Today was the day that I blinked.
We took off at 8 this morning and headed for the practice area. It was a perfect morning. Very crisp and cold. No wind and unlimited visibility. We had a great airplane, the newest in the fleet, and she handled beautifully. My rudder work was great and I could really feel myself at one with the plane. A perfect day to practice stalls.
Steve, my instructor, was fairly quiet which meant he was pretty happy with my control. We flew North until we got over the windfarm and then he asked me to review the procedure for power off stalls. I rattled them off correctly. Next, it was time for the HASEL check – height, area, security, engines and lookout. I did everything right and we were good to go.
Power to idle. Pitch the nose up. Keep pitching up as the airspeed drops – 70 – 60 – 55. The stall warning starts, pull back hard on the control column. The stall begins. The plane drops.
Now the book says push forward on the wheel to break the stall, smoothly apply full power then ease out of the dive. Sounds easy right? I broke the stall OK, power applied but then I pulled back on the controls. Stupid rookie move. Steve sounded anxious as he took the controls – not exactly the way you want your instructor to sound. We tried it again with Steve at the controls. Easy. Then he had me take it right up to the point where the stall is about to begin to get use to the sequence of events. Perfect.
We flew around a bit, performed another HASEL and then it was time to try it again. This time I actually did it. None to smoothly but it worked. Ok, now I’m on a roll. One more time. Damm, I pull the same stupid manoeuvre. Now the problem with what I’m doing is that it can cause a secondary stall which is much, much harder to get out of. Again Steve takes over.
Now a brave man would suck it up and climb right back into the saddle. Not me. I couldn’t do it. We cut the lesson short. I told Steve we were through for the day. We headed back to the flying club while he reassured me that this was normal. It may be normal but it took me an hour to stop shaking.
I’ve got to get past this. There are worse situations coming – power on stalls where one wing drops as the aircraft stalls and we still have to do spins.
Next Sunday I’ll be back in the air and will face my demon once again. My nightmares usually consist of me falling or something falling on me. When we lost the lift it felt like my nightmares were coming true.
Will I make it next time? Who knows. Maybe I’ll stare it down instead of blinking.