Monday, January 31, 2011

Adventures in Aviation, Part X

So here we are, Adventures in Aviation Part X; the mac daddy, the big kahuna, my six and seventh official flight lessons. Yes that's right. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I've neglected to write about the unofficial flying I've done with Wes as well as my six official flight lesson until now. I'm lame, I know. So let's sum it up shall we?

Scene: An unassuming Sunday in January at Camarillo Airport
The Characters: Jocelyn, struggling student of aviation, and Wes, unofficial flight instructor
The Equipment: Light sport aircraft
The Outcome:
W: Alright, let's take off.
J: Ok, walk me through it. I'm not used to you being my instructor (Excuses, excuses # 1).
W: I like to roll in the power to about 3000 and then push it all the way in to take off.
J: I've never done it like that before. I always just push the bad boy in all the way and go.
W: Really? It's better on the plane if you do it the way I suggested.
J: Oh, right.
W: Let's practice some touch and go's at Oxnard.

(10 minutes later, coming in for landing)

W: You're coming in a little high and fast.
J: Mr. Instructor and I have practiced more touch and go's at Camarillo than at Oxnard, so I'm not used to this airport. Maybe you should demonstrate the landing first (Excuses, excuses #2).

(40 minutes later, on the ground back at Camarillo)

W: Not bad. You did a great job.
J: Ya, I'm not too sure about that. I'm just not used to flying the pattern at Oxnard since it's higher than Camarillo's (Excuses, excuses #3).

It wasn't that interesting of an experience, so I'll leave it at that. And it was a couple of weeks ago, so more memorable (read: death defying) experiences have happened since then.

I decided to go all out and coordinate the color of my pants with the color of the plane for my six official flying lesson. Snazzy aren't I?

Scene: A sunny Saturday in January at Camarillo Airport
The Characters: Jocelyn, Cali Valley girl, and Mr. Instructor, official flight instructor
The Equipment: Light sport aircraft
The Outcome:
Mr. I: Let's practice some stalls.
Me (unsaid): When are we not practicing stalls! I can never get away from these damn stalls!
Mr. I: So please demonstrate a power off stall.
Me: I'm going to say it as I do it. It helps me keep it straight. Ok, let's pull some power out, give it a notch of flaps, make sure I'm on my heading and altitude, pull some more power out, and give it another notch of flaps. We're watching the airspeed drop and giving it right rudder to compensate. Alright, that feels like a stall. Now I'm giving it full power, noise down, take out a notch of flaps, watch my airspeed come alive, make sure my VSI is positive, and take out the remaining flaps.
Mr. I: Good job. Now please demonstrate a power on stall.
Me: Ok. I would …
Mr. I: Actually, I've noticed that this plane doesn't like to stall; it likes to keep flying. So I want to try a power on stall myself, and REALLY get this thing to stall. My plane.
Me: Ok, your plane.

(Mr. I pushes the power all the way in and pulls the stick all the way back so we are practically vertical. The plane stalls. HARD.)

Me: Oh my god!

(I reach for the controls and try to pull the stick back even more in an effort to correct the dip, swoosh OH MY GOD WE'RE GOING TO DIE experience. Mr. I calmly pushes the stick forward).

Mr. I: Now that was a stall! But notice how it was your natural reaction to want to pull the stick back to correct it? That's exactly what you DON'T want to do. It will continue the stall and possibly turn the stall into a spin, and spins are very dangerous.
Me: I didn't like that. That was pretty scary.
Me (unsaid): Are you crazy! Why did we need to get the plane to "really stall"? Aren't normal feels-like-they-are-going-to-kill-you-stalls enough? But no, we needed to do a I-just-crapped-my-pants-no-like-seriously-I'm-sitting-in-my-own-feces-stall. Thanks a lot. Can I go home now?

Dramatics aside, it was a good learning experience and I'm happy to report that I haven't sworn off flying. I just like practicing stalls even less.

So guess what we practiced this past Saturday during my seventh official flight lesson. Stalls! Who said you're supposed to enjoy yourself on the weekend? Weekends are for testing the laws of natural selection, and I'm getting very good at beating 'em.

To be continued…

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