I was beginning to hate mondays.

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I was beginning to hate mondays.

Postby ruckin » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:22 pm

This is not a logbook memory as I do not have a logbook, but it a memory none the less. I apologize in advance that this is old hat for most of you and secondly that it is so darn long.

I am a wannabe and have family priorities such that flying isn’t really in the cards at the moment. But once I build my house learning to fly is on the “to do” list. To scratch the itch I am trying to figure out how to hang out with people that fly. I listen to podcasts, read books, and recently I went to a local CAP meeting. I figured if I joined I might at least get some airplane rides. No CAP plane rides yet but I did meet a CFI and he said maybe we could work something out.

He is associated with a club that rents 172s for about 100 per hour for the standard 30-40 year old plane that seems to be in the rental fleet around here. The catch is that it is 750 to join plus 100 a month for membership dues. They also expect you to hang out and volunteer to help in whatever capacity you can. We make an appointment to meet on a Monday, but about 2 minutes before I leave work to run to the airport I get a call – too many clouds. Ok, we reschedule for next week – raining and too much wind (I suspect the clouds are too low too). Sigh ok, I am beginning to think that this will be one of those cool things that never happens... Well last Monday the weather was good enough so I was at the airport at 4:30 instead of the appointed time of 5:00. He got there a few minutes after I did and we went into a corner and talked about the duats briefing, looked at the paperwork to ensure the plane is airworthy (ADs, maintenance, etc). We pulled out a sectional and looked at the proposed route. I took out my flight log plan (thanks to the AOPA website) that had the times/directions etc of my proposed trip to a nearby field and back. The starting point is a D class airport but is under the rings of a busy B class so we will have to make sure that navigate between a couple of pie slices that are B class. The destination is a 3600x65 uncontrolled field about 23 nm away (as the crow flies).

We do a preflight that takes forever because he is explaining what everything is and what to look for, after the preflight we pull the plane into the aisle. At this point I was thinking that I would be sitting in the right seat and go for a ride. After the preflight I was opening the right door to get in he says... “nope you sit on the other side” I think I set a speed record for how long it takes to run around from one side of a plane to another. I get in and we do the prestart checklist and call ground. He pulls the plane to the line and gives me the controls and says ok you taxi... Once I got the plane turned and lined up along the stripes he told me that the taxiway center is that solid line over there... Oops he is probably thinking I am a idiot now. I line up on the correct line and remember slow and keep the nose wheel on the stripe. I pull over into the big wide spot at the end I needed help doing the tight turn as I have some irrational fear of using the brakes. We do the run up and he takes off and we get our departure clearance at 2100 feet he gives me the controls and we head to the first nav fix (a nearby lake) I have some trouble level off at exactly 2500 but the oscillations between 2500 and 2700 settle down and I am trying to keep the needle stuck on 2500. I adjust the trim and he asks how well I think I have it trimmed so I take the hands off the yoke and ... nothing happens (I guess I was close). I try to coordinate the turn to the second waypoint (another lake about 10 miles away). I can see that for a shallow turn only a small amount of rudder is needed.

We take turns pointing out other traffic and talk about the pie slice of B airspace that we are trying to skirt around. As I get to the lake I point out the water tower that should be near the airport we are looking for. We reduce power and he takes the controls, listen to the atis, then tune the CTAF and start the radio calls. He talks about entering the pattern in an expected way so nobody gets surprised. I identify the four other planes in the pattern and we circle around and enter on “the 45” and I hear a call that one plane is going to take off and another has announced that he is on short final. My eyeballs were probably a foot in diameter when we turned on to base and the wing blocked my view of what I knew was going to be a problem. Few seconds later I realized that it was not even close. I now get told to look out the window and pick the aim point and watch it not move.

Hmm the second stripe is not moving so that must be where we are going to land... Sure enough I think that we hit the end of that strip. He then brakes and takes the turnoff half way down the runway. Well pull past the stripes and call clear of the runway. And then you guessed it another checklist. He then says you have the controls turn left and taxi to the end. Hmm, this taxi way is much skinnier and I would swear that the wingtips hang out over the grass. I get to the hold short line and stop (figuring I can use the brake just this once). He makes a call on the radio and says pull onto the runway and point yourself down the middle. Expecting him to take the controls any time now (there is someone that just turned final) he says smoothly add throttle.

Gulp, I will not be that student that does not use right rudder so I am using plenty of it. Well I was not paying attention to the part in Rod Machado’s book about as airspeed increases the required deflection will decrease... I notice a bit late and am over controlling the rudder and the nose wheel is no longer glued to the center. I glance at the airspeed and I am about 5 knots before I can pull back on the yoke. The runway is 3650 long and 60 ft wide and that seems wide but I am not used to steering with the feet so it is taking lots of concentration. I feel a quick jab to the rudder and the plane just pops into the air. Wow the nose really wants to climb ( oh crud trim would be nice now) but I had my hands full and was busy trying to get between 75-80 knots for best climb and making sure I am following the centerline of the runway. After getting 500ft up I grab a hand full of trim and it helps but I think I probably need more but I need to make sure I am flying straight and at the correct pitch. We get to 2200 and I make the turn to the lake for the return trip. At this point he points out the DME and that it is useful to make sure we are not busting the B class space. I level off at 2500 and my turn to the next waypoint the ball actually stays centered and I was noticed that the turn “felt” much better. He even commented on it.

I finally get the trim adjusted where I like it and before we get to the waypoint he says let me show you a trick. He calls up the tower and we are cleared direct to runway 34. I point out that there seems to be blowing significantly from the east. He points out various land marks (like don’t fly over that hospital). I am high so he adds a notch of flaps and tells me a new speed to maintain. He adds another and a new speed. I am now at idle and pointed quite a bit into the wind and still drifting downwind. I am high but he points out that the runway is 5300 long and 200 wide and our parking is way at the other end so it is okay to be a bit high. About 300 feet he takes the controls and I breathe a sigh of relief he magically drifts upwind and is on the center line and the stall warning goes off just before there are two chirps we are on the ground again. We get off the runway a few more radio calls and you guessed it more taxi practice. I pull into the aisle and we do the shutdown checklist.

I help put the plane away and thank him profusely. We put 1.1 hobs and .7 hours on the tach. This club charges tach hours and I had been told they were cheaper but this was even a greater difference than I thought. I then find out the club rules do not allow me to rent the plane (as a non member) He also can’t use the plane for commercial purposes so he can’t charge me. So he just went for a flight on a nice day and I was a passenger.

I still don’t have a logbook and am not a student yet, but I think I am one step closer. I think that as soon as I can figure out the funding part I will probably be joining the club and I might have found a CFI. In the mean time I think I owe him and his wife a nice dinner. Either that or it is one of those deals where the first flight is free and before I know it I will be knocking over liquor stores to try to pay for one more flying fix.

Some Mondays are better than others.


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Re: I was beginning to hate mondays.

Postby PropFan » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:22 pm

What a great story/memory, Ruckin. You are so far ahead of where I was as a beginner that it is ridiculous.

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Re: I was beginning to hate mondays.

Postby champguy » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:29 pm

Great start, that much overwhelm and it takes a while to absorb all that happened.
But now you know you too can do it.
Remember, not all who wander, are lost.

Andrew B
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Location: KLAF - Purdue University

Re: I was beginning to hate mondays.

Postby Andrew B » Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:07 pm

Wow, Congrats Ruckin! Great Story.

I read Rod's Private Pilot Handbook cover to cover before my first lesson. Great publication. I started flying when I was in 8th grade and I was the kid who while others were talking about the football game, I was highlighting the important parts of VOR navigation in the Handbook at my desk. ;)

Thats awesome how you continue to pursue your dream! Some Monday's (unlike most) are awesome!

Andrew Blanchard
Purdue University '16
Aviation Technology

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Location: Hopkins, MN (KFCM)

Re: I was beginning to hate mondays.

Postby koehn » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:36 pm

I had the same suite of emotions when I did my first lesson too; it scared me enough that I nearly stopped my training then and there.

Fortunately I got a nudge from a friend and am now 25 hours into my primary training, and just completed my night VFR and most of my simulated instrument work last night!

Keep it up! You'll be amazed at how much easier it gets as you build time.

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Re: I was beginning to hate mondays.

Postby jackhodgson » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:43 am

Like all the others here, I agree. Great story. Congrats.

-- Jack

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