The AWOS on field at Manassas read -6C / 21F at 7:15 this morning, about the time that I got the keys to the airplane. We've been spoiled in Northern Virginia with a mild Fall, and this was the coldest I've been out flying so far. I was grateful that they put the plane in the hangar overnight--I bet starting the engine would have been difficult, otherwise. Two shots of the primer and it started on the first attempt.
VORTAC and then climbed to 3000 feet when well clear of the Dulles Class B airspace. No sense in getting intercepted by F-16s like the student pilot out of Warrenton experienced last week.
My steep turns were still a little sloppy. I was trying to hit altitude, airspeed, and heading exactly using the mountains as visual references. Airspeed and altitude control was better but my heading control needs work. I had been practicing these more as instrument maneuvers up to this point, which I now realize is not the preferred way to do them. I used 90 knots as an entry speed, and I found that with just one in the plane and with the low density altitude, only about 2000-2100 RPM was needed to hold that airspeed in level flight (the very bottom of the green arc).
Then I induced a few power-off stalls west of Culpeper airport. Today I was trying to enter a Vx (best angle of climb airspeed) ascent immediately after recovering from the stall to simulate being low to the ground. I forgot to retract the flaps to 20 degrees immediately after recovery, so I did a few more to drill that into my head.
I tried to remember the enroute cruise and descent checklists, but it turns out that they weren't printed on the skinny laminated card in the plane. I might need to make my own checklist sheet which includes them.
I flew back to Manassas to do pattern work, paying close attention to descend below the Class B airspace and then to traffic pattern altitude so as to maintain a leisurely descent rate of 500 feet per minute. Manassas Tower gave me a base entry for runway 34L as usual. I was experimenting with different power settings to do a constant 500 fpm power-on descent in the traffic pattern as was suggested during the last stage check, only I didn't have the room. On final, I was power-off with full flaps and still high. I tried a forward slip but couldn't get it sorted out, so I went around. I suspect my CFI has been silently helping me with those, so now I really need to practice them. Manassas tower had me change my transponder to the SFRA pattern work code (1234) before I made the crosswind turn.
I set up again for a steep power-off approach with a really short base leg. I need to work on widening my patterns just a little bit. I touched down before the stall horn went off, so I decided to taxi back and try again. The next landing also could have been held off longer.
I've realized that I still have a lot to work on before the practical test. I'm going to focus on flying these maneuvers more precisely in the next lesson.
Flight time this lesson: 1.7 hrs solo/PIC
Total time to date: 39.2 hrs total, 29.0 hrs dual, 10.2 hrs PIC
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