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Pattern Practice

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That horrible landing from my last flight really bothered me (despite the fact that it's been a year IRL since I landed that aircraft), so I hopped back into the cockpit to do some pattern work this afternoon. At first I was a bit put off by the high-wind advisory I saw on weather.com but shrugged - it's a simulator I'm supposed to be able to just go up and see if I can handle it! However it turned out that the 20kt winds gusting up to 30kts was blowing only a degree off the runway in use, so I didn't have to fight any crosswind. No big deal, I'd rather just get my basic pattern work polished up first!

My patten was a racetrack pattern, not a rectangular pattern. After 4 attempts I found the best procedure: I take off, then after clearing the runway and raising my gear I throttle back to 75% power and turned crosswind at 800' AGL, holding my bank all the way around to downwind. By now I was at 1,500 MSL and held that altitude for my downwind leg. The runway was just under my wingtip tank, which put me at a good lateral distance. At midfield I throttled back to 50% power and maintained my altitude, which slows me up enough to drop well under the VLE speed of 145kts. When I hit even with the runway threshold I lower my gear, which is about the same time ATC comes on with clearance to land. I acknowledge then drop my throttle to about 35%, still holding altitude. This puts my speed in the white arc and I lower one notch of flaps and return the throttle to 50%. I'm now fully configured for landing and watch the runway disappear over my shoulder to put me at 45° off the threshold and I begin my bank through base and roll out onto final. I then reduce throttle to 25% and nose down to begin descending towards the runway. Crossing the threshold I level out and cut throttle to idle and let her settle.

The first attempt I tried without flaps, and couldn't get the plane to slow and settle - I floated over half the runway. The first two attempts I rolled out onto final past the runway and had to S-curve in. The last two attempts I rolled out early and did a 45° approach before turning a short final. Each attempt brought me closer to the touchdown marks which I finally nailed dead center on my fourth and last attempt.

The turn coordinator on the Bonanza is a bit... basic. It's actually hard to tell if I'm banked to a standard rate of turn or not as the needle doesn't seem to go past the mark - which means I could be turning faster than I want. Really the only thing I couldn't get consistent was my turn from downwind through base with a roll out to final aligned with the runway. If I can be sure to turn at the same rate I turned crosswind onto downwind, I should line up perfectly. But getting a consistent turn rate has proven difficult. I also haven't had much practice with coordinated turns lately so holding altitude was a challenge but by the last attempt I was staying at 1,500 MSL +/- 100 feet the whole pattern.

I will revisit this pattern again this week when the winds are calm and see how the Bonanza behaves without such a strong headwind in effect. Still, it was very pleasing to totally grease that last landing dead between the touchdown marks.
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