Flying Lesson Adventures

The 1st Solo - March 23, 2008

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Flying along
Flying along
Straight and level
Straight and level
Coming in for a landing
Coming in for a landing
The solo starts
The solo starts
Off he goes . . .
Off he goes . . .
I'm waving
I'm waving
The landing
The landing
Slow down
Slow down
Turn off here
Turn off here
Doing the checklist
Doing the checklist
The weather was just about perfect this morning, and I had a lesson scheduled for 1730 (5:30 pm). Turned on my cellphone and there was a text message from my instructor, Francis Yannuzzi asking if I minded moving it up to noon. Since the weather can change, I agreed.
CG-FFZOut to the airport, get the paperwork done and get a plane. I haven't written much about the aircraft we fly, so here's a little bit about them. They're made by Cessna and the model is the 172P. Single engine, high winged monoplane. Can hold 4 passengers - at least there are seats for 4 - and it's the best selling light airplane in the world with over 43,000 having been built since 1956. The P model is also known as the Skyhawk P. The airplane I got today was CG-FFZ (foxtrot - foxtrot - zulu), and was built in 1981. It's had about 15,000 hours on the clock, which is a lot for anything but a training airplane, but Mr Cessna built them pretty well and they are incredibly well maintained. Cruises at about 110 knots (126.5 mph) and lands at 65 knots (75 mph). Put 40 gallons of fuel in the tanks in the wings and you can put about 700 lbs of people or people and baggage on board.
I have flown FFZ before - that's the plane that my daughter Jessie came with on a lesson. The picture to the left is from that flight - it's not quite as warm today!
So off we go, flying around and around, doing some more practice. Our usual mode is to do "touch and go's" where we take off, make our 4 left turns, land and then while still rolling, continue into another takeoff, never stopping. After about 3 of those, Francis told me to do a full stop landing and that we'd get off the runway then continue back to the threshold and takeoff after all the checklists, etc.
We come back from that one and as we pull off the runway, Francis asks if I'm ready then tells me he's "getting out here, go do a circuit".
Ohkey dohkey.
Taxi back to the runway, do my checklist, check the instruments, altimeter set for 935 ft ASL (that's how high the airport is above sea level), direction indicator matches the magnetic compass and the rest of the list - I even say all the items out loud, making sure to complete them - and then, checking that everything is clear, announce my intentions
"Foxtrot Foxtrot Zulu, taking position on 33 for takeoff"
and head out on the runway, put the power on full and begin to pick up speed.
1315 (1:15 pm)
Keep it on the center-line
Watch the airspeed gauge - it's in the green
OK, we have 56 knots - this baby is ready to fly
Pull back on the yoke, harder
OK, keep it straight, glance over the rest of the instruments
Everything is green
Look there's Francis, taking pictures - wave
Get to 1400 ft ASL, make the first left turn - not too tight, nice and smooth
Start to slow down, no more climbing, we're at 1700 ft ASL, another left turn
"Foxtrot Foxtrot Zulu, turning downwind for 33"
Trim the plane to fly on it's own, do the prelanding checklist
Start to slow down from cruise to 85 knots
Keep the altitude at 1700 ft ASL as it slows
Put the flaps down to 20º
Turn left again, slow to 65 knots
"Foxtrot Foxtrot Zulu, turning base for 33, fullstop"
Watch for the runway - need to know where it is
Watch the speed
Begin the last turn at 1400 ft ASL
"Foxtrot Foxtrot Zulu, on final for 33, fullstop"
Watch the speed
Ok, now some dipstick decides to takeoff right in front of me
Watch the speed
Can I land safely?
Watch the speed
Watch the height
Yes, it will be OK
Watch the speed
Watch the height
Chop the power, it will glide from here
Aim it right on the numbers
Watch the speed
Watch the height
Numbers coming up quickly
Look at the end of the runway
Begin to pull back a bit
Geez, a gust of wind - where did that come from?
Bring it back to the center line
Keep pulling
A little bit left
Keep it level
OK, the wheels are on the ground
Cut the power
Push on the brakes
Keep it straight
Here's the taxiway
Slow enough to turn
OK, at the hold line
Do the after landing check
Taxi back - is that Francis walking over? Isn't he normally in the seat to my right?
Park it on the lines
Do the shutdown check
1325 (1:25 pm)
OK, everything is off
Undo the belt, open the door, Shake hands.
So, after 25.6 hours with Francis as my instructor (we won't include the useless Buttonville/Marshmallow time, it really was a waste) I can add a new name to the "Pilot in Command" part of the logbook.
LogbookS. Greenspan, 0.2 hours, Pilot in Command - Solo
Funny thing was that everyone told me that when you finally go on your own, the plane jumps off the runway because it's so much lighter. Didn't happen that way, everything seemed about the same. Maybe it was because there was no wind or I was spending too much of my time watching to make sure I did everything right? Whatever the reason, it was just like all the practice.
Oh, one more thing; as I took off, I did sing.
Off we go, into the wild blue yonder . . .

Photos coming later, Francis says he took a few.

March 16, 2008

(Revised after I had US/FAA Training - revisions in BLUE)
Last time I flew with my instructor, Francis Yannuzzi (Snowbird 3), he told me to make sure that I had all of my documents with me, because we would be finishing up the basic instruction before the solo flight and he figured that I would solo on our next flight. To fly as pilot in command (only one) you need to have your student pilot license, medical certificate & radio operator's license with you.
We got cancelled on Friday March 7, and our next scheduled flight was this morning, Tuesday, March 11. Weather was perfect, bright sun, light winds, temp about -5 C. Great weather for flying. to go where no plane has gone before . . Did all the checks and preflight items, and taxied out to the runway. Takeoff was great, down the center line, lifting off at the proper point. After 4 left turns, back at the runway, did a touch & go (you land but don't stop, just proceed to take off right away) and went for my next 4 lefts. (we fly a rectangle around the airport, turning 90º left each time, beginning and ending at the runway)
Since this is a lesson, he's teaching me how to handle all the emergencies that could be encountered during a flight. We've been working on engine failures, making sure I could handle all situations, should they happen. So, on this second go round, Francis puts the engine into idle to simulate the failure as I'm about the make the last left (base) turn for the runway. I perform all the procedures and get ready to glide in for a landing. As we're about 200' up and 1/4 mile out, we can see a plane waiting by the runway to take-off. Usually (read always) they wait until you land then go after you've made your touch & go. Not this guy (now to be known as Shmuck-1). He just rolled out and began his take-off.
We were too close to land after Shmuck-1 - what if he couldn't complete his take-off - so I elected to abort the landing and do a missed approach where I would skip the landing part and continue in the circuit up to the next landing. Everything is fine, and Shmuck-1 went flying off someplace.
As we're making the next simulated failure we hear our next fabulous flyer, "Shmuck-2", call that he's over the field at 3000' and will be turning RIGHT to land. That's two problems; first, at 3000' he's in the International airport's CLASS "B" AIRSPACEairspace (major airports are found under very large inverted cones of protected airspace that are quite wide up high, and smaller closer in. Makes sense because airplanes land and take off at an angle and there's no reason to stop traffic that won't get in the way) and second, he wants to turn right. All circuits just about everywhere are done to the left. In the US, the air traffic controller tells you which direction the pattern (circuit) turns. if there is no controller, there are indications on the ground as to which way to fly in the "pattern" depending on the runway in use. NOT DONE IN CANADA, so the guy was trying to find it and couldn't. But he SHOULD have made a simple radio call to find out. Don't ask me why, it's been this way since Orville and Wilbur. Oh and he's visiting from the US, so we cut him some slack because he's never been to our little patch of planes before.
So we look around to try and find him, and can't see where he would be. We continue on our merry way, and keep making our left turns. Suddenly, as we're on the second one (the crosswind leg) we see an airplane coming at us. It's Shmuck-2, flying a Columbia (nice plane, very nice plane). We get out of the way, and Francis, being the senior instructor that he is, tries to help the guy out by giving him and idea of the fact we turn left and we can only go to 1700' in the area (The ground is at 935' so we only have about 750' to play in. More than enough for us.) He acknowledges us, says he understands and we continue for the next simulated engine failure. I get the plane ready to land, and we hear Shmuck-2 announce that he will be landing on the runway that intersects the one I'm just about to land on. Not good. So I do my second missed approach of the day, and we decide to clear the area until Shmuck-2 has his airplane firmly on the ground.
Off we go, flying over to Georgetown, about 10 miles away to check out the nude beach (just kidding, it's too cold and there's no beach). As we get to the town, I jokingly ask Francis if we should call the field to see if Shmuck-2 has left a hole in the ground or a burning pile on the runway. Just then, we hear Shmuck-2 call for a tow truck, he's gone off the end of the runway.
This causes a bunch of problems. They are:

    to go where no plane has gone before . .
  1. The authorities are called in. Since Shmuck-2 is from the US, we need Transport Canada AND the FAA involved. Shmuck-2 might loose his license over this.
  2. when a plane goes where no plane has gone before, it's probably broken and needs a whole pile of money to repair (minimum $10k) or replace.
  3. All of the government workers and airplane mechanics, while trying to put Humpty back together again, won't move Humpty for a while. The runway that he's at the end of will now close, and nobody can land or take off from that runway until everybody signs off, in triplicate and 2 official languages, with Canadian & US versions. Could be weeks.
  4. When you're doing your solo, the understanding is that you are just barely able to do the flying thing and you'll need 2 runways to make sure you can find a nice solid place to land.

All my landings today were perfect ("greasers" where you don't even feel a bump), even with the distractions. But now, since there is now just one runway, we couldn't do the solo today.
But the promise is that I'll do it soon. I can't wait to meet Shmucks 3 & 4. I hope the weather is good. Will let you know.

Modified March 25 2024
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