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Lions and Tigers and Landings, Oh My!

Flying Sometimes I question my flight instructor's self-preservation instincts. He's had me preflighting the A/C unsupervised since lesson 2 (not that I'm not thorough, I'm probably pickier than he is, and the mechanics throw things at me when I walk by (the sparkplug wires were chafing damnit!)), and unless he's far more sneaky than the other instructors he hasnt been doing the "peek at the student from behind the fuel truck" thing). And last weekend for whatever reason he decided to go pretty much hands-off on the final approach and landing. Surprisingly I managed to keep 1933H shiny-side up and rubber-side down (although I landed with more of a "THUD!" than a "squeak").
... But I'm getting ahead of myself here; Today's lesson was Ground Reference work (showing that you understand that wind affects ground track... Sometimes I just want to grab some FAA monkey by the collar and shout "FUCKING DUH!" in their ear...). The maneuvers the FAA uses for this are Turns around a Point and S-Turns across a Road. My turns around a point were good - we spun around the captree monument (I can't bear to crush all the pilots' impressions of it by telling them it's just a giant water tower - Go Robert Moses). My S-Turns were . . . mediocre. It's different correcting for turns around a point where all you have to do is keep the point at a fixed position on your wing (much easier doing this in the low-wing Piper than it is in a Cessna - it's no wonder that turns around a point never clicked before). Tracking an S-Like shape on the ground is not so easy - there's no central reference point (the road disappears under your wing right about the time you need to start turning), and it's a little more disorienting when the road you're using is "stubby" (a pair of bridges) and your S-Turns become Figure-8s. I started getting the hang of it toward the end of the lesson, but I'll need more work on this. My biggest problem in both maneuvers is transitioning from the crosswind legs to the upwind or downwind leg. There's a minor attitude correction that needs to be made (on downwind the tailwind reduces lift; on the upwind, the headwind increases it) that I haven't got quite nailed yet. I was able to hold altitude reasonably well on the TaP (within the 100' of the PTS, though I'd like to get the variation down to +/- 50'), though I was +/- about 250' at various points on my S-turns. Next lesson will be refining those two maneuvers, and "more of the same" (Stalls, slow flight, pattern work). My instructor is also showing his lack of a self-preservation instinct (he wants to work on landings). Granted I'm reasonably sure that if he had a heart attack or something I could put the plane back on the ground shiny-side up and rubber-side down in such a condition that the airframe could be used again and nobody would get killed (well I'd be fine - Not so sure about Mohan after that heart attack), but I'm still not 100% sure I should be doing the whole "landing thing" just yet. If y'all don't hear from me after friday, ya know I landed upside down or sommat.... :)


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