Night Moves

… a little too tall, coulda used a few pounds… tight pants, points, hardly renowned… (Bob Seger, Night Moves, 1976)

No, not THAT kind… THIS kind:

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Yesterday was my first weekday (after-work) lesson, and the above picture was taken on the last circuit just as the sun was going down.  The picture doesn’t do justice to the sheer serenity of the feeling when the sun is on its way down, and the air is getting cooler and just becomes a sheet of calm.

If not for the feeling of being as busy as a 3-legged dog trying to bury a turd on a frozen pond, dare I say it would be relaxing and meditative.

I got a lot of great feedback and food for thought based on my last post, and I think I finally got a handle on the “confidence” piece, or at least I am getting there.  There’s a lot to be said for anticipating rather than reacting!

We did more crosswind circuits, and it now looks like things are tightened up sufficiently that the main thing to work on is judgement of aim point, and speed and height in the flare, and settling it down rather than flopping it onto the deck like a fighter jet.  A lot more practice is required here, especially with the crosswinds.

In that vein, when Brett asked if I wanted to work in some circuit emergencies (not a problem with the squiggly bit between the two ends of a battery, but simulated engine failures), I was enthusiastic to move on to something new.  I reasoned that while the landings certainly need work, I need to land regardless of what else I am working on, so they are only going to get better over time anyway.

I still remembered most of the Forced Landings lesson, so when he cut out the engine and had me point back to the field, I instinctively went right to my best glide speed – 65 kts, maybe a touch faster into the wind – used appropriate amount of flaps, and actually made it back to the runway on 3 out of 4 attempts.  Although I remembered the initial checks and mayday calls, I did forget the landing checklist where you are supposed to shut off the fuel, master switch, etc…  will have to look it up again! We did go over it on the Forced Landings lesson, but I had completely forgotten!  But, for a first go, I think I’m pretty happy, and Brett marked it down as solo standard. Even on the 1 out of 4 that I didn’t make it to the strip, I think I probably still would have made it to the grass.

In all, I think we went around 7 or so times, and when the sun got a little lower than the picture above, we had to bring it in.  Made one last downwind call for a full stop and requested the North runway, to cut down on taxi time.  This time I promised Brett a perfect landing, just to wrap it up for the year.

Sadly, this wasn’t the case… as usual, great down to about 2 metres then misjudged the flare.  I did squeeze in some power at the last to try not to make it too hard, but it was still not a proud moment.  Ahhh well, 2013 is another year!

Workin’ and practicin’ Night Moves….

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