So yesterday we actually got off the ground! Perfect day for flying blue skies and almost no winds. Couldn’t ask for a better day for my first flight lesson!
Okay so let’s start at the beginning.
Once I arrived, I did the usual stuff, Weather briefing, preflight, taxi, run-up. I have decent practice at those sort of things. This time was a bit different, instead of taxiing to one end of the airport and back, we taxi’d up to runway 3. We checked radios for traffic, looked both ways up and down the runway, made our call and pulled out onto the runway.
So here I was, staring down 6000 ft of runway just like I have done a million times in my head. Slowly push the throttle in, a little right rudder to counteract the P-Factor, keep the white line between my legs. So far so good. Actually not too bad at all, She must be helping a bit…. hmm.
Airspeed alive… 50 kts, lightly pull back a few inches on the yoke, nose feels light and a little wobbly but we are going straight. around 60 kts we start to lift off the ground, holy crap we’re flying. I need to keep us aligned with the extended centerline… we are drifting a little to the right… add left rudder? My instructor says we are doing OK, not to worry about it too much.
I am reminded every 500 ft until cruising altitude that I need to drop the nose and check for traffic. 700ft, dropping the nose… weird sensation… no traffic, up we go. 1200ft, no traffic, time to turn west towards the practice area. I am told to focus on some water towers to the west and then find a cloud or something to keep us going in the right direction because, we are going up to 3000 ft.
We spend the first part of the flight touring the edges of the practice area while she quizzes me on where we are. At first my grinning response was “I have no idea! But we’re in the air”. She astutely points at some power lines on the map and then outside. After a rotation of the map, I think I know where I am. Think being the operative word. I start following a road that should lead me to KSCR. And like by magic, it did. So I guess I did sort of know our location. I turn to follow another road toward the next point in our practice area triangle.
Once we probed the edges of the practice area we proceeded into climbing and descending turns. I got the impression that is normally for lesson two but seemed to be a piece of cake. I think the key to everything is the understanding that pitch controls speed and throttle controls altitude which I seemed to be OK with. I have been studying those concepts for years and employing them in flight simulator for just as long. It sort of seemed natural. Climbing… reduce throttle, descending increase throttle. I kept us with 75 ft of our intended altitude for the flight. The winds were calm so I am chalking it up to that. I would imagine that I would have struggled a lot more with some more wind and turbulence. It was good to see the concept in action.
We then headed back to the airport for a 45 degree entry into the downwind leg of the pattern. We need to drop altitude from 3000 ft to 1200 ft before entry. We cut power and lifted the nose to achieve 70 kts for our pattern entry. We entered the downwind leg and I was instructed to drop 10 degrees flaps once we are abeam (beside) the numbers. So I did and had to give a little nose forward pressure to keep us from rising. Next milestone, look to see when the numbers were 45 degrees back and to my left. Once this happened, we made a 90 degree left turn and then dropped flaps to 20 degrees. A lot started happening fast at this point. we turned to line up on with the runway. My instructor said “Shoot the numbers with the nose”. This put us on a steady decent to the runway. As we got closer and numbers were hidden, I cut the throttle and we slowly started to roll the nose up for touchdown. I honestly didn’t even feel much of the touchdown, just focused on pull the yoke back to keep the nose up as long as possible on the roll out. I don’t think I helped with the landing too much but hey… my first time right?
We slowed down as I applied gradual brakes towards our turn off. once clear of the runway, went through the post landing checklists and cleaned the configuration.
Taxiing back to the ramp felt great, the flight was great, everything was perfect. As we are debriefing, my instructor said she was really impressed with my take off saying “Normally, students are back and forth across the runway and I have to keep us straight”. Sounds like I did a pretty good job on the pedals. 😀 She also complimented me on my ability to hold altitude.
As I was getting ready to leave she said that I was such a “Precocious” Student (Honestly I had to look it up… I have heard the term before but wasn’t fully sure of the meaning, feel dumb about that, stupid public education), that she was going to jump to ground reference maneuvers on my second flight and handed me a fat packet up paper to study up on. Sounds good to me… I guess some students spend a couple of more flights on turns, climbing, descending?
Can’t wait until my next flight!