Daily Pilot's Journal

Read the complete day-by-day flight log of an actual student pilot, from the first takeoff to the signing of his private pilot's license. Written promptly at the end of every flight, each entry is completely unedited - detailing the successes, failures, and mistakes we all encounter along this long road.
Day 11 - Almost... But Not Quite
Wednesday, 6/21/06 7:00am - I almost soloed today. Sounds funny to say 'almost' because either you solo or you don't solo, but I was very close.

Clear skies and no wind. Did both the interior and exterior preflight. Tower operators hadn't arrived yet, so we announced intentions to taxi to runway 1. Just as we hit the run-up the tower operator radioed to tell us he was there, and that runway 1 was active. Didn't miss a single thing on the checklist other than switching the transponder to altitude, then got clearance to hold position (gotta remember that means to maneuver onto the runway) as a helicopter flew overhead. Finally took off and headed to Bridgeport where I did cruise checks and 100% of the radio work.

Landed runway 29, flared a bit late so Stan helped with the control wheel. After that my landings were all a bit high - I either flared early or, even more so, I flared too abruptly. One thing I need to remember is to be easy on the control stick when the nose attitude is going up during landing. Flaring too much will float me too high or stall me during the float. I'm getting better at holding the stick back and waiting for the drop, but once it happens I also need to remember to bring the nose up again in order to compensate. I need to land on the rear wheels, not all three of them at once, and definitely not in a nose-down position.

After four 'acceptable' landings that I thought were all a bit rough, Stan shrugged and said "Alright, you wanna go solo?" Immediately I responded with "Yeah man, I'm ready". Although my landings hadn't been very pretty I still felt comfortable enough in my approach. Wind was non-existent and traffic was minimal, we'd been doing right-hand traffic on runway 29 and it seemed a no-brainer.

As I came around ready to radio for a full stop the tower operator asked if I could vector over to runway 24. I maneuvered this with some help from Stan and we did another touch and go, this time with left-hand traffic. Tower called back to tell us runway 29 was once again active, so we vectored into a base leg and landed on 29 again. With all the switch-ups there wasn't time for me to radio for a full stop so we just did another touch n' go, again with landings that were flared a bit too high over the runway. Finally Stan just announced that it was getting late and he had another student coming at 9am so we'd put off my solo for "next time". I guess I was disappointed but I also didn't feel like I was executing very good landings so I didn't mind putting it off. If I had been solo, I probably could've handled the tower moving my runways around. It wasn't all that bad.

On final approach for Farmingdale airport's runway 1

Flew back to Farmingdale and there was no ATIS (found out later a very bad accident on Sunrise highway had delayed most of Long Island's commute to work). Radioed for a landing with "negative ATIS" and was told to land on runway 1. I made a nice approach but once again executed an early flare. After shutting down I talked with Stan a little about what I was doing wrong on my landings in order to correct it tomorrow. I think I understand: I think maybe it's not so much that I'm flaring early as I'm flaring too abruptly. I'll be easier on the stick tomorrow, and I'll remember to keep my nose up during the drop. And I'll be ready to solo, too - let's not forget that.

Flying hours today: 1.3       Total: 13.0

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