Gloomy Weather

Today the weather is gloomy with wet, cold and misty precipitation. Yesterday it even snowed! There are heavy gray clouds. Everything is so dark and dull.

But there is an advantage though: absolutely no wind. Ceiling is higher than pattern altitude, and it is the perfect weather for practice landings! At least I feel a proper height for flare. The plane is not ballooning. The landings are smooth!

Possibly there is one more factor: recently I watched tons of movies about landing techniques. And I feel much more self confident and less nervous. I apply controls more smoothly. I even have time to communicate now.  I suppose that those calm winds and stable air helps very much.

I will not fly in the next 3 days as the airplane is unavailable. At this stage I’ll try to remember those feelings as  my skills are starting to develop and I have to practice as frequently as possible.

Emergency Landings

The weather is still not very calm, but not very turbulent. Therefore, we are working on emergency landings today.

It is a very strange feeling when the airplane suddenly turns into a glider. I don’t have strong skills for suitable field parameters estimation yet: height, size, distance. In theory everything is straightforward, but in practice I feel that I am falling like a stone, and all the fields are tiny.

I remember my skating training, when I was trying to make a 180 turn via jumping. Actually it is easy, but I had to overcome a psychological barrier. Now it is similar: I can just overcome a stress and start acting rationally. I think I also have to practice descend with flaps 30 and 40, when a sinkrate is relatively high, just to get used to the feeling.

I am not sure that it is possible to become fully confident with all that stuff in published hour minimums for a private pilot (a sight from the future: later I can only confirm that). But I don’t want to stop on a private license. And I want to fly after getting a license, not just put it on a shelf. I want to move on.

Landings

Today I was flying with another instructor. He told me a very simple and obvious thing, which I could not realize myself: during the landing I should look not only straight ahead, but also slightly to the left. On the early stages it helps to better estimate height above the ground. Hmm. It really helps to flare better!

Today I practice landings. Take-off, circuit, final, landing.

Today I also made my first navigation flight. Nothing special, but all towns and villages are somewhat similar from the air, and it can be difficult to understand which one I am overflying now. The best clue is usually a road (especially highway) or a river. Finally I am starting to quickly find and identify my home airport from more than 5 miles. I totally understand that it is really hard to NOT spot a 2 km length concrete runway, but that’s how it works when you start from zero level. In my first flights I experienced some troubles with finding even that huge runway 🙂

Landings

We started flying touch-n-goes: the airplane touches down, then I have to quickly set an airplane configuration to take-off without stopping, and take off again. It makes landings practice quicker: we save the time for full stop and taxiing back.

Fortunately I can fly circuits on my home aerodrome without landing fees. I know that for the US it is a usual practice (even for towered aerodromes), but for Europe it is not so simple. Some flight schools don’t care about landing fees, and just charge their students. The others try to find some uncontrolled airports where nobody charges those fees. So, I am somewhat happy in that sense: I can fly circuits at my home base, and I don’t pay landing fees for that. And we have a very long concrete runway here. I think that it is a great advantage.

My circuits are almost OK, but my landings are bad. Possibly I feel much more calm on altitude. One circuit is about seven minutes (actually it is a lot!), one landing is about some seconds. Unfortunately I cannot practice landings only, and I have to spend my flight time. I miss Western Step on Klement’eva hill, when I was able to practice landings on a hang-glider, just landings, without long approaches or circuits…

Clouds and Landings

Today the flight is especially beautiful.

Previously the sky was clear, no any clouds. In a sunny day everything is blue and homogenious. Today it is totally different: one can see clouds of a various sizes and shapes. Initially it is a little bit scary, because in reality these cute fluffy innocuous things are very dangerous. One can see nothing inside them, but it is not the worst… Just imagine a boiling kettle. And now imagine that you are inside. OK, you wear a thermal protected clothes, but you are still inside. And you are dashed in random directions with random speeds, and can easily hit the walls of the floor. But I have to admit, the clouds are still very beautiful.

Clouds from the sky

After some time I realized how to avoid them, and it becomes a bit easier. And, of course, more interesting. But time and distance estimation is harder.

We started to make the first traffic patterns and landings. I know the theory, but I have no real experience. When the Earth becomes closer, the tension is increasing: I have plenty of time when I am in the air, but I have almost no time when I am close to the Earth. And our planet is very firm. Previously I did not notice that 🙂