Learning to Fly – Day Seven – Close

I know that Gerry signed off the official forms allowing me to fly solo and I did have the distinct feeling that we would do an hour and a half of landings in the morning and assuming I was stable, we would do more in the evening until he felt I was on a roll and could go solo.  I knew I was close.  Morning session was not as good as I would have wanted.  My round-outs, where, when you are above the runway, you fly level very low to get rid of some speed, were good. Well timed and well pitched.  The final bit – the flare – where you point the aircraft back up in order to land on the main undercarriage (The two wheels under the wings) were not consistently good.  Either too early or too late or too jerky or not enough. On the way back Gerry taxied the aircraft and the old guys sitting in front of the FBO (Straight out of a film these guys are; they are just missing a real rocking chair and a straw to chew) called the school to complain we were going too fast.  Well “we” were. Gerry got a mild ticking off. At ground school, we were rehearsing all the speeds (VS0, VA, VX, VY, VNE, VFE, VS1, VNO, VG) I asked him what VT is for a Piper PA-28 Warrior.  I loved his quizzical look (There is no VT) and particularly his expression when I elaborated: Taxiing speed. Well, I would exchange the ability to criticise back for a consistently good flare any time, but as a substitute, it was better than nothing.

The afternoon continued but I did not think I was safe enough to go solo and would not have been comfortable if he had asked me to.  Could I land?  Sure, and probably without wrecking the aircraft; but I would not feel in control all the time.  It was still improving though.  My patterns are sharper and tighter. Where before I was stressed on the downwind levelling out at 1,000ft, reducing power, going through all the checks, lowering flaps, check airspeed, be ready for turn in etc. I am now done with all checks before we pass ½ way downwind and can concentrate on steering a good sharp course. Turning base where you again reduce power, lower another notch of flaps is coming along too as is turning into final with last level of flaps. I am not so desperately focused on when I will go solo, as I just know it will happen considering I am improving all the time. I am comfortable with the fact that I am learning all the time.

One week down, two to go.
Summary after 7 days
Flown: 3 hours and 18 minutes.
Total flying time: 19 hours and 1 minute.
Solo: 0 hours and 0 minutes.
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