Another flying lesson this morning. Despite dire warnings of an approaching storm, my instructor decided that we could go up. Today’s flight was to practice slow flight and then start getting into stall recovery. I’ve been nervous about this part of the training but off we went.
A crappy picture of my weekend office. The Cessna C172R is a cramped area and you’re really up close and personal with your instruments which is a good thing because they can save your life. The six instruments in front (called the Six Pack) give you all the information you need to make sure you’re flying straight and level.
People always say that the view must be fantastic. Not so much. There’s not a whole lot of visibility forward as the windscreen is so high. The magnetic compass sits front and centre and you’re usually looking through the spinning prop. In slow flight you can actually get hypnotized by the blades and have to force your focus past them. Here I’m sitting in the airplane waiting for Steve to show up. The wind was just starting to gust up and the little Cessna was bouncing around quite a bit.
We finally got off the ground. It was a good takeoff and I got to practice my crosswind procedures. We headed north until we were over the Shelburne wind farm which is part of practice area – not many houses below if you decided to do something stupid.
Spent about an hour in slow flight. This involves pitching the plane’s nose up as you reduce power. The trick is to do this while making sure that you don’t lose or gain significant altitude. It’s an important part of the exam and we kept at it until I finally started to get it right.
So here we are at about 4,000 feet when we notice that the storm front is coming in a lot faster than predicted. Figuring that we still had some time, Steve stalled the airplane a couple of times so I could get a feel for it. What a hoot! Cut the power to idle and start pitching the nose up until the speed falls to 44 knots which is flaps up stall speed in the Cessna. The stall horn starts blaring and it sounds like an angry mosquito in your ear. Just like clockwork, the plane loses lift and you start to drop – straight down. Steve immediately drops the nose to start air flowing over the wings and brings the power back on. The first time felt like being on a roller coaster as it crests the top of a rise. My stomach was somewhere behind my ears and just wanted to get out and walk. The second one, now that I knew what was coming, was a whole lot of fun. Steve makes it look easy and my turn comes next Sunday.
By now the ceiling had dropped so low and the visibility so crummy that Steve had to handle the ride back to the airport. With the headwind, we actually got the airplane to stand still. He was trying to make it go backwards but we didn’t have any more time to mess around.
A bumpy approach and a textbook crosswind landing and we were back on the ground. I taxied up to the pumps and we had to chock the wheels as even with the brakes on the light little C172R was still moving forward. I think we made it back just in time.
All in all, one of the best days I’ve had in the air.