Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mock flight test complete

Finally everything lined up and we were able to get up for my mock flight test.

While I finished the paperwork for my pretend cross country to Moncton Dave played musical aircraft in the hanger, moving three and a tug to free the one we wanted. Dave returned to the office and then I went out to preflighted the aircraft and pull her over to the fuel pumps to top her up, a few minutes later were off.

To make a long story short, there was much that went very well today and a few things that I need to brush up on. Dave did not provide me any feedback until after the flight.

We started off with my cross country. It turns out (after the fact) that my set heading point was too close to the airport and I should choose checkpoints that are easier to identify from the air, and my cross country log keeping needs more work too. Yes even flying has its paperwork. These issues are easily fixed.

We broke off the cross country and started with some slow flight, slow flight turns and then some power off and power on stalls, no problemo. Next up was steep turns, my first steep turn was perfect but during my second 360 I wandered from my starting altitude more than I wanted too, I corrected it but "all-seeing" Dave still caught it. I think what also screwed me up was the fact that I started my second turn with the altimeter at an odd number like 3, 430 instead of something more simple like 3,400.

Next he had my do some instrument work under the foggles, basically fly this heading at this altitude, now descend to this altitude etc., no problem. Now that I have my scan down pat and I keep it moving I find this kind of flying simple, no outside distractions.

Next we did some upset recovery work. I recovered each time quickly but during the first one the sun was directly in my eyes so I couldn't see anything with the glare coming from the foggles. I took my hand off the throttle to block out the sun during recovery, without adding throttle (hand blocking sun) I traded altitude for airspeed. Due to the issue with the sun Dave had me do another, during my second recovery I added only 1/2 throttle and without thinking traded height for airspeed again. (Both times he left me in a steep climb with airspeed quickly falling).

Dave then took over again and promptly put us into a spiral dive, I recovered fine without exceeding any important v-speeds, but Dave wants my recovery to be quicker and with more rudder.

About 30 minutes into the mock flight test we encountered a real problem with our radio, we could recieve fine but couldn't transmit. We checked all the obvious stuff, unplugged and replugged everything but nothing fixed it. Dave contacted the tower using his cell phone to update them on our radio situation and we continued on.

Dave then asked me what direction I would fly to get us back to the airport. I took out my map and pinpointed our current location, which was easy, then I used the airport's compass rose to compute a return heading home. Dave agreed that this was an easy way to do it but he wanted me to use geographical feature such as roads, high-tension power lines, railroad tracks or bodies of water to find my way back.

Dave then announced that we had a simulated engine problem, oil pressure was low and the temp was high. I throttle back a bit and did a precautionary landing in a grain field which went perfect, we overshot at a couple hundred feet. A few minutes later we had a complete mock engine failure, my forced approach was perfect as well. No feedback on either.

I followed the north coast back to an area north of the airport and then turned south to follow a road to the control zone. As we arrived back at the airport there was a large commecial jet getting ready to leave, we could hear the conversation. Getting clearance would take him a few more minutes so tower cleared us to land over our half functioning radio. Dave asked me to keep a tight circuit to speed things up and keep us from delaying the commercial.

Dave requested a short field landing on base so I dropped 40 degrees of flaps, throttle to idle and quickly trimmed for a 75 mph glide, we were coming in high on final due to the tight circuit. With full flaps and a full forward slip I brought us down rather quickly from our high approach on final, I came out of the slip at 20 feet to let everything stabalize again, then added just a hint of power to get us over the runway lights. We could have been easily stopped by 500 feet but I let her rollout to get us to our taxiway faster. Tower had called us on final to politely request that we clear the runway as soon as possible using taxiway charlie so the big commercial, with it clearance now approved, could get underway. Tower must have watched my textbook short field because they were on the radio telling us that we could take taxiway Bravo at our descretion, which is what I did. (I was very happy with this landing).

Back in the office a few minutes later Dave and I discussed how things went. As I outlined above there were a few things that he wants to be a little better so we've decided to do one more dual flight which will hopefully to wrap things up.

Looking back over this mock flight, knowing what still needs a little work I feel quite confident that my flight test is just around the corner.


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