some more practice is in order because the goal is to do these smoothly, expertly, and safely.
I flew the solo practice on a Friday and Fridays tend to be busy in the air. I was using runway 36 for touch-and-goes and a DC-3 wanted to use runway 18 to takeoff. He waited while I and a few others landed and took off and then he finally got his turn. Well, the unusual thing is that he was taking off in the opposite direction as I was and flying directly across from my left wing down my entire downwind leg. So I had to be aware of wake turbulence from an airplane going the opposite direction as me. …interesting.