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 13 - VOR Tracking and TnG's
Saturday, 7/01/06 2:00pm - High winds, lots of traffic. After having been washed out all week on some very shitty weather, I'd asked Stan for a weekend slot. I didn't want to wait all the way to Monday before flying again, plus I wanted to see what the airport looked like during some busy weekend traffic. And I totally got my wish.

We took off and climbed into some substantial wind, very unlike the calm mornings I'd been having. Stan tuned to the Deer Park VOR station and I tracked into it, flew directly over it and watched the "TO" go to "FROM" before vectoring out on the 360 radial. I learned how to tune the OBS knob to the radial I wanted and turn gradually when the needle approached the center so that I could glide onto the radial without overshooting it. I got a little more understanding of tracking radials this time.

The Goodyear Blimp stationed at the north end of Republic Airport
Straight to Bridgeport for some touch n go's where we encountered many other planes. Dropping to pattern altitude completely clogged my sinuses - I'd had a tough cold all week and was very stuffed as it was. Had a little trouble hearing the radio so I turned it up, then was told to follow an experimental Navy jet in on runway 24 (cool-looking jet). Coming in on 24 we encountered a wicked downdraft about 150 yards short of the fence... it pushed us way too low and we had to throttle up to get over it. Second and third passes on runway 24 were met with the same downdraft, but Stan showed me how to adjust my altitude on those approaches. This brought us in on what seemed like too high a glide path, but once the downdraft hit us we were shot into an accurate position. My landings were all smooth... I've really locked onto the feel for when to flare and I've been impressing Stan on all my touchdowns. In fact, on one approach Stan thought I wasn't going to flare early enough and he ended up flaring the nose himself - way too early. I kind of chuckled at him and he shrugged. "I got it man", I told him "Don't worry". I recovered from the float he'd put us in and touched down perfectly again. Man, not even three weeks ago I was totally discouraged about my touchdowns but I really love landing the plane now.

On our last landing we followed a Cessna who came in way too low. Stan pointed out the dangers of the guy's low approach. Then we watched as he hit the downdraft and was forced even lower to the ground. The Cessna increased power to make the runway but Stan explained that he shouldn't even have been in such a position. Always be high. Never be low. This is something Stan keeps drilling into me and I'm really starting to see why. I've come in on some very high approaches and I know from experience that it's extremely easy to drop altitude.

Stopped for some icy cold drinks and Stan asked if my sinuses had cleared. I grabbed my nose and blew as hard as I could... and holy shit, for the first time in my life that worked for me. My sinuses became totally clear and the volume on the world went up a few notches. We headed back to Farmingdale (I had to lower my headset volume now) where I made a long straight approach on runway 19. Crabbed into a strong crosswind and got buffeted around but held everything together and was able to slip smoothly into position on the runway. My landing was flawless and drew more praise from Stan. I was totally psyched. I had been sweating windy days like this. Sometimes the turbulence can be disconcerting, but today I gained valuable knowledge on how to handle the aircraft in it. I also gained confidence working the radio in high traffic. Went to my sister's BBQ and proceeded to get completely obliterated.

Flying hours today: 1.5       Total: 16.5

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