Pattern Work, Landing Practice…

I’m a little behind in posting. This flight was just flying the traffic pattern and working on landings, never straying more than a mile from the airport except a couple times I had to extend my upwind or downwind legs. I needed to arrive a little before my scheduled time…

Written by
Richard Brown
Published on
13 Aug 2016

I’m a little behind in posting. This flight was just flying the traffic pattern and working on landings, never straying more than a mile from the airport except a couple times I had to extend my upwind or downwind legs.

I needed to arrive a little before my scheduled time so that my CFI could sign my endorsement for the additional 90 day solo period. He signed the endorsement in my logbook along with the limitations. (Minimum visibility is 7 miles, crosswind less than or equal to 10 knots, and minimum ceiling of 3,000′ which I guess he decided he needed to add after my flight that began a few weeks back with the VFR minimum of 3 miles. After that flight with or without the limit on the endorsement I decided my personal minimum visibility is 5 miles, but until I have my license it’s 7 miles)

I was about to head out to the plane to begin the pre-flight and then realized I hadn’t asked if I was cleared for touch and go’s or only full stop landings. (There are more things that can go wrong on a touch and go than a full stop/taxi back so some instructors don’t want their students practicing them on their own.) My CFI was already in his office beginning ground school with his student so I just stuck my head in the door really quick.

Me: “I forgot to ask, can I do touch and go’s or only full stop taxi backs?”
CFI: “Touch and go’s are fine, I trust you, you haven’t let me down yet.” (With a smile)
Me: “Cool, thanks! I’ll make sure today isn’t the day I let you down.” (With a smile back at him)

Off I went to pre-flight the plane excited that I would be able to get in a lot more landing practice since I didn’t have to stop after each one and taxi back. It was another warm 90°+ day. With the pre-flight finished I set up my GoPro, started up the engine and made my way down the alley to the end of the hanger row. I listened to the ATIS on the way and by the time I was to the end I was ready to call Ground and request taxi clearance.

A short time later I was parked in the run-up area and going through my run-up checklist. Everything looked good and I contacted the Tower for takeoff clearance with left-closed traffic. The tower had me cross runway 26R and before I could stop at the hold short line for 26L I had my takeoff clearance, was lining up on the center-line, and pushing the throttle all the way in. Maybe the feeling of freedom I get every time the plane lifts off the runway will get old after I have done it a few thousand times, but I don’t think so.

A few years after their first flight, when they had managed to fly over ten miles in a single flight, Wilbur Wright described flying in this way.

“More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination.”

My first couple of landings I put right on the numbers, but they touched down a little harder than I wanted. (Still much softer than a couple I have made with my CFI in the plane…) I made two more circuits around the pattern performing touch and go’s. Each time I made sure to raise the flaps after touch down, get lined up on the center-line, and ease the throttle all the way back in while compensating with right rudder.

On the 5th landing I decided to do a full stop/taxi back to give me a chance to get a drink of water and a short break from the constant work of only remaining in the traffic pattern. It is only about 5-6 minutes from take off to landing which doesn’t give any real down time from the work load.

I am amazed that the more time I spend flying, the more easily things become that used to be difficult. Just a couple of months ago when I began there was no way that I could make the radio calls and fly the plane. It was one or the other. Even after I started making the radio calls there were times that I would hit cognitive overload where my brain was processing as much as it could. At that point a radio call would need to be made, I would look over at my CFI with a ‘Help me’ look and my CFI would take over the radio calls for me and let me fly the plane. Now, talking to the tower is second nature. Well, that is until the tower says something that I’m not expecting to hear. After one of the touch and go’s I had just turned downwind when the following conversation took place. Most of the time I was the only one in the pattern so the tower was giving me my landing clearance at the beginning of my downwind. This time was no different, except the little bit he threw on the end of the transmission…

Tower: “Cherokee 7205Juliet, #1 runway 26L, cleared for the option, there’s something something something.
Me: “#1 runway 26L, cleared for the option, say again that last part?” (Whatever he said at the end was not anything I had heard on the radio before.)
Tower: “There’s currently a something something something the runway.”
Me: “I’m sorry tower, I still didn’t catch what you are saying.”
(At this point the tower was probably thinking ‘Am I speaking Greek?’ and slowed it waaaayyyy down. Imagine a pause after every few words.)
Tower: “There’s a truck… on the runway… doing an inspection… but will be clear… before you make your base turn…”
Me: “Thanks, I see the truck, 05Juliet.”
(Oh! The light bulb finally went off in my head, he was just wanting me to know that he was aware of the truck on the runway so I wouldn’t be worried about it. I looked over and sure enough there was a pickup from the airport zipping along down the runway and about the time I passed abeam the numbers he was clear of the runway. I also realized that ‘Mobile 5″ which had been talking on the frequency to the tower was that truck and filed that away in my mind for future use.)

There was a good mix of everything today. I had to extend out my downwind a couple of times. I was given ‘the option’ (where you as the pilot decide if you want to land to a full stop or perform a touch and go) on all but one landing and on that one I was only given clearance for the touch and go. I was asked to begin my crosswind when able instead of waiting until I had cleared the end of the runway. Another time I had just started turning crosswind when the tower gave me instructions to extend out my upwind and wait for them to call my turn. I turned back and waited for the tower to call my turn. It was just all around some good experience in the pattern.

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