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17. Post Solo Blues
9/12/2005

This was my first lesson after the Solo last week. I was actually looking forward to it, what, with a new found confidence and all. The lesson sucked.

The lesson started out well. From pre-flight to run-up to take off, all went smooth, with no prompts or reminders from Bruce. My task today was to leave the pattern and fly to Rockdale which is about 25 miles east of Taylor, and perform some touch and goes there (actually Bruce's plan was to see how good my touch and goes were at a new airport, then if good, would let me solo there).

The ride over was very choppy, I had trouble trimming the plane due to constantly being battered by updrafts, and I actually started to feel a little queasy. We crossed over the runway at Rockdale and entered the downwind, trouble is, everything I had been taught regarding setting one's plane up for landing seemed to have gone out the window. I was too close to the runway on downwind, resulting in us being way too high on final, which forced a go around. I was yet again too close to the runway on downwind, although it looked 'right' to me. This wrong sight-picture I have concluded must have been due to the runway width being somewhat narrower than Taylor's - therefore my perception was saying that "OK, it's small now, so I must be far enough away", of course, it looked small because it WAS small - even when close. The landing this time resulted in Bruce having to help me with a slip to get the plane down a little quicker, we made it, but not with enough room to touch and go. Back-taxiing, I was feeling lousy, it really was one of those times when I felt like saying to Bruce 'lets end it now, it simply isn't a good day for me'.

We took off, tried the pattern again, still with too many prompts from Bruce, which was ruining my confidence big time. This time, I managed to get her down again, but was a little long, so no touch and go (3000ft runway). Instead of back-taxiing, we took off 'downwind' if you can call it that - the wind sock was stagnant. We headed back to Taylor, I definitely didn't physically feel good. The landing back at Taylor was 'all me', but it wasn't anything to write home about.

My conclusion to such a bad lesson was that:

- they were ALL left patterns (I had been drilled forever on right hand patterns during the pre solo period -luck of the wind I suppose). Do pilots prefer one or the other? I am sure I prefer right hand'.

- getting queasy didn't help.

- totally different surroundings and site picture added mental overload that I wasn't used to.

- oh, and I almost forgot, the radio today was awful, it was cutting and crackling like crazy. In fact, the last time I had a bad lesson the radio was also playing up. I think that must unsettle me somewhat when that happens...

Oh well, hopefully better next time. :-|


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