Saturday, May 01, 2004

10,000 feet !

5/1 - Ground school with M, about 4 hours on FARs, airspace, VFR, charts, preflight checking. Also new ideas on diving approaches.

Then a solo flight in N8. A big day for firsts and personal records:

  • First time using my radio gear (handheld, headset, and joystick-mounted push-to-talk button.
  • First flight with a map, using it to identify landmarks.

Awesome lift - 800-900 ft at times. Also awesome sink - 800 to 1,000! I thermaled to 8600, 9300, then 10,300, my highest ever!

J. came over in the PW-5 and shared a thermal for a while.

With over 9,000 ft, I flew over to the ridge, about 8.5 miles across the valley. The night before, I had calculated how high I needed to be to get there and back to the IP, and so it was an easy decision. I got back to the IP area with about 3K to 4K to spare, so I practiced some new stuff: turning slips, and dives with spoilers (up to 80 knots). I also did two straight-ahead stalls.

Then it got interesting. I got to the IP at 1000', but in sink. Apparently that distracted me enough that I didn't finish the FUSTALL checklist, so I wasn't trimmed for 55kt, and I did not get a look at the wind sock. Sink continued all the way on downwind. I closed flaps to half (should have closed all the way). I ended up cutting the corner, in front of the racetrack, not doing a base leg, and hardly using spoilers at all. Then when I was in float, I was about 15 degrees crooked. I misunderstood the crosswind (it was from the right and for some reason I thought it was from the left), and straightened up just before touchdown. Then because I had the wrong wind in my mind, my corrections on the ground were wrong. I didn't touch a wing, and didn't drag the nose, but I was all over the place. Not at all smooth!

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