Tuesday, February 26, 2008

5th Flight - Instructors aren't always right.

It had been a total of 3 weeks since I flew last. After loosing my instructor, getting on the schedule was tough. After a briefing with my new instructor Rob, we prepared to go up and review. I would quickly find out, not all instructors are the same, nor are the methods they use. In my case many things I was taught, was incorrect, according Rob...read on.

It was like starting over. I had to instill confidence, in what little areas I could, all over again. Fortunetly I gave a good pre-flight check, so hopefully next time I'll be back to covering that on my own.

The rest of the pre-flight is uneventful. She starts up fine, I make my call and head to runway 8. I hadn't been there before, so Rob gives me taxi directions. A fellow classmate is in the 152 ahead of me, so I keep my distance. So far so good. I call "Pitt-Greenville Traffic, 6-3-6-Delta Charlie crossing runway 2-0." "Actually," Rob says "you should call out runway 2 - 20, so they know which direction your crossing from". Cool, duely noted.

We reach the runway hold line, and I stop to begin the run-up check. Immediatly Rob reacts..."OK, you should be turned perfectly into the wind during your run-up check". Wha? I mentioned I'd always be straight with the hold line. (Strike I on my last instructor) I make the call and we're off and running...maintaining the centerline, rotate and we're off! Well it wasn't 3 seconds later when Rob crooned something else. "What's Vy on this airplane?" To which I reply 68 with T/O flaps. "OK, so why are you doing 80?" Then I explain how Jeff always told me to keep the nose visually 1" below the horizon. "Well, PTS says you should fly Vy, so adjust for it." (Strike II on my last instructor, AND on ME for blindly obeying when original intuition disagreed with his method). I pitched up, and it felt really wierd. I couldn't "see" my heading reference, and the horizon was 4" below the nose. I went from a nice stabilized climb I had before, to a somewhat variable (65-70) airspeed. God I felt like an idiot.

Fortunetly the manuevers portion of my check out was decent. My 45 banks were fairly decent but a little rusty, kept within 75'. We did some stalls, which I did passibly. I told him I hadn't done slow flight or ground reference yet, so he choose to do so at a later time.

Rob gave me the indication to head back to airport. I immediately reach for the GPS, Hit the nearest, and click KPGV lickity split. I look up, proud I have my new heading so quickly, and I see Rob put his hand on his face. "No no, I didn't mean that!" I apologized, and he said it's ok...to late now. I enquired further and he said he wanted me to do it visually. To which, I had never done before. I'm sure I could have with my sectional and looking around. (Strike III-Relying on GPS too much).

Back at the airport I enter into the downwind and make my call. "What's pattern altitude here?" to which I replay 1100. "Negative, 1000' " (Ah crud Strike IV, thanks Jeff) I begin the decent, so far so good. I turn base and I see I'm a little high, I'll just put in flaps in the base. "I'd keep flaps out until final" says Rob. Noted, but I explained my reasoning and noded. I kept my decent around 70k as I'd always been taught, and again Rob chimes in "Your airspeed is a bit high, aim for 60-65." To which I mentioned again, Jeff told me to always maintain 70 until I've made the runway. (ARGGH Strike V). I've long since struck out... My flare was way to soon too, and landed with a minor bounce. Adding insult to injury. Now I was upset and flustered.

We made a few additional pattern touch and goes. With the new altitude, a new airspeed, I just couldn't get my groove. My decents were not stabilized, and it felt all wrong. My performance was horrible. I felt horrible, and embarrassed.

We taxied back to the FBO, and shutdown. If everything hadn't been enough, Rob indicates I'm using the wrong knot for securing the plane (Good Grief Charlie Brown!). He was overall nice about everything, but I could tell he wasn't happy with my performance. I was the first student from Jeff to move over to Rob. When he talked to the other instructor, who took too of Jeff's former students, I was somewhat off the hook. He indicated the same incorrect methods I had, they also had. Still, it did little to restore my confidence.

So the lesson any fellow student pilot should take away from this is: Don't ALWAYS take your instructors WORD for things. Read up on the POH, the PTS, etc... Anytime an instructor differs, inquire immediatly, and have them clearly explain any deviations.

(Side Note: After almost 14 hours, I'd love to say this was the last time this happens...but, it isn't.)

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