Unfortunately during our lesson time on July 24th, a cold front was passing through Lock Haven. I preflighted the plane, but as I was doing so, the wind was gusting wildly in different directions, I was seeing storms in every direction, and the ceiling and conditions were definitely not good enough to practice stalls as we had planned.
So, we did more ground instruction on weather, as it was appropriate for the situation, and then we went over the operating specs of the Rotax 912 engine. I actually did not know that much about engines, so learning about my engine was a lot of information to take in. I also learned a lot about how the operating fluids work, and now I actually know what “10 W 40” means on my car’s engine oil.
After we finished ground instruction, we looked outside and at the weather history and realized that shortly after we decided not to fly, the weather had totally cleared up, and we could have done our planned flight lesson, but we concluded that it was in fact worth the ground instruction and practicing prudence in weather decision making.
After beginning to recover, I felt well enough to fly at the end of the week. I was still feeling a little bit under the weather, but I felt as though I could handle it, and I had the added security of having a CFI in the right seat, so I was all good to fly.
We started with some ground instruction, going over all of the different climb rates and some navigation and communication procedures.
When we got up into the air, we practiced the climb rates that we had previously discussed, with an emphasis on memorizing the sight pictures. My instructor really emphasizes not relying on the instruments to fly, which is certainly different from how I first learned when I actually could not see over the instrument panel.
When we entered the pattern, we had a twin Cessna behind us, so we had to do a tight pattern, as we were in a light sport aircraft traveling much slower than the Cessna. Even so, we just got clear of the runway in time.
When I walked in, the first thing I said was that I was grounding myself for the day.
Why? Well, my instructor has me watch his EAA Webinars as extra assignments for learning, and one of my assignments before that lesson was to watch his webinar on preflighting the PIC. It used the IM SAFE acronym, and the first letter, I, stood for Illness.
I was definitely ill.
Additionally, I had just played a golf tournament, and the combination of illness and heat brought me to the brink of falling over, so I was definitely not in any condition to fly.
He respected my decision and was glad that I was exercising the discretion that I was. So, we did a full three hours of ground instruction. We talked ahead about whiskey compass navigation, weather, radio communications, and dealing with stalls. Doing all of this ground instruction was exhausting in the awful condition that I was in, but at least I was extra prepared for the next time that I would fly.
Before I left, we closed up the hangar and took the above picture in front of the airplane with my Gleim training kit and my MyGoFlight flight bag. I’m still wearing my golf clothes and I’m looking just about as rough as I felt, but I wanted to take a picture showing off a couple of my favorite pieces of equipment that I’ve been using.
In our second lesson, we finally got up into the air. I conducted my own preflight inspection, speaking everything out loud so that my instructor could know what I was thinking.
After the preflight, we discussed some of the mechanics of “airplane driving,” as my instructor calls it, which I was pretty familiar with, although he insisted that flying in a light sport aircraft with a stick was going to be far different from flying in a Skyhawk with a yoke. He was much more right than I expected, and it ended up taking me a couple minutes of flight to get used to the way that the airplane behaved.
As we were completing our checklists, my dad actually showed up to the airport unannounced on his way home from work, so that is where the picture above came from.
After we started the engine, we began taxiing, which I had never done before. It was very different from what I expected, and I quickly realized the importance of very small rudder controls, being extremely vigilant of straying from the center line, and making sure to idle the throttle as soon as the wheels are rolling to keep the speed under control. It took some getting used to, but I did (believe it or not) make it to the runway.
The most challenging part I found during the lesson was actually controlling the aircraft during the takeoff. I was a little bit more wild with the rudder pedals than I should have been, but we made it off the ground safely. Once we got in the air and I got used to holding correct airspeeds and attitudes, it became a lot more comfortable, and taxiing after landing went a lot better. Still, the controls on the Evektor SportStar Max are VERY touchy, and it was a hot day, so when I got out of the airplane, I was absolutely drenched in sweat. Overall, though, I would definitely say it was a successful first flight lesson.
Till next time
Sorry about the delay on getting this up and running, but I’ve actually been staying relatively off-the-grid in terms of technology. However, I will still give some updates on all of the lessons I’ve had so far.
I’m currently 4 lessons into my flight training, but first I’ll tell you about my first one.
We have 3 hour lessons every Monday and Friday in the afternoons, and on my first Monday, I walked in after winning my Monday morning golf tournament and was immediately informed that we would be preflighting the airplane. In the past, flying with my dad, this would be a 15-20 minute process, and then we would fly afterward. However, this time would be different. We spent the entire 3 hour lesson going through the process of how to conduct a preflight inspection.
The most important thing that I drew from this lesson, though, is what my instructor told me about the psychological attitude of a preflight inspection. The textbook answer to the question of “Why do we do a preflight inspection?” is absolutely “to make sure the plane is safe to fly.” My instructor proposed something different. He told me that the objective should be to try to ground the airplane. If we do that, and there is actually something wrong, we will be more likely to succeed and ground ourselves if we give our best, focused effort, working toward the goal of grounding ourselves. If we do not find anything wrong, we have utterly failed, and we might reluctantly make the decision to go up and fly. This attitude is important to our safety, and I think useful in almost everything that we do.
Until next time-