Skates97

Richard's Training Journey

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2 hours ago, N9201A said:

This is interesting and fun to read. Good luck completing your PP training ... Then you can get to work on that instrument ticket!

As others have written, now that you're a pilot, keep learning and waiting for that "perfect" flight...if you're paying attention you'll notice you'll never quite have one...but that's what makes it so challenging.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Ah, but that's just the thing about flying, any time you have "slipped the surly bonds of earth," it is perfect...

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Flying in the haze last Saturday down to Palomar. I had my night XC with my CFI on Wednesday and that was a ton of fun. I need to write that up before I fly again this weekend. Saturday I fly back down to either CRQ or RNM depending on a marine layer and then Sunday afternoon is my long XC to CMA and SBA.

A Hazy XC

What's it like flying in minimum VFR conditions? Not nearly as fun as flying with unlimited visibility. Go snorkeling or scuba diving when you have a 20' visibility, then go somewhere in the Caribbean or Hawaii where you have hundreds of feet visibility and you get the idea. Both of them can be enjoyable, but one is much better than the other.

Everything looked good when I left home to drive to the airport, but once I got through the canyon and heading up the 71 to Chino I started wondering if I was going to be able to fly today. It was extremely hazy, lots of dust in the air. Before I even got out of the car I pulled up the current weather at KCNO and it said visibility was 3mi and there was a 3,000' ceiling. A little further south at KAJO it was 3mi and 3,300' ceiling while at my destination of Palomar (KCRQ) it was 12mi visibility with 12,000' ceilings. The weather was going to be getting better the further south I went, and it was supposed to be improving here at KCNO as the afternoon progressed so I decided to make a go of it and headed inside.

My CFI was off on a long XC IFR flight with a student so it was just me for the pre-flight and heading out on my own. It still seems a bit strange to me that there I was, a grand total of 17 flights, 26.4 hours, 73 TO/Landings, and the school was just letting me fly away in one of their planes...

Pre-flight was done, I hooked up the GoPro, started up the engine and taxied to the end of the hanger row. After checking the ATIS and getting taxi clearance from ground I went to the run-up area, performed run-up, everything looked good, rolled out to the hold short line and called up the tower.

Clear skies vs 3mi Visibility
Clear skies vs 3mi Visibility

I had requested Flight Following and the tower assigned my squawk before take off. I received clearance, took off, and shortly thereafter contacted SOCAL.

Me: "SOCAL Approach, Cherokee 4132Juliet, 1,800 2 miles south of Chino, climbing 2,500."
SOCAL: "32Juliet,  you have rising terrain off your 12 o'clock, please advise if you have it in sight."
(At this point I was heading SE towards the 91/15 interchange and the only terrain I had in front of me were the hills South of Lake Matthews, which were still quite a ways away.)
Me: "I don't have the terrain in sight yet."
SOCAL: "If you don't have the terrain in sight, suggest changing heading 10 degrees to the East."
(That doesn't make any sense as it just points me more directly at the hills, maybe he's talking about the mountains to the SW of Corona?)
Me: "I see the mountains of to my 2 o'clock."
SOCAL: "Okay, if you see those then you can continue your present course."
(Yep, those were the ones he was talking about...)
SOCAL: "What altitude are you planning?"
Me: "I'm going to stay at 2,500 for now."
(I know that the ceiling was 3,000 over KCNO and 3,300' over KAJO but I really have no way of knowing where the haze ends and the overcast begins and I have to stay 500' below it.  I can see a little sun starting to peek through, but want to get a little further south before climbing up.)
SOCAL: "Ok, you're going to be below our radar coverage, squawk 1200, frequency change approved."

Just like that, kicked to the curb...but not a big deal at all. Without flying at a higher altitude they weren't going to be able to see me once I got past the mountains. I had planned for not having Flight Following just in case and had all the frequencies for everything along the way on my flight plan so switched over to the Lake Matthews frequency and made a radio call with my position. Others in the area chimed in with their positions and I continued on, keeping eyes peeled for traffic. As I approached Lake Elsinore the haze went away and I switched over to the frequency there and continued making radio calls.

The rest of the flight down was uneventful, if a little bumpy in places where the hot day was creating some decent thermals over the barren hills. I got close enough to get the ATIS from KCRQ and contacted the tower. They gave me a "modified straight in approach" and I began my descnet. After the night practice with my CFI the landing was much better than on my last XC solo.

GOPR5482-0001

A short stay on the ground and I was back on my way up into the sky and heading NE towards Temecula. I love taking off from Palomar and seeing the ocean.

GOPR5483-0001

I switched over to SOCAL to see if I could get Flight Following for the way back but they were really busy. Before I even got a chance to call in I listened to them deny two others requests for Flight Following so I decided to skip it and just kept my squawk of 1200 and monitored frequencies on the way back, making calls when I was approaching Lake Elsinore and Lake Matthews. By the time I was back at KCNO the visibility was up to 6mi and much more enjoyable. The landing there was one of my better ones, I used the trim to help stabilize my approaches today instead of just using the yoke and that made a big difference.

I'm looking forward to my night XC next week.

Edited by Skates97

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Good story, Richard. You should consider putting all of your writing from intro flight through checkride together and publishing it.

I've only flown in 3mi vis once. It looked good from the ground, and an instructor was loading up with a student. So my wife and I got in the plane and taxied out. At liftoff, visibility wasn't bad; we turned crosswind and could see the Class D 4nm away, and almost that far past it. Then we turned downwind, toward the morning sun and bam! I'm not sure it was 3 miles, just all hazy and milky, hiding the West Virginia hills and the Ohio River. Reduced throttle and followed the student & instructor in front of me, landing #2 on 26 with good visibility in all directions except toward the sun.

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Thanks, I enjoy writing.

I'm not sure I'll fly in 3mi vis again. I know it meets minimum, but I think I'm a 5mi+ guy. It was the middle of the day so there wasn't any reflection coming from the sun being low in the sky, but still 3mi is not much...

On the radio when I was leaving I heard them turn one person back that was heading to El Monte KEMT to the NW because it was thick enough there that it was IFR.

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It's very common in SoCal to get what is effectively IMC even though VFR conditions are reported due to haze, setting sun, glare and smog layer. Something to be on the watch for, especially when near our busy Class Cs and Class B. Good that you're getting that experience under controlled conditions. Set personal minimums and stick to them. Be conservative! Learning from experience is only possible if you survive the experience. Similar conditions (effective IMC in VFR reported conditions) have done many in, most notably JFK Jr.

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1 hour ago, N9201A said:

It's very common in SoCal to get what is effectively IMC even though VFR conditions are reported due to haze, setting sun, glare and smog layer. Something to be on the watch for, especially when near our busy Class Cs and Class B. Good that you're getting that experience under controlled conditions. Set personal minimums and stick to them. Be conservative! Learning from experience is only possible if you survive the experience. Similar conditions (effective IMC in VFR reported conditions) have done many in, most notably JFK Jr.

Yes, my CFI and I experienced a little bit of that on our last XC together before my XC solo. We were coming back in to CNO and it was a little hazy but not bad. I don't know what the visibility was, but it wasn't very low. However it was about 7pm, the sun was low, and we were coming from the east flying right into the sun. Even though we both knew where the airport was and all the landmarks on the way in, we couldn't see it until we were about 4mi away. My first solo XC was going to be a weekday late afternoon and he made me move it up by an hour so that I would be getting back before the sun got too low in the sky.

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I thought I'd better write up my night XC before I go flying tomorrow and Sunday and forget what I did... :P It's a little long, but hopefully someone enjoys reading it.

Night XC, Tailwind TO, and a Race Home

Tonight was the night to knock out my night XC requirement and get in the last four of my ten night landings. I had told my CFI that I wanted to go someplace I hadn't been so he told me to pick an airport, towered or non-towered. It needed to be at least 50 n.m. away so that it would meet the 100 n.m. round trip requirement. I took a look at airports in the 50-60 n.m. range from CNO and decided it would be fun to fly to Thermal (TRM) just because the field elevation is 115' below sea level. Really, who doesn't want to land below sea level?

My CFI said TRM would be fine, but that I needed to pay attention to the forecast and watch for Convective SIGMET's (which signal that there could be severe turbulence, icing, low level wind shear, and/or thunderstorms which have a tendency to cause all of the above). This time of year Convective SIGMET's are common over the desert in the afternoon because of the humidity combining with the heat, and you want to stay at least 40 n.m away.

I prepared my flight plans to/from TRM as well as plans to RNM (Ramona) and CRQ (Palomar) just in case. But, I was crossing my fingers for good weather.

It was a busy night making flight plans the night before because I also needed to put together my revised flight plans for my long XC to CMA (Camarillo) and SBA (Santa Barbara). The problem is that my CFI will be on a flight when I do my XC on Saturday and Sunday so I needed him to sign my endorsement for my long XC when I saw him tonight. Without that endorsement I wouldn't be able to go on the flight Sunday.

I got to the airport, we went over my plans for Sunday, and he signed the endorsement in my logbook for my long XC. He also signed my endorsement for my XC on Saturday giving me the option of going to either CRQ or RNM just in case Palomar was socked in with a marine layer.

I pulled up the weather and it was clear, no SIGMET's out by TRM so weather wasn't going to be a factor. There was a NOTAM saying the main runway there was closed and scheduled to reopen before we would get there. Even if it didn't reopen we would be able to land on the other runway.

I did the pre-flight on the plane, we climbed in, buckled up, started the engine, and headed down towards the end of hanger row. It was a quiet evening with one controller handling both ground and tower. It was around 80° F outside which was a nice departure from the 90-100° that I've been seeing in the daytime. The tower handled my request for Flight Following and assigned my squawk before take off.

With the cooler weather we rolled off the runway nice and smooth and began the climb out. Shortly after turning downwind to head East I was talking with SOCAL Approach and they cleared us to climb through ONT's Class C shelf to our cruising altitude of 5,500'.

I really like flying at night. It's cooler, the skies are less crowded, and the city lights are beautiful. I turned to my heading and it was easy to pick out landmarks like the Riverside Auto Mall and see the 60 freeway stretching off to the East. The mountains on each side of the pass going into Palm Springs rise to 11,000' but there is plenty of space to navigate the pass. Even though we could only see a little bit of the outline of the mountains ahead, there was nothing to worry about as long as we stayed over Interstate 10 heading through the pass. We were at 5,500 and the huge wind farm that covers most of the ground through the pass only reaches up to about 1,900'. We also had almost 6 n.m. of space between where the hills on either side rise above our altitude. As long as you know where you are, your altitude, the elevation of the ground where you are, and the elevation where you're heading, you're going to be okay at night.

As we flew through the pass I started losing some altitude, about 200' in short order. I looked over and my RPM had dropped so I added in some power and climbed back up. Not much time had passed before I heard and felt my RPM's jumping up so I backed out on the power. While this was happening we were bouncing around quite a bit which was expected. The changes in the winds as we went through the pass had caused the fluctuations in the RPM's. The other thing we experienced as we went through the pass was the temperature went from the mid 80's to over 100°. +100° well after the sun has gone down, that's something I don't miss from my days living in Phoenix...

As were handed off to the last Approach before we would get to Thermal the following conversation took place:

Me: "SOCAL Approach, Cherokee 5800Uniform, level at 5,500'."
SOCAL: "00Uniform, be advised runways 17 and 35 are still closed. Which runway do you intend on using?"
(Well there's only one other runway...probably that one...)
Me: "Stand by, (As we pull up the AWOS for TRM to find out what the winds are) We will use 30."
SOCAL: "Copy."
CFI: (to me) "He doesn't really care whether you were going to use 12 or 30, just wanted to make sure you knew of the closure."

We could see the beacon for TRM all the way across the valley from about 25 n.m. away. I decided to enter the left downwind since we were coming in from the northwest. TRM is non-towered so I began making my radio calls when we were about 10 n.m out. The runway was easy enough to see and I brought us around for a nice easy landing and exited the runway at the first taxiway (with a little chirping from the wheels as I turned off given that we were still slowing down...) I was a little bummed that even though we were at -115' elevation the altimeter stopped at zero... :(

We taxied back to the head of 30, and then some. You see the lights on the taxiways were not terribly bright, the taxiway continued on well past the top of 30 to meet up with a different taxiway, and the light in the sign for the top of 30 was blinking on and off. Add it all together and I missed my turn... At the next intersection of taxiways I turned us around and we went back to the head of runway 30 and stopped at the hold short line.

The missed turn actually turned out to be a good thing because by this point there were two other planes on the frequency inbound for landings. The only issue was they were inbound on runway 12 and we were going to be departing runway 30. I should mention that the winds were 330 at 8 knots, hence the reason we landed on 30 and we were going to take off on 30.

The planes inbound were a Citation Jet and a Cessna. I understand that the Citation Jet thought it would be easier to just make a straight in approach to 12 even with an almost 8 knot tailwind, but still can't understand why the Cessna was being so lazy. The radio conversation was entertaining. I don't remember the tail numbers or altitudes of their initial calls, but the distances and the rest of it was unforgettable.

Cessna: "Thermal traffic, Cessna xxxx at xxxx' on an 8 mile final straight in for runway 12, Thermal traffic."
Citation: "Thermal traffic, Citation xxxx at xxxx' on a 10 mile final straight in for runway 12, Thermal traffic."
Cessna: (Moving much slower than the jet) "I guess I will be #2 to land and you will be #1."
Citation: (I am sure with a smirk on his face) "Yes I will."

It was a lovely 105° on the ground and I asked my CFI if he thought we could take off with the tailwind and if he wanted to just taxi to the head of 12 since they were going to be a few minutes and would want to exit right where we were anyway. With the 4,995' runway he said we would be fine so we taxied down to 12 and watched the Citation touch down and exit the runway. The Cessna was still quite a way behind the Citation and we watched as he floated half-way down the runway before finally touching down courtesy of the tailwind that he decided to land with...

After he was clear we took the runway and I pushed the throttle all the way in. As I said, it was a 4,995' runway, but I think we used up close to 4,000' of it before we were off the ground. The lights at the end of the runway were coming closer and closer so I just kept pulling back until we lifted off. The climb out was slow and we went a little ways upwind (really downwind) before turning crosswind and then towards the northwest to head back.

With the hot temp outside, the engine temperature kept climbing and finally leveled off just below the red. As we continued our climb and the outside temperature started going down the engine temperature began to go back down as well.

I should mention that the whole time we were listening to the Cessna my CFI was convinced that he recognized the tail number from a different school there at CNO. We are listening to the radio and figure that he is going to just turn around and take off on 30 into the wind but no, he taxis all the way down to 12 and takes off with the tailwind. We switched over to SOCAL to ask for flight following and wondered how the Cessna had fared taking off.

Eventually we heard the Cessna join the frequency and my CFI's suspicions were confirmed.

Cessna: "SOCAL Approach, Cessna xxxx northwest of Thermal, requesting Flight Following to Chino."
(The next bit of the conversation just took place between my CFI and myself)
CFI: "I knew it! Those guys ripped off our flight plan. What are the odds that they would decide to fly to Thermal right behind us?"
(He had a point. If they were trying to get in their night XC they could have gone to El Monte, Ramona, Palomar, and even going the same direction there was Palm Springs which was an easy one to land at and far enough for the requirement. Even Bermuda Dunes comes after Palm Springs and before Thermal. Yet they had basically followed us to Thermal from Chino.)
CFI: "They got there soon enough after us that they must have already been in their plane and heard us asking Ground at CNO for Flight Following to Thermal and said 'Hey, that sounds good, let's go there too.' We can't let them pass us on the way back."
Me: "How fast is their Cessna?" (Knowing that we are in a not so fast Cherokee)
CFI: "I don't know, but we can't let them get back first."

Instead of climbing to 6,500' for the return trip we leveled off at 4,500'. That was still plenty of altitude for going through the pass and over the hills on the way back, it helped to cool down the engine more by leveling off, and it didn't waste precious time/speed in the climb (considering we were now trying to get back to CNO before a Cessna which we had no knowledge of how fast it was going to be flying). We left the power in at 2,400 RPM instead of backing it off to 2,300 RPM, and hoped we had the faster plane. For awhile we could see them off around our 7-8 o'clock but eventually they ended up directly behind us so we didn't know if they were gaining on us or not. We did develop a decent idea of where they were as we would get handed off to the next Approach and hear them join shortly after that. Rather than tracking along the 60 freeway I instead picked a heading directly toward CNO.

There is plenty of time for conversations on longer flights. I won't at this point name the other flight school to protect the innocent/guilty. I will disclose that I am taking my lessons through DuBois and I can't say enough good things about the school.

CFI: "Did I ever tell you about barely missing a mid-air collision?"
Me: "Nope."
CFI: "It was a CFI and student from xxxx." (The same school we were trying to beat back to CNO.)
Me: "What happened?"
CFI: "It was the classic low wing/high wing situation. I was in a Cherokee on final for 26r and they were in a Cessna on final for 26L. I was a little above them so neither of us could see the other. Just then he decides to do a 360° turn to the RIGHT! Who in the world would ever do a right 360 when you are on approach to the left runway of parallel runways? The tower started screaming at them and yelling at me to go-around. I don't know exactly how close we came, but when I got on the ground the tower gave me their tail number and told me they would be filing a complaint with the FAA and if I wanted to I should as well.
Me: "Seriously?"
CFI: "Yep, and there was a CFI in that plane." (Short pause) "We have to beat them back..."
(Nothing quite like a little history to generate some friendly competition...)

The tower was closed at CNO so I got some more practice making radio calls on non-towered fields. The winds were 250 at 10, coming almost straight down runway 26R and it made for a nice smooth landing. My CFI asked if I wanted to take off and land on runway 21 (I needed two more night landings to get to the required 10) for something a little different. I said sure and we taxied to the top of 21. It turned out we were well ahead of that Cessna because we got to 21 and he was still a little way off on his final for 26R.

Me: "Do you think we can get off before they arrive?"
CFI: "Sure, even if hte tower was open they would let you go, but they would tell you 'without delay.' So let's go without delay."
Me: "Chino traffic, Cherokee 5800Uniform taking runway 21 for take off with right closed traffic, Chino traffic." 

The plane took off so much nicer with the temperature at 70° in CNO compared to the 105° in TRM with a tailwind. We had a little bit of a crosswind, 6 knots, but not really enough to even notice. I made my radio call and we turned crosswind and they still hadn't landed. I made my radio call and we turned downwind and they still hadn't landed. 

Me: "How slow are those guys going?"
CFI: "I have no idea..."
Me: "How close are we getting to Ontario's airspace?" (We were extending out our downwind to give that darn Cessna time to land and clear the runway.)
CFI: "Good question."
(CNO sits underneath a 2,700' shelf of ONT's airspace, but we were headed to where it goes all the way down to the surface.)
CFI: "Go ahead and power back, put in your first notch of flaps, and pull back to slow down even more."

Finally we  saw them touching down so I turned base and brought us around for a landing. We taxied back to the top of 26R for one more trip around the pattern and then it was back to the hangar.

Flying at night is great. Once that Cessna was gone we had the whole place to ourselves, it was nice and cool out, and the city lights were beautiful.

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Long XC, Controllers, Clouds, and Crosswinds

I love flying! All of it... Even sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off in 100° heat because I know that soon I will be free from gravity and soaring through the skies. (This wasn't one of those hot days.)

Today was my long cross-country flight over places I've never flow over to airports I've never flown to. I was all set, I had my flight plans, I had good visual way points about every 10 miles, I had looked at my route on Google Maps to get a feel for what the route looked like from the air, my GoPro, GPS, and tablet were all charged up, my flight plans were loaded into my tablet, I had paper versions of my flight plans just in case the tablet decided to take a break, and I had my paper charts with the routes marked on them and folded to the right sections.

I went to church in the morning and then home to change clothes, grab a quick bite to eat (a couple PBnJ sandwiches and a small bag of Lays Chips), grab my flight bag and head out to the airport. The weather along the coast was IFR in the morning but by 1pm when I was scheduled it had cleared up. According to my flight plans I would have an extra 1:10 of fuel left when I got back to CNO, but I had them put an extra 3 gallons in each tank just for a little added cushion. I finished the pre-flight, settled in, and started up the engine.

After receiving my taxi clearance I taxied out to the run-up area. Everything looked good on run-up so I was all ready. MY CFI had given me the okay for a slight detour to fly over my house in Yorba Linda on my way so I sent my wife a quick text to say I was about to take off and would be over the house in about ten minutes. I contacted the tower, they gave me my squawk for Flight Following, and after a quick wait for a plane on final I was given my clearance and was on my way.

Very quickly after takeoff I was handed off to SOCAL Approach.

Me: "SOCAL Approach, Cherokee 5800Uniform, 2 miles west of Chino Airport, 1,400', climbing 2,500'." (The tower had restricted me to 2,500' because CNO sits under a 2,700' shelf of ONT's airspace)
SOCAL: "Cherokee 00Uniform, what altitude are you requesting?"
Me: "I would like 3,000' for now and I have a slight detour on my route to POXKU before navigating north along the 57."
SOCAL: "So, you want to navigate along the the 91 and take the VFR transition over LAX?"
ME: "No, I just want to fly over Yorba Linda and then north along the 57 to the 210."
SOCAL: "Ok, just remain at or below 4,000."

I climbed to 3,000', headed towards my house and was handed off to the approach for LAX's Class B airspace. My house sits south of LAX's airspace but once I turn north I would be flying under the 7,000' shelf of LAX's airspace.

SOCAL: "November00Uniform, contact approach on 134.9, talk to you soon." (He knew that I would be transferred right back as soon as I was out from underneath LAX's airspace.)
Me: "134.9, 00Uniform."
(Make the frequency change)
Me: "SOCAL Approach, Cherokee 5800Uniform, level at 3,000'."
SOCAL: "00Uniform, roger."

By now I could see all the areas around the house that I know so well, including the school next to my house and headed towards it. As I got closer I banked just a little bit and looked down to see my wife and two kids out standing in the driveway. I went to grab my camera off the right seat to take a picture of them but just then SOCAL starts talking to me. (Later I learn that my dear sweet wife had taken pictures of a helicopter and a different plane, not me... In her defense I did not fly directly over the house.)

SOCAL: "Cherokee 00Uniform, change heading to 120." (I had already made my turn and was heading 320° to angle towards the 57 freeway before turning north.)
Me: "Negative, I want to fly to the 57 freeway before turning north." (Mind you at this point I was 8 n.m. away from the 4,000' shelf of LAX's airspace and 17 n.m from where I would have busted into the 2,500' shelf if I remained on my current heading at my current altitude.)
SOCAL: "00Uniform, change your heading to 120°"
Me: "I want to navigate to the 57 freeway before heading north."
SOCAL: "Where are you flying to?"
Me: "Camarillo"
SOCAL: "Okay, resume VFR navigation."
Me: "Thanks, resuming navigation, 00Uniform."

My first time telling a controller that I wanted to do something completely different than what they wanted me to do. A couple minutes later and I asked to climb to my cruising altitude of 6,500'. They gave me clearance to 6,000' (I'm sure to keep a cushion below the 7,000' shelf so I began my climb. Shortly after that I was passing out from under their shelf, I was given the clearance to climb, and handed back off to the other Approach.

Just after flying over my house, having a great time!
Just after flying over my house, having a great time!

Me: "SOCAL Approach, Cherokee 5800Uniform, level at 6,500."
SOCAL: "00Uniform, welcome back."

The rest of the flight to CMA was easy enough to navigate. Before I would get to my checkpoint I could see the next two on my list. I played around with my tablet a little bit, not really for any navigation, but just to get more familiar with the functions of the flight app. There was another student of my CFI doing his long XC and I heard him on the radio and saw him go by the opposite direction 1,000' below me. He left an hour before me but I'm not sure where he had gone on his flight.

I flew past the Rose Bowl, Dodger Stadium, LA, and the Reagan Library. After the flights down to Ramona and Palomar, it was cool to see these other landmarks.

IMG_9332
Rose Bowl
Dodger Stadium
Dodger Stadium
Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles
Reagan Library
Reagan Library

I was handed off from one controller to the next and finally was making my request to begin my descent. After receiving clearance I began my descent to Camarillo and contacted their tower. There were a few other planes arriving and departing but they worked me in on a straight in approach. The winds were 250 at 10 knots so coming almost straight down runway 26 and soon I was flaring out to land. I caught the first taxi exit off the runway and contacted ground requesting to taxi back.

Short final at Camarillo
Short final at Camarillo

On my taxi back to the head of runway 26 ground gave me two different options for departure, both turning me back to the east. (I think they are just trying to keep departing planes out of the way of the Oxnard airport which is just to the southwest.) I asked what my other options were and they asked where I was going. I told them Santa Barbara (SBA) and they offered straight out to the coast which was perfect (I thought) as my plan was to go to the coast and navigate along it on the way to Santa Barbara.

I stopped in the run-up area and changed over my flight plan on my knee-board, sent out the obligatory text to my wife and my CFI to let them know I was alive and well, and made one last check of the weather at SBA. After rolling up to the hold short line I contacted the tower and was soon on my way. Immediately after lifting off I was told to contact the Oxnard tower.

Me: "Oxnard tower, Cherokee 5800Uniform, just departed Camarillo."
Tower: "Cherokee 00Uniform, what altitude would are you requesting?"
Me: "3,000'." (It is a short flight to SBA so no real reason to climb up higher.)
Tower: "3,000' approved, VFR climb at your discretion."
Me: "Climbing 3,000, 00Uniform."

There were a few scattered, thin clouds ahead at my altitude that started getting thicker before I was going to reach the coast.

Me: "Tower, Cherokee 5800Uniform, I'd like to descend down under the clouds."
Tower: "You want to go under or over?"
Me: "Under." (I'm thinking that it's just going to be a few clouds before the clear skies that the weather report showed at SBA.)
Tower: "Descent approved."
Me: "Thanks, descending 2,500, 00Uniform."

I flew along under the clouds at 2,500' and as I was passing over Ventura the clouds started getting thicker and lower. I knew I couldn't continue because I would run out of sky. I also wondered if maybe the 12,000' ceilings with 10mi visibility that the weather report showed for SBA had changed. That would have been entirely possible with an on shore flow. What if SBA was socked in? I guess I could just turn back and land at Brackett on my way to get in the required two airports so that I would complete the long xc requirements. Anyway, all those thoughts ran through my mind in a couple of seconds and I began an easy climbing turn to the north back where I knew there should be clear skies. A few seconds later I was out from under the clouds and looking back at the cloud bank that I had been about to fly into. I flew the rest of the way to SBA a few miles inland from my planned route, but at least the skies were clear.

IMG_9290
Clouds over Ventura
Clouds hanging along the coast
Clouds hanging along the coast

SBA is a Class C airport and the only other time I've been to a Class C was once with my CFI when we did some landings at Ontario so I was a little vervous. The winds at SBA were 250 at 6 knots.

Me: "Santa Barbara Approach, Cherokee 5800Uniform, level at 3,000' about 20 miles southeast of the airport."
Approach: "Cherokee 00Uniform, squawk xxxx (I don't remember the number) and follow the 101 for a straight in approach to runway 25."
(Sweet! Coming straight in with the winds coming right down the runway. But my excitement was very short lived, in fact it only lasted about a second.)
Approach: "Correction 00Uniform, follow the 101 for a left base entry for runway 15L."
Me: "Follow the 101 for a left base entry for 15L, 00Uniform.(Dang it... 6 knot crosswind, which isn't much, I'm signed off to 10 knots, but I would still rather have the winds straight down the runway.)

I was handed off to the tower and told to report when 2 miles from the airport. I angled to enter at a 2 mile base and was contacted by the tower that it didn't need to be a 2 mile base, just to report when 2 miles from the airport and to go ahead and make straight in for 15L. It seems that they like to put the slower planes in on 15R/L and leave 25 for the commercial jets so that they don't have to try and sequence the slow planes in between them.

Turning final for 15L at SBA
Turning final for 15L at SBA

SBA is a really fun airport to fly in and out from, especially if you are using runway 15. As you come in on approach you are headed right towards the coast, and as you depart you go straight out over the Pacific. The Cherokee handles crosswinds fairly well and it settled down on the runway and I exited at taxiway Kilo about halfway down the 4,180' runway.

Me: "Santa Barbara Ground, Cherokee 5800Uniform clear runway 15L at Kilo, requesting taxi back."
Ground: "Cherokee 00Uniform, taxi 15L via Bravo, hold short runway 25."
Me: "Taxi 15L via Bravo, hold short 25, 00Uniform."
(An inbound jet landed on 25 crossing in front of me.)
Ground: "Cherokee 00Uniform, cross 25."
Me: "Cross 25, 00Uniform."
Ground: "00Uniform, will you require a run-up?"
Me: "No, I don't need a run-up but I do need a few minutes in the run-up area." (I needed to change flight plans, GoPro battery, get a drink of water, and send the obligatory 'I'm still alive' texts to my wife and CFI.)
Ground: "00Uniform there is a run-up area ahead to your right, I have your departure information, let me know when you are ready for it."

I know I have said it before in my posts, but by and large the controllers that I have dealt with have all been great, super friendly, and helpful and the lady in the tower there at Santa Barbara was great. I got to the run-up area, put on the parking brake, and changed the flight plan on my knee-board for the last leg of my flight.

Me: "Ground, Cherokee 5800Uniform, I'm ready for that information."
Ground: "00Uniform, runway 15L, depart straight out, maintain at or below 1,500, contact departure 125.4, squawk 7262."
(It's a good thing I was taking notes.)
Me: "Runway 15L, depart straight out and maintain at or below 1,500, contact departure 125.4 and squawk 7262."
Ground: "Read back is correct, when ready contact tower."

After finishing up I taxied to the hold short line for 15L. Common sense would say that all I had done with the radio was switch the tower frequency to standby when I contacted ground so to contact the tower I just needed to press button to swap the frequencies again. However, I think common sense was still back in the run-up area and not currently present in the cockpit. I took a quick glance down at the flight plan on my knee-board and saw the frequency there for the tower at CNO and that it didn't match the frequency listed in the standby position on the radio. (It didn't register I was looking at the wrong column on my flight plan. That's weird I thought, how did that frequency get there on the radio?). Not only did that not register, but the fact that it was the tower frequency that I use on every flight from my home airport didn't register either. Still, I made the change and called up the tower...

Me: "Santa Barbara Tower, Cherokee 5800Uniform, holding short runway 15L, requesting departure."
(If there could have been crickets chirping on the radio I'm sure there would have been. After about 5 seconds I thought 'That's odd, no answer, no other traffic on the radio?' Followed quickly by the realization that I was on the wrong frequency... Face palm... I quickly changed back to the correct frequency and had to wait my turn on a very busy channel.)
Me: "Santa Barbara Tower, Cherokee 5800Uniform, holding short runway 15L, requesting departure."
Tower: "Cherokee 00Uniform, cross runway 15L, Bonanza on a two mile final, hold short 15R."
Me: "Cross 15L, hold short 15R, ooUniform."

I quickly crossed 15L and held up at 15R. Very soon after that I received my clearance to depart and I was headed down 15R for the coast.

Goleta Pier just after taking off
Goleta Pier just after taking off
Looking back at SBA after turning crosswind
Looking back at SBA after turning crosswind

My flight plan back took me inland over Lake Casitas and Saticoy before meeting up with the route I flew on the way there just east of Camarillo. It was a leisurely flight back with plenty of time to look around and enjoy the beauty of Southern California from 5,500'. When I was close enough to CNO I dialed into the ATIS information and once I could see the airport I let SOCAL know I had the ATIS and the airport in sight. The winds were 270 at 15 knots which are pretty strong but coming almost straight down runways 26R/L. Approach turned me over to the tower and I was told to enter right downwind for runway 26R.

As I was turning base the Tower announced that the winds were now 240 at 13, gusting to 21. The direction and speed of the wind didn't concern me, but I was a little concerned about the wind gusts. The landing wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. However after touching down on the roll-out I was hit with a gust the kicked me to the side a little and made the wheels chirp. Even taxiing back I had to hold the yoke tight because the gusts kept wanting to push the ailerons and stabilator up and down.

With the my Long XC complete, almost all the major requirements for my PPL are done. After today's 3.3 hour flight I have two full pages in my logbook and 36.1 total hours. I still need another 1.5 hours of simulated instrument flying to complete with my CFI as well as dialing in my maneuvers. The next couple times I fly will be solo, staying in the pattern and working on my take offs and landings. I also need to finish up Ground School and prep for my written test. The plan is to schedule my check ride for the last part of September. It's hard to believe that I'm looking at testing for my license just four months after my first flight.

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I still think you might beat me to PPL :P

They found a error in my medical certificate so i cant even take the check ride until its corrected; I have been in FAA hell for the past week now trying to get it fixed.

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19 hours ago, Samurai Husky said:

I still think you might beat me to PPL :P

They found a error in my medical certificate so i cant even take the check ride until its corrected; I have been in FAA hell for the past week now trying to get it fixed.

That's terrible and a kick in the groin.  I had an issue with my medical originally, got special issuance, and then 10 years later was told I was put on special issuance by mistake and am back to a normal medical!  It took me 1.5 years to get my medical issued.  All because the AME I was working with did not understand asthma.  I should have found an asthma friendly AME to start with and never had an issue in the first place.  

Good luck getting it resolved.  You can always become a sport pilot first as long as your medical was not denied.

-Seth

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It could be worse. The PPL candidate I am working with ended up a cerebral hemorrhage. He is medically fine, although the FAA Medical team is requiring him to wait for a year before continuing on. 

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mine was because the doctor fat fingered my birthday.. He did 8/8/80 instead of 8/4/80......

They fixed the medical this morning; So the new plastic one is in the mail. But that invalidated my old medical/student license because i got that before the April 1st cut over. 

So now i had to request a new student license card along with requesting a '  temporary authority to exercise certificate privileges' until that arrives. I am told by the FAA that this 'should' be enough to do the check ride, but it is really up to the DME. Still waiting to hear from him if this is good enough. 

For now the check ride is scheduled for the 20th AM. 

-Sorry, I dont mean to hijack the thread. 

 

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2 hours ago, Samurai Husky said:

mine was because the doctor fat fingered my birthday.. He did 8/8/80 instead of 8/4/80......

They fixed the medical this morning; So the new plastic one is in the mail. But that invalidated my old medical/student license because i got that before the April 1st cut over. 

So now i had to request a new student license card along with requesting a '  temporary authority to exercise certificate privileges' until that arrives. I am told by the FAA that this 'should' be enough to do the check ride, but it is really up to the DME. Still waiting to hear from him if this is good enough. 

For now the check ride is scheduled for the 20th AM. 

-Sorry, I dont mean to hijack the thread. 

 

No worries about the hijack. B)

I was just about to go find your thread and ask how the check ride had gone since we were past the 9th. It was the 9th right? Sorry to hear about the mixup with the medical. I guess that allows for a little more practice... I should be about a month behind you on my check-ride. The school said they get the availability for the DPE's that they use at the beginning of the month so come the 1st part of September I should have a date scheduled. 

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yea, it was supposed to be the 9th. Me and my CFI found the error on the 8th when we were filling out the IACRA stuff. So make sure everything you have is right!!!!

Also keep your logbook up to date and calculated; That wasted about a hour because somethings werent exactly right.

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1 hour ago, Samurai Husky said:

yea, it was supposed to be the 9th. Me and my CFI found the error on the 8th when we were filling out the IACRA stuff. So make sure everything you have is right!!!!

Also keep your logbook up to date and calculated; That wasted about a hour because somethings werent exactly right.

Thanks for the tips!

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Youngish pilots,

Don't forget to join the fight to get rid of the Class III medical...

It will probably arise a few more times before it gets completely eliminated.

grumble grumble grumble,

-a-

 

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3 hours ago, carusoam said:

Youngish pilots,

Don't forget to join the fight to get rid of the Class III medical...

It will probably arise a few more times before it gets completely eliminated.

grumble grumble grumble,

-a-

 

Glad you added in the "ish"... :P

When I went for my medical my distance vision was perfect, bottom line, no problem. Near vision? Different story. The examiner had to hand me a pair of 1.00 reading glasses and had to put on my certificate "Must have glasses available for near vision." FAA tests near vision at 16" and that wasn't quite far enough for my almost 44 yo eyes... My dad started needed the reading glasses for regular reading about 45 yo so I'm hoping to at least make it one more year before I need them for normal everyday reading.

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Trying to catch up on my posting. I've flown Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 21st just solo in the pattern working on landings. Finally got the 13th posted up and put together the landing footage from my GoPro. Some of them look ok, some are a little rough. Started the flight with 90 landings under my belt, after this flight I am at 99.

I'm a little behind in posting. This flight was just flying the traffic pattern and working on landings, never straying more than a mile from the airport except a couple times I had to extend my upwind or downwind legs.

Saturday August 13th, 2016

I needed to arrive a little before my scheduled time so that my CFI could sign my endorsement for the additional 90 day solo period. He signed the endorsement in my logbook along with the limitations. (Minimum visibility is 7 miles, crosswind less than or equal to 10 knots, and minimum ceiling of 3,000' which I guess he decided he needed to add after my flight that began a few weeks back with the VFR minimum of 3 miles. After that flight with or without the limit on the endorsement I decided my personal minimum visibility is 5 miles, but until I have my license it's 7 miles)

I was about to head out to the plane to begin the pre-flight and then realized I hadn't asked if I was cleared for touch and go's or only full stop landings. (There are more things that can go wrong on a touch and go than a full stop/taxi back so some instructors don't want their students practicing them on their own.) My CFI was already in his office beginning ground school with his student so I just stuck my head in the door really quick.

Me: "I forgot to ask, can I do touch and go's or only full stop taxi backs?"
CFI: "Touch and go's are fine, I trust you, you haven't let me down yet." (With a smile)
Me: "Cool, thanks! I'll make sure today isn't the day I let you down." (With a smile back at him)

Off I went to pre-flight the plane excited that I would be able to get in a lot more landing practice since I didn't have to stop after each one and taxi back. It was another warm 90°+ day. With the pre-flight finished I set up my GoPro, started up the engine and made my way down the alley to the end of the hanger row. I listened to the ATIS on the way and by the time I was to the end I was ready to call Ground and request taxi clearance.

A short time later I was parked in the run-up area and going through my run-up checklist. Everything looked good and I contacted the Tower for takeoff clearance with left-closed traffic. The tower had me cross runway 26R and before I could stop at the hold short line for 26L I had my takeoff clearance, was lining up on the center-line, and pushing the throttle all the way in. Maybe the feeling of freedom I get every time the plane lifts off the runway will get old after I have done it a few thousand times, but I don't think so.

A few years after their first flight, when they had managed to fly over ten miles in a single flight, Wilbur Wright described flying in this way.

"More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination."

My first couple of landings I put right on the numbers, but they touched down a little harder than I wanted. (Still much softer than a couple I have made with my CFI in the plane...) I made two more circuits around the pattern performing touch and go's. Each time I made sure to raise the flaps after touch down, get lined up on the center-line, and ease the throttle all the way back in while compensating with right rudder.

On the 5th landing I decided to do a full stop/taxi back to give me a chance to get a drink of water and a short break from the constant work of only remaining in the traffic pattern. It is only about 5-6 minutes from take off to landing which doesn't give any real down time from the work load.

I am amazed that the more time I spend flying, the more easily things become that used to be difficult. Just a couple of months ago when I began there was no way that I could make the radio calls and fly the plane. It was one or the other. Even after I started making the radio calls there were times that I would hit cognitive overload where my brain was processing as much as it could. At that point a radio call would need to be made, I would look over at my CFI with a 'Help me' look and my CFI would take over the radio calls for me and let me fly the plane. Now, talking to the tower is second nature. Well, that is until the tower says something that I'm not expecting to hear. After one of the touch and go's I had just turned downwind when the following conversation took place. Most of the time I was the only one in the pattern so the tower was giving me my landing clearance at the beginning of my downwind. This time was no different, except the little bit he threw on the end of the transmission...

Tower: "Cherokee 7205Juliet, #1 runway 26L, cleared for the option, there's something something something."
Me: "#1 runway 26L, cleared for the option, say again that last part?" (Whatever he said at the end was not anything I had heard on the radio before.)
Tower: "There's currently a something something something the runway."
Me: "I'm sorry tower, I still didn't catch what you are saying."
(At this point the tower was probably thinking 'Am I speaking Greek?' and slowed it waaaayyyy down. Imagine a pause after every few words.)
Tower: "There's a truck... on the runway... doing an inspection... but will be clear... before you make your base turn..."
Me: "Thanks, I see the truck, 05Juliet."
(Oh! The light bulb finally went off in my head, he was just wanting me to know that he was aware of the truck on the runway so I wouldn't be worried about it. I looked over and sure enough there was a pickup from the airport zipping along down the runway and about the time I passed abeam the numbers he was clear of the runway. I also realized that 'Mobile 5" which had been talking on the frequency to the tower was that truck and filed that away in my mind for future use.)

There was a good mix of everything today. I had to extend out my downwind a couple of times. I was given 'the option' (where you as the pilot decide if you want to land to a full stop or perform a touch and go) on all but one landing and on that one I was only given clearance for the touch and go. I was asked to begin my crosswind when able instead of waiting until I had cleared the end of the runway. Another time I had just started turning crosswind when the tower gave me instructions to extend out my upwind and wait for them to call my turn. I turned back and waited for the tower to call my turn. It was just all around some good experience in the pattern.

Here's a link to YouTube if anyone is really bored...

Pattern Work and Landings 2016-08-13

**I see where some people have been able to embed the YouTube videos in their posts, but I can't seem to figure it out here on these forums. If anyone that knows how to could enlighten me, it would be appreciated.

Edited by Skates97

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wowwie!!!   all your landings look the same...

Seriously,,,  id give you a hug and a hi five,,, i am glad you are doing this thing, it makes me proud!

i enjoy your report ands vids! 

 

I have been an un certified pilot for 27 years,,, but I am going to get that fixed,,,  soon!!

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More Landing Practice and a Milestone...

To get to the airport I drive along Euclid Ave which passes along the west end of Runways 26R and 26L. Today, as with every other time I drive by I was looking for whatever planes were taking off. I guess I'm still not tired of watching planes, any planes, fly. However today was a bit different because as I passed 26R I saw a bright yellow plane just sitting in the middle of the runway with some kind of vehicle by it. That didn't look good.

I arrived at the flight school, got the log book for the plane from the receptionist and went out to pre-flight the plane. Everything looked good, except the fuel had not been filled back up to the tabs (18 gal each side) after whoever flew it last. I was only going to be flying around the pattern and I'm sure wouldn't need more than what was in the plane, but the school's checklist says the tanks need to be at the tabs before flying so I went back inside to see if there was anyone around that could fuel the plane. Unfortunately there wasn't anyone there currently, but she said the owner of the school would be back shortly.

I wandered around the hangers and after about ten minutes the Cherokee 180 and Mooney M20B that belong to the school both came around the corner at the end of the hanger row. The owner of the flight school was giving a new instructor a ride in their Mooney.

The owner fueled the plane for me and then asked where I was headed. When I told him I was just going to stay in the pattern and practice landings he said I might want to wait a little for them to clear 26R because there were a lot of planes backed up waiting on 26L. That was when I found out what the yellow plane I saw on 26R was.

Chino has a great museum and many of the planes in the museum still fly. Northrop N9MBOne of those planes is the Northrop N9MB, it was the fourth and final in a series of 1/3 scale test models for the Northrop XB-35 flying wing. It is the only one that is left... Something apparently went wrong when it was landing and the nose gear collapsed. The owner of the school said he was going to take the cart out to see if they had cleared the plane yet and asked if I wanted to come along.

We got out to the runway and they had already moved it so we drove around to the hanger where they were putting it away. It looked like the front strut had snapped. I can only imagine the feeling the pilot had when he felt that go, knowing he was flying a one of a kind, multi-million dollar aircraft. Fortunately the damage did not look too bad and they think they will have it repaired in time for the Air Show next Spring.

We got back and I sumped the tanks, did a quick check of the plane since we had been gone for a little bit, and then got in and started it up. With both runways clear there wasn't any backup and by the time I was finished with my run-up the only two other planes out there had left and I was first in line. The tower had me cross 26R and take off on 26L to make left traffic in the pattern. The landings were better today than a week ago, which is good because I would hate to be going backwards. It was another fairly quiet day in the pattern and on one downwind the tower cleared me for a short final, but then took the clearance away. I had just turned on my downwind when I got this call from the tower.

Tower: "Cherokee 4132Juliet, I have a lear jet on a straight in for 26L, you are cleared for a short final and touch and go only if you like."
Me: "I'll take the short final touch and go only runway 26L, 32Juliet.(Cool, I haven't done a short final for a long time.)

About the time I was just past midfield on my downwind the tower called me again.

Tower: "Cherokee 4132Juliet, cancel the short final and extend downwind, he's moving pretty fast."
Me: "Cancelling short final and extending downwind, looking for that traffic, 32Juliet.(Dang it...)
Tower: "Cherokee 4132Juliet, you are #2, runway 26L, cleared for the option. That lear jet should be about your 10 o'clock, caution wake turbulance."
Me: "I have the traffic in sight, #2 runway 26L, cleared for the option, 32Juliet."

As soon as he had passed me I began my turn to base. He was moving so fast by the time I turned final he was already on the ground. After four trips around the pattern with touch and go's I landed and taxied back to give myself a short break and get a drink of water. It was another day hovering around 90°. My left hand was always on the yoke and my right hand was alternating between the throttle, the trim, and then flaps once I was abeam the numbers on the downwind. Each time on the downwind around midfield I would trade hands on the yoke so that I could wipe the sweat off of my left hand on my pant leg.

On another trip around the pattern there was a 'three ship formation' talking to the tower. As I turned base for 26L I saw them turning base for 26R, a P-38 and two other old war birds. It was neat to watch them fly by me as I was on final. 

GOPR02-0001GOPR02-0001-1

I did get another chance at a short final later and took it. The tower offered it to me so I thought 'Why not?'

Today was a day of milestones and what I think are a few big progress marks (those things that you look back and say 'I think I'm finally getting some of this'). First, I am now over 100 landings and what a difference it was from the first one to number 100. I am looking forward to seeing where I am at another 100 landings from now.

Second, my pattern was much better today. I have been using Droid EFB on my tablet which is great to be able to go back and review my flights. I noticed when reviewing my flight from the 13th that my base leg was anything but square. I just wasn't compensating for the winds. The winds today were fluctuating some, they started at 260 at 13, went to 220 at 11, and at one point were 250 at 13 gusting 19 (runway 26 so almost right down the runway but those gusts are interesting for a rookie). Anytime someone made first contact with the tower if the winds had changed from what was on ATIS the tower would give out the new winds which was helpful. I made a conscious effort to correct for winds as I was making my crosswind and base legs and it paid off.

Pattern Work 8-13 and 8-21
On the top is 8/13 and on the bottom is 8/21. Each flight is split in two because of the full stop half-way through. Patterns on 8/21 were much better with the exception of when I extended base and the short final never squared off.

Another cool thing from Droid EFB is the ability to upload your flight information and then view it in Google Earth.

2016-08-13 Pattern Work Part 1
2016-08-13 Pattern Work Part 2
2016-08-21 Pattern Work Part 1
2016-08-21 Pattern Work Part 2

Third, I have flown in gusting winds before and calm winds where you hit a pocket and a wing will drop on you or going through thermals that bounce you around. Every time I get that little 'whoa' feeling but today when I got bounced around a little or had a wing drop from a gust I didn't get that little feeling in my gut but just made the correction. Just a little thing but still progress in feeling more comfortable and trusting the plane more.

Last, and this was my major breakthrough today, was controls on final approach. In normal flight you control speed with the throttle and your ascent/descent rate with pitch. When you are landing you are behind the power curve and you control speed with pitch and your descent rate with power. Are you going too fast? Raise the nose a little. Are you descending too fast? Don't pull back on the yoke, keep the plane angled down and instead add power to slow your descent. I have had to make a conscious effort to keep from pulling back to slow descent and instead add power. Today it finally 'clicked.' Like driving my car with its manual transmission where don't have to think about shifting, I just do it. Today I finally didn't have to make the conscious effort to use the reverse controls on final.

 

Edited by Skates97
Fix YouTube Link
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A Flight Without a View

Flying is fantastic! Everything looks different from the air, and in a small plane it looks different than when you are in the window seat of an airline. You are lower and slower than the big boys which gives you more time to look around and see things. If I was flying a high performance plane that could crank 90° banks or do barrel rolls that would be the highlight, but in the planes I fly the highlight is in looking out the window. Today there was nothing to see...

My check ride is getting closer. I'm trying to wrap up my ground school so that I can take my written exam in a couple weeks. The only requirements that I have left are 1.5 hours of simulated instrument time, learning recovery from unusual attitudes, and a couple more hours to go over the 40 minimum. (I think I will be between 45-50 hours when I take my check ride.) Other than that it is just dialing in the maneuvers.

Today the plan was to get in some simulated instrument time, learn recovery from unusual attitudes, and work on stalls. I told my CFI that don't feel comfortable with stalls yet at all. He said that wasn't unusual and that he thought he was comfortable with stalls until today when one of his students put the plane into a spin while working on stalls and he had to recover it for the student.

The only other time I did simulated instrument flight I didn't have my own foggles so I had to use a set from the school that looked like this. You can't see anything and have to turn your head just to see the radios.

sps_ifr-glasses

I thought I was going to be smart and order a set of what my CFI calls "cheater foggles" which look like this. You still can't see outside, although you can see light and dark areas. You can also see more of the panel which is nice.

Foggles

With a plan in place for today's flight we got the logbook from the receptionist.

CFI: "Do you have your own foggles?"
Me: "Yep, I bought some after the last time we did instrument flight."
CFI: "Are they the good ones or the cheater ones?"
Me: "The cheater ones."
CFI: (Walking over to the file cabinet and taking out the set from the school which someone actually put a sticker on the top that says 'Da Hoodz') "Then I'm going to have you use these."
Me: "But, the cheater ones are legal."
CFI: "I know, and you can use them on your check ride. But if you practice with these then your check ride will be a piece of cake with the cheater ones."
Me: "Okay..." (I know he's right, I'm just not excited about it.)

We went outside and I began the pre-flight on the plane. I started out in the cockpit, everything was good there. I put the flaps down and got out and started on the right wing. Flaps look good, aileron, wing tip, light, aileron counter weight, fuel to the tabs, fuel is blue (100LL), sump the tank and it's good, but there are a few drops of hydraulic fluid on the ground under where the brake line connects to the caliper. The line has obviously had a little leak for some time given the amount of gunk on it, and I wouldn't question it if it was just the line that was dirty but I knew the plane had just come back from a flight and hadn't been sitting more than 30 minutes.

I called my CFI over to take a look and ask him if he's concerned about it. He had the same thought that I did, the plane hadn't been parked very long and with drips on the ground we decided to have the mechanic take a look. The owner of the school was there in the hanger too so they both came over to check it out. The owner grabbed a wrench, loosened the fitting and tightened it again to see if he could get it to re-seat. We opened up the cowl on the left side and checked to brake fluid level in the reservoir which was low. The owner went and got some fluid and a funnel and brought it up to the full level. My CFI put some fuel in the left tank to bring it up to the tabs and then we were sitting in the cockpit where I finished up the checklists and started up the plane.

I received taxi clearance, went to the run-up area, and worked through that checklist. Everything still looked good so I rolled out to the hold short line for 26R, the tower had me cross 26R to hold short at 26L and contact the tower on the other frequency. (It must have been a busy Saturday morning because they had the runways split on different frequencies, but by 3:30pm when we were out there everyone must have already found somewhere to go because there were only two other planes on the frequency.)

We lifted off and I kept the climb right on the numbers at 85mph and trimmed out the plane. We reached 1,100' and I began my crosswind and then made a turn to the southeast toward the Lake Matthews practice area. As soon as I was making my turn he handed me the foggles with a "Here you go" and there went my view...

It is interesting how everything changes as soon as you can't see outside. The amount of mental effort required to fly (for me at least) increases exponentially. He told me to fly a heading (I think it was 120°) and so I started an easy turn towards that heading. I was checking my altimeter (I was still climbing to 2,500', my attitude indicator, airspeed, vertical speed indicator, turn coordinator, and heading indicator. Everything looked right, but the heading indicator did not seem to be changing even though the attitude and turn indicators showed me in an easy right bank. (That's weird...) This went on for about 10-15 seconds until I realized that I wasn't looking at my heading indicator, I was looking at the VOR Indicator. (Not a mistake I have ever made, but one that was obviously a result of the added mental stress of instrument flight.) I admitted the error to my CFI to which he responded "I was wondering" since I had turned well past the heading he was asking for.

I turned back to the requested heading and we proceeded to the practice area. Once there I turned to plane over to him and he told me to "look at my lap." With my head down he proceed to turn, climb, descend, and then finally say "It's your plane." The engine was racing so I immediately pulled power while looking at the attitude indicator. We were in a right turning dive so I leveled the wings and pulled back on the yoke to bring it back to level flight. Once the speed bled off I pushed the throttle back in to bring it back to 2,200 rpm, gave the controls back to my CFI and looked back down at my lap. This time he tried harder to confuse me and even got my head to spin a little before saying "It's your plane." Right before giving the controls back to me I heard the RPM's drop. A quick glance at the attitude indicator showed we were in a climbing left bank and the airspeed indicator showed the airspeed rapidly decreasing. I added full throttle and simultaneously turned the yoke to the right and pushed forward to level the plane. Once the airspeed was coming back up I decreased the throttle and had us straight and level.

When talking about the procedure to recover from unusual attitudes before flying I had told my CFI that in my mind I didn't think it was going to be very difficult. He said that it really isn't and that it would probably be even easier than I thought. He was right, it wasn't hard. I actually seem to struggle more with straight/level flight by instruments than recovering from unusual attitudes.

We did one more unusual attitude recovery and then he told me to fly direct to the Paradise VOR. On the way he planned out a route to fly and had me make notes. Taking notes while flying by instruments, trying to track a radial and maintaining a steady climb to altitude was an interesting/challenging experience to say the least. He changed our original plan (which was to split the 1.5 hours of simulated IFR into two flights) and instead decided to have me fly a triangle route from the Paradise VOR, to the Pamona VOR, then south to intersect a radial from Paradise before tracking that in.

I realized as I was flying extended time in simulated IFR that when I am flying VFR I don't look at my attitude indicator much at all and only glance down at my turn indicator to make sure I am staying coordinated. For straight and level flight, turns, climbs, and descents I rely almost completely on the horizon outside the plane. I don't have any problem making a turn and rolling out right on a specific heading, when I can see outside. However, under the hood that all changes. I would roll out early, roll out late, drift into a shallow turn and notice my heading had changed 5-10°, I was all over the place. Chasing the radials turned out to be quite the task.

About the time we reached the Pamona VOR and turned south I finally had it and was able to fly a straight heading and stay on the radial. When the radial from Paradise started to come in I made a gradual turn, lined up on it, and tracked it in.

I'm all over the place heading NW to the Pamona VOR. By the time we turned South I finally was able to hold the heading an fly straight.
I'm all over the place heading NW to the Pamona VOR. By the time we turned South I finally was able to hold the heading and fly straight.
I was happy to see that after the initial climb I was able to hold the altitude and eventually headings.
I was happy to see that after the initial climb I was able to hold the altitude and eventually headings.

My CFI was doing all the radio work, flying by instruments and talking on the radio is past my current capabilities. In fact, unlike our other flights there was very little conversation between us, I was too busy trying to concentrate on those darn instruments. At one point I told him "This must be so boring for you."

As we were approaching the Paradise VOR my CFI asked approach for vectors to the Chino ILS. I followed the headings from SOCAL Approach and soon we were on the ILS and I was chasing the localizer and glideslope.

CFI: "Watch the localizer, if you're going to miss it miss to the right. If you drift left you could end up on approach for 26L." (The ILS at Chino is on 26R.)
ME: "Okay"
CFI: "Watch the glideslope."
Me: "Okay"

Elevation at KCNO is 650' and the minimum for the ILS is 886'. I got down just under 900' and for the first time since I turned toward the practice area an hour before and about 85 miles of flight, I looked outside the plane. We were flying towards the sun and my first reaction was 'It's bright out there!' It was so strange to have been flying for so long without having seen anything.

I was pleased to see that I was almost lined up on the runway. The problem was that I had drifted below glideslope. My CFI said,"See how close those trees are?" (As we were passing over them.) "This is what four reds on the PAPI looks like. That's why you never want to be below glideslope. If you're going to miss the glideslope, miss high." The truth is that I had not even noticed that I had drifted below the glideslope. I had been right on it until maybe the last 10 seconds when I had taken my eye off the glideslope and instead was watching the altimeter to see when I could finally take the foggles off. That was enough time to sink low...

I added power to stop my descent until I was back where I should be and then settled down for a nice soft landing with just one notch of flaps (10°) in. I missed the centerline to the right but got a "Very nice" from my CFI as the plane settled down on the runway.

I'm down to just 0.5 of simulated IFR needed. Next Saturday I fly again with my CFI and we'll go through all the required maneuvers to see what I need to work on. In the mean time I will try and get my ground school completed and schedule my written exam.

It really is getting close...

Edited by Skates97

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On 13 August 2016 at 3:41 PM, Samurai Husky said:

I did PKR Lasic, went from 20/40 with astigmatism to 20/15 w/o. Best thing i have ever done.

If you need glasses for reading from approx age 45 it is normal.  Laser surgery etc wont fix the issue at all if your vision is perfect in all other respects as it is caused by the lense hardening and the muscles not being as efficient. Laser surgery wont soften a lense.

 I asked an Opthalmic Surgeon about this as like most wise people (ie with age) I have the reading glasses issue and he gave me the explanation above

 

 

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5 hours ago, Skates97 said:

I was pleased to see that I was almost lined up on the runway. The problem was that I had drifted below glideslope. My CFI said,"See how close those trees are?" (As we were passing over them.) "This is what four reds on the PAPI looks like. That's why you never want to be below glideslope. If you're going to miss the glideslope, miss high." The truth is that I had not even noticed that I had drifted below the glideslope. I had been right on it until maybe the last 10 seconds when I had taken my eye off the glideslope and instead was watching the altimeter to see when I could finally take the foggles off. That was enough time to sink low...

I added power to stop my descent until I was back where I should be and then settled down for a nice soft landing with just one notch of flaps (10°) in. I missed the centerline to the right but got a "Very nice" from my CFI as the plane settled down on the runway.

Good lesson learnt.  The last part of the descent on the glideslope is the most difficult piece as it is more sensitive because the glideslope "triangle" between the ground and the bottom of the glideslope is becoming smaller the closer you are to the runway.  At my normal divert runway there is lots of turbulence below 500 agl due to some houses which always makes the approach much more "interesting".  

Once you become visual the Papis are good to follow so you stay on the glidpath, particuarly at night time.  

So whens you final test?

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6 hours ago, Hyett6420 said:

If you need glasses for reading from approx age 45 it is normal.  Laser surgery etc wont fix the issue at all if your vision is perfect in all other respects as it is caused by the lense hardening and the muscles not being as efficient. Laser surgery wont soften a lense.

 I asked an Opthalmic Surgeon about this as like most wise people (ie with age) I have the reading glasses issue and he gave me the explanation above

 

 

The rest of my vision is better than 20/20, just the reading. We used to tease my parents calling it "short arm disease" because they couldn't hold the book/newspaper far enough away to read it... My dad needed reading glasses about age 45, it looks like I might beat him to it. I'll be 44 next month and while I don't have to have them yet for everything, I can see (no pun intended) that time is fast approaching. The flight doctor that did my medical exam told me that typically if someone has excellent distance vision they will need reading glasses about the time they turn 45. 

5 hours ago, Hyett6420 said:

Good lesson learnt.  The last part of the descent on the glideslope is the most difficult piece as it is more sensitive because the glideslope "triangle" between the ground and the bottom of the glideslope is becoming smaller the closer you are to the runway.  At my normal divert runway there is lots of turbulence below 500 agl due to some houses which always makes the approach much more "interesting".  

Once you become visual the Papis are good to follow so you stay on the glidpath, particuarly at night time.  

So whens you final test?

I like that my CFI allows me to make the mistakes when there is no danger to making them. He could have told me again to watch the glideslope as he saw me drifting lower but we weren't going to run into anything so he just stayed quiet until I took the foggles off and he pointed out the trees that were much closer than my normal approach on that runway. That sticks in my mind much better. The PAPI's are nice, I know its supposed to be two white/two red but I like to keep three white/one red there as the runways are very long and I would rather be a little high than a little low.

Final test will be the last week of September, the date isn't set just yet. I fly with my CFI on Saturday the 3rd and we are going to go through all the maneuvers just so he can see where I'm at. I feel good about all of them with the exception of stalls which I know I can do, I just don't like them. The examiners are scheduling about two weeks out so we'll see if I can get a date set when I go in this Saturday. I'm gone on a short vacation the second week of September so will have two weeks between flights as I won't fly again until the 17th. If it's set for the 26th-30th that will give me a couple flights with my CFI after I get back plus a checkride with another instructor from the school.

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