Expect Left Traffic

Flight 43 – Pretty Lights

Flight 43 was my first foray up after dark. Pre-flighting the plane with a flashlight was an interesting experience, and I think given the chance I’d rather check the oil before the sun goes down. We flew north a bit past Longmont, trying to identify landmarks and did some steep turns and some instrument reference maneuvers. We flew around with all the lights except the taxi on, and it was interesting how the light scatters at night, making it seem almost as if we were flying through a haze even though the city lights were nice and clear. We went back to Metro and I got in three full stop landings on the south runway before the tower had us switch over to 29R for a CH-60 coming in requesting the other runway. As they were entering the airspace they requested a low fly-over with the lights off. There was a brief terse exchange between the two that I didn’t fully catch as I tried to keep my downwind where it needed to be. Immediately afterward the tower controller seemed to relax and said, “now that we’re legal, we can leave you in the dark, let us know when you want the lights on.” It was disconcerting knowing the helicopter was over there and even with his position reports I was always worried I’d overshoot my base leg. We got in four more full stop landings before calling it a night, since it was just as and the CH-60. We taxied back to the school, leaving the Air National Guard chopper to play with himself in the dark, and I am now night current.

December 30th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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Flight 42 – Dual to Akron

Akron_06 Akron Colorado that is, Ohio is a bit of a ways off for a student flight.  My second cross country went almost exactly as planned.  Winds were right about what was forecast, and I did a much better job of pre-flight planning, so passed my checkpoints as expected.  My instructor and I talked about the route I chose on the way out, checkpoints and the like, and he said he made a point to follow the highway as much as practical.  Even if it takes you a little bit out of the way, it makes navigation that much easier, as that’s exactly what we did on the way back to Metro. 

In Akron we had a decent cross-wind, and I was coming in high for 29, I chose to do a forward slip, and wasn’t really correlating the crosswind (this was before my stint in the trainer) and ended up dipping the wing the wrong way.  Fortunately the wind wasn’t gusting or strong enough to push us off the centerline at a worrying rate, and I smoothly transitioned back in to normal descent without mishap or having to go around.  We touched down about two hundred feet past the numbers, which was about 190 feet past where I would have liked but the long runway worked out just fine.  I didn’t quite slow down fast enough for the sole taxiway (as you can see in the picture, it stops half way up the runway), and had my first experience putting a plane through a U-turn and taxiing back on a runway.  It’s a very weird feeling, and I kept worrying about incoming traffic.  Traffic was again non-existent that day, which was a shame as the weather was beautiful.  Visibility was incredible, and the air was smooth as glass. 

On the the return leg we followed I-76 until we had to worry about Denver’s Class Bravo airspace, and then made a due east cut over to Longmont.  By this time the winds had come up a little, and we had a mild crosswind from the left with about 10 knots worth of gusts.  This last landing was pretty long, and with no flaps it had a very different sight picture than I was used to at the time.  I never did feel like I got ahead of the plane with the gusting and ended up ballooning once before putting the plane down fairly smoothly. 

Unfortunately this was my last flight in 64055, as a few weeks later she was damaged during a training flight at metro.  Fortunately the pilot is alright.  She broke her leg, but is recovering well and will hopefully be flying again early next year.  Next up, my first night flight, and boy was it memorable.

December 22nd, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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