09 August 2010

Pea Soup

This morning I flew in visibility approaching the Visual Flight Rules (VFR) minimums for Class D and E airspace: 3 statute miles. The METAR observations around the practice area were
KHEF 091135Z AUTO 00000KT 4SM 22/20 A3004 RMK AO1
KHWY 091140Z AUTO 00000KT 4SM BR CLR 22/20 A3003 RMK AO2
KCJR 091140Z AUTO 00000KT 3SM BR CLR 21/20 A3004 RMK AO2
and a few minutes before the flight the conditions at Warrenton and Culpeper were
KHWY 091120Z AUTO 00000KT 2 1/2SM BR CLR 20/18 A3003 RMK
KCJR 091120Z AUTO 00000KT 2SM BR CLR 20/19 A3005 RMK AO2
The Practice Area (from Washington sectional)
The "BR" indicates mist. I could barely see the outline of the mountains that I typically use for a visual reference in steep turns and instead relied on the directional gyro.

My last power-on stall was clean. I still need to focus on quickly establishing the pitch attitude for the stall break while at full power rather the hanging in a near stall for several seconds. I also need to make sure to keep right rudder applied to stay coordinated during the stall break and recovery. And finally, I need to have the presence of mind to keep on my heading.

I did better this time maintaining altitude during the steep turns, but I still lost a little more than 100 feet on the last one. More up elevator. When I focused on altitude, I overshot my heading. It is all about dividing attention.

At 4000 feet, my CFI pulled the throttle to idle and I started the engine-out forced landing procedure. After pitching for best glide speed (65 knots in a C172), I started looking for a place to land. I saw the road by Culpeper airport but didn't see the runway nearly behind me, and instead chose a field ahead. My CFI asked me if there was an airport nearby. Doh! Once I turned around, we were set up on an extremely high base for runway 22. I called on the CTAF to let traffic know that we were going in for a simulated emergency landing. We circled and overshot the runway several times to lose altitude, and then did a wicked forward slip to drop altitude. I still want to pitch for a level attitude in a slip--this is wrong, especially with flaps extended on a Cessna 172. The nose needs to be down, and the ground rushes up in a hurry.

My landing at HEF left a lot to be desired. I released some elevator pressure after ballooning a little bit, allowing the nose to drop a little. I need to maintain pitch attitude when this happens and just let the airplane settle. This is another bad habit that I will break before my solo.

Flight time this lesson: 1.2 hours dual, 0.2 hours simulated instrument
Total time to date: 9.0 hours dual, 0.8 hours simulated instrument

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