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 2 - Skids
Tuesday, 5/23/06 7:00am Beautiful morning, no wind. Slept much better last night with no nervousness this time. Stan rolled up on a black motorcycle wearing a leather jacket. Jerroll's right, this guy lives on the edge.

Stan let me preflight the aircraft myself while he did some paperwork. Asked him for the fuel sample tube but he told me to skip it. Told him we were down a half-quart of oil and he told me not to worry about it. He did inform me that I left the master switch on during my preflight.

Ready to taxi, Stan let me speak to the tower for the first time. I stumbled over most of what I needed to say but then the radio cut out and we couldn't hear their response. After watching him fumble with different radio knobs for a minute Stan repeated our intention to taxi to runway 1. Did a quick run-up, checked the magnetos, and headed to the runway. Again I applied too much right brake and the plane turned 45 degrees to the right... I've got to get the hang of braking simultaneously with both feet.

Takeoff was good but I experienced another uneasy moment as the plane dropped a few feet right after our wheels left the ground. Pointed at the horizon in a climb attitude a fairly strong crosswind kept drifting me to the right. After telling me to keep the plane on a straight north heading more than three times as I struggled with the wind Stan finally said "Ah screw it, head for the towers". We were almost over the expressway by then anyway.

On the way to the towers Stan reviewed turning with the rudder. I learned that I was skidding during my turns. I backed off the rudder and made slightly better turns, but Stan told me to try and keep the nose of the plane in the exact same position while turning the plane about that axis. I practiced some more, and did better. After two minutes of this I suddenly used exactly the right amount of rudder and the plane turned smoothly and flawlessly, leaving the nose motionless. I did this twice in each direction. I looked over at Stan and he was nodding. "That's it. You felt that, right? That was perfect." After that, turns were smooth. Now that I knew what using the right amount of rudder felt like I could duplicate it more easily.

Once over the sound I made some excellent turns, coming level at proper heading. Practiced ascending and descending turns, then Stan showed me slow flight. I had some trouble with knowing when to put the flaps up or down. Finally we practiced a stall, and then headed back to the airport. Ran into some traffic on the way back, and dove beneath another piper some 500 feet or more above us. Stan worked the radio and we got into our downwind. The return leg seemed easier this time, and we dove more gradually during the final approach, but the whole landing thing still seemed rushed and complicated. I learned how to go from 80kts and 15 degrees of flaps to 70kts and 30 degrees, then down to 65kts and 45 degrees (full flaps) before landing. Still, the plane dropped like a rock once we passed the tree line - something Stan later told me was due to lack of wind - and Stan had to throttle up pretty quickly to gain altitude about 10 feet over the runway. Would've been scary if that happened to me solo... I still have LOTS to learn about landing.

Flying hours today: 1.0       Total: 1.9

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