I know I don’t have much flight experience yet, but I can already tell I love being a pilot (even if it’s just a student pilot right now) so much.
It’s been a bit since my last flight lesson, but sometimes life gets in the way. After my first lesson, Texas decided to get windy and I had to cancel my lessons a few times. Then I had work. Then we got hit with the snowpocalypse in Texas and it left millions without power and water for a few days.
Sadly, my wife and I were on that list.
Luckily, we had a place to go. We ended up at my in-law’s house. They had power and water, so we were able to go there and be warm.
It is officially back in the ’70s (some days) in DFW, but it still made me cancel my flight lesson before I had to leave to go to work again.
Then, finally, after like forever, I was able to get to my second lesson!
It was insanely exciting to get back into the flight deck. If there is anything, I’ve learned from video games though, it’s that if you are facing adversity, you are going in the right direction.
And that’s that how I feel about becoming a pilot. I’ve faced some adversity, but that means I’m going in the right direction for my life.
Preflight and Taxi
I won’t go into too much detail on how to do the preflight because I did pretty good coverage of that in my last post.
But I will say, I enjoy my instructor so much. He’s very good at doing the compliment sandwich to help correct me. It seems to come naturally to him.
For the preflight this time though, he gave me full reign of everything basically. He supervised and filled the tanks for the aircraft while I did the preflight checks. Once he finished, he even got in the flight deck with me and asked a few questions to make sure I did all the checks correctly.
Then once we started the airplane, he asked me a few questions about the magneto tests and why we do those (Hint: it’s because we want to check each side of the magnetos to make sure everything is functioning properly. That will be a whole post in itself though.)
After we got the engine all set up, it was time to taxi. When we taxied, I got to talk on the radio, which was absolutely nerve-wracking!
I have never talked on the radio before and when I had heard other pilots talk on the radio, it kind of confused me because I really didn’t know the correct lingo to be caught up.
Since I fly out of Bourland Field, an untowered airport, I wasn’t talking to ATC. Instead, at an untowered airport, you just tell any other aircraft flying into the area what you are planning on doing.
We taxied over to the end of the runway to take off and did the runup. I won’t go into the details of that right here either. We’ll get right into the flight.
Here is the most interesting part of the lesson: THE ACTUAL FLIGHT!
First off, for the takeoff, we had a relatively strong crosswind. That means that my instructor had to do the takeoff. I got to keep my hands on the controls to feel what it’s like to take off in a crosswind, so that was really nice at least.
It was a bit windy, so we had to fight a few bumps throughout the climb and some in cruise too.
To start things off, we did heading work to get to a great spot to do some review.
For the review, I did 2 S-turns and 1 turn-around-a-point. Both of them were much harder than I expected because of how strong the winds were. I had to really concentrate on both maneuvers this time. I felt like last time it was pretty easy to do the maneuvers because they came naturally to me, but that was in pretty much perfect conditions.
After this little review, I got a taste of slow flight.
Slow flight is really interesting because the goal is to set up the airplane like you are getting ready to land. Because of the wind, we were going like 20 knots ground speed. From the sky looking down, it looked like we were only inching across the ground.
A key point that went with this is that when in slow flight especially, you control the speed with your pitch and altitude with power.
After doing slow flight, the next logical maneuver was to jump right into power-off stalls.
Now, power-off stalls are a simulation of if you are going in for a landing and pull back too hard on the yoke. You flare, creating a stall.
So that we don’t get squished, we practice this maneuver at a higher altitude. We were at 3,500 feet for it.
First, my instructor did the maneuver to show me how to do it. He even did it a little slower and talked his way through it.
For my turn, I went pretty slow as well. Not because I was asked to, but because I had to walk myself through it. This is where I got my first reprimand too. He said, “I appreciate you trying to move the throttle slow like that, but you do that in a real stall situation, and we end up as scrambled eggs on the runway.”
I got my act together after that.
The main thing when you experience a stall is to relieve back pressure, maintain a level attitude, add power, and fly out of the situation.
The last maneuver I did for my lesson was steep turns.
I love Jason Schappert of MZeroA on YouTube doing a demonstration of this. He explains everything so clearly and quickly.
Essentially, you put your bank angle at 45 degrees then trim the airplane to maintain that attitude and turn you at a constant rate. After completing the turn, you need to roll out at the desired heading then retrim for straight and level flight.
I got into the steep turn quickly and easily. My biggest issue was rolling out. I either under or overshot the heading we were going for. I know that this can be corrected with more experience (can you say, “X-plane practice?”). Just like with all other maneuvers, I will only improve with time and experience.
This flight was so much fun.
It was a little intimidating at first because my instructor gave me so much agency to do pretty much everything. It really got me unsure of how to handle everything initially.
I did pretty well with the actual flying. My biggest issues here were that I was slow on the recovery for the power-off stalls. That one could end my life in a true stall situation.
As I said before, I also struggled with rolling out of the steep turn. I still just feel like after doing that a couple more times, I would get a better feel of the airplane and be able to roll out to correct heading with no problem.
My most embarrassing issue though was for sure the radio call. I was so incredibly embarrassed to not be able to talk into a microphone. When I fly lead flight attendant I literally talk on a microphone pretty much the entire trip, but I just wasn’t comfortable on the radio this time.
My instructor did say that the best thing to do about that is practice. I’ve watched a few videos and I think I can handle it now. I also know that the main thing is to keep practicing all the time. Just like when you’re trying to memorize anything, it works best to repeat the formula out loud. That means, when I drive home, I’ll practice talking; when I’m working as a flight attendant; I’ll practice speaking; when I’m just sitting watching TV, I’ll say something to practice having everything in order.
Holy cow. I truly love flying and can’t wait until it’s my official career.