Guess what?! I just went on my second solo cross country yesterday…and I flew into Class C airspace by myself! I flew into Fort Wayne, International (FWA), and landed on their 11,000+ foot runway, behind a regional jet….ohhhh that was exciting 😀 I just had to take a picture of my little Cessna parked near a big jet! Lots of fun stories…but I’ll tell those in a later post 😉
After passing my written test, I became an owner-member of the Mentone Flying Club, which meant that I would become part-owner of the club planes and therefore be able to fly them :). The club has to do a background check on you, then they vote you in at one of the meetings. I remember at the April meeting, Dave Lattimer came downstairs and shook my hand and told me that they had voted me in 😀 Yay!!!
After that meeting, I emailed Ted:
I’ve gotten my medical, passed my Written, saved some money, and now I’m ready to go flying! 😀 Are you available to teach me? 🙂
He was in the UK that week (he flies jets for a living…to Cancun, Aspen, the UK, and lots of other places…how cool is that?) so we had to wait until May 8th for my first lesson.
I wrote in my diary that night,
“I had my FIRST flying lesson 😀 Only we couldn’t fly because the weather was bad–but it was fun anyhow :)”
That evening he showed me how to preflight the airplane, which is where you check to make sure the fuel, hinges, oil, tires…everything…is in order. He also gave me ‘hangar orientation’…and showed me where everything was. He told me that these were my airplanes, my documents, and my hangars now as well 🙂 I remember the first few times I came to the hangars when no one else was there, I felt like I was trespassing, lol! Now I tease (and my sisters tease!) that it is my second home.
My very first actually flying-in-the-sky lesson was on May 29th. I remember that the first few times of taxiing I could NOT stay on the center line! It probably looked like a drunken pilot 😛 🙂 It didn’t help that we have a zero-turn mower, (and I do a lot of the mowing because I like it so much!). On one of those mowers, if you want to turn left, you push on the right joy-stick. And if you want to turn right, you push on the left. In the airplane, if you want to go left, you push on the left rudder pedal and I kept thinking I needed to push on the right one 😀 Eventually, it became easier and easier, and now it’s almost second nature.
When you’re on the ground, you use the rudder pedals to steer the airplane. You don’t turn the yoke like a steering wheel. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work. And my instructor keeps telling me it doesn’t work…and lo and behold, he’s right. It has never worked. But it’s hard to retrain those muscles!
Once when I was driving home from my lessons, I had a split-second thought that the centerline was supposed to be going through the middle of the car, since that’s what you do on runways and taxiways 😀 I laughed when I saw this picture on Pinterest.
Another time after driving home from a lesson, I had another split-second thought, that I could steer the car with the gas and brake pedals, lol!!! That works with an airplane, but in a car…no way!
My home airport isn’t a tower controlled airport, so the pilots landing there announce where they are in the traffic pattern, what runway they’re planning on using, etc. Ted did all of the talking on the radio the first time, but he said I was going to do it at the next lesson. I remember thinking, “What?! That’s scary!” I also remember that it was overwhelming divide my attention between looking out the windshield, and the seemingly million dials and gadgets on the inside!
I forget which lesson it was, but I remember when I actually looked outside the plane just to see what was going on down on the ground, because it was becoming more comfortable to fly the plane and easier to pay attention to everything at once. I had time to look outside, just for the fun of it.
It amazed me how Ted would look out his side window while I went around and around the traffic pattern. He never acted like he was nervous and has always been calm 🙂 If it were me, I’d probably be watching my student’s every move. He might have been nervous, but he never showed it, and I’m sure I have done/do some scary things sometimes! I remember once when we were coming in for a landing, he calmly stated, “We’re actually starting to get dangerously slow…” but he didn’t quickly push in the throttle, he waited for me to do it.
It reminded me of when Daddy taught me how to drive. He was always calm, too, even though I was almost hanging off the side of the road about to hit mailboxes because I was so afraid of going over the centerline.
True to his word, Ted made me talk on the radio on the next lesson. It was so hard to remember what to say, and what order to say it in, but Ted helped me out when I couldn’t remember. Crop dusters fly in and out of my home airport a lot during the summer, and once when we were practicing take offs and landings, either they asked us a question or started talking to us. I looked at Ted like, “Help! He talked to me…now what do I do?” I forget if Ted answered him for me, or if he told me what to say, but either way…I didn’t die from talking on the radio!
Here’s another interesting thing about runways that I learned. One runway is actually two different runways, and a runway is named by what heading it is directed. So if a runway lays north and south, and you land on it headed north, you are landing on Runway 36 (360° – they drop off the zero). And you say, “Three-six”…not “thirty-six” 🙂 If you land on it the other way, headed south, you’re landing on Runway 18 “One-eight” (180°).
In this picture, the runway has a magnetic heading of 260°…this side is Runway 26. If they landed on it coming the other way, it’d be Runway 8 (80°).
So when I enter the traffic pattern, I usually say, “Rochester traffic (to let anyone in the Rochester airport area know I’m in the area), Cessna 12874 (my airplane type and tail number) is entering downwind for Runway two-nine.”
One time after I soloed, another airplane entered the traffic pattern while I was on downwind, about to turn to base. I got so flustered about having to talk to another pilot on the radio, that I reported that I was about to turn onto crosswind. As you can see from the picture, crosswind and base are on totally opposite sides of the pattern, but then I corrected myself and once again, I didn’t die from talking on the radio. I told my sisters about it later, and I joked that I felt like telling the other pilot, “Don’t get in my airspace! I’m trying to fly here!”, haha!
It’s so easy now, it’s hard to believe that it used to be difficult! Now whenever I have something else that seems too hard to remember how to do in my flight training, I just remind myself of the string of things that used to be hard but now are normal and easy 🙂
12874 is my favorite airplane, but I like 4378Q’s name, because when you talk on the radio, letters have special names. “E” and “3” and “P” could all sound the same, as well as “M” and “N”. So “4378Q” is “Four-Three-Seven-Eight-Quebec”. Doesn’t that sound cool?! Haha!
image via AddisonAndLake on Etsy
It took a while for me to be able to make the pattern look like it was supposed to. Especially when turning onto Final. It looked more like this: 🙂
I remember Ted telling me that I was consistently overshooting final, so I needed to figure out what to do differently. Now that’s an idea…something isn’t working here, so maybe I need to change it, lol! I guess I was so focused on carburetor heat, wing flaps, airspeed, throttle, etc. that I wasn’t thinking that maybe there might be a reason I was overshooting final 😀 It was also difficult to judge where I needed to be in relation to the airport. I wanted to ‘hug’ the airport, but then I was too close to set up for a good landing 🙂
Eventually I learned to control the airplane, instead of letting it control me…Ted told me once, “Pretend like it’s one of your little brothers and you’re going to make it do what you want it to do!” Lol!
When you are turning an airplane, you step on the rudder pedal at the same time that you turn the yoke. That took a lot of concentration at first. A few weeks ago when I was flying I realized, “Hey! I didn’t even have to think about the rudder pedals…I just did it!” 😀
(Juliet Echo Sierra Sierra India Charlie Alpha)
…to be continued 🙂
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