I was feeling crummy, and having to leave for the airport at 8:15 didn't make me feel a whole lot better. But the monring was beautiful, and I soon perked up. Visibility was very good, and there were no clouds at all. It was a bit windy, however, and by the time we got back down it had picked up to 10, gusting 24.
After a short review of the previous lessons, Adam sent me out to do the preflight on N7425B. The loose screw beside the missing screw was still loose, but it hasn't gotten any looser and the tail hasn't fallen off yet, so I decided not to worry about it. I'd gotten all the way around to the right wing and was about to drain the fuel tank when I noticed that I'd forgotten to untie the tail--which would have been something to worry about. Then the dipstick was screwed in so tight that I couldn't get it loose. Was this some kind of trick to see if I really did check the oil level? Nah, not likely. I rapped on the thing with the butt of my knife, loosening it so it turned when I got both hands on it. Six quarts, no problem. When Adam came out to the plane he asked me about it and seemed surprised that I'd been able to get it loose.
Okay, finished the pre-start checks, gave it four good shots with the primer, and it kicked over nicely. More checks. I got straight at last on the difference between the comm panel and the actual communications equipment--i.e., the radios. Altimeter was 29.91 and temp 56, so we were almost at standard temperature and pressure, and our density altitude (which I think I may not understand completely yet) was just slightly below our true altitude, which of course was on the ground. So in other words, our altimeter indicated that we were a few feet underground.
AWOS said, "Wind 1-9-0, 10," although it felt stronger than that, so we taxied to the 15 end of the runway and turned into the wind for the before takeoff checks. While I was running up the engine to check the mags, oil pressure, carb heat, suction, and all, another plane, a Cessna 310 I think--two engines, anyway--taxied up beside us and started going through his own checklist. (I hate to admit it, but I didn't even notice it until after it had been there for some time.) All of a sudden Adam got an odd look on his face and peered out behind it. He said he'd seen an engine part blow off into the grass. In a few seconds that plane began taxiing back to the ramp, and we heard the pilot call UNICOM to say he needed a mechanic.
I did all the radio work this time. "Chesterfield traffic, Cessna 7425 bravo departing runway 33, Chesterfield." (Did I get that right?) On the runway, lined up, opened the throttle, with Adam prompting me gently and effectively, this time often he was telling me what I was already doing. ailerons into the wind, which was across the runway by about 40 degrees. Rotate, lift off, but a little too much aileron and we drifted off to the right, upwind. Corrected that and we climbed out reasonably smoothly, crabbing to the right to maintain the runway heading of 150.
Tried some 360 degree 30-degree turns, and I managed to hold the altitude well enough, despite the bumping around we were getting from the gusty wind. Then Adam had me try several turns around a point on the ground. We used a big water tank, and--well, it was hard to hold to a circle around it because of the strong wind. But I got a good lesson in the effect of wind on ground track.
At one point, while I was focused on trying to make something that at last suggested a circle around that water tank, Adam grabbed the wheel and banked us off to the right. About that time I sort of sensed something small and dark going past on the left, but the left wing was down and I hadn't really seen it as it passed above the wing. "I wanted to miss that bird," Adam said. BIRD! Oops. I hadn't noticed it coming, and hadn't really registered it going by. So here's another lesson today: keep scanning!!! Don't focus on any one thing, not even when you're trying to keep circling around it. Jeez, first the plane pulling up beside us on the runup area, and now the bird. Adam said the bird hadn't seen us, either, though.
Well, that answers one of Carol's questions about running into birds when you're flying. We and that bird were both 1500 feet up in the air.
Next we tried doing S-turns along Hull Street, a little west of Swift Creek Reservoir. Adam demonstrated first, and I was pleased to see that he had a little trouble himself correcting for the wind. Then it was my turn, and I managed to at least make S's. Some of them were even pretty good. That was the maneuver I'd always had trouble with, back in Reading, back in the dim ages, so I was happy that today's practice went okay.
Back to the pattern. I called in on all of the legs, feeling a bit awkward, but did it okay. The wind was still blowing across the runway from 190--meaning that we'd have 40 degrees of right crosswind on landing. That also meant that we had to crab quite a bit on all four legs of the pattern--we entered on upwind--and it also meant that the crosswind leg and especially the downwind leg went really fast. Add the 10-gusting-to-24-knot wind speed to the 90-knot airspeed when we started downwind, and our ground speed must have averaged something like 120 mph. (I'm guessing.) I did the before-landing check all right, but we were farther downwind than I wanted to be by the time we turned base. We had to crab quite a bit on base. On final, Adam said to keep the flaps at 20 degrees, instead of the normal 30 degrees--to keep the airspeed up. He made sure we held right aileron to bank into the wind and slipped a little with left rudder to stay lined up with the runway. Got the right wheel down first and made a nice, smooth landing, despite the gusts, Adam did most of the critical parts, but I was following him on it. In the terminal, Erin and another guy--another student?--were talking about the wind, and the guy said that on taking off earlier this morning, their airspeed went up to 55 and the plane lifted about 20 feet and then banged back onto the runway when a gust of wind passed by.
1 knot = 1.15 mph
About learning and teaching--after turning off the runway and before turning onto the main taxiway, I stopped on the runway side of the hold line. Adam said to stop on the other side. Oh-oh, dilemma: I'd just read last night in the text book that you should always stop before crossing a hold line; Adam, on the other hand, has been saying to stop on the side away from the runway, no matter which way we're going. Should I say something about it, of just keep quiet and do it his way? I said something--"the book says...." Aw, jeez, how will he take this? Took it very nicely. Said he'd look it up. I quickly said I understood his logic, and that it seemed sensible to me. Interesting student-teacher situation. I'm at least twice his age, but he's the teacher--and a nice guy, too--but I want to know what's really what. But.... Oh, well, I guess there's no easy way to handle these things.
I just checked the textbook--remembered it correctly. On the other
hand, the wording seems somewhat ambiguous, as it doesn't state that you
should hold before the line when you're leaving the runway--doesn't mention
that direction at all there.
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