Thursday, August 17, 2006


I flew this morning with John, and it was wonderful! It was clear, blue skies, no real wind. We flew to Carroll County (KDMW), landed, and then practiced maneuvers in the practice area. I did three power off stalls with a variety of flap settings, and it was flawless-- I didn't deviate at all from my heading and the recovery was uneventful. I also spent some time under the hood (flying by instruments only) and it was fine-- I think that comes naturally to me, and John said I'm very good, which is nice considering I had a total of 0.2 hours of hood time before today.

Also, the DG (directional gyroscope, like a compass but steadier and more accurate when it's working) was inoperable. The DG is used to tell you what direction you're heading. It was no real problem without the DG, because every plane has a regular magnetic compass-- in fact, it was good practice. I'm not sure I ever would have tried ignoring a working DG to see what flying by compass is actually like-- it's a completely different experience, and really drove home all the stuff I had to study about compasses for the written exam. Magnetic compasses have a bunch of quirks in an airplane that I never would have know of or thought of if I hadn't studied it as part of my training. I knew all of it, but I'd never paid enough attention to the compass before to use what I knew and watch it function. I only wish we could have covered up the DG, because I kept looking at it.

We also did some "hood work," which is flying with a view-restricting device so you can't see outside the cockpit. That was an interesting experience. The compass doesn't show your heading when you're in the middle of a turn. So if I wanted to turn a certain number of degrees, I had to bank the plane into a "standard rate turn" and watch the seconds on a timer to know how far I was turning. (In a standard rate turn, for example, it takes 60 seconds to turn 180 degrees, 30 seconds for 90 degrees, etc.). It was a good experience-- if I'm ever a CFI, I may take a primary student up with the DG covered sometime to have a lesson like today. Standard stuff for instrument pilots, I'm sure, but it was a good experience for me at my level.

I'm anxious to start my cross-country training, but John wants to do one more session in the practice area before our first cross-country trip, which makes me wonder why we can't count trips to Carroll County as cross-country trips? Because it's too short, only 27 nautical miles or so?

I also made a progress chart that I've uploaded here, and it's available as one of the links on the right. I have to manually update it, but it does show that I'm making progress, although lacking in the cross-country area.....

What a great way to start a day!

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