By carlson on May 05, 2008
A clear day with no wind: a good time to practice those landings. What I've discovered is that if there's a headwind, it'll slow your actual ground speed, and being a little fast on approach won't make much difference for the ground roll. Every landing looks good. But on a calm day, you have to be as slow as you can make it, or you'll have trouble. Plus, I tend to be a little anxious to turn base as soon as I'm able, and that can easily set me up with too much energy for the rest of the landing. So, as contrary as it seems, it's the calm days, not the windy ones, that are the tougher. (A tailwind is far harder still.)
I headed out to the practice area, did a couple of slow and deliberate clearing turns while practicing my scanning, and then entered slow flight. First with 10 degrees of flaps, then 20, and trimmed down to 60 MPH. I did a few turns in slow flight, and one power-off stall, and then headed back.
The tower gave me a right downwind entry for runway 5, so I made my descent towards pattern altitude and came in. I intentionally kept it a bit slow -- 90 MPH -- so that I had time to think about how close I was (spacing out that downwind is tough if you don't have the rhythm and mental picture of the turn when the numbers hit 45 degrees) and line up my ground track. I then proceeded to make a somewhat high but doable approach using full flaps. I ended up getting permission from the tower to turn off at the runway intersection and taxi back. Obviously, I landed longer than I wanted.
I taxied back to the start, and tried a short-field takeoff. I set the breaks, applied full power, and then rotated up as soon as I could. Then nose down a little in order to get to a normal Vy. I was off before the touchdown zone, so I think I did fairly well. On approach, I tried to do a short-field landing as well. I got the airspeed right and was able to get off at Delta, but I touched down longer than I'd want.
I taxied back and tried a soft-field takeoff. I set 10 degrees of flaps while waiting at the hold short line. Then I taxied out and, without stopping or slowing, made a turn to the runway centerline and brought up full power. I tried to hold the elevator back a bit so that I was keeping pressure off the front wheel. Just as with Plumb Island long ago, I had trouble keeping it in ground effect as I was supposed to do. It just wants to fly. I got up to a couple of hundred feet, accelerated to 85, and retracted flaps.
For this last landing, I tried short-field again. I set full flaps and aimed for the numbers. I set down shortly after, and hit the brakes. I had to bring power back in order to make it to the first turnoff at Delta. Success! I taxied back and tied off.
I talked with Tim, and we'll be doing some night work next week (I need 8 more takeoffs and landings at night), and my plans for ground school and the tests coming up.