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 9 - F-14 Tomcat Traffic
Thursday, 6/15/06 7:00am - Clear skies, little wind. Radioed ground and taxied confidently to runway 32 with a much better handle on speed and turning. We did a run up today and then I took off, went through standard departure, and turned for the stacks once over the L.I.E. without Stan even saying a word.

Bridgeport cleared us to enter right base for runway 29, and I smoothly dropped into position. Approach was good, the runway was centered, and I executed a perfect landing that drew much praise from Stan. Flaps down, power up, climbed into the sky and made right traffic for my next touchdown. Drifted slightly off course on my takeoff leg due to a crosswind, but corrected for it with more pressure on the right rudder for the remainder of the morning.

The base leg of my 2nd landing was a slight problem because the wind was at my tail. It blew me so quickly through that leg that I had to turn final almost immediately. By the time I was lined up with the runway I was way too high... I hadn't had a chance to lose altitude because effectively I didn't have a base leg. Stan said nothing and I asked him nothing, I proceeded to introduce full flaps right away and I concentrated on bringing the plane smoothly down to the numbers. Flared perfectly on the landing again and touched down so gently that I was grinning and feeling cocky. Stan was smiling and telling me "You got it now". I told him "Yeah, I see what I was doing wrong - I was definitely flaring too early." He said: "You don't have to tell me, I lived through it".

On the third circuit I extended my downwind so I'd have a longer approach. If I couldn't have a base leg (due to the wind) I wanted to make sure I could bleed altitude on my final. This worked great, until we were just above the numbers and Stan told me "Show me a slip". I completely spazzed out and slipped the wrong way, I worked the rudder wrong and I threw our nose way off the glide path. After being admonished by Stan I quickly corrected my approach with the control wheel and touched down - a little less smooth than my last two landings but still an acceptable one. I was thinking too much - I was trying to visualize how to do a slip instead of actually 'feeling' what I needed to do. Stan's words: "Concentrate on getting the nose in the center of the runway. Do that, and your hands and feet will do whatever they have to do in order to get you there".

On our next downwind the tower asked us if we were able to do a "Short landing" because traffic was incoming on a 2 mile final. Stan acknowledged that we could, and then he took the controls and made a very steep dive toward the numbers. We weren't even finished with our downwind leg, so he'd cut out the base completely. It was a scary angle but I had full confidence in what he was doing. By the time he gave the controls back to me we were lined up perfectly on final, perfect altitude, perfect airspeed. His skills are pretty sick. I did the landing and I made the mistake of flaring too early again. This time however, I kept steady backpressure on the control wheel, allowing the plane to drop through the glide. There was a split second when I should've given a slight more pull to the control wheel in order to glide a second time, but instead I allowed it to touch down a bit roughly. Stan praised me though, saying he was happy that I listened to him and kept backpressure on the wheel instead of pushing the wheel forward as I usually had done. He told me I was one of those students who remembers to do something when he corrects them, then he instructed me on how I could've glided a second time with a gentle second pull back on the wheel. I could totally see what he meant.

Got coffee again and fuel, then took off for Republic. I have trouble with the taxiways at Bridgeport, and have to pay more attention when talking to the tower. I almost turned down the wrong taxiway, which would've been bad.

On final for runway 32 we noticed hundreds of people lined up along the fence, watching our landing. "What the hell are these people here for?" Stan asked, to which I replied, "They probably came to see me land. They heard about the landings I was doing at Bridgeport earlier". Stan laughed and asked the tower what was going on. Turns out a pair of F-14's were scheduled to land right then. I later learned that this was the day they actually retired the F-14 Tomcat, and the last two of them were coming home to republic for the final decommission.

June 15, 2006 - One of the last two active F-14 Tomcats makes it's final flight to Republic airport, circling the airfield to burn off the last of it's fuel.
I bounced the landing slightly, but in my defense Stan changed my touchdown point at the last second (he wanted a shorter taxi distance) and after bouncing it Stan told the tower that he'd "Come by the fence later to sign autographs". The tower operator said "Hey there everyone on the fence, if you have a radio and can hear me that landing was performed by Stan Anderson. . . he'll be by the fence a little later on to sign autographs". Hehe, funny as shit. It was the first time I'd seen the tower show a sense of humor.

Walking back to the car Stan told me he was happy with my progress. "I just want to see some more consistency on your landings". I totally agreed. Right now my landings are half good, half rough. I know what to do and when to do it; I just need to work on doing it every single time.

The last F-14 Tomcat taxies past KFRG's control tower, en route to it's final resting place at the American Airpower Museum.
Flying hours today: 1.5       Total: 11.5

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