Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Witness of a first students solo, as I prepare for the checkride.

September was a trying month, to say the least. To start, I had my "mock" checkride with the Sr. CFII, and it didn't go nearly as well as I hoped. I was uber nervous! There were a few knowledge gotchas, of which were items I had re-reviewed. Namely I confused MEL's for Required Equipment, and forgot a few weather symbols. Still not too bad. During the flight, I missed my Soft-field point by a mere 20ft, but still beyond PTS. After that it went well for a time, with the only remaining mistake being my manuevers started on the upwind, instead of downwind. It wasn't all that bad, and with a promise to fly one more time with my instructor, I passed.

I was really bummed. Another flight with my instructor before the checkride, was an expenditure that would push the checkride into October. Still I sucked up my pride and flew with him a week later.

Boy were my spirits lifted after that flight! We took off, nailing a beautifull soft-field T/O, and headed to Washington-Warren. I always love flying out to that field, as the nearby lake & river make it a calm & beautiful site. It certainly makes flying by pilotage that much easier! I came in to practice my short fields, as consistency was my issue. The first one I nailed, even with the tree line that made me nervous to come down. After I nailed my second one, I was really on cloud nine! It seemed nothing would break my stride today! As I held the brakes down for another Short-Field T/O, the other plane in the pattern came over the comm.

"Pattern Traffice be advised, N___?? is performing first solo." Suddenly the nostalgia washed over me. Here was someone taking his first big step on his finally become a pilot. I recalled my first was so exciting yet so scary! I was turning downwind when his departure call come over the comm. We watched his first solo take off. Though it wasn't necessary, I announced I had him in sight. I didn't want his mind worrying about us. I nailed my final short landing, and we quickly took off to get out of the way. We couldn't see him come in for his first landing. We do know, however, from his instructor's radio call...that he was forgetting his flaps. I really wanted to witness that landing, but alas he was on the ground before I completed my downwind turn. There wasn't any fiasco or ball of flames (-jk) so I know it went well. If that person ever reads this, I wanted to convey my congrats.

For me it was time to head back, and perform a few manuevers on the way. I got a little off my heading entering into slowflight, but kept it solid during the manuever. I then did the usual step turns, and nailed them. Some days, I'm on, other days I'm off...thank goodness I was on it today! I just kept my eyes outside, and occasionally glanced at the gauges. I only varied by 10'..of which I was proud of.

Of course, as a final, and almost expected test...came the engine failure. I pulled to best glide, headed a bit further downwind, and then turned final. As I was still at 800' I forward slipped to the runway. Just as I rounded out, he told me to go around. The final landing was to be my soft-field, and wouldn't you know, I adjusted to quickly, and ballooned up. I quickly cursed under my lips, and got her leveled and then flared again. The landing was still soft, but certainly not beautifull as they used to be!

Overall a good flight. During our review, my CFI was pretty happy...and asked "So, when can you do the checkride?" I replied "any time...any time at all." The smile on my face said it all.

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