Flight School – Recap – Week 8

It’s been two months since I officially started my flight training. There have been good and bad days, stretches of days lost to weather, and frustrations along the learning curve. Nonetheless, when I look at these past 8 weeks collectively, I feel extremely accomplished and proud of what I have achieved. I have just over 30 flight hours logged. I’ve flown solo as pilot in command. I’ve learned so much, met so many great people. I’m getting closer to my first certificate, private pilot.

This week we did more instrument work, and honestly, it was pretty frustrating and confusing at the beginning. As I wrote in last week’s post, instrument flying means you are flying and navigating the airplane without any visual reference (looking, or being able to see things outside). Newer planes with ‘glass cockpits’ use GPS and basically most of this work is done for the pilot. The airplane that I am learning on uses only analog radio wave instruments to navigate from one point to another, the way it has been done since the dawn of navigation in aviation. Almost all new production aircraft being built today are equipped with glass cockpits. Many people who learn to fly today opt to start their training on a glass cockpit airplane rather than the old analog style, but I believe that learning on an old ’round dial’ aircraft and having to learn to do things the hard way leaves you with not only the ability to get the job done, but a much more thorough understanding of the fundamentals of flight and the mechanics behind the processes that make navigation and aviation possible. Once I complete my private pilot certificate, I will continue my training in a G1000 glass cockpit equipped aircraft.

On Thursday there was a TFR (temporary flight restriction) issued for the airspace over Philadelphia, as our new president Trump was in town. Our airport lays just outside this area so we opted to fly, but the skies were calm as most people are either scared off simply by the thought of a TFR, or do not know that you can commence a flight as usual during a TFR, as long as you file a flight plan. Again, even if you are flying VFR, you need to file a flight plan and get a unique identifier to fly within a TFR. Furthermore, there may be areas of the TFR that may be completely off limits to general aviation aircraft. We flew out to the northeast to Princeton. As we approached Princeton, a small uncontrolled airport, the winds picked up and we encountered the strongest gusts, downdrafts, and shear that I have experienced up until this point in my training. We intended to practice pattern and do touch-and-goes at Princeton, but after one attempt which resulted in a go-around I decided that practicing my landings on Princeton’s narrow and short runway during these rough wind conditions wasn’t for me.

I finished the week off with a great day of flying. We continued our instrument work and everything as coming together much better for me. I was able to navigate and fly the plane on instruments at my instructor’s request much better. My instructor gave me two simulated engine failures and I felt good about the outcome of both. As we flew along, he called out “you’ve had an engine failure” and cut the power to idle. The first time we were just over a small uncontrolled airport. I pitched for best glide speed, simulated my engine restart procedure, did a mock mayday call and passenger brief. All the while I was flying the plane toward the airport and was able to land the plane on the runway. We taxied back and took off, and as we climbed through 2500 feet he did it again! He called out “you’ve had an engine failure” and again cut the power to idle. I immediately pitched for best glide and start flying toward an old closed down military base that was just ahead. He did not tell me that that airfield was there, and was impressed that I had seen it and identified it even before he cut the power on me. We finished the day off with some stall recovery practice with foggles on, and headed back to the airport.

I’m really looking forward to more solo time now and finishing out the requirements for my private pilot license. Assuming good weather, by the end of next week I should have most of the training requirements done for my private pilot certificate. I’ll spend some more time brushing up skills, hitting the books, and not to long from now I’ll be taking my check ride for my private pilot license. Back in late 2016 when I was starting this endeavor, I was hoping to be on track to have my private by my 30th birthday, which is in two weeks. I’ll probably need a bit more time, but considering I started a bit later then I wanted to and all the time lost to holidays and weather, I’m more then satisfied with where I’m at, plus every day is a blast.

Flight School – Recap – Week 7

The highlight of week 7 was my first solo flight! My previous post was all about the solo flight and includes a great video of the entire thing. Check it out for all the details.

Following my first solo flight, which was on Monday, we only flew one more day this week, primarily due to weather. On Wednesday we jumped right into instrument training. Learning to fly using only instruments, (ie. becoming an instrument rated pilot) is said to be the most technical and challenging certificate to train for. Until now, all the training I have been doing has been under VFR, or visual flight rules. To obtain and hold a private pilot certificate, one does have to do some instrument training, although a private pilot who does not hold an instrument rating cannot fly in IMC, instrument meteorological conditions. Becoming an instrument rated pilot opens the door to more possibilities and allows you to fly in less favorable weather conditions, and at night. It undoubtedly also increases a private pilots knowledge and overall airmanship whether or not they plan on flying in less then ideal conditions.

When training for instrument flight, you wear a special type of eye wear, called foggles. Foggles are basically a pair of safety goggles but most of the field of vision has been frosted over, leaving only a small area to see out of, which limits your vision to the instrument panel directly in front of you. This simulates real IMC conditions, imagine flying inside a cloud and having nothing but grey filling the windows. I brought my new set of foggles with me and today was the first time we put them to use. With the foggles or other view limiting device on, you are said to be “under the hood”. Using a view limiting device allows you to log ‘simulated instrument time’, and counts toward your required instrument training time.

We headed out to the practice area and I put my foggles on. The first demonstrations that my instructor did with me were related to situational awareness. When flying in instrument conditions, it is very easy to become disorientated. You cannot rely on what you are feeling, as it can be very deceiving. My instructor wanted to demonstrate this to show how easy it is to think you are flying in a certain direction or at a certain bank, when in reality you could be turned in the other way and climbing or descending. He asked me to close my eyes and he put the airplane through a series of random maneuvers. Then he left it configured in a certain direction and either a climb or descent and asked me in what configuration I felt the plane was flying. We did this several times, and more often than not, I was wrong. Sometimes I felt that we were climbing, when in reality we were level and turning. Another time I felt we were turning when in reality we were level and descending. The takeaway here is when you are flying in instrument conditions, and you have no outside visual references, you have to know your instruments and more importantly– trust your instruments. I then did some basic maneuvers– climbs, descents, and turns, at his direction, using only instruments. An important skill here is ‘the scan’ where you are continually moving your eyes from one instrument to another, checking airspeed, altitude, heading, and vertical speed all while completing your maneuver. You do not ever want to fixate on any one instrument. After a while of having the foggles on, I was feeling pretty queasy. I don’t get motion sickness, and haven’t had any discomfort during training until this point, but I guess having the foggles on combined with the situation awareness demonstrations did get to me a bit. On the bright side, during real instrument flight, regular control inputs and changes to flight path are made with much smaller adjustments and within narrower tolerances than in VFR flight. I don’t anticipate any physiological discomfort going forward.

We headed back toward the airport and practiced pattern flight, as well as an introduction to short and soft field landings. A short field landing is simply a different way of configuring the aircraft on approach, during landing, and directly after in order to bring the aircraft to a stop in the shortest distance possible. A soft field landing is a little more technical, the idea is to bring the aircraft down and hold it off for as long as possible, slowly transferring the weight of the aircraft from the wings and onto the landing gear. You do not want to touch down hard if you are on a soft field (grass, sand, slow, etc) as to not dig the landing gear in and damage the plane. We did about 13 landings and practiced some of these skills.

Until next week…..

 

MY FIRST SOLO FLIGHT!

With just over 20 hours of flight instruction and six weeks since beginning my training, on Monday I flew solo for the first time. This experience was the coolest thing I have ever done in my life, hands down. I’ll never forget the feeling of achievement and satisfaction I felt completing this milestone. I am also very lucky to have an incredible video of my first solo flight.

I got to the airport on Monday with my student pilot certificate, medical certificate, and ID in tow, knowing that one of these days my instructor would be sending me off on my first solo. The weather was great, so we took to the air and flew some laps in the pattern and did some full stop taxi backs. After about the 4th one, my instructor asked if I wanted to drop him off at the ramp and go fly my first solo! I felt ready, the weather was calm, and traffic was light. I was ready to go for it.

Just prior to heading out, my instructor radioed air traffic control to give them a heads up that I was going out on my first solo and would be flying the pattern. It was late afternoon on a beautiful calm day, so most of the planes from our school were out flying that day. ATC informed us that he had about 8 aircraft inbound in around 45 minutes so there would be relatively heavy traffic around the airport. With this in mind, seeing as it was my first solo flight, I decided to do one lap and bring it back in while the airport was calm.

As I headed out on my own for the first time, I was completely focused and honestly not nervous at all. This is what I had been working for and I was excited to go out and do it. All my senses were heightened. All the knowledge, studying, and training was on the tip of my fingers and at my disposal. As I applied full power on the runway and took to the sky, there was no feeling of uneasiness or apprehension. I felt like I was one with the airplane and exactly where I wanted to be.

I’m happy to have achieved this first major milestone on my new life journey and can’t wait to continue my training and working to my ultimate goal of commercial airline pilot.

Enjoy the video!

Flight School – Recap – Week 6

Best week so far! Finally we had a stretch of decent weather and were able to fly 5 days this week. I surpassed my 20th hour of flight time this week and everything seems to be coming together. I feel that 20 hours is really the minimum starting point where you have developed enough muscle memory to be precise with the controls, and quick enough mentally to multitask the demands of safe controlled flight.

We spent basically the entire week working on pattern work. Pattern flying means that we are practicing the traffic pattern around the airport. All airports, whether controlled or uncontrolled, have a traffic pattern which pilots must adhere to in order to keep congestion down and the sky safe.
A standard traffic pattern consists of 4 ‘legs’. First you have upwind, as in a straight out climb directly after takeoff. At our airport, due to noise abatement, we must climb to 1200ft in altitude before turning. So we climb upwind to 1200 feet, and then turn left 90° to our “crosswind” leg. Crosswind puts you perpendicular to the runway from which you just departed. The next leg of the pattern in downwind, which is another 90° turn from crosswind, and puts you parallel to your departure runway (or landing runway for that matter), but heading in the opposite direction. Downwind is usually where you enter the traffic pattern, for instance when you are returning to the airport from a flight. When flying downwind, you usually communicate with the tower, do pre-landing checks, and begin to configure the airplane for landing. As you fly parallel to the runway from which you just departed, heading back in the opposite direction, your next turn will be on to ‘base’ leg, which will now have you perpendicular to your runway. From base leg, you make your last left turn on to ‘final’. From downwind and through final, you would be configuring the airplane for landing in stages.

We flew this pattern, landing and taking right back off (touch-and-go’s) 14 times on Monday of this past week. Some landings were good, and some were not so good. Some that were good were luck and others I really worked for. All in all, it takes practice to get a feel for the controls and to understand and interpret the depth perception as you come down toward the runway. We also practiced simply holding the plane off and flying a foot or two off the runway for as long as possible. Once the plane would settle, add some power to get back in the air and then do it again. With 6000 foot runways at our airport, we could get a few of these practice bounces done on each pass, utilizing the entire length of the runway.

On Tuesday we continued the pattern work but also worked on glide approaches. This is basically simulating an engine failure in the pattern, and how you would bring the plane in with no power available. If you are in the pattern, and especially at our airport (due to minimum altitude requirements), making the runway if there was a sudden loss of power is fairly easy.

For Thursday, my instructor suggested that I get on the schedule with another instructor after my regularly scheduled lesson for a progress check. From time to time you want to fly with someone else so they can give you feedback on your progress, make sure that you haven’t developed any improper habits, or your instructor hasn’t missed anything. Each time you fly with a different instructor, you will learn something new, even if it is just a tip or trick to help you along. I scheduled to fly with the chief pilot of the school after my regularly scheduled flight with my instructor on Thursday. I wasn’t nervous going into this progress check, but obviously wanted to do well. If the chief pilot was satisfied with my proficiency, he would give his blessing that I was ready for my first solo flight.

I had Wednesday off and returned to school early Thursday morning. It was a clear but gusty day. The plan was to fly my regular lesson with my regular instructor and then fly the progress check with the chief pilot. I felt good about this because it would let me get a feel for the day’s winds and brush up on some skills I was still working on. Right then plans changed! The chief pilot asked if we could go first, as he had another commitment arise for later in the day. Sure, why not. Lets fly. After all, I’m a student, and this isn’t a test, so nothing to worry about. Doesn’t have to be perfect. We started with the preflight and he gave me some good suggestions and critiques along the way. After taking off, we headed out toward the practice area and he asked me to demonstrate several flight skills and maneuvers. Climbs, descents, slow flight, steep turns, and turns around a point. I felt good about all of them. Then, as we were flying along, he pulled the power to idle and called out, “you’ve had an engine failure”, what are you going to do? Immediately I pitched up to get my best glide speed of 68 knots. I trimmed the airplane to hold this glide speed as I looked outside for a suitable place where I would be able to land the airplane. Ok, I see a field, it seems like my best bet in terms of shape and length, and I can approach the field into the wind. I begin a series of turns to set myself up on a good approach. I make my “mock-mayday” call, and give my passenger brief. My turns are complete and I am approaching my point. I tell my instructor I feel good about my choice and that I feel I would make the field, and am ready to start putting in flaps to descend further. He is satisfied with my demonstration, and we initiate a go around. In reality I felt very good about that scenario and my reaction. I chose a spot, flew toward it, and had it been a turn emergency, I feel it would have a successful outcome. We head back to the airport, fly the pattern, and do several touch and go’s. After about an hour of flight, the progress check is complete. Upon debrief, we review some improvements I can make and highlight some positive points. All and all, he is happy with my progress and gives his blessing on my readiness to solo, green lighting my instructor to sign me off for a solo flight as he sees fit. It was nice to hear the chief pilot say, “you fly us along quite well”.

The following day we continue pattern work, in very gusty conditions. Not my best day of flying. I’m sure a lot of it had to do with the wind. We did 15 take offs / landings. I felt sort of discouraged but my instructor wasn’t to concerned because he knew the wind was really throwing me off. The next day, we ended the week by flying out to an uncontrolled airport (no tower), and practicing the pattern there. At an uncontrolled airport, you need to make the necessary radio calls as you move through the pattern on your own, in order to make sure you keep separation from other planes. The runway at this airport was much narrower, and much shorter. We did a few laps in the pattern and my landings were much better today. Dusk started to set in and I had the very cool opportunity to operate the runway lights from the airplane for the first time. A pilot can turn on all the runway lights from the airplane by pressing the microphone button 7 times in succession on a certain frequency. Seeing all the lights come alive while on final approach is really a cool sight. We headed back to our home airport, flew the pattern as the sun set, and did one lap / landing in the dark. The week ended up very well, and I feel there is a SOLO flight in the very near future. Stay tuned.

Flight School – Recap – Week 5

c1qn3law8aay-y7-jpg_largeHappy New Year! Well this will be a short entry, because it was a short week. The weather did not cooperate at all, I only flew one day this week! I went the entire first week of the this new year without flying. I was well aware of the downtime I would inevitably have when starting flight school at the beginning of the winter in the Northeast, but this past week really wore me down. If you have been reading since my first post you know that on my very first official day of flight school, we did no fly due to weather. I wrote in that post that it did not discourage me and I knew it was to be expected at this time of the year. I went back and reread my words and that helped me get through the continuous back to back days which did not allow us to fly. Sunday came around and we finally had an opportunity to fly; the morning after the first snowstorm of the season painted our area white.

I got to the airport, conditions were bright and clear but we had wind gusting to 22 knots. Not having flown for the entire week, I wanted to fly despite the gusty conditions. Our lesson for the day was on emergency procedures. We flew out to the practice area, and my instructor demonstrated the procedure to follow in the event of an unexpected engine failure.

As we cruised around in normal flight, we cut the power simulating an engine failure. The first thing to do is pitch the airplane up to set our best glide speed, 68 knots. We trim for this setting as we look out for a suitable landing area, and start to fly toward it. My instructor selected a field which he deemed suitable for landing had this been a true emergency. As he flew toward the field at the best glide speed, he began the engine restart checklist. Fuel selector on both, fuel cutoff in, mixture rich, cycle throttle and set halfway, fuel pump to on, master switch check on, magnetos both. This checklist is done in a matter of seconds, from memory, and then we call air traffic control. Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! followed by our call sign, position, emergency, and intentions. Next he gave me the passenger brief, as we continued to descend to our intended landing place. As we approached 500ft AGL, my instructor demonstrated a ‘slip’ which is a maneuver which can help to further reduce our altitude and get us down faster if needed. At this moment, a massive gust of wind came and tossed us uncomfortably off course. We initiated a go around, adding full power and climbing out of our mock-engine-out scenario.

The gusty conditions of the day made it very difficult for me to practice emergencies as I kept getting blown off course from my chosen landing spot. Before heading back to the airport my instructor demonstrated a spiraling decent, a maneuver that could be used in the event of an engine fire or other emergency that would require getting the aircraft on the ground as fast as possible. In the spiraling desent, you are spiraling basically straight down at just below the “do not exceed” speed of the aircraft. What a ride! I can’t wait to start learning and practicing these maneuevers myself.

We headed back to the airport and called it a day. I didn’t get to practice much of the manevuers myself, but the weather is looking better for the coming week, and I am scheduled for almost everyday. I’ll have alot more to report next time, and will be very close to my first solo!

Flight School – Recap – Week 4

Well we had a short week — not much to report this time. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fell on the Saturday and Sunday leading into this week. New Years Eve and New Years Day fell on this past Saturday and Sunday, respectively. In between we had, wait for it… bad weather. I ended up only flying on this past Friday and Saturday, and utilized some of the rain outs for ground lessons.

On Thursday we did a ground lesson on ground reference maneuvers in anticipation of flying and practicing the maneuvers on Friday. There are three basic ground reference maneuvers that we practice and are part of the private pilot practical exam. There are turns around a point, rectangular course, and s-turns across a road.

The forecast for Friday was good, but come Friday there were gusty wind conditions, although it was a relatively clear day. We opted to fly anyway, as the point of ground reference maneuvers is to be able to maintain your intended flight path while correcting for wind. Practicing ground reference maneuvers on a day with no wind is counterproductive, although working on them for the first time with gusts up to 22 knots is just the opposite end of the spectrum. I figured it was worth it to go fly, at least to have my instructor introduce the maneuvers to me in practice. We flew out to the practice area, and although we had some pretty bumpy air, we were able to get a lot done. My instructor choose points on the ground and demonstrated each maneuver. After each demonstration, I took control, and started working on the maneuvers on my own. I found S-turns across a road to be the most challenging.

On Saturday the 31st, New Year’s Eve, we were lucky to have nice weather, although it was still rather gusty. We flew for 2.3 hours, a tie for my longest flight to date. While doing our run-up and pre-takeoff check list, we noticed a red fox frolicking around the runway! More on that later.

We took off and headed out to the practice area to continue work on the ground reference maneuvers we had started the day before. I choose the point to fly around, and began the “turns around a point” maneuver on the downwind. Entering the maneuver with the wind behind you, you use the steepest angle of bank and gradually shallow your bank angle as you fly around your point and the direction of the wind changes relative to the aircraft. Maintaining a constant altitude and scanning for traffic adds a degree of technicality to the maneuver, but overall, this seems to be the easiest of the three basic ground reference maneuvers for me.

Next was rectangular course. For this maneuver, we choose something on the ground resembling a rectangle, such as a large field. The idea is to fly around this rectangle maintaining a constant altitude and distance from the edge of your ‘rectangle’ all the way around. The wind will push you away from your rectangle when it is behind you and you will slow on the upwind. You need to manipulate your angle of bank when making your turn, and your degree of turn (in order to crab for the wind). This maneuver basically mimics flying the traffic pattern around the airport.

The last maneuver is S-turns across a road. The idea is to cross a road on the downwind with wings level, and immediately go into a left or right turn at a steep bank angle, and shallow your turn all the way through until you cross the road in the other direction again, perpendicular, with wings level. You then immediately go into another S-turn to the other direction, this time at a shallow angle of bank with a constant increase in bank until you are at the steepest angle of bank as the wind is behind you again, and you can again cross the road in the other direction, perpendicular, with wings level.

I practiced these maneuvers, and about an hour and a half into our flight, while practicing S-turns, I asked my instructor to take control and demonstrate one for me, as I was having trouble manipulating the bank angle correctly. This is the point at which I realized that until just then, he had not flown the plane at all… I had done everything and had been flying since we took off. Great feeling. We continued to practice maneuvers, and as dusk set in, headed back to the airport.

As we headed back to the airport, my instructor had me practice some stalls. I was much more confident and was able to enter and recover the stall much more smoothly, and minimize altitude lost on the maneuvers. We contacted tower and were asked to report a 3 mile base for touch and go’s. Being a gusty day, we were going to work on some crosswind landing techniques. I worked the radio and brought the airplane in for a landing to the best of my ability. My instructor helped at the very end due to the wind conditions. We touched down and immediately took back off. By this time, it was getting late, and dark fast. It was first time flying in the dark, with the instruments lights on in the airplane. As we reported our downwind to air traffic control, they asked if we could come in for ‘short approach’. I replied back ‘negative’ and they had us do a 360° turn to the right in order to hold us off as other traffic came in to land. When we came out of that turn, joined a base and then turned on final approach. The aircraft that was landing ahead of us, had to do a go around, meaning they aborted the landing and rejoined the traffic pattern around the airport. The reason for the go around? A fox on the runway!

We were on final approach and were told to deviate as they investigated the whereabouts of the fox. It was pretty busy in the air and everyone was put in a pattern around the airport. After a few turns at the direction of air traffic control we came in for our full stop landing. I executed the landing, and taxied us back to home base. It was completely dark at this point, and we were the last ones at the school… for the year. We had a short debrief and locked up and left. Happy New Year!

Flight School – Recap – Week 3

This week was amazing. We flew on Monday 12/19, Thursday 12/22, and Friday 12/23. I left the airport on Friday afternoon with an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. During our flight on Friday afternoon, I made my first fully unassisted landings. Not a bad “self-given gift” for Christmas.

Lets backtrack a few days… On Monday 12/19 I returned to school for the start of my second week of flight training. If you read my last post, you know that there were some ups and downs during week one (no pun intended :p ). I was scheduled to fly on Sunday 12/18 but lost the day due to weather. This gave me the weekend to relax and recharge starting my second week with a clear mind and positive outlook.

I arrived at school on Monday and we made it a point to get as much flight time in as possible. We ended up logging 2.2 hours, my longest training flight to date. I learned slow flight, steep turns, and started traffic pattern!

Slow flight consists of configuring the airplane in a way which results in flight at an airspeed of around 60 knots. Regular cruise is around 110 knots for comparison. Slow flight is achieved by combining a low power setting with the necessary pitch attitude which results in your desired [low] airspeed. During slow flight, the airplane’s controls are sloppy and less responsive, due to a decrease in airflow over the control surfaces. When turning during slow flight, you want to limit your bank angle, keep it shallow. The steeper the bank angle, the higher the stall speed, and during slow flight, depending on your bank angle, stall speed and airspeed may be converging.

The next skill we worked on were steep turns. Steep turns are 360° turns at a 45° bank angle while maintaining a constant altitude. These are lots of fun! The maneuver begins with a turn to either left or right, holding 45° of bank, adding power and back pressure as necessary to maintain altitude, and following the turn all the way through 360° until you are back on the heading your began with. When approaching the heading you started the maneuver on, you roll wings level and immediately go into the same steep turn to the other direction. I had a lot of fun with steep turns, although I definitely need more practice in order to keep all the variables in check.

After practicing these maneuvers, we headed back to the airport, and while we still had daylight, decided to do some touch-and-go’s! A touch-and-go is a landing followed by an immediate takeoff — with no stop on the runway in between. You simply land the plane and as it is rolling, reconfigure it for immediate takeoff. As we approached the airport from the practice area, I did most of the radio calls, with the assistance of my instructor as necessary. My instructor demonstrated the first touch and go, landing the plane, and immediately taking off and rejoining the traffic pattern around the airport. I then took control and flew the pattern, made the necessary radio calls, and brought the plane in for landing. During my first two attempts at landing, my instructor was helping me on the controls, fine tuning my inputs. I hadn’t done it completely on my own, but it was exhilarating nonetheless. We did two more touch-and-go’s and then a full stop landing, and our longest flight to date was complete. The experience was incredible.

I returned on Thursday 12/22 and the skills we worked on were steep turns and stalls. We departed the airport for the practice are and began our training. Aerodynamic stalls occur when the aircraft’s wing is no longer able to generate the lift required to sustain flight. Inducing a stall and practicing the recovery is necessary in order to understand at what limit this condition may be encountered and how to recover if you should ever experience a stall outside of a training environment. Going into this, I imagined stalls as being more violent and uncomfortable than they ended up being. We practiced three types of stalls — power-off stalls, departure stalls, and approach stalls. In each scenario, the aircraft was configured in a certain way to simulate a scenario either during takeoff, flight, or upon landing. We then induced the stall, and worked on recovering the aircraft. Lets take an approach stall for example.

During an approach stall maneuver, we configure the airplane as though we were coming in for a landing. Power is decreased to between 1500-1600rpm, full flaps (30°) are applied, and pitch is set to achieve an airspeed of 60 knots. This simulates the configuration of the aircraft during a decent to landing approach. At this point, we pull back on the control yolk, increasing the angle of attack until the wing can no longer produce the lift sufficient to maintain flight, and the stall occurs. As you pull back on the control yolk, the airspeed drops and the stall warning horn begins to sound. Shortly there after there is pronounced buffer that can be felt through the airplane’s controls, and immediately there after the aerodynamic stall occurs and the nose of the aircraft begins to fall sharply [toward the earth]. When the nose begins to fall, you relieve the back pressure on the yolk, add full power, and add rudder as necessary to level the wings. Retract flaps and pitch for best angle of climb. I’ll have to get my Go Pro into the cockpit one of these days, as a written explanation of the maneuver does it no justice.

On Friday 12/23, I had my best day of flight training to date. When I got to school that afternoon I told my instructor that I had been talking to my cousin, who is a private pilot, and we were planning to fly to the 2017 Air Venture Airshow in Osh Kosh, WI, in July of 2017. I mentioned to my cousin that I wanted to go and he expressed interest as well. If my training stays on course I should be an instrument rated private pilot and working on my commercial rating by this point. My instructor suggested we do a cross country flight, as a bit of an introduction to flying from place to place, rather then just going out to the practice area and flying around doing maneuvers. We headed out and decided to fly out to Lancaster, PA, where we would call the airport, join the pattern, and do touch and go’s. Along the way, he had me practice climbs, descents, steep turns, and stalls. As we approached Lancaster airport, I made the calls to ATC and was cleared into the pattern for touch-and-go’s. These were my first two, completely unassisted landings of the airplane. I made the calls, flew the pattern, landed the plane, and took back off. I remember coming in for the first landing. I was on final approach, maintaining 70knots, with the runway’s glide slope lights indicating a proper angle of descent. As I came down over the threshold, I brought the power to idle and glided the plane down close to the runway. I brought the nose up and let the airspeed bleed off, and we had touchdown. It was an amazing feeling. When my instructor confirmed that he had no input on the landing I remember saying “That was ****ing awesome!”.

We flew back to home base, and I left for the week feeling on top of the world. Everything felt right. It felt like I was finally doing what I was meant to do. I ended the week with 12 hours of total flight time complete, with a feeling of complete satisfaction and achievement. Plenty more to come.