Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Flight Review

It's been quite a while since I have posted... and over two months since I have flown. January weekends were busy with family and organization commitments, and the weather was not so great. Then in February we had a death and two births in my immediate family, so weekends were again taken up. Lots of stuff happening with our soaring club, though... repairs, moving and working on equipment, and making plans for the future.

Private pilots need to have a "biennial" Flight Review (what we call a BFR) every two years, and mine expired in February. Another pilot and I scheduled ours for this weekend. It consists of an hour of ground instruction/quizzing, and an hour of flight instruction or three takeoffs and landings. The weather forecast was iffy for Saturday, with possibly high winds, but we all went up to Crystalaire hoping for the best. By the time we finished the ground meeting, the winds were 10-12 knots, pretty well aligned with the runway, so it was not a problem at all.

In the ground portion we talked a lot about emergency procedures, aeronautical decision making, and reviewed several serious accidents (one of which was a fatal crash by a friend of ours). We spent some time talking about optimal bank angles for minimizing altitude loss (45 degrees is best), and how that applies to low-altitude turns during  rope breaks etc., and how it applies in thermalling.

The other pilot decided he was not ready to do the flight portion of his review this day (he's not flown much lately), so the rest of the day was mine. I had never flown with this instructor before, so I was a bit nervous. It's not a pass-or-fail test, but it is still a critical review, and I always want to do well.

Flight #1 was a 3000' tow. I demonstrated imminent stall signs, and immediate recovery from stalls. We did several steep turns and measured the altitude loss, to confirm what we had discussed on the ground. When we were preparing to land, another glider had not cleared the runway and I had to discuss options for avoiding it. My plan was to overfly it and land long, but while we were on final approach the glider cleared out and we landed normally.

Flight #2 was a demonstration of tow plane signals which ended up with a downwind landing.

Flight #2 was intended to be a demonstration of a modified pattern, but based on our position relative to the field (and a too-hasty decision), it turned into a demonstration of a slip to a downwind landing.

My takeoffs, landings, stalls and turns were very good, but some of the other aspects of the flights resulted in some feedback from the instructor - that's why we do these reviews! We exchanged emails later that night to recap the day.

After we were all done, the other pilot and I removed the stabilizer from the ship. It has some significant  peeling and flaking of the top surfaces, so we are taking it to a shop to be refinished. That should take about two weeks, so we should have it flying again by early April.