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 7 - Landings, Landings, and More Landings
Monday, 6/12/06 9:00am - Clear skies, no wind. Stan announces his intent to 'hammer' the touch n go's over at Bridgeport today, which is just fine with me. I do the pre-flight; we skip the run-up, and take off without delay. I forgot the standard departure from runway 32, but quickly corrected course and headed out over Northport.

After flying to Bridgeport Stan let me radio the tower for a right approach on runway 29. Trying to ignore the rudder I came in slightly left of center due to my tendency to cut my base leg short. I need to remember to stop doing that. The landing itself was pretty smooth, and I gained a little confidence right away. Took off and made left traffic but was vectored immediately to runway 6. It took some turning to understand where that runway was but once I had it I came in shallow again and Stan used the wheel to correct my approach. For some reason I still have a tendency to stay on the left side of the runway. After landing we came back around and I got the approach right this time. Pulled up too high and then attempted to correct this by dipping the nose: bad move. We bounced the plane off the runway not once but twice and for a moment I was scared Stan wouldn't be able to recover it. He did. It was probably worse than I thought it was, but the experience helped drill into my skull that I need to stop trying to correct my landing by pushing forward with the yoke - rather I need to allow the plane to descend naturally while maintaining steady backward pressure. Took off again and were vectored once more to another runway, this time we were instructed by the tower to do a 'teardrop' approach. Stan maneuvered this and we were still pretty low altitude-wise, so I asked Stan to do the landing so I could watch him (Jerroll's suggestion).

During Stan's landing I made it a point to ignore what was going on outside the windshield and just concentrate on how he worked the controls. Stan made very little movements on the yoke, and used very little if not any pressure on the rudder. As he landed smoothly I started to think that maybe I was overcomplicating things - that maybe landing was a little bit easier than I was making it out to be.

On the next approach I remembered to bank shallow from base into final, and not to worry about overshooting my approach. This got me lined up perfectly with the runway, and it finally clicked in my head to start doing it that way from now on. It also helped make landing a lot smoother, and I used just the right amount of pressure on the yoke to land the plane without assistance. Stan had his hand on the yoke during the last 10 feet of descent, but it was only because he knew I had a tendency to not pull back enough. This time however I did it correctly, and he didn't have to make an adjustment. He complemented me on a very good landing - my second unassisted one.

Bridgeport's Sikorsky Memorial Airport... a place where I left a lot of good tire rubber.
We refueled at that point, and my taxiing skills were put to the test pulling the aircraft up alongside another Cherokee while Stan was busy on the phone. I'm getting better with working the brakes and slowing down when I need to, especially on turns. Stan joked around with me on the ground, then told me "Oh shit, the magnetos are hot!" when he noticed we hadn't turned the key to the 'off' position. Apparently this is very dangerous and the refuel guys would've shit their pants if they'd known.

Took off runway 24 and Stan asked for a straight departure, which meant we were heading back to Long Island. It was a smooth ride to Northport, and then I radioed for clearance and got a right downwind on runway 32. One thing to remember as I enter my base leg is that I often mistake runway 1 for 32 and try to align myself with that runway. "Good God" Stan said, which echoed my thoughts exactly. I have to really pay more attention to stuff like that. Once solo I won't have anyone next to me to let me know I'm lining up with the wrong runway.

Stan told me to come in high on 32 because we had a long way to taxi before the echo ramp. Came in clean and straight, felt good over the numbers, put the plane on the ground just as Stan was answering the phone. Another good landing facilitated this time by Stan only a little bit at the end by him holding backpressure on the yoke. With my approach getting better and better, this seems to now be my biggest problem.

After completing the landing checklist Stan signed my logbook and showed me how to calculate totals at the end of the page. So far I've flown 8.5 hours and I've landed 25 times. Considering Jerroll soloed at 16 hours I'm halfway there. I feel about halfway there - I've got the steps down and I haven't really been forgetting anything (airspeed, flaps, etc...) but I'm still working on the "feel" of landing. That only comes with practice.

Flying hours today: 1.4       Total: 8.5

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