Monday October 14th 2002, 3pm, N4754D, 1.7H

Today was a really nice flight. The weather was good with variable winds at 5 knots in RHV, some scattered clouds at 20,000’ and it was warm at 27C, a little hazy with 10 miles visibility. I was early, and Grainne turned up about 2:45pm. We went over today’s plan. A flight down to Hollister (3O7) to do some solo landings and pattern work, and then a stop off in South County (Q99) for the same. We would also try to get flight following from Bay Approach along the way to see how that worked. Flight following is where you ask Air Traffic Control to issue you with traffic alerts using their radar, which they provide if they aren’t too busy.
Normal pre-flight, taxi, run-up and take off on 31L with a downwind departure from left traffic. I took off behind a Cessna 152 and followed him South, as I was a bit faster and climbed a bit better we gradually overtook him, he was the only traffic we encountered until Anderson Reservoir. Grainne, tuned into Bay Approach and after initially telling us to stand by, they gave us a transponder code to squawk and started issuing traffic warnings, none of which were much use. Firstly, they never told us about the C152 1000’ below us, and then over Anderson Reservoir another Cessna 172 flew right passed us only 500’ above our altitude. They did however tell us all about the big jets on final approach to San Jose International, none of which were anywhere close to us. However, it was still cool flying along hearing your own plane’s call sign and also listening to all the big planes getting their approach clearances into San Jose. Bay Approach terminated flight following about 12 miles North of Hollister, we had expected them to pass us off to Monterey Approach, but they just told us to squawk 1200, the VFR transponder code, meaning we were back on our own.

I tuned into the Hollister CTAF frequency about 10 miles North of the field and asked for a traffic advisory, one plane replied that he had just taken off into a stiff headwind from runway 24, which is the shorter of the two runways. I had spent some time before hand working out the traffic patterns for the airport as this was my first visit down here, we took a quick review as I started to descend from 3500’. About this time another plane called in from Southeast of the field looking for a traffic advisory, so I passed on the info I’d just got. He said he was just doing a touch and go and entered the left 45 as I crossed the field at 2000’. I did a descending right 270 degree turn which brought me in on the 45 for left downwind. One of the more complicated pattern entries but it worked beautifully. The other plane was just turning base as I entered the downwind and he was already departing when I got onto final. The headwind was really blowing, I kept checking my airspeed which was 65~70 KIAS on short final, but we still seemed to just crawl towards the numbers. I would guess the wind was at l2~15 knots, but at least it didn’t appear to be gusting. The landing was reasonable. I cleared the runway and dropped Grainne off by some hangers. Then taxied off to do two solo landings. These went reasonably well, but the pattern was a bit sloppy, especially trying to keep parallel to the runway. It didn’t feel too bad at the time, but the GPS shows I was angling in towards the runway on both downwind trips. This shortened the base leg, which pretty much made them continuous turns instead of two turns. Another plane landed as I flew the second trip through the pattern. He pretty much just came straight in for the runway. I don’t think your supposed to do this, but at least he told me what he was up to so it wasn’t a surprise. The first landing was good, on the second I ballooned up and had to add some power to keep from dropping back in. I think it looked better from the ground than it did from the plane because Grainne didn‘t seem that upset when I taxied back to pick her up. We took off and made a right crosswind departure, it was real bumpy as I climbed back up to 3000’

Once we got back to cruise altitude Grainne told me it was my choice if I wanted to go to South County, I guess she thought I might be tired, I felt fine so I tuned in South County CTAF and started a descent. There was one plane on the ground saying he had just landed on runway 32, so I planned to fly wide of the field and then make a left turn onto the 45 for right downwind. The pattern entry was good, but something wild happened to the turn onto base. I came out almost passed the end of the runway and so overshoot badly on the turn to final. Then I overcompensated trying to get lined up for final. At this stage I figured this approach was so screwed up I’d just go around and try it again. I really wasn’t sure what had gone wrong, I’ve flown the pattern several times before without problems. I had just climbed back to pattern altitude of 1300’ and made the turn onto crosswind when some guy came on the radio and said he was the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) and that the wind sock was now showing the wind favored runway 14. I was flying the downwind for 32 at this point so I was a little lost as to what to do. I figured I’d take a look at the windsock for myself and then decide. So I said on radio I was going to fly parallel the runway and take a look at the windsock, to which the FBO guy replied, “I can see it from where I’m sitting and it favors 14”, he sounded kind of mad that I didn’t believe him or something. But he’s on the ground and I’m in the plane so I’ll be the one who decides which f**king runway I’m going to land on. The windsock did favor 14 so I made a left 180 degree turn and came in on a very long base leg. The landing was reasonable, and we did the touch and go. Grainne said we’d do a downwind departure and head back for home. There was more interesting radio work on the way out, another plane was coming in from the South, and it was a comedy of errors while he tried to determine what planes were flying, instead of listening to what people were saying he kept asking where people were. Along the lines of “where is the plane in the air?” (I hope he knew there was only one) and “who is still on the ground?”.

I had a pretty uneventful trip back to RHV. Called the tower at 3000’ over UTC and was told to come straight in for 31L. Started a nice stable 90 KIAS descent and the approach went well, though I got changed to 31R at the 3 mile report point. I added the full flaps a little early and so had to add some power coming over the Mall. I even tried a little side slip to account for the minor crosswind (I had too much rudder, but any practice is welcome). The landing bounced once, but recovered in a reasonable fashion – not good though.

So today was fun, a new airport, more solo work that’s really not scary now and some real interesting pattern work at uncontrolled airports. Now I’m endorsed for both Hollister and South County so I have the run of the south practice area on my own. On Wednesday I’ll do an hour of ground work to plan the first cross country flight with Grainne, and we’ll fly it on Saturday. I’ve also signed up for some solo flights on Thursday and Sunday so I’ll head down south and practice some maneuvers and landings.

Sunday October 13th 2002, 12pm, N4754D, 0.9H

My third solo today and more pattern work at RHV. I started a little later today, so the wind was 310 8 knots, it was warm at 22C. Had a completely normal re-flight, taxi and run-up. Then Tower gave me a clearance for 31L and a frequency change to 126.1. They use the second frequency when there’s two controllers on duty usually on the weekends. Had a good takeoff and entered left traffic for 31L. I really had no significant problems today. The pattern work was good, from the GPS ground track I can see I’m flying a pretty good rectangle around the airport, the turns are fairly consistent with no overshoots on final. The five approaches to 31L were fine, although I’d like to get more consistent on my altitude during the turns to base and final. I rarely hit the glide slope right on and so I’m adjusting on final with power. I think I’m not controlling the airspeed well during the turns either letting the nose drop too much or not enough. Still, it’s easy to correct on final as long as you do it early and don’t leave it until your on short final. The flares today went much better, none were great and a couple ballooned a bit. But in general, I kept the nose high and didn’t have any flat or 3 wheel landings. A couple of times I came down on the main wheels a little hard.
I got to “back taxi” for the first time today, after landing the first time on 31L I was told to make a 180 turn and taxi back on the runway. I hadn’t done this before, but it went fine. I think I did this after 3 of the landings on 31L. After the fifth landing on 31L I was told to cross 31R and taxi back on taxiway Y and to change back to the usual tower frequency of 119.8. It was really hot in the plane as I taxied back and the sweat was just dripping of me. I made the last takeoff on 31R for right traffic. Had a good trip around right traffic and extended my downwind for another plane coming straight in for 31R. The landing was poor, I flared a little hard, ballooned up, added a little power, but still bumped down a little hard. I figured that it was too hot and I was getting tired so I called it a day and terminated.

So today was about building more confidence in flying solo. The landings were better than yesterday, though still not up to what I was doing flying dual last week. The pattern and radio work is also good. I’m starting to get sick of flying circles around RHV, so it will be nice to get signed off to go down to South County and Hollister tomorrow.

Saturday October 12th 2002, 10am, N4754D, 1.2H

Today was my second solo flight. I booked it as early as I could to get calm morning winds. This worked well, it was a beautiful flying day, no wind, 17C. I was a bit nervous, today would be completely unsupervised so I wouldn’t even have a CFI on the ground worrying about me. I picked up the key book and went out to pre-flight 4754D, again I borrowed a head-set for 54D, I am now convinced that my headset has a problem with the radio’s in the older planes.

I had a completely routine start, taxi and run-up except the right seat was empty. I was cleared for takeoff on 31R and entered right traffic. The takeoff went fine and I flew the pattern without problems. I was a little low on final so I didn’t put in the usual 30 degrees of flaps. It seemed to me that I was much faster than normal as I rounded out over the numbers. I started to flare and bounced on my main wheels. It just felt wrong and much too fast, I did the go around. I think the problem was too much airspeed, but I’m not sure.

The next time around I was again low after my turn onto final, I watched my airspeed more carefully and was at 65 KIAS over the numbers. The flare was a bit flat and I landed a little heavily on all three wheels. I then bounced just a little two or three times, it seemed that as soon as I tried to continue the flare I would pop back up into the air and then bump down. I suspect that I was a little fast and that I didn’t flare enough, it was an ugly landing. The next takeoff was fine and my altitude on final was better. However, the landing was almost a carbon copy of the first one. On the third landing I had determined that I just wasn’t continuing the flare enough so I had resolved to really bring the nose high on this landing. I guess I was too fast and possibly flared too fast, I ballooned up and started to drift to the left, I did a go around again.

So I was starting to get a bit concerned. Two bad landings and two go arounds. The next time around my altitude was good on final and the landing was fine, as good as I did previously on the stage check. I hoped for another good landing but it was not to be. It resulted in another go around when the flare went wrong and I started heading for the grass. The landing following that was also poor, I bounded a couple of times, I used a little power to help recover from the bounce and I may have either mistimed the power or put in just a little too much. Last time around went like a dream, another good landing. I decided to end on a high note and terminated for the day.

I’m not at all happy with the landings on the solo flights. I’ll practice again tomorrow, but my landing problems are definitely not behind me.I had the GPS in the front seat for the first time and whatever it did the track it recorded was terrible, it clearly kept losing enough satellites to have an accurate fix.

Thursday October 10th 2002, 3pm, N5766J, 1.4H FIRST SOLO!

There are many important milestones in life. Many are mundane, like ticking off another birthday. Some are the result of years of work, like graduating from college. Others are profound, like the birth of a child. However, the events that really stand out share some things in common. They are special because they can only happen once, they often mark the beginning of something new and wonderful in your life and above all they are rare. Well today was a rare day for me, I flew solo for the first time.
Flying is like nothing else. All other experiences in life are extensions of what we can already do. To drive a car is an extension of riding a bike, an extension of running barefoot. Sailing an extension of swimming or floating on a log. Flying is completely unnatural. No other experience can really prepare you, in fact many mislead you. Learning to fly is a sequence of unlearning whatever you thought you knew and replacing it with something different. It is a leap into the unknown made with wings. Only your skill and knowledge of how those wings fly will bring you back to earth. When you take off on your own for the first time, only you will bring that plane back down. You’ve cast yourself into this unnatural state that rests on a knife edge of technology and skill. No matter how much we seek through training and design to blunt that edge, it still exists and is unforgiving. I can think of no other experience in life quite like it. I can only say that its one experience you walk away from feeling like you just conquered the world.

And so to details. Today was cool and a little windy. ATIS had the wind at 310 10 knots, which is straight down the runway. The temperature was 22C and there were some broken clouds at 15,000’. Not a bad flying day. I arrived early, and luckily so did Grainne. We went through the written exam she had given me last week. This was the last item to complete before I was clear to fly solo. I did fine on the exam, only one question wrong and it was pretty minor, (do you know that in some limited cases it is in fact OK to fly a plane without its Emergency Locator Transmitter – I didn’t). We also reviewed what Tony had written from last Tuesday’s stage check. He wrote some pretty nice things and concluded I was ready to solo, pretty much what he had said to me at the time. Grainne said “we would do some pattern work and see if we could get me to solo”.

In denial, I headed out to pre-flight 5766J and was just about done when Grainne showed up. We had an uneventful taxi run-up and take off on 31R, entering right traffic. The first approach was good but quickly proceeded to go badly wrong in the flare, the plane wandered all over the place and as I got close to the grass on the left so I decided to go around. I figured that had blown any chance of a solo today, this was landing performance like a week ago. I’m not really sure what I did wrong, I think I was trying to use just my rudder to keep the center line, fighting between keeping the nose straight using left rudder, while trying to stay away from the grass using right. I should have used just a little aileron to keep in the middle. After that we proceeded to do three touch and goes. None were great but none were too bad. However after the second one I really didn’t feel in the landing grove and I said I thought I should wait for a day with a little less wind before I did my first solo. Grainne was having none of that, after the next landing as I was about to do the “go” part of the touch and go, she stopped me and said to drop her off at the compass rose, I had no idea where that was, but I thought it sounded like a bar. She called Ground Control and told them we were stopping to drop her off, I could hear one of the controllers cheer in the background. The compass rose turned out to be a square bit of tarmac with the cardinal points of the compass painted on it, its for testing your navigation equipment. As it is near the end of the runway it gives the CFI a good view of your landings.

I shut the door and taxied over to the hold short line. I was thinking that radio was pretty quite and wondering if I should call the tower and remind him I was waiting. That’s when I noticed my radio was still tuned to Ground Control. I don’t know if he was calling me, but I set the radio to the Tower frequency and told him I was ready for takeoff and he told me to position and hold on 31R. The big moment, no going back once I took off. I got the clearance and was heading down the runway without really thinking. A fine takeoff, I reached 700’ which is my usual altitude for turning crosswind, as I turned I realized the turn was quite a bit sooner than usual. That was the effect of Grainne’s meager weight on the planes climb. Got turned onto downwind and overshoot pattern altitude slightly. Usually, I can wait until after the turn to level off, but without the weight I hit the altitude somewhere on crosswind. I had one plane ahead of me in the pattern. I saw him turning onto base as I flew downwind. I started a normal descent abeam the numbers and I guess either he was much slower than me, or I turned onto base too soon. Either way as I came up on final, he was still short final. I was just thinking, he’s not going to be clear of the runway in time when Tower said “that’s not going to work, go around”. So my first solo landing resulted in a go around. Second time through the pattern there was a plane coming straight in to 31R. The Tower told me he was “over the Mall, and I was number 2 to land”. I couldn’t see him but as I was already a little passed the Mall I decided that he must be past me and I could turn base. Bad decision, he was further out than Tower said and I ended up way to close to his backside on final. This time, I called the go around even sooner. Moral of the story always get the traffic in sight. So a second go around, I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to get back on the ground. Next time through, I had just started my descent abeam the numbers, when Tower told me there was a plane again coming straight in for 31R, he also said “over the Mall” but this time I wasn’t fooled. I saw him about a half mile further out and waited for him to pass my wing before turning. That is the long downwind shown on the GPS track. I had to put on some power once it became apparent I was going further downwind than expected and I really had to play with the glide slope as the final approach was about twice as long as usual. The landing was OK, a little flat but not too hard. My first solo landing, just two more to go.

Tradewinds doesn’t allow solo pilots to do touch and go’s, so every landing is to a full stop. It certainly spaces things out and gives you time to catch your breath. Did my after landing checklist and taxied back for takeoff. Another takeoff on 31R and right traffic. This time everything went well and I made a second landing, though the flare was better I was moving a little sideways when I touched down so I got some side force on the landing gear. Another takeoff and around the pattern for my last landing. Again a fine approach and then the flare when bad, just like the first attempt of the day, so another go around. The last landing was pretty much like the second, nose was high, but I was moving a little sideways on touch down. Still, three landings with me and plane both undamaged – that will do nicely for today.

Taxied back and got the plane parked, its hard work when you have to push it on your own. Grainne turned up with an instant camera and she took a couple of pictures of me grinning like an idiot for the notice board and a couple of shots on my own camera. I finished locking up and we headed back to the office. Grainne wrote up my shiny new solo endorsement on my license and the various endorsements in my logbook (which technically she should have done before I flew). She then proceeded to get me to cut the back out of my tee shirt. I guess its an old tradition when you solo your “shirt tails” get cut off. I’ve read that it goes back to the biplane days when your instructor sat behind the student. They didn’t have intercoms so to get his students attention the instructor would pull his students shirt tails. Cutting them off was freeing yourself from the instructor when you soloed. We had fun writing my name on it, drawing pictures and tacking it to the notice board along with the picture.

So now I’m to be let loose to fly planes around Reid Hillview. I guess I thought that I would solo, take a few more dual lessons and then sort of gradually solo a few more times. Not at all, Grainne wants me to fly this weekend solo and practice landings at RHV. We will fly together again on Monday and go down to South County and maybe Hollister so that I can get endorsements to fly there and land. That will pretty much opens up the whole practice area to me to fly solo. I’m looking forward to this weekend.

Tuesday October 8th 2002, 2pm, N4754D, 1.3H

So today was my pre-solo stage-check, it went very well. The stage check consists of an oral test and a practical test with one of the senior CFI’s at Tradewinds. Grainne set it up for me, the CFI she chose was a guy called Tony Plumb. He turned out to be a young guy with a goatee, but real nice. The way Tradewinds conducts training is very precise, Tony came armed with a checklist of topics to cover in the oral part, and he pretty much systematically worked his way down the list. I guess checklists are just second nature to aviators. The questions covered the FAA regulations, mostly on what are the limitations placed on a solo student pilot. The operation of the plane’s systems like the engine and the instruments. Some questions on the local airspace and the airspace around South County. Some questions on the length of runways at RHV and Q99 and how much of said runways I usually need to takeoff and land. We covered density altitude and its effects on performance – basically the less dense the air than the worse the plane works. We spend some time going over the SFO Sectional Chart and demonstrating I could identify different airspace types and read the airport info from the chart. Lastly we covered some emergency procedures like what to do if you have an engine fire in flight and what to do if you have a total electrical failure inbound to RHV. I really didn’t have any problems with any of the questions, I’m good at book learning and the technical stuff is mother’s milk to me. I went to have a smoke, got the key book, borrowed a headset and headed out to pre-flight 54D.
No issues with the pre-flight, got a fuel fill up while I was just finishing up. Tony turned up and we got started. I had fun telling him how to undo his seatbelt, but on a stage check you have to make sure to do the passenger briefing, so he got the full spiel on the how to use a seatbelt, the under-wing emergency exits, the secondary rear exit (the baggage door) and not to touch the controls or talk when somebody else was talking on radio. We had a normal taxi, but had a little trouble with the left magneto, but I did what I had been shown and it cleared it. The takeoff on 31R went well, just a little drift to the left when we lifted off. Flew the right pattern and exited downwind. I had a Cessna 152 ahead of me and a new Cessna 172 behind me. It was funny, I out climbed the 152 easily on my way to 3500’ and then turned to look out my right window to see that the new 172 had caught up with me and was passing to the right. The newer Skyhawks have a bit more power than the 33 year old plane I was flying. I remembered to complete the climb checklist and the cruise checklist when we leveled off. It was sweet, I nailed 3500’ and pretty much kept it here plus/minus 10 feet.

Because of the traffic around us we flew a little further South to Anderson Reservoir and I did a clearing turn to the right and another to the left, completed my maneuvering checklist and then started slow flight. I lost about 300’ slowing down because I was slow to add power to stop the descent. Tony asked me to gain it back, so I added power and we slowly climbed back to 3500’. This was the right answer, pitch for speed, power for altitude. Then a couple of turns at slow speed, which went well thought I let the aircraft pickup a little speed in the turn. I should have added some power, I think I need to practice this some more. Then powered back up to cruise did a couple more clearing turns and setup for a power off stall. This went fine until the actual recovery, I actually forgot to add full power until Tony pointed it out – stupid mistake, but the only major one of the day. A 180 degree turn and then a power on stall, which went well, had good rudder control and we maintained our heading fairly well. Still the stalls need practice as well.

We did another two clearing turns (Tony believes in “clearing turns for clearing turns”) and we started into steep turns, one to the right and another to the left. These were passable, but I really need to apply more back pressure in the turn and keep the nose up. We lost some altitude and gained some speed. This is the hardest part of steep turns, but they were fun to do all the same. At this point Tony pulled out the power and told me I had lost an engine, he didn’t put carb heat on, but I think he noted that I did it for him, so I hopefully scored some brownie points there.

I did a good job of getting best glide and trimming for it. I knew we were close to South County but when I located it out the back window I couldn’t judge if was it inside glide distance or not. I hummed and hawed a bit before deciding I should just turn around and see what it looked like from the front. As soon as I turned it was apparent I could easily make the straight in approach to runway 32. Tony took care of the radio and a nice couple of planes in the pattern made way for us to allow us the straight in landing. I got through all the checklists, including actually getting out the checklist, and continued to fly the plane and getting us on final for the runway. It was clear we were high, so I got a full 30 degrees of flaps in and we made a fine landing with only a little drift to the right due to a crosswind that just caught me as I flared. But a nose high, no bounce (one handed) soft and gentle landing. Just great!. We got off the runway and I completed the post-landing checklist and taxied back to the takeoff point. Tony told me to make a circuit of the pattern and this time handle all the radio work on the way around. There was just one plane turning base, but I had plenty of time to get lined up and takeoff. It turns out that South County has a rule about making turns in the pattern, you are not supposed to turn under traffic pattern altitude (1300’). I hadn’t known this before and had been turning at 800’ (or the usual 500’ AGL), Tony said we should follow the rule so it was a long climb up to 1300 on the upwind leg, then a simultaneous level of, reduce power and turn to crosswind. This actually went very well and I nailed the 1300’ altitude. The approach for the second landing went fine, right on glide slope and another fine, no bounce, one the center line landing. We did the touch and go and Tony said head for home. So I started the climb back up to 3500’ and headed for the call in point at UTC. I remembered to complete the climb checklist and was just listening to RHV ATIS when we leveled off at 3500’ close to UTC. I made the call to the Tower and was told to make the straight in approach to 31L and report at 3 miles. At 3500’ we were high, so I started the descent right away, a nice 500 FPM, 90 KIAS powered glide.

At this point another plane called in from Calaveras, whose call sign was 45D (very similar to our 54D) and another plane in the pattern was calling in with 475 (also very similar to our 4754D). So the Tower had three planes all coming in to land and all with almost identical call signs and he proceeded to get more and more confused. I made the 3 mile call and took great care to clearly say my full call sign and was cleared to land on 31L. Shortly afterwards 45D called in on the right 45 for 31R. The Tower, then cleared ME (54D) to land on 31R instead of 45D. At this point Tony called in and asked for clarification – did 54D have clearance for 31L? the Tower then said “Um 54D is cleared for 31R, no um 31L”. Tony repeated back the clearance for 31L and both of basically rolled our eyes to heaven. We figured that we didn’t appear to have anything in left traffic for 31L and we had the clearance, also 45D didn’t seem confused, he knew he was headed for 31R so we looked good to land. At this point we were coming over Eastridge Mall, I had slowed at the 3 mile point and had in 20 degrees of flaps, I got in the last 10 degrees and setup for 65 KIAS on short final. The landing was beautiful, right on center line, no bounce, one hand and nose high – everything was good. Tony helped a little in breaking (I’m still a bit timid on the breaks) and we exited at taxiway C and were cleared to cross 31R. I called Ground Control and go cleared to taxi back to parking. In a final fit of confusion, Ground Control called himself “Reid Hillview Tower”. As we taxied back along Zulu the Bonanza with the 45D call sign was stopped at taxiway D. We heard, Ground Control tell him “Be advised, there is another plane on the ground with a similar call sign”, to which the pilot in 45D replied with an audibly sigh “we know that”.

The debrief went well, Tony said I was ready to solo whenever Grainne thought the time was right, basically a nice calm day, without too much crosswind. He said my oral exam was well above average and my flying was excellent for my current stage of training. He nitpicked a couple of things, like the delay in turning back to South County when the engine “failed” and the loss of altitude in the steep turns. But otherwise we were both pretty happy with how things had gone. I’m still not quite sure why the landings have gotten so much better. I can’t really point to a single thing I feel I’m doing differently from when they were terrible. To some extent I’m a little worried that I’ll “lose it” and they will revert to previous performance (or lack thereof). Still, if I fly with Grainne and land a couple of times like I did today, then I’ll really feel ready to do it on my own. I hope its soon, I’m eager to get it past me and start the next phase of the training.

Sunday October 6th 2002, 9am, N739YE, 1.3H

Another perfect flying day. The sky was crystal clear, winds calm, ATIS had 19C. I pulled into Tradewinds just after Grainne, our plane wasn’t back yet so we spent a little time going over my flight yesterday with Yoed. Grainne answered my questions about the fuel primer, its floods the engine if you leave it on and the flaps during a go-around, both methods are correct, the idea is to accelerate and take them off in stages so you don’t sink into the ground. We decided to go back to South County and do some emergency engine failure procedures along the way.
Had a normal pre-flight, except once again I couldn’t transmit on the radio. The audio panel and radio claimed we were transmitting but I never got a reply from either Ground Control or the Tower. I’m now convinced that my headset is to blame. So, as Grainne’s radio transmissions were fine we decided to proceed and let her do the radio. On the run-up the left magneto was bad, the engine coughed and spluttered. I tried 10 seconds at 2200 RPM and it didn’t clear, then we tried the same at full power, that worked. Had a nice smooth take-off and a downwind departure.

We climbed to 3500’ and along side Anderson Reservoir Grainne pulled out the throttle to simulate and engine failure. I knew I could make South County from there, but I wasn’t sure if I could make the full downwind, base and final approach to runway 32. I pitched for 65 KIAS and got through the checklists fine (this time remembering to take out the checklist). The only error I made was not to just make straight for the downwind leg, instead a turned a little left of the airport thinking to come in on the 45. Once I got close it was apparent that I couldn’t make the full downwind, I decided to make the straight in approach to runway 14, this would have been pretty easy. There were at least two planes in the pattern using runway 32 so we applied power climbed to 2000’ and crossed above the airport. Given the traffic around South County we decided to head south to Frazier Lake.

Grainne pulled the power again a little north of Frazier Lake, but too far to make the runway. I picked a nice big field right in front. I was a bit unsure if it was really inside my glide distance, but in the event we would have made it without problems. The only problem was the cows in the field. In hindsight there was another field just next to the one I picked, but without cows. Again I got through the checklists without problems. We made a nice big turn back towards South County and I just enjoyed the flight at 1500’. Usually its a bit bumpy to fly this low, but today the air was completely still.

We entered left traffic behind another plane, as I had to wait for him to pass me we made a later than normal turn to base and final. Still, I timed starting the descent well, and we were nicely on glide slope for the approach. The landing went well, again using one hand. The only mistake I made was to release the back pressure once my main wheels were on the ground. This caused the nose wheel to bump down on the runway a little hard. We did the touch and go and entered the left traffic pattern. Grainne pulled the power about midfield on the downwind leg. So landing two was without power, it went fine, a little flat but very soft. Another touch and go and this time I pulled the power about the same spot and made a second power-off landing. This one was just fine. We did the touch and go and headed for home. That was three landings, all with one hand and all fine.

On the way to our call in point for RHV, we tried an experiment to determine how much altitude you need to get back to the runway if you loose your engine on takeoff. Basically, this it one of the worst scenarios. You have to make a choice between landing straight ahead in a built up area or trying to turn back to land on the runway behind you. The big question is “do I have enough altitude to make a 180 degree turn?”. If you decide to make the turn and you don’t have enough altitude, then you will crash before the turn is finished, in other words an uncontrolled impact with the ground. Making straight ahead you at least have the chance to control the landing, even if its onto a less than ideal spot. So somewhere between about 300’ AGL and 1000’ AGL there is a minimum safe altitude where you can turn back. The actual altitude depends on a number of things such as the wind, the temperature, the plane and the pilot’s skill. So, it makes sense to simulate the situation at a safe altitude and find out how much altitude is needed. First, we tried a shallow turn starting at 3500’ with the engine out. It took 450’ to make the turn. Then after climbing to 2700’ we tried it in a steep 45 degree turn, this time we lost 350’. This was a useful exercise, in the real event there would be additional reaction time as your accepted that the engine had quit and the stress level would be a lot higher, plus you need a little margin to establish an approach and land under control.

We got the ATIS for RHV and Grainne called in. I made the straight in approach to 31L without any prompting. I did the descent checklist, I’m not sure if I did the landing checklist, Grainne didn’t say anything and I can’t remember. This was the first time I’ve made this landing (straight in) without any inputs. In the event we came in high and landed a little far down the runway. I should have adjusted the approach a little earlier to get on glide slope. But, the landing itself was ok, a slight float up, but the recovery was fine. I let it roll to taxiway E and got off the runway.

So, in the last three lessons I’ve done 17 landings without a single unplanned go-around. While the landings have not all been perfect, they have all been either OK or adequate. I think my major landings problems are behind me. I wish I could point to one single thing that helped me get over it. The two handed landings on Thursday gave me some confidence that I could do it. The lesson with Yoed helped on looking in the right places and proved one hand could do it. Today’s flight reinforced yesterday’s learning. My next flight will be the stage one checkride either on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Saturday October 5th 2002, 8am, N5766J, 1.1H

Today I flew with Yoed again. It was my earliest flight so far starting at 8am. The weather was beautiful, the sun was rising just as I arrived at the airport, crystal blue sky and the barest whisper of wind. ATIS had the temperature at 14C, but it didn’t feel cold. Yoed, arrived pretty much on time. We went over what I have done before with Grainne, he wanted to make sure I was used to the pattern work. I talked to him about the two hands issue during the flare. Predictably, he thought it was a bad idea, and that I shouldn’t get used it, because it was just developing a bad habit right at the start. I was skeptical, but he assured me that it could be done. I figured that I’d give it another try with one hand and see what happened, I don’t think he would have accepted anything else and I didn’t feel confident enough that this was my problem to really disagree. In any case, he’s the teacher, so its a real waste of my time and money if I don’t listen to him.
The only new item during the start-up was priming the engine before starting. Because its cold and hasn’t been flown since yesterday you get a little fuel into the carburetor before starting. The primer is a little knob that you twist and then pull in and out three times, you have to make sure it in and locked once your done – left on it can cause problems with the engine later, I’m not sure why, but I’ll ask Grainne tomorrow. We had a standard taxi, run-up and takeoff, except I missed the “check flight controls” item on the run-up, first time I’ve ever done that. We took off on 31L and entered left traffic. Right away you see that Yoed is much more detailed in his instruction compared to Grainne. Whenever he sees you do something even a little wrong, he tells you to correct it. So while Grainne pretty much lets me fly around the pattern unhindered, Yoed coached me on better use of the rudder and better pitch control during the turns. Basically, my turns are still a bit sloppy, not fully coordinated and I often let the nose drop a little at the end of the turn and then pop up again when I roll out. None of this is fatal, but its just sloppy flying – it shows even the basics require attention and practice.

Yoed had decided that the first two circuits we would simply over-fly the runway trying to keep the plane first 10’ above the ground, then 5’ above. I would keep my right hand on my knee and he would take care of the throttle. This was to help me get the feel of fine control with my left arm flying in ground effect, without the distractions of making and actual landing or controlling the power. On short final he took the throttle. The first attempt was marginal, once again it was difficult to keep the plane from sinking and I was a little late starting to pull back to get enough pitch to keep the plane flying level. We did the go-around and the second time was not much better, we actually touched the wheels on the runway and bounced a little, powered up and went around. I had a few problems keeping the nose low enough to pick up speed and Yoed gave me a little help on the climb out. Its a bit disconcerting, but you really need to fly level along the ground to pick-up speed, even if this points you right at the trees at the end of the runway. Another difference with Yoed is how he takes the flaps up on the go around. Basically, he had me bring them to 20 degrees and then keep them there until we reached about 65 KIAS. It takes a long time to accelerate to that speed with 20 degrees of flaps. I need to pin down with both CFI’s what is exactly the correct procedure, because I’m not clear and its pretty important when your that close to the ground.

I think Yoed decided that my problem was really just judging the sink rate correctly, rather than anything to do with how many hands I used. We proceeded to do 9 “one handed” touch and goes without any go-arounds or really screwed up landings. Yoed pretty constantly drilled me on looking at the right place at the right time. I have two definite problems that I can recognize, but which I still need to fix consistently. First, when I should pause in pulling back the yoke, I tend to actually push it forward slightly. I kept doing this, even though my brain said “hold” my treacherous left arm pushed. I’m not sure how to stop this other than practice. Second, I have tendency to get the plane level above the center line and then “close my eyes and hope” it lands itself. I really don’t close my eyes, but my control inputs become much less positive (especially on the rudders). So I had some problems drifting to the left because of lack of right rudder. This is another thing to focus on and try and bring the concentration level a bit higher at the critical moment. The biggest thing I got out of today was focusing on the end of the runway – the very end, to judge the start of the flare. Basically, Yoed said “look at the trees” that are off the end of the runway. This really made it clear how far down I needed to look. I think before I was just looking about two thirds along. It was another of those “Ah Ha” moments, when you know you have done something differently from before and it has worked much better.

So its true, you can land a plane with one hand. I still think its more difficult, but I suspect that is because, my right hand was preventing the treacherous left hand push when I used both hands, so it fixed one of my biggest sins. The reason I needed to pause the back pressure is because I’m misjudging the start of the flare which I hope will improve with focusing on the very end of the runway. I’m flying again tomorrow morning with Grainne, we’ll do some emergency procedures and hopefully get in some more landings to see if I can repeat what I learned today.

Thursday October 3rd 2002, 2pm, N5766J, 1.3H

So tonight I am a happy man. All my landings were OK, that is four in a row, not perfect, but definitely OK. So what the hell happened? On Monday I was despondent about ever managing to land an airplane. Well hopefully I’ve found and fixed my block, thankfully it was a simple one. JUST USE BOTH HANDS TO LAND THE PLANE. Yes, up to now, through all the frustrating pattern work at RHV over the last few lessons, I have had my left hand on the yoke and my right hand on the throttle. This was mostly in line with what Yoed said about always keeping a hand on the throttle, and it is a good place to have it on landing. You may need to react quickly with power to go around or recover from a bounced landing. Still, my problem was controlling the flare, it was either too fast, too slow, too early or too late. All this is basically fine motor control of the arm pulling back on the yoke. Well as I’m right handed, I guess I just don’t have that good a control of my left arm. As I was writing last night, I realized that all my best landings had been “simulated” emergency landings, where you pretend that the engine is dead. Hence, there is no point keeping a hand on the throttle, the whole point is getting down safely with it on idle. So I used both hands on the yoke and the landings were OK. I talked with Grainne about this before we started and she said it was no great sin to take your hand off the throttle as long as you were “over the numbers” and assured of your landing, and you were ready to react quickly with power if needed.
Today was clear and sunny as usual, ATIS had winds at 300 12 knots and 28C. I took the afternoon off again and I arrived about 20 minutes early. Grainne showed up on time and were went over the plan for today’s flight. South County still has flight restrictions, I assume from the remaining clean up of the Croy Fire so we decided to go to Livermore. Basically, slow flight, power on and power off stalls and some pattern work at LVK. About 2:15pm I went to get the key book and we discovered that N5766J was not back yet. It didn’t turn up until 2:30pm and we were surprised to find it been pushed back into the maintenance hanger. I don’t know if there was anything wrong, but after Grainne had some words with the Mechanic he gave us the plane and we pushed it back out onto the apron. Had a mostly normal preflight, taxi, run-up and take off on 31R, with a right 45 departure.

We climbed up to 4000’ feet and I took a little time to try and pick out my house on the way, couldn’t find it today. It was a little turbulent especially as we passed through 3000’ which happened to be when I wanted to look out of the plane. Anyway, we leveled off over Calaveras Reservoir and I completed the maneuvering checklist, some clearing turns and then some slow flight. Today, we found that stall horn was set at 41 knots. Every time you fly you find the stalling speed is a little different, it’s sensitive to the weather conditions and the exact state of the plane. We spent some time tooling along at 45 knots doing some turns and even a climb which is pretty anemic going so slowly with so much drag. Then we did a series of straight ahead power off stalls. This time I was real quick getting the nose down and the stall recoveries went pretty well. A couple more clearing turns and then we did three power-on stalls. These went fairly well, got the stick forward quickly, though I was maybe a little fast starting the recovery so I heard the stall horn briefly when I started to pull up. Didn’t mind in the least how the nose dropped in the power-on stall and I think I really lost my fear of this maneuver. In general, no problems and I didn’t forget to do anything critical. I need to be a little smoother on the controls, but that just practice.

We were at 3500’ over the Sunol Golf Course, so I got the LVK ATIS, winds variable at 5 knots, temp 28C, so pretty easy weather. Called LVK tower and got cleared to enter their class D airspace for a 45 entry to left traffic for runway 25L. I took a sort of big S turn to loose some altitude before I got into the pattern entry. Called into LVK tower 2 miles on the 45 entry and was told to make a wide downwind because there was another plane just ahead of me in the downwind leg. I followed him and the continued my downwind as he turned base. I waited for him to turn final before making my own turn onto base. So that is why the pattern entry looks so ugly on the GPS track.

LVK has two parallel runways (25L & 25R). The left runway is 2699’ and the right is 5253’. So the threshold of 25L is a long way in from the threshold of 25R. When you are used to the equal length parallel runways in RHV the difference makes judgment of the turn to base harder. Still, the final was good if a little longer than usual and as I came up on the numbers I transferred my right hand to the yoke. The landing was great, as good as anything I had done to date. YES, I thought it was the hands thing. We did the touch and go and had an uneventful circuit through the pattern though ATC changed the radio frequency along the way. A much better turn onto base this time and a fine final approach, again both hands on the yoke over the numbers and again an OK landing with just one small float before we touched down. THANK GOD, I thought the first one wasn’t just a fluke, it really is the hands. Power up for the touch and go and off we went. I checked the time and Grainne said we had time for one more, I was rearing to go to make it three in a row. A third landing just like the first two, beautiful. For the first time I have actually really felt in control of the flare. It wasn’t that hard to do the fine control with both hands, the plane just did what I wanted and landed on the centerline. We did the touch and go again and Grainne asked the Tower for a crosswind departure back to RHV.

As we climbed away I said “I’d like a nice relaxing flight back to RHV”, because I figured Grainne would throw in an emergency landing on the way otherwise. I didn’t want anything to stress me out on what was turning out to be the best flight in a long time. Over Calaveras again I got the RHV ATIS, wind 320 12 knots and temp still 28C. And then got the Tower. They initially must have assumed I was coming from the South because he told me to make straight in for 31L. I said roger, but was thinking that can‘t be right. So I called him back and repeated I was over Calaveras, then he gave me the usual 45 downwind entry for 31R. I should have been a little quicker to correct him the first time, but at least I questioned the direction and got it cleared up. Started a descent from 3000’ and made the entry over Lake Cunningham. I was cleared to land on 31R. As usual no problems on the pattern and the approach was fine, right on glide slope as I came around onto final. Last time was a charm, both hands on the yoke and a fine landing on the centerline, easily exited the runway at taxiway delta.

So are my landing woes behind me, I sure hope so. Grainne seemed happy, she gave me the pre-solo written exam to take home and we decided that we would schedule the stage one checkride for some afternoon next week. It’s a four hour block, 2 hours oral exam and then a 2 hour flight with one of the Senior CFI‘s. I’ll fly with Yoed on Saturday morning and practice my landings some more. Then fly with Grainne on Sunday, practice the emergency landings she said she had put off today due to my “relaxing ride home” comment and maybe a little more pattern work. Flying is fun again.

Monday September 30th 2002, 2pm, N5766J, 1.2H

I took the afternoon off to go flying. With the evenings getting too dark and Grainne working on some on the weekends it seemed like the best way to keep the 2~3 lessons per week schedule. After the last lesson I felt like I was getting close to “finding” the landing flare so I was keen to fly again to see if I could finally nail it. I am frustrated! Today’s lesson was almost as bad as last Wednesday and I felt once again that I was going backwards. I just cannot seem to time the flare correctly or flare too much or too little. I think out of all the landings we did today only one was even acceptable and I felt that that was just luck – try it enough times and one is bound to be OK just by chance rather than by skill. This is definitely one of those learning plateau’s you read about. The fact that these are common and that flares and landings are the most common problem area doesn’t make me feel any better. However, one day I will look back at this and wonder what it was I found so hard and all the bad feelings will be forgotten. The very difficulty of what I’m trying to do, will make attaining the eventual goal all the sweeter. It brings to mind a quote from Kennedy about going to the moon, he said,
“We choose to go to the moon! We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”.

Learning to fly is a personal version of the very same challenge. It is hard, if it were easy everyone would be a pilot. The very fact that its hard is what makes it worth doing, that, and the enormous reward of being able to fly!

While I’m indulging in a written therapy session I might as well put down my other nagging frustration. Everyone with a good self image tends to think themselves good at what they do. Be it driving a car, being an engineer or being a student pilot. For me, learning new things has always come easily. My job depends on my ability to turn-over my skill set every couple of years as new technologies obsolete most of what I knew before. Starting off, I hoped I would be a star student, quick to learn, a joy to teach, nailing every challenge along the way. I knew that many students solo at about 20 hrs. You read some stories where guys do their first solo at a little over 10 hrs. I know its not a race, I know its not important how many hours I’ve got when I eventually solo, but at almost 25 hrs and knowing I’m not nearly ready its just compounds the frustration. I will solo, and I’ll do it when I’m really ready and when my CFI knows I‘m ready, be it 30 hrs or 50 hrs. But still, I had that 20 hr figure in my head when I started and failing this personal goal bugs me. However, now I can look forward to how good that first solo will feel, because I had to work so hard to get it.

So what was the actual lesson like. Well, it was windy, ATIS said the wind was only 7 at 320, but it was really gusting in unexpected directions. This meant that I spent a lot of energy just keeping the plane steady. It was an extra chore flying the pattern with the wind fighting the plane the whole way around. After a normal taxi, run-up and take-off we entered left traffic. There weren’t many other planes around and we mostly had runway 31L to ourselves. Starting off ATC was a pain, the first three times around I had to remind him I was turning onto base to get a landing clearance, this is just one more thing to have to think of at a busy time. As before the pattern work and approaches were mainly OK. I need to watch my airspeed on those dangerous turns onto final, I got a bit slow on one of them (60knots). I had one approach where I was way too high, I’m not sure why. But I elected to go around once it became clear I wasn’t going to get down in the first half of the runway. Another go-around happened unexpectedly. My glide slope was good coming over Eastridge Mall, but just before Tully Road (just off the runway fence) a sudden sink pushed me down, I recovered well by adding enough power to counter it and was fine rounding out over the numbers with the throttle back on idle. Then just as I started the flare, we suddenly found ourselves almost 50’ back up in the air. I know my airspeed was right on 65 knots as I started the round out so I don’t think excessive speed was the cause. It must have just been a gust that caught us just at the wrong time and gave us way too much lift. Either way I found myself with the stall horn going off, 50’ above the ground. Grainne called the go around while I was still wondering what just happened. Got full power in and got the nose down, but not quite enough – its takes a little courage to point the nose anywhere down so close to the ground, we briefly heard the stall horn again and then I got the nose low enough and did a slow slightly scary crawl along at about the same altitude as we gained speed and then finally started upwards at something approaching normal.

There were two other low points of the lesson. On the second last landing we did a full stop, I usually elect to do this when I know I’m getting tired, the taxi time gives me a chance to catch my breath. I was waiting for my take off clearance when ATC asked me did I want to “remain in right traffic”. I said I did and he cleared me for take-off on 31R. Now I had spent the whole afternoon flying left traffic and using 31L. I heard “remain in …”, so I happily proceeded to taxi to 31L instead of 31R to take off on the wrong runway. Thankfully, Grainne caught what I was doing before I got too far and we made an ungraceful turn back onto 31R and took-off. Yet one more reminder that I’m not ready to be in this plane on my own. Then, I managed to forget to put more than 10 degrees of flaps in on the last approach and we reached the numbers doing about 75 knots, without me realizing something was wrong. Grainne basically landed the plane, after a very long float down most of the runway. It was a poor end to a bad day. I know I was stressed and tired on that last loop around right traffic. It is so true that fatigue and stress make you stupid.

So, what is next. I’m flying again next Thursday afternoon. Grainne suggested, and I was happy to agree, that we would do something else instead of more pattern work. She said it would stop me getting rusty on the other skills I’ll need for the stage one checkride, so we‘ll do some slow flight and stalls and maybe a landing or two and see how they turn out. But, it will also be a break from the frustration. As Grainne is working her other job on Saturday, I’ve booked a lesson with Yoed. I like his style and he brings a different perspective to the lessons. I believe, when you hit a plateau like this you just keep changing the variables until you find the one causing the problem. A fresh pair of eyes seeing what I’m doing wrong might help and it can’t hurt.

Friday September 27th 2002, 6pm, N5766J, 0.9H (0.1 Night)

The weather today was different, a weak area of low pressure was passing from the North. There was a lot of broken cloud and the wind was quite strong. I checked the ATIS at RHV a few times during the afternoon. At 2pm the wind was 10 knots at 220 degrees, at 3pm it had changed to 270 and at 4pm it had changed to 10 knots at 090, by 5pm it was 12 knots at 120. So what does this mean? Well, the runways at RHV are 31/13, that is to say they approximately line up on a heading of 310/130 degrees or roughly in a NW/SE direction. The “usual” wind in the evening time is from about 300 (or from the NW) so it blows pretty much straight down runway 31. A wind at 220 is 90 degrees off the runway heading so it is blowing directly across the runways. A 10 knot crosswind is no fun to land in (the maximum for the Cessna is a 15 knot wind and only if your a real expert), I have done very little crosswind landings because the winds are so kind to us at RHV, so a 10 knot crosswind would likely keep me on the ground for today. The big swings in wind during the afternoon probably indicate that the front was passing at that time, you normally see a big wind change as a front goes by. The wind went from the West (270), to Southwest (220), to East (090) and gradually back to Southeast (120) where happily it lined up nicely with runway 13 and I could fly without too much worry. But for the first time I would be using runway 13 and everything would be reversed from the usual pattern., that is, the pattern would now be flying in the opposite direction. I also spent a bit of time over lunch reviewing taxi procedures for crosswinds, its a surprise how many accidents are caused by a crosswind blowing planes over while they taxi, especially high wing planes like the Cessna 172.
It was a Friday so I left a little early and stopped by the Airport Shoppe to get a Pilots Operating Handbook for the C172N, which is the model I usually fly. The POH in the ground school kit was for the C172R, which is the new shiny version and had some different specs for performance. The POH is needed to answer some of the questions in the test papers Grainne gave me on Wednesday. When I arrived at Tradewinds Grainne was still flying with another student, so I went out and watched planes land on 13 and waited till she arrived about 6:15pm. Then I did the pre-flight on 5766J while she was finishing up. She looked pretty stressed out when she finally came out. She said they had been flying over at Palo Alto and there was a lot of planes in the pattern, plus they had the transition across class C airspace to get home. No problems with pre-flight, a very short taxi to the run-up area from where we were parked, some fancy foot work to fit in next to another plane for the run-up and then a good take-off along 13L.

We did 7 circuits of the pattern, with 4 landings and 3 go-arounds. Today, I was much more focused, I talked a lot less and tried as best I could to pretend that Grainne wasn’t there. For the most part things went well. The last couple of landings were reasonable and I think I am finally getting the flare worked out in my head, its just a process of making my reactions faster to the subtle clues just before you land. I did all the radio work, Grainne only spoke once on the radio, so I’m pretty comfortable with that part of the flying. My approaches were fine today, mostly on or a little above glide slope. One was rather high, but I just picked a spot a little further down the runway and we made it just fine. The take-offs, especially from the touch and go’s were a little different. Runway 31 is pretty unobstructed on departure, however, runway 13 has trees and buildings very close. We did a couple of takeoffs at Vx (best angle of climb) rather than at Vy (best rate of climb). I got the impression that Grainne felt I should have been a little more concerned about skimming above the top of the trees, and probably I should have. On the first or second landing, I initiated a go around when we ballooned quite high on the flare. Probably I could have recovered the landing, but it just felt nasty and the approach had been a little shaky as well so I hit the power when we lifted up. Grainne was actually pretty happy about this, I guess taking responsibility means making all the decisions and I know I have been relying too much on having her in the right seat to tell me what to do on landing. Either way that kind of set the tone for the day and it was nice flying. On one circuit through the pattern the Tower told us to extend our downwind for a Senaca that was coming straight in. For runway 13L, if you extend downwind you will be flying along class c airspace on your left. So you can’t just make a left turn onto base with the extended downwind or you will be in San Jose International’s airspace. The tower gave me two options, I actually didn’t hear the first one and the second was a right 270 turn and reenter the pattern on base. This made sense to me and it worked fine, including starting the descent early enough and in a non standard place (at the start of the extended base leg). Today, I also got my first taste of some easy crosswind landings, there was just a 3 or 4 knot wind blowing from the right. This was enough to have to crab into the wind and work the rudders in a positive manner to get straight on the center line.

All in all today’s flight really helped after the unpleasant experience of Wednesday. I still don’t have the flares right, but at least now I have a much better idea of why and what I have to do. I also “discovered” I was doing something really dumb right as we landed without even realizing it. Just as we touch down I was taking my feet of the rudder peddles. I’m not sure why I was doing this and I’m amazed I didn’t realize it before. Anyway it explains why I have been “heading for the grass” on any of the landings that bounce or balloon. I’ll pay close attention to this on the next flight and it should definitely help with control on the landings.