Thursday September 19th 2002, 6pm, N5766J, 1.3H (0.2 Night)

My second flight with Yoed. The weather was once again hot and clear, just like yesterday. Again the longer pre-flight briefing and we decided to repeat the same stuff as yesterday along with an emergency engine-out landing. Nothing significant about the pre-flight checks, taxi, run-up and take-off and a normal downwind departure.

After the standard maneuvering checklist we did a couple of steep turns. I had some problems getting my speed up to 95knots. 5766J always seems a little underpowered, at about 2200 RPM in level flight she just wants to trot along at 85knots. It took full power to get the speed up to 95knots and about 2500 RPM to keep it there.

Then some more slow flight and power-off stalls. These went fine, I still need to practice putting the nose in the right place to recover from the stall. But today’s were better than yesterday’s. We did one power-on stall which went about the same. Yoed could sense that I was reluctant to let the nose fall too much forward and that this was keeping me from pushing the nose down in a stall as quickly or as far as I should. So he asked me if I wanted to see what it felt for the nose to point right down. I was nervous, but I agreed. He the proceed to stall the plane with full flaps and then when we were stalled retracted the flaps and let the nose fall forward. We ended up facing almost straight down in a dive. He let it go for a couple of seconds and then gently pulled out to level flight. It was actually fun, it reminded me of all the fighter flight simulations I had played with where you throw the plane all over the sky in a dog fight. But mainly it showed me that its not so scary to have the nose point all the way down as long as the ground is far below.

We did a couple more clearing turns and were facing into the hills when he pulled the engine back to idle. I did a good job of getting the best glide speed and got pointed away from the hills. This time I remembered about Frazier Lake and we headed in its direction. I crossed over the center of the runway and checked the wind sock to choose which way to land on the runway. I also did a credible job of the emergency checklist. I made a left turn to enter the pattern on a downwind 45. However, I was at about 1500’ AGL when I got abeam the numbers so I was too high. Yoed even told me that I should adjust my speed to make sure I got down, but I wasn’t really listening (or hearing). I turned base and final (I was a little too close to the runway on the downwind). I was lined up on final but still way too high. In the end I think we would have overshot the runway, but Yoed thought we would have just landed on the very end (I think he was just being kind). We did a go around and headed for home. I had also forgotten to do the emergency landing checklist and make any radio calls to let people know I had an emergency.

Again it was dark when we got to UTC. This time we ended up as the first of four planes coming in to land from UTC. The glide down was good, though at one point a “Long EZ” shot past us on the right. I was just a little slow to start the flare and we landed on three wheels and bounced, the second touch down was fine. Again, this is failing to judge the round-out correctly. Its a little more difficult at night because there is just a lot less visual inputs to help you.

We were just about to push the plane back into its parking space when Yoed said “Is that the rocket launch you told me about”. I had warned him that Vandenberg AFB was scheduled to do a test launch of a Minuteman III missile out into the Pacific and it could happen anytime between 1800 and midnight. In the event they kindly waited for us to get on the ground and for darkness and it was spectacular. The missile climbed out and to the West into a clear dark sky leaving a glowing trail behind it. We saw the second and third stage separations. The photo shown was taken from Southern California, but it looked pretty much the same from the apron at RHV.