Sunday, July 06, 2008

Practice Flight

Wow. June was an incredibly busy month, and between that and still being pretty burned out from the instrument training, AND not giving the club a copy of my new temporary airman's certificate, which indicated that I'd passed a test and therefore didn't need a BFR, thereby causing them to disallow me from renting a plane at's been a while since I've flown. After the bay tour for my mom, I took my friends Alex and Lisa from Alabama on a tour; that was May 29. It was a choppy ride, and while the tour went well, my approach and landing back at PAO coming in from left traffic left something to be desired.

So, having not flown in five weeks, I thought today would be a great day to head out and get some practice. I hadn't really decided whether to just go and fly, or to go out and practice approaches (without view limiting), but as visibility was pretty bad at most nearby practice destinations and I was really not feeling up to such a huge challenge, I decided to fly to Livermore, do a little pattern work, and come back. Should be a nice short flight, and maybe I could work on those landings.

So I got 739TW ready to go, and after I preflighted (and went back to my car to get my headset, which I'd forgotten), I started her up perfectly, got ATIS, taxied out, did my runup, and prepared for takeoff. Everything went very smoothly; I got an early crosswind so I arrested my climb until I had the GPS where I wanted it to make sure I was avoiding SJC's airspace. I came through the Sunol pass, got LVK's ATIS and gave their tower a call and entered left traffic for 25L.

My first approach and landing were quite good. I landed just past the numbers, and made it a touch and go, which is not something I've done a whole lot of on short runways, for good reason. But in this case I'd decided that if my landing was close enough to the numbers, I'd go for it. So I went back up, second time around, and made left traffic for 25L. This time my approach ended up high -- 25L at LVK has no vertical guidance lights, so that made things harder. I floated long, and landed pretty cleanly but about 1/3 of the way down the runway so I made it a full stop and taxied back.

One more lap; this time my landing was good again, and I terminated and took a left crosswind departure to head back to PAO. It was hazy and hard to see, though visibility was supposedly 10SM. I made right traffic at PAO, lined up the approach, came in, was about to set down, and....just lost it. Gust of wind and probably an overreaction on my part, but the plane was in no position to be set down, so I added full power and retracted flaps halfway in one smooth motion to go around. I was quite pleased with myself that in that situation, without actively thinking about going around, the instinct was there, and solid enough that I did it correctly.

Because traffic was heavy, they sent me into left traffic, and I eventually found my place in line and approached and landed.

A nice little refresher flight, basically -- later in the week, if I get a chance, I'll try shooting a few approaches!

1 comment:

Jack said...

Congrats on the solo IFR confidence building experience. Yeah, it can be a bit intimidating at first but as you experienced, you really do know what you're doing and can fly IFR. A very cool feeling, even if it's on a VMC day.