9-Sep-2001 Discovery flight (HIO-LCL) 0.5

Having read extensively and flown several hours in fs2k, I knew exactly what to expect, but I'd never experienced it before.

Initially all of the strange new sensations were overwhelming. Reacting to all of them was adding a lot to my workload in the form of distractions ("hey! turbulance is rolling my airplane! hey!! turbulance is making me go up and down, and uh, shouldn't I DO something about that?? woaaah rudder turns introduce an alarming roll!")

During the takeoff roll my attention was badly channelized on steering and watching airspeed for rotation. After rotation I was trying to get used to the necessary control pressures while noticing that I was slowing back down to 60KIAS and being blown right across the runway. Amazingly it only took a few minutes for learned behaviors like flying straight and level to kick in (well, in my case, straight and 100fpm climb). Even by the end of the short flight I was feeling more comfortable.

Did everything but flare/land and taxi off the active.

22-Sep-2001 Slow flight, stalls (HIO-LCL) 1.1

Weather was great, no turbulence until the very end of the flight on our base leg. A few minutes after taking off I was even able to trim for level flight and look out the window a bit. Brought my camera but didn't use it -- didn't want to unstrap it before we did stalls, since it would be tricky to lash it down again in the back seat. Next time I'll bring a better means of securing it. Like the camera bag. Duh.

On takeoff I spent more time looking up and less time checking the IAS. Still don't like that feeling of knowing you're only going just fast enough to fly and then pointing the nose so high you can only see sky.

My new Lightspeed Crosscountry seems to work fine. Well enough to keep anyway. I eventually want to try a pair of 20XLs to compare.

Did most of the radio calls. First few were fumbled. Interesting how the tower guys are always responding so fast they almost step on my transmission. I'm sure on the taxi side they're just watching the planes, waiting to answer the call they know is coming...

No sidetone for my own transmissions makes it difficult too. Must be the same thing that prevents me from hearing Landon's calls. That is a really annoying "feature" of a trainer!

Did climbs, descents, turns, trim, power on/off stalls, power off turning stall, some slips. Having landed since then, I'm fairly sure I wasn't landing this time, but it seemed like it to me! Once again my tendancy to want to steer with the yoke only after flying.

26-Sep-2001 Hoodwork, emergencies, proficiency stalls (HIO-LCL) 1.2

Less talking, more flying. And I don't just mean me! Watched two planes land while holding at A7, had to wait a while to get a word in edgewise. Waited so long to report left base at TV highway that I actually reported turning final. At which point we discovered that the beacon was off, despite the fact that we both remember me finding it off in preflight and turning it on. Tower did finally spot us and we were cleared for landing. As usual, ATIS had some interesting theories (calm must be code for "gusting to 15"). I lined up with the runway a few times and then drifted off to one side before catching on to the crosswind. Landon pointed out the departing plane, crabbed about 15 degrees into the wind at rotation.

This time on landing Landon explicitly called "his plane" and landed with a bit of commentary. Transfer of controls after landing was a bit of a mishmash, and we swerved around a bit while we established who was steering. I acknowledged the taxi clearance with just "roger, 161" and Landon wanted more, so he followed up with "taxi to Eagle, cross runway 20" and tower came back with something like "taxi as requested" which gave me a chuckle. I swear my taxing is getting worse and worse, especially after a flight.

During the flight we did hood work, an emergency drill, and proficiency stalls (a term I had never heard) which involved intentionally experiencing a secondary stall, stalling from a 30 degree bank, accelerated stalls, and trim stalls. Radio work went much better. I discovered after the last flight that I knew what to say but unless I practiced by saying it instead of just thinking it I still choked when I opened my mouth. This time I was happy with the results.

Sometimes Landon and I are just not on the same wavelength. At one point he had given me a turn to a heading, and I started the turn and we kept talking about some topic (clearing turns?). After a while I realized that I hadn't noted the heading, and so I said "you gave me a heading, didn't you..." and we went back and forth a bit with him thinking he'd given me a headACHE. He's not an entirely straight-laced person, but I think I confuse him by joking about things that go wrong.

I'm a little concerned that we haven't really discussed coordination at all, beyond the book learning that I already had about left turning tendancies and adverse yaw. Well, except when I mentioned the smell of gas in the cockpit and he demonstrated that you got fumes from the wing vents when you slip. Now I can use my nose to tell when I'm slipping, which is handy since I didn't have another use for it.

29-Sep-2001 Stalls, emergency drills, ground reference (HIO-LCL) 1.5

We did power on/off stalls, steep turns, turns around a point, and emergency drills. I definitely had control farther into the landing this time, as we bounced it in. Might have even skidded a bit making A4. Much more comfortable on the radio now.

3-Oct-2001 Pattern work (HIO-LCL) 0.8

We started pattern work. We took off, did 3 touch-and-goes, flew out of the patten for a few minutes, and then returned to land. I was having trouble concentrating and I realized that was going to be a problem even before we left the ground. On our first takeoff my door popped open, since I had forgotten to latch it. Landon thought I was joking initially, but he took the yoke and I got it closed and locked without trouble.

In the end I did learn a few things, but it wasn't immediately obvious what they were. For one thing, the workload in the pattern was high enough for me that there was no time to reflect on the last landing before I found myself on short final again. Maybe that's unusual, but every trip had a new distraction on downwind, and just as I had predicted, my base legs were short or nonexistant every time, making it a scramble to get in landing configuration before thinking about the roundout and the flare.

After what I considered three marginal landings, I asked for a break and we spent some time talking about what was going on. I explained that I was always overloaded in the final moments because I was distracted by being slightly sideways and slightly off centerline. That was consuming all of my attention, and any roundout and flare I was doing was more on instinct than part of a learning process. Landon did his best to convince me that it was okay, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the wheels are going to get traction and send us careening off the runway. Taxiing on the runway at high speed feels almost out of control to me anyway.

Today I did double (!) my number of takeoffs and landings, so I'm probably being too hard on myself. Also, today is the first time Landon has really had to work at teaching me something. We both need time to adjust. ;-) Today's lesson made me really glad that I am flying three times a week -- this would be a bad experience have time to dwell on.

5-Oct-2001 Pattern work, stalls (HIO-SPB-HIO) 1.0

We flew to Scappoose, did power on/off stalls and emergency drills on the way, did 3 landings and 1 go-around at SPB with some really bouncy turbulance on final. Got pretty dark so we changed our go-around to a full stop at HIO on the way back. Turned out it was a little brighter than I thought -- I had forgotten to take off my sunglasses! Doh. If they weren't partially photochromatic I might have noticed...

Noticed on the way back to HIO that I had never set the heading indicator, which was contributing to my tendancy to angle towards the runway, even though I was watching my headings carefully.

6-Oct-2001 Pattern work, emergency drills (HIO-LCL) 1.2

We did 4 touch-and-goes at HIO followed by a go-around after a messy attempt at a slip-to-land. We flew out of the pattern for a while, did emergency drills, practiced the slip descent, flew back, did 2 more full-flap touch-and-goes followed by a full stop flapless landing. I did all of the radio work today since I'm pretty comfortable in a tower environment. There were no bouncers, no (or almost no) control input from Landon. A few were on the centerline! Once I did get to see how a sideways landing could go wrong, but it just turned into a bit of a sideways skid that was easily corrected. First time I've seen Landon start to jump for the controls. :)

I still get a little bit behind the airplane after the first circuit -- I'm not sure why. I still have a tendancy to drift toward the runway on downwind, but if I stick to a heading with a visual reference I do fine. I need to work more on spotting traffic (which is hard when flying right traffic with your instructor blocking your view!). Away from the airport I need to work on positional awareness. I'm getting to know the local area, but I'm bad at estimating distance. I have noticed a few of Landon's habits -- he always asks me where we are when we're about 6 southwest of the airport on the extended centerline of 2/20.

11-Oct-2001 Pattern work, x-wind landings (HIO-MMV-HIO) 1.9

We flew down to MMV and did several crosswind landings on runway 22. We took N365ES, a much newer 172, since N53161 was in the shop. This was my first time handling the radios at an uncontrolled airport, and it went surprisingly well. We were at MMV because I had requested we go somewhere with left traffic. The visibility really is much better from the left. I spotted all of the traffic with no problem and it was much easier to judge my downwind and base legs.

Got to land and take off on one wheel several times. At least one of the crosswind landings was pretty good. None were disasterous.

We tried to do some hood work en-route, but that cheezy elastic hood is a disaster. With it seated "properly" on my head, it does block out the windows, but also all of the instruments. I have a clear view of the yoke and nothing else. Maybe if I were MUCH closer to the panel it would work. Next time I'm bringing materials to make some foggles.

12-Oct-2001 Pattern work, x-wind landings (HIO-LCL) 0.8

Wind was 220@14 so for the first time I got to see runway 20 in use. There were still jets using 12 for landing and takeoff, which kept the patten interesting. In a lull in the activity at the end, we landed on 30, still in the same winds. Now THAT is a crosswind landing. I let us get a little downwind and it took some work to get back to the centerline while in a slip to stay lined up. Landon claims we were at full rudder deflection, but we seemed to both be working the rudders at the end in the gusts. We made the A2 turnoff, which is the longest landing I've ever done on 30! With 20 still active, I actually had to hold short, another first.

13-Oct-2001 Pattern work, emergencies (HIO-LCL) 0.8

Just a few trips around the pattern at HIO in calm wind, including slips to landing, a go-around, some simulated engine loss in the pattern. Not nearly as exciting as yesterday. Some really nice landings.

I remember being surprised at how uncomfortable I was pointing at the ground on short final just a few weeks ago. Now I'm equally surprised that it doesn't bother me at all.

Completed my pre-solo written (which is why the cost is higher than the 0.8 lesson from yesterday), and discussed whether I should solo at Eagle if I was thinking of transitioning elsewhere. Looks like I'll be staying at Eagle and finishing up there with Landon.

This was my first flight in 161 since its 100 hour, and there were some nice surprises. The rudder moves much more freely. The brakes, which always felt uneven to me, were replaced. It might have even had a little more power as we climbed into the pattern. One oversight: it's still filthy!

15-Oct-2001 First solo! (HIO-LCL) 0.8

After two landings and a go around on runway 2, Landon endorsed my logbook and my medical. Then it was two T&G's and a full stop alone! Landon tried to be sneaky, but I had him figured out. When I asked last time what work was left before solo, he fed me a line about some stalls and ground reference work, which I fell for. I was confident enough that I brought my medical with me, though. His ruse fell apart when he was unable to tell me what we'd be working on for the day beyond "we'll do a few T&Gs and what we do next depends on that". With winds pretty calm and almost straight down runway 20, the only interesting thing that could happen in a few trips around the pattern was solo!

Landon tells me that he called the tower, but I think we cought them on a shift change. A female voice cleared me to take off and for my first T&G, and my second time around I was cleared by a male voice, who asked me for a short approach. I declined that opportunity on my second solo landing! Third time around I was cleared for a T&G as I turned downwind, and I changed it to a full stop. But the ground controller congratulated me with my taxi clearance, so someone was paying attention!

Items of note:

18-Oct-2001 Short and soft field work (HIO-MMV-7S3-HIO) 1.5

Very busy today at HIO. While waiting in line behind two other planes at A7 we watched a jet depart, a DC3 land, two more jets do T&Gs and one plane do an intersection takeoff from B3. Then the two planes in front of us departed and we were cleared "for immediate takeoff", so we had to ad-lib the short- field takeoff.

That was enough action in the HIO pattern so we did the short and soft field takeoffs and landings at McMinnville. After a couple trips around the pattern alone in calm wind on runway 22, we switched to 4 so we weren't flying straight into the sun while climbing out at 55KIAS. 4 has a "blast pad" in front of the threshold which made short approaches easier to practice without fear of putting it in the grass.

Ironically my soft-field landings were rougher than my normal landings, so I decided to save those for some practice on an actual soft field next time, rather than mess up my nice normal landings. After we left MMV we stopped by Twin Oaks for one successful actual short-field landing. I probably didn't land until midfield, but the 172 had no trouble stopping in the remaining distance. Back at HIO I saved myself some taxi time by making the A6 turnoff for the first time. Anything shorter would be a waste for taxiing to Eagle. :)