As of my last post I didn't think I'd be flying again until this week. I was wrong. I got to go back up on Saturday for what Chris thought would be a short lesson, since he had stuff to do. I got there a little early, but as soon as I was done pre-flighting Chris was ready to climb in and take off. There was a HUGE Gulfstream starting up right next to us, and that thing was LOUD. Chris was climbing into the airplane to get away from the noise, which I completely understood. Chris pointed out these "noise reducers" attached to the back of each engine. "A million dollars a side," he said. Damn, for a million dollars they sure didn't sound like they worked.
We taxiied out, took off and just stayed in the pattern. Everything was normal, including my normal mistakes (slowing my climb at around 1300'-1500' and creeping my nose in towards the airport on my downwind). Chris reminded me of these and I fixed them. Two more things to fix.
We had to extend out downwind for traffic that was ahead of us, but everything went fine. Coming in for our touch-and-go my landing was GREAT! Chris started saying "if you land like that again--" but got cut off when I started flailing on my taxi and made him jump. Once I got back in the air I asked what he was saying. "I was going to say that if you land like that again I'd send you solo," which he'd suggested prior to starting this lesson, "but not after that taxi." Damn, cost myself the chance to solo today!
We climbed better this time, but still not as smooth as I would have liked. I kept looking back at the altimiter and noticing I still wasn't at 1700'. I also kept myself from creeping in as much, but since Chris and I were talking I forgot to set up for landing and started extending my downwind leg of the pattern like last time. Chris had to point it out. Eventually I would have realized, but who knows how far north I would have been by then!
Coming down Chris radio'd "984, request full stop, taxi to Classic Air." Seeing as it had been only a half-hour, I suspected my solo was coming. After I executed another perfect landing (and this time I stayed straight on the runway) Chris had me go back to Classic Air and he got out. "Show me your stuff for a solo," so I did. Driver's license, medical, with sign off and date and logbook endorsement with date. Chris had the plane refueled so I had plenty, then told me to "go have fun." He suggested I fly up to the practice area (about 15 miles due north), then head west (since I've never been out there) and scope it out. Before I got back in the plane after the refueling was done, Chris shook my hand and told me he wouldn't be here when I got back. That felt strange, knowing he was just sending me up free, but also really really good knowing he had that much confidence in me.
I got in, did radios and taxiied just fine. Did my run-up, including emergeny preperation. I got cleared for take-off and stayed in the pattern until I was to break north. For a 152 that thing climbed FAST with Chris out of it! I was at 1700' before I had to turn cross-wind (the first turn of the flight pattern). I departed north, and once I was beyond 5 miles of the airport I requested frequency change, but ended up leaving it alone since Oxford was the closest traffic I really wanted to hear about.
By the time I go to Bantam Lake it started getting hazy. I could still make out the shoreline and Oxford, which was plenty, but I noticed the change. I went due west over two small lakes and another big one (and found a lone airplane flying east, about 800' below me to the left) before I decided the haze was getting too thick to fly over this hillym unfamiliar area. I found the last landmark I wanted to (a river to my 10 o'clock) before I did a 180 and flew back towards Bantam Lake. On the way I sent Alli (my girlfriend) a text saying I was soloing. I considered flying over Waterbury and calling my friend Johnny to have him look up to see me, but I couldn't hear my phone well enough, so I decided to save that for another time. Instead I just turned right and head towards Oxford. I got ATIS, then called up to let them know I was coming in and they cleared me for a straight-in landing, my favorite kind.
At 3 miles I called them back to let them know, and got clearance to land. This was when I realized I was only 3 miles out and still at 2000'. Oops. I pulled my power and pointed the nose down. I had a lot of altitude to lose and not a lot of distance to do it in. I knew this landing was not going to be as smooth as the two prior with Chris, but since it was only me, I was OK with a few bumps. If Chris, or any other passangers, had been aboard, I would have done a go-around and set up for a more comfortable landing. Instead I came in high and fast. This resulted in a long flair, which is difficult. I bounced slightly on the runway, but it wasn't too bad considering what I'd expected. I taxiied back, shut off the plane, updated the logs, pushed it back to it's spot and tied it down. I felt like a real pilot. Great lesson!
It looks like my next lesson will be Wednesday night, so hopefully I'll have a post shortly after that. Until then!