5B2:5B2 Straight and Level Flight

On Friday, December 17th, I had my second lesson with Dale Easter, my flight instructor.

The weather seemed perfect while on the ground, and I was overwhelmed with joy, as usual, at the prospect of getting in the air. Arrived at 5B2 and went upstairs to the classroom to go over what we were going to learn in the sky that day, and to go over the curriculum for our lesson. Discussion topics: aeronautical decision making, weather factors, and a review of aircraft worthiness.

I pulled out my books and again went over the topic that I was struggling to get my head around – the angle of attack, and what really happens to the wings/air. Yes, it took me a while during the week to wrap my head around the concepts, but thanks to NASA’s Beginner’s Guide to Aerodynamics site, it managed to fix it in my brain. I know that I do not need to comprehend ALL of the physics behind this, but I want to. I want to know enough so that I can explain it to someone else.

Dale helped me enormously when he explained that I’m flying the plane even when I’m on the ground. Talked me through some of the blocks in my brain. Seems that the most trouble I have with understanding these principles is what’s really happening on the ground. But I’ve written my terminology into my textbooks, and I’m getting closer to the point where I can explain this to someone else.

Pulling the 172 out of the hangar.

Heading into the hangar for pre-flight on the 172, the planes were parked very close to each other, and thanks to the young guy at the FBO for yelling “STOP” just in time for me to realize that I was going to cause one hell of a dent on one hell of an expensive plane if I didn’t. That was NOT good aeronautical decision making. Not good.

Saved, whew, we completed pre-flight and rolled the plane out of the hangar. Got in. “She’s all yours”, he says. She’s all mine.  Started her up and had to do my very first radio call. Now, you’d think, being an amateur radio operator (KB2ZIL), that I’d have no problem getting on the radio. Me have issues with this? I think this was the most frightening part of flying that I’ve experienced so far. “Saratoga traffic, this is 9883Golf heading out to wherever we’re heading so that we can takeoff into the sky”. Well, not exactly like that. Yes, I will master this. Without giggling.

Flying the plane on the ground to the runway is still a challenge for me. This too will come with time. But I took my time so that I’d be comfortable, and there was snow on the ground. Careful.

Runup successful (I need to speed that process up as well), and we’re off into the sky. I don’t even think about takeoff being a challenge anymore. I just do it. Love it. Happy me. Getting used to the high wing and practicing level flight (using trim) at different speeds. Feeling the plane. Got to play with the rudder and feel coordinated turns. I love how the plane really does feel like an extension of me, and all movement comes from the core of me. Happy that I can feel that.

We flew around to avoid the snow that was slowly coming in. Got to fly over my lake (Saratoga Lake) and take a moment to let Dale know that it’s my lake. I can still enjoy my flight while I’m learning. It’s a good thing.

Headed back to 5B2, I brought her in and Dale took over on final approach. He took over the radio at that point. “You have control of the aircraft”, I say. He laughs and says, “good”. I hold on and feel his landing.  Then she’s all mine again and I have to take us back to the hangar. Fly her on the ground.

Dale filling out my log book.

Another wonderful flight moment. Logged 1.1 hours this time. The objective on the syllabus from this week: increased proficiency with preflight procedures and ground operations. I think so.

I found out one interesting tidbit: Dale has never had a female student before (he’s given individual lessons to women, but this is different!). Well, there’s a first time for everything, So far, so absolutely fantastic.

Happy landings!

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