2-Apr-2002 Landings (7S3-2S6-HIO-7S3) 0.9

I got Landon to sign me off to solo to Sportsman so I could try and improve on the last flight. The air was bumpy but not too bad. A few times on final I was reminded of my first landing practice at Scappoose and how nerve wracking it was to be bounding around while pointed at the ground. Now it's more of an irritation as I try to nail the approach speed.

Landings were better, but not as consistent as I'd like. I zipped over to Hillsboro just for a change of pace, and since they couldn't decide which way the wind was blowing I got to land on 2 and 30. Then back to Twin Oaks where I made an atrocious landing. A very soft touchdown after recovering from a bad balloon, which is something I rarely have a problem with.

Landon showed up for a flight with another student and pointed out that he had added 1.0 of solo on my 8710-1 and I had flown for 0.9. Doh! Oh well, needed to end on a better note anyway...

3-Apr-2002 Try to Relax (7S3-LCL) 0.5

My last bad landing at Twin Oaks made me realize how relatively few times I've ever landed there. And I'm guaranteed to land there at least once on my checkride! So I did a few trips around the pattern to get a few more tenths.

15-Apr-2002 Checkride Flight, Pt 1 (7S3-HIO-7S3) 1.2

My checkride was originally scheduled for Friday, April 5. I met with my DE, Mary, that morning and we did the oral. The weather was just too crummy to do the necessary airwork, so we rescheduled for the next week. That was also weathered out, as the ceilings were iffy but winds were 12 gusting to 20 all over.

Finally on Monday, April 15 it looked good enough in the morning to give it a try. I had agreed to meet Mary at HIO since she had another checkride scheduled after me at Hillsboro Aviation. This also gave me a chance to fly for a few minutes before my checkride as a warmup.

On the way to Hillsboro COM1 quit receiving as I entered downwind. COM2 had known problems, so I turned away from the airport for a few minutes and tried to contact them using the other radio, the other headset jacks, etc. After not hearing anything, I turned back to see if they were giving my any light signals, and they were showing solid green. After landing I tried a few more times and had no luck. I shut down and met Mary on the ramp, told her what happened, and we tried again. Lo and behold, this time COM1 worked.

So we were off. I did a crosswind soft field takeoff (about 10kts direct xwind on 30) which I had never done before. She diverted me to Scappoose, and I had to go around a hill rather than over it due to weather, which was not a good sign. We got some slow flight in over the Willamette but the few clouds layer had solidified and there was no room for steep turns or stalls. We returned and I did a soft field landing. That was the thing I most feared and it went fine, so I figured I was home free, if I could ever fly again...

20-Apr-2002 Checkride Flight, Pt 2 (7S3-TTD-7S3) 1.9

As I entered the second week of my checkride, I despaired of ever having Mary's schedule coincide with good weather. This time I had agreed to meet her at TTD, since that was the only way she'd have time to fit me in after her morning checkride. Once again I was happy to have the opportunity for some warmup, but apprehensive about completing my checkride from an airport I had never been to.

Portland's class C airspace isn't hard to avoid, but you sure do have to fly low over some areas without a lot of emergency landing sites. Inauspiciously, my attempt at a practice short-field landing took me to midfield, a landing which would have left me in the ditch at Twin Oaks.

Another downside to flying from TTD was the time it took to fly out from under the class C shelf to the north, where Mary assured me the overcast was high enough for our airwork. The rest of the flight maneuvers went fine, with the possible exception of the emergency landing, which would have overshot my chosen field (beyond which there was... another field!).

All I had to do was find TTD, which has some handy landmarks, and execute a short-field landing. Arriving from the north put me in right traffic, which I immediately realized was a huge boon because it did not suffer from the 900 foot bluff featured on the left downwind. My first approach was a lot like my earlier arrival, and I went around. Next time around I got the power out, the flaps down early, gave myself a long downwind, and found myself just failing to descend over the trees to the east of the airport. I swear I should have had a 600fpm sink and I was only going down at about 200-300fpm. Around again and I'm starting to question the wisdom of flying to TTD. This time the tower asked for a short approach and I almost laughed when I said "unable!". I got extended a good mile beyond my last base leg. With full flaps and no power, I got on a glideslope that was going to put me on the desired spot. Having done it, I don't recommend it, as at least one tree on the final approach path is getting tall enough that you might trim it if you don't go around it.

Afterwards I watched a few more people land and most touched down at or beyond the VASI point, about 1000' displaced from where I was trying to land. Next time I'll try to figure out if that 900' hill is really creating the updraft I'd like to blame for my high approaches.

I passed my checkride!