BFR Part 2

There is a bit of delay with this post since I was out of the country for 2 weeks, but here it is the second part of my BFR.

So part one of my BFR wasn’t the best. Neither was part two. I tried to get it scheduled the same week, but the CFI’s schedule was full. He said he’d try to get out of an aerial tour and schedule me. But then I never heard from him….

It took me about a week and half to get it scheduled with my work. I had to get it in before we left the country on vacation for two weeks though since I didn’t want it looming over me. It took place the day before I left for vacation.

We left off with him saying schedule it in the afternoon and it’d be about 30 minutes in the pattern with crosswind landings. Well, obviously that’s not what happened. I shouldn’t have been surprised with how the last lesson went. We actually departed the pattern though. I did a power off stall, two steep turns, and headed back to do landings. He said my steep turns were amazing, but steep turns were always my favorite part so I have a lot of practice with them.

The crosswind wasn’t terrible that day, but it would be approaching my limits, especially if I was flying solo. The controller I felt like he didn’t like me since he made me wait forever to take off and then always extended my downwind, and let someone cut in front of us one time! So we have two long finals where he had me set up the plane for landing early and basically have it in crosswind landing configuration the entire time instead of crabbing it. So I was just slipping it in the entire way. We did one short approach, which was great. And it was approaching the last 30 minutes of my lesson. We had done a full stop and were taxiing back to take off again when I asked “How many more do you want to do?” this was after 4 or 5 landings. He asked if I was done and I just said I had to leave at 5pm. So he terminated with tower and we taxied back to the ramp. Was he just going to keep me landing for days or what? It seemed like no real plan.

He had commented on saying obviously I’m good at flying and that my original CFI did a good job with giving me a great foundation. Of course, I bragged about him then and said what an amazing instructor my NY one was and he was completely badass, as well.

We went back to debrief and finish the oral portion. It was just all over the place it seemed. He pushed again about the airlines and what I want to do after I get my BFR. I’m assuming now he was pushing to get a student out of me for additional ratings. No, thank you! I was very vague and non-committal. Saying I just wanted to “punch holes in the sky” (which I don’t really enjoy that saying, but it seemed to work in this case).

He was also amazed – and I think he may have thought I was lying – when I said the airplane time was only 1.1. Commenting that we got a lot done in that little amount of time. For me, I’m wanted to say it’s over double what I thought it was going to be!

I got the sign off and glad to have that out of the way. I spoke with Jake afterwards and we agreed something was off about the situation. The CFI said he didn’t want to go to the airlines, but obviously was trying to build time for some reason. And also, if he wanted another student out of me so bad, he shouldn’t have tried to screw me out of time like he was doing.

I’m thankful this experience wasn’t in the beginning of my training. I’m glad to have it out of the way now. I may not have learned a lot about flying from this, but I did learn a lot about how to treat students and potential students.

 

Lesson time: 2 hours

Flight time: 1.1 hours

Total BFR cost: $600!

BFR Part 1

I’ve been in dire need of a BFR. I’ve been putting it off since I wanted to get more comfortable flying again with Jake and the area we’re flying in now. It was my first BFR (almost a year after I needed one, oops!) but I don’t fly alone or without another pilot that often.

Then I started to obsess about it and freak myself out. It’s what I do with checkrides as well. Fear of the unknown. But at least I end up over prepared, rather than unprepared and I’m okay with that!

The night before I was doing the weight and balance (which I did need some refreshing on) and studied airspace, cloud clearance, and other items that pilots tend to forget if they aren’t being quizzed on it often. I was a bit nervous still, so nervous I forgot my notebook with the W&B and I had to turn around to grab it. I still got my coffee though since I needed it, so I showed up right on time instead of the 15 minute early like I wanted to.

My assigned CFI had walked through the door probably a minute before me. This was my first time meeting him. He wasn’t really sure what was happening, which it did say check out on the reservation and I also stressed to the receptionist booking that I needed a BFR too. He told me to go prep the airplane since he needed to do his timecard…..okay…that’s fine.

I went and prepped the plane, ordered the fuel, met the fuel truck, and waited. It was half an hour from the time he told me to prep the plane to when he met me out there. Does it really take that long to do a timecard? Whatever. He double checked some things and we got it the plane. He asked what I wanted to do. I told him whatever is required for my BFR. He wanted to stay in the pattern at first. I’m used to the other way around, but okay let’s get these landings over with.

We proceeded to stay in the pattern for 1.3 on the hobbs meter. While, I admit my landings might not be perfect, they are safe. He did offer good advice figuring that I was used to landing on a large wide runway, and now this one is short and narrow so my pattern was much tighter than it needs to be. That did help me.

We did short approaches too, which I always love to do and are better for me since it gives me less time to overthink. The first one a King Air was waiting by the runway for their clearance to take off and he told me to scare them. Challenge accepted. The next time around we were cleared for the short approach, but then the controller extended my downwind so the King Air could take off. As the King Air too off and turned to the east, he said “Nice short approaches!” before changing frequencies. It took me a moment to realize he was speaking to me. I chimed in a quick “Thanks!” The CFI said he was flirting with me. Or I like to think my short approaches rocked.

We went back into the office. He wanted to do one more lesson about 30 minutes in the air in the afternoon with crosswind landings since it can get windy here. I just wanted to get it done with in one go, but okay. I tried to schedule it that week but his availability wasn’t working out. (Flashbacks to when I first started flying much?) He took my number and was going to try to move an aerial tour a few days later. I never heard back.

I was a bit mad after the lesson. Or well, I guess disappointed? A CFI at the school I rent from is $80 an hour and I honestly felt like what I got wasn’t worth that. Someone who had to do his time card, took 30 minutes into my lesson to start. He checked his phone multiple times in the pattern. And he didn’t help me clean/close up the airplane, which is fine, but then I still beat him back to the office. My lesson extended another half hour after the scheduled time and I pay for him for 2.5 hours. Did I receive $200 worth of instruction? I don’t think so.

I’ve been putting off scheduling again, but I will fly with him one more time so then I don’t need to pay for someone else for another 2+ hours. Here’s the kicker though. I asked if his goal was the airlines or corporate or something and he said no, he just really enjoys instructing. Though he kept pushing how it’s a great time to get in with the airlines since they are desperate for pilots. I don’t know if was just a pitch to try to get me to train with him or what. It just didn’t make sense to me.

Oh well. Another learning experience and something to keep in mind when hopefully I get my CFI.

Gaining Confidence

After the last lesson, we decided to try a 150 since it would be easier to stall without as much horsepower. Maybe it was the extra power of that supped up 152.

We made our way out to the airport and I tried to keep my nerves down. If I got nervous or thought too much about it, I’m sure my lesson would struggle.

This lesson was about steep turns and I was flying from the right seat and supposed to teach Jake as a private pilot steep turns. On the car ride, I showed him my PowerPoint on steep turns and briefed him as I would a student before the lesson.

Once we got in the air, we started working steep turns. It ended up more of me practicing commercial level steep turns instead of instructing private pilot steep turns. That’s fine and it was good practice. We went into me teaching him on slow flight, power on and off stalls. And there was no problem!

It may have been a mixture of things. The less horsepower which made it easier to stall and control for me. The seat is a bit higher in this Cessna so that helped. And one thing we talked about is faking confidence. “Fake it til you make it” which I’ve very good at in other situations. I’ve gotten as far as I have in both of my careers due to confidence and a lot of it is faking. I just applied it to my flying now.

I’m glad to have had a lesson that made me feel good afterwards. I did some landings and Jake had to get current as well. I love when he has to get current because that means I’m just along for the ride and really get to enjoy it without having to think.

I might fly this Cessna 150 more, but sadly the 152 is the IFR rated one. We’ll see how that turns out. Maybe just more confidence in the 150 before going back to the 152.

Lesson Time: 1.2 hours

Discouraged

Thanks for all the comments on the last post! Unfortunately, my next lesson didn’t go so well. I left the lesson feeling very discouraged.

The past couple of times, we’ve been flying the Cessna 152 with 150HP. I left the lesson feeling exhausted, crappy, and achy. I had fallen victim to the “death grip” on the yoke, which I don’t think will happen again my right arm and shoulder hurt for days afterwards! (My right arm since I’m learning to fly from the right seat too)

It was another lesson struggling with pull back hard enough to stall during power on stalls. And they were just the warm up. Within 15 minutes I was ready to call it quits and head back to the airport. Of course, Jake pushed me forward.

Slow flight was difficult again for me, but then slow flight with the foggles on was easier? I don’t really know how to explain that. Near the end of that time though I was getting exhausted from the concentrating. I was getting sloppy.The yawing of the airplane didn’t sit well with me and I had to pull the foggles off since I was getting disorientated. I thought it felt long, but it was only 0.2 in the logbook.

Was that the end though? Oh no! If I wasn’t feeling disorientated enough it was unusual attitude time with some accelerated stalls added on to the end. Unusual attitudes weren’t bad. They’ve always been something that hasn’t been too hard to figure out for myself. Accelerated stalls again aren’t something I really enjoy and as a factor of my death grip, it was getting hard for me to have the energy to pull back as needed for them.

Came in for a couple of landings and my approaches were all over the place, but the landings fine. I need to get back into stable approaches and not come in high or low and fix it after the fact.

After tying down the aircraft and walking back, Jake asked how I thought I had done. He knew I was discouraged and I thought I did awful. He said I didn’t but I responded that he seemed highly critical the entire lesson and it seemed I never did anything right.

We spent the next hour trying to figure out the issue. Was it the extra horsepower? Was my seat too low since I was uncomfortable with pitching high? Possibly was it Jake instructing me and it? We went through a lot of options and didn’t come to a conclusion.

It sucked to feel so discouraged and begin questioning flight training. I hope I can overcome this hurdle.

Lesson Time: 1.6 hours

 

Getting Back in the Swing

So what do all my blog posts seem to start out with recently? I’ve been bad about sharing! I’ve been able to get up in the air a couple times recently and haven’t written about it and I’m sorry!

I’m getting back to being VFR proficient since it’s been a bit. So we worked on power on and off stalls, slow flight, all the fun basics. It’s so good to be back flying (almost) regularly. What’s even more fun is switching back and forth between one of my favorite airplanes, Cessna 152 (duh) and getting more tailwheel time in a Decathlon.

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Tailwheel and inverted time!

For those who have been reading my blog for awhile will remember during my initial PPL training I was kind of afraid of stalls. I could do them, but I didn’t enjoy them. Then I took to aerobatic training to help get over my fear. It helped, but getting back into a 152 I must be rusty just doing stalls and slow flight. I can make a plane loop and do a hammerhead just fine, but then if I’m rusty with stalls, I get nervous! It’s extremely frustrating.

The only way we found to break this is to just do stalls and slow flight over and over again. I’m now much more comfortable with slow flight – Jake has me make the stall horn sound while my other instructors didn’t enforce that as much. And power off stalls are no big deal.

I need improvement on power on stalls though. I need to make sure to be more firm with my control movements and make the stall happen quicker. I get nervous when the pitch it very high since I’m taking too long to stall the aircraft. This problem is worse in the Decathlon, which Jake likes to point out I have made loop so it shouldn’t be an issue. It’s something I need to work on more and find the root of my fear so I can overcome it.

More to come soon!

Left Turning Tendencies

I’ve been able to get back into the air recently and start reviewing old private pilot knowledge as I prepare for my Instrument Rating. Since it’s been awhile between the two, we’ve been reviewing lately. In the car to the airport, Jake asked me about left turning tendencies. I knew the basics, but forgot the names and how this will affect my flying.

So let’s review! What are left turning tendencies? And more importantly, why do they matter?

Torque

This is caused by the engine. The more power, the more torque. The engine is putting power in turning the propeller, but it also turns the airplane. Well, hold on, the airplane is MUCH heavier than the propeller so that’s why it doesn’t rotate like the propeller. From the cockpit perspective, the propeller turns clockwise. Therefore, the engine causes the fuselage to rotate counter-clockwise (bank to the left). Since the fuselage is lighter than the propeller, it only rolls slightly to the left and requires a little right aileron to fix it and the effects are only really felt at full power.

Torque is caused by engine power.

P-Factor

Propeller factor. This one I find hard to visualize. The downward swinging propeller blade takes a bigger “bite” out of the air in a nose high attitude. What does that even mean? It’s basically asymmetric thrust taking place. Yeah…still not helping. Okay, so a propeller is an airfoil. In a nose high attitude, the downward swinging blade of the propeller generates more lift (thrust) due to the higher angle of attack (of the blade, not necessarily the airplane). This means in that attitude, the right side of the propeller (downward swinging blade) generates more thrust than the left side (upward swinging blade) which causes the airplane to yaw to the left.

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P-Factor is caused by high pitch.

Spiraling Slipstream

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See how the blue arrow (i.e. the air) will come from the propeller and wrap around the airplane in a corkscrew fashion until it hits the tail? What would happen when a crosswind would hit the tail? You’d yaw in the opposite direction. It’s the same concept, air is hitting the tail, but it’s just from the propeller and not the wind. Due to the way majority of propellers rotate, it’ll be to the left. This only happens at slow speeds. At faster speeds the corkscrew (slipstream) is longer and also the airplane is moving faster, therefore moving out of the slipstream before it can hit the tail and cause the left turning tendency.

Experiment: Grab a friend, and on a piece of paper draw a spiral and have your friend pull the paper slowly. Then repeat drawing a spiral at the same speed but have your friend pull the paper faster. That’s how you can get a better visualization of what the spiraling slipstream looks like at slow and fast speeds.

Spiraling slipstream is caused by slow speed.

Right, right, I get it. But why does it matter?! Knowing your airplane and how it’s going to react when you have certain inputs is important. You can stay ahead of the airplane and not react to it and play catch up, but anticipate it.

When you takeoff, you’re at high power and high pitch and you start off slow. So what is a factor? Torque (power) and p-factor (pitch) and for a little bit before you gain more speed, spiraling slipstream (slow speed), so you’re going to have to use a good amount of right rudder  and a little right aileron on takeoff since you have two of these forces acting upon the airplane.

Slow flight involves all three of these. You’re at a high pitch (p-factor), you’re slow (spiraling slipstream), and you have a lot of power to hold altitude (torque). It’s the perfect storm and causes LOTS of right rudder. Then what if you have to turn right? You better give it all the right rudder you can along with a small bank to remain coordinated.

But wait, Caitlin, you’re missing one more! Okay, yes, there is one more left turning tendency.

Gyroscopic Precession

This is always mentioned during left turning tendencies and gets glossed over sometimes. And honestly, that’s not a HUGE deal, but it is important to know. Gyroscopic precession really only matters if you’re flying a tailwheel airplane and most pilots don’t train in those for their PPL nowadays.

Just due to the laws of physics, when you put a force on a spinning object it’ll deflect 90 degrees to the right. While the following is NOT correct, it helped me to think about it as a delay. You hit an object at the top (360) but by the time it reacts, that point is at the (090) mark. Speed of the spinning object has NOTHING to do with this, so that’s why that’s wrong, but it’s just what helped me remember it and understand it better.

When you takeoff a tailwheel airplane, the tailwheel will lift up before the front wheels. Lifting the tail puts a force on the top of the propeller. That force is deflecting 90 degrees and causing the airplane to yaw to the left.

Whew, and those are the four left turning tendencies! I hope this helps for a better understanding and application of them to take into your next flight!

Any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment!

Studying Away

I finally got that push to motivate me to take the IRA written. the FAA rolling out new developments in the written exams on June 13th. I don’t want all the studying I’ve done so far go to waste, so I’m finally ramping up my studying!

I’m planning to take the written within the week, hopefully! I’ve identified my weak areas and plan to attack those today and tomorrow.

To study, I do use Sheppard Air and I have no shame in it. I used it for my ADX and got in the high 90s. The way the FAA written exams are currently don’t really test knowledge as well as they should. They’re probably as useful as the SAT, which I loathed.

Now, there is that age old argument that you need to actually know the knowledge on the written. Yes, some questions you do and the stuff I really do need to learn I’ll learn for the oral and practical.

It’s interesting to see how my knowledge is in different areas since Sheppard Air splits the learning up into different categories. Weather – I’m a rock star. Though I have to stay, on my daily basis of planning flights I don’t use half the charts they reference. There are many better tools out there now for weather prediction and observations, I hope they begin to incorporate them into training and the writtens. The IFR navigation is where I have to study and learn.

I’m in a unique situation where I do know a lot about some IFR knoweldge. I can read Jepp charts easily, for planning purposes I’m good. I know the Part 121 regulations and Operations Specifications of my airline in regards to alternate minimums and navigation very well. I need to transition it to Part 91 knowledge and know the differences. Actually flying the plan and reading the gauges….I need to learn too, but that’s what this is about!

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Various studying positions

I hope to have some good news to share soon with you all and achieve one of my goals for this year!