Back to the Basics

Hot again… I think that is what it will be from here on out since we are going into July and the only time I can fly in the week is the evening when it hasn’t cooled down yet and even if we take off in the morning on a…

Written by
Richard Brown
Published on
23 Jun 2016
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Hot again… I think that is what it will be from here on out since we are going into July and the only time I can fly in the week is the evening when it hasn’t cooled down yet and even if we take off in the morning on a Saturday by the time we come back it’s hot.

The last couple of flights we hadn’t worked on maneuvers at all so it was time to get back to the basics. Today we were in N4132J which I had not been in before. It’s not that it flies much different than the other planes, it’s just that I had not been on the radio listening for that tail number which is going to come up later in the flight.

I completed the pre-flight and we taxied down to the end of the hangers listening to the ATIS information so that I could call in to Ground for taxi clearance. Last time I forgot to read back the runway assignment when responding to Ground so I was determined not to forget it this time.

Me: “Chino Ground, Cherokee 4132J at DuBois, request taxi runway 26R, we have information Victor.” (I don’t remember the letter at the moment but  we’ll just say it was Victor.)
Ground: “Cherokee 4132J, taxi runway 26R via Papa, cross 21.”
Me: “Taxi runway 26R via Papa, 32J.” (Feeling proud of myself that I remembered the runaway assignment.)
CFI: (Saying to me) “Did you say you were crossing 21?”
Me: “Crap, here I was feeling good I didn’t forget the runway in the read back like last time, instead I forgot that… Do I need to call back?”
CFI: “No, looks like he’s going to let it slide in the read back. Some of the guys are picky, but he gave you the clearance so you’re good.”

Some controllers are very picky and will make you read back over and over until you get it just the way they want it. I prefer that, especially as a student pilot who is still learning my way around the radios. This controller was not feeling so picky today, and that is going to get me again before the end of the flight.

We took off without event and headed to the practice area over Lake Matthews. I was making all the radio calls, switching radios, etc… I did have to ask my CFI for the frequencies. (After I got home from my flight I made a cheat sheet on a 3×5 card with the frequencies for the Chino Airport (KCNO) as well as the other local airports and the practice area to keep in my pocket so I would always have it ready.) Once out over the practice area I told him what I wanted to do and we started going through the maneuvers.

Steep turns were uneventful but the first time rolling out I didn’t compensate enough pushing forward on the yoke and we picked up some altitude as we rolled out. I fixed that on the next attempt. We performed power on and power off stalls. We went through a simulated engine failure so that I could work through the checklist and also get to a lower altitude for ground maneuvers. Then it was turns around a point and s-turns. The whole time I was making the radio calls, reporting in where we were and what we were doing. That may sound like a small step but it’s a big one for me to remember to make them without being prompted and a necessary one to prepare to solo.

I had forgotten to do slow flight while we were up at the higher altitude so we climbed back up and practiced slow flight which still has my brain crossed up a little as you control speed with your pitch and altitude with your power (just backwards from the way you would think).

There are those times that you say things you wished you hadn’t. Sometimes it is right as the words are coming out of your mouth and yet you can’t stop them. Sometimes it isn’t until after you have said it that you realize what you said, this was the latter of the two.

CFI: “Okay, let’s go through a fire checklist, engine fire or cabin fire, your choice.”
Me: “Let’s do cabin fire (and that is where I should have stopped but didn’t) because I have that checklist down.”
CFI: “Then we’re definitely having an engine fire, okay what do you do?”

I went through the checklist, was able to remember the steps from memory, and all was good. I think we would have made it down and walked away in one piece…

We headed for KCNO, I made last call to Lake Matthews and switched over to the ATIS for KCNO. After getting the information I called the tower and requested touch and go’s. Remember I said the tower wasn’t being particular about the read back today? Well it got me again…

Me: “Chino tower, Cherokee 4132J, over the 91-15 interchange at 2,600′ heading inbound request touch and go on runway 26L, we have information Whiskey.”
Tower: “Cherokee 4132J, enter on base, runway 26L cleared touch and go.”
Me: “Runway 26L cleared touch and go 32J” (I forgot the entry into the pattern on the read back and the tower let me get away with it.)
CFI: “Where are you entering the pattern?”
Me: (Crap) “Dang, I missed it. Do I say “Say again” to have him repeat?”
CFI: “No, I got it, he said enter on the base. He let you get by on the read back but if you forget again I’m going to make you call back and ask.”

I mentioned that we were in a different plane than what I had been in before. It will be nice when I have my own plane and can just have one tail number drilled into my head. Normally my base is over the wash to the east of the airport so I was angling toward that before turning to base.

Tower: “Cherokee 4132J, turn north to enter base.”
Tower: “Second call, Cherokee 4132J, turn north to base.”
CFI: “Isn’t he talking to you?” (Already knowing the answer)
Me: (Moment of realization, that’s my plane today) “Turning north to base, 32J.”

We haven’t tried short field landings yet so it was time to learn. For a short field landing you need to clear a 50′ obstacle at the end of the runway, maybe there are trees there, a fence, building, etc… At Chino there is nothing off the end of the runway which I think makes it more difficult as you are trying to clear an imaginary obstacle and just going by the fact that you need an extra 50′ on the altimeter at that point. You come in at a steeper approach angle and need to put the plane down within 200′ of a specified point.

We made 3 touch and go’s and a landing to a full stop. Two of them were very nice, one was okay, and one I think took a little bit of the lifespan off of the oleo struts on the main gear.

Taxiing back in he said he was glad to see that I was taking the lead in the flight and telling him what I wanted to do next, making turns when needed to stay over the practice area, etc… I told him that was because the first time we were up learning maneuvers he had told me that I needed to figure out what I wanted to do because eventually he was just going to sit there and make me decide. I thought it was better to initiate it on my own than wait for him to tell me to.

Next flight we are going to work on short field landings more as well as learning short field take-offs, soft field take offs, and soft field landings. If all goes well, the flight after that will be my phase check, then the next time up will be with a different instructor for a solo check ride, and then I will solo. I’m almost into double digits in my log book at 9.9 hours.

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