OMG Instinct

9:11 AM Friday, August 20, 2010

Well it turns out that I am going to have about 4 days off. I am already going into with drawl and it is only day 2 :( Tim had some personal things to take care of yesterday and had to cancel and he is booked for today and I am going to the Cubs game tomorrow (Go Cubs Go!). I guess maybe a few days off won't kill me. I might actually get through reading the weather chapters in my book (I am not very interested in the science of weather so this section is a bit hard for me to study).

Anyway, I had a few experiences I wanted to share that haven't made it into the blog yet. My first couple of landings seems like a good place to start. The first few times up Tim took care of landing the plane each time, we were simply working on in air stuff. So once we were in the pattern I would give the plane controls to Tim and he would land, having me keep my hands on the controls to feel what he was doing (and explaining). It seemed pretty straight forward as he was doing it, and I understood the science involved in getting the plane to the ground, so I thought no problem, I can do this. Well what nobody tells you is that when you are aimed at the ground, your subconscious (at least mine does) pulls back so that you go back up. I will call this the OMG I don't want to crash instinct. Although my mind knows that I will not crash, I will in fact land quite gently (assuming all goes well) that OMG instinct just doesn't want the plane to point at the ground. So landing number one, actually wasn't a landing at all, but a high balloon (pitching back up near the ground) and then a go-around (full power and climb back up to altitude).

Landing two. As we were climbing back up to 1500 feet I realized I was sweating like a pig, partly because it is hot in July in Iowa but mostly because of the OMG I am going to crash incident. Interestingly enough I was thinking about how the plane should smell much worse than it does, considering for at least 5 hours a day someone is sweating profusely in this seat. Then I realized we were at 1200' and I should be thinking about landing not about sweat. Downwind goes well, checklist goes well, approach goes poorly. Although now after 58 landings the steps are almost automatic, the second time around they are overwhelming. So while Tim is saying turn onto base for 060, pitch for 80kts, call your base, 2nd notch of flaps....my mind is saying wait wait wait you are going to fast. But I quickly found out there is no waiting, it is do or die literally, we are sinking at a rate of 1000 feet per minute when I am not doing what I am supposed to on base (1000' per minute is pretty quick when you are 800' off the ground). So I try to quickly follow his instructions and then he is saying turn final, pitch for 70 kts, call your final, line up with the runway (I am not even close at this point), 3rd notch of flaps, power to idle, catch the plane, flare the plane (nose up to land on the main wheels). Well in this scenario I got as far as turning final, then we were much too low, not even close to being lined up with the runway and certianly not at 70kts. Tim fixed it and we (of course I mean he) landed the plane. Thankfully from here I have only gotten better. I mostly have the OMG I am aimed at the ground thing under control. I occasionally still think it, but I no longer act on it. The steps are pretty automatic although my mental checklist is still going all the way through because although the goal is to make landing a plane look easy, I have realized that it is very mentally and physically demanding.

Well this has gone on long enough. I am sure there will be plenty more antics to tell in the coming months, so stay tuned.

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