|Total to date||12.74||0.00||0.00|
Yesterday was an enforced day off, which I used to good effect by finishing off my PA28 Endorsement Questionnaire (which I’m about to check against the answers) and doing study for my pre-s0lo theory exam.
Had an hour of circuits this morning and I feel like I’m finally starting to turn the corner! I made a “6/10” landing – the highest rating my instructor has given me so far – and am doing much better in holding off the control yoke on the landing flare. More work to do, but I think I have got the “feel” now. At least 2 out of the 6 or so landings made that lovely “chirp” sound of the tires, and on the later landings I succeeded in not banging the nosewheel down onto the runway.
I erred towards too much height (above 1000 feet) on some of my downwind legs today, which resulted in having to lose heaps of height on my base and final legs. (Wasn’t awful, but not ideal). On one particular landing this resulted in me arriving way too high over the runway, which in turn resulted in me trying to overcontrol my height off the runway with throttle and letting my airspeed creep too low. That’s not good.
Watch the airspeed on late finals! I made one really slow landing on which I was going as low as 50 knots even before I was over the runway threshold. That’s too close to the stall (even though I had full flaps out). Need to maintain about 65 knots over the airport fence and 60 knots over the runway threshold.
On another landing, I arrived a bit high, and while my use of control yoke is getting much better in general, on this particular landing I “ballooned” the aircraft into an upwards trajectory when I wanted to be going down towards the runway!
Watch the height on final approach. If everything else is set up well and you’ve got 2 stages of flap out but still too high, you can consider using your 3rd stage of flap (if you’re still on early finals). You don’t want to arrive high over the runway threshold – if you do, then you’ll take up precious runway length getting down to flare height before you can land, and you risk buggering up your landing by trying to get the nose down too fast. (A go-around nearly always the best option if this happens).
It was really good to experience these two things today, it will only make my future landings better and my watch of height and airspeed more vigilant.
A couple of interesting things today, both relating to a particular controller in the tower about whom my instructor was not very complimentary. On the 2nd circuit, on early downwind, John grabbed the controls to take evasive action as he spotted an aircraft on late crosswind climbing towards our level and coming close to us! It was only as John was doing this that we received a call from the tower advising us of this traffic to our left. Bottom line, the pilot in the other aircraft had started his crosswind leg far too early (probably before he reached 500 feet) which resulted in his catching up to us just as we were on early downwind. John demonstrated the classic responsibility of the Pilot In Command to “see and avoid”. However, the tower should have advised us of the traffic much earlier than they did, a fact which John pointed out via the radio.
On that same circuit, despite our having made the correct downwind call for a touch-and-go, the tower failed to give us landing clearance when we were on very late final approach, so we initiated a go-around (which I’m happy to say I handled quite well despite retracting initial flap too early).
John’s description of the particular person in the tower at this time was “hopeless” …