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greggerm

My real life flight training continued... 2 parts

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I went flying last night to do some night work and also this morning.Last night was a serious workout. My instructor told me to book something for 5-5:30 this week to work on some night landings. I had booked 2 days and waited to see which was best. Tuesday night looked a little windy, so I cancelled it thinking Wednesday would be better. Was I wrong! It was bitterly cold and windy on the flight line. I finished the pre-flight and had to go back into the FBO for a bit just to warm up. By the time we both got strapped in the airplane it was already pitch black. I love airports at night. I don't love big gusty winds however. We got ATIS and the wind was gusting up to 19 knots right down runway 32. Right after takeoff a nice big gust came and blew us about 50 feet to the left of the runway. Woah. It's bumpy. Even as we climbed to 2500 and went inland it was still bumpy. My instructor wanted to go somewhere else to practice a few night landings. He suggested Waterbury-Oxford, which is probably about 15 miles NW of New Haven (I don't know the exact distance, since there is no DME). It's a class D, so he queued me when I needed to call since he knew how far we were just from flying there alot. I had never been there. So I called the tower and the crusty old controller (you can just tell) cleared me for a right base for runway 36. Things looked surreal and I had trouble making out the airport. I was nervous too since it was really dark and I couldn't see any landmarks. And wow was it bumpy. In spite of all that, I managed a nice approach, and fought it down to the runway. Because of the gusts, I ended up about 15 feet to the right of center, but we got down in one piece. We had asked for a stop and go. My instructor assured me we had plenty of runway to takeoff again. I didn't like the feeling since I couldn't see how much runway was left. It kind of sloped over a hill. So we took off and got shaken around quite a bit. On downwind I had about a 15-20 degree crab in for wind correction. I managed a nice approach again, but when we got down to the runway, the gusts were just killing us. One gust came and picked us up about 20 feet. At that point my instructor suggested a go-around. It wasn't a dire situation, but why let it get there? So I gave it full throttle and climbed out, and then told the controller we were going around. I decided that was enough stress for one night, and my instructor agreed we should probably call it a night with one good landing. I told the controller we would be departing south and he gave us clearance. I DEFINATELY suggested a bit of a sneer. He was probably thinking "you pu**y". Oh well, maybe someday I will enjoy that. Probably not. So we just went back to New Haven, and put in 4 more touch and goes. I am much more comfortable at New Haven, and had no problem there.So today I went down to solo at 9am. All but one of the planes was in for service for the last week or two. Today, 29M was back on the flight line for the first time. This was a plane they had acquired recently and apparently the last mechanics to rebuild it reversed the intake/exhaust valves. Because of that a cylinder cracked, so the engine had to be rebuilt. I was the first one flying it after the initial test flight. This is fine, but for the first 15 hours the engine is in break-in, so you can't do touch and gos, stalls, steep turns, etc. And you can't bring the throttle to idle (other than run-up)- the fear being the engine will get too cold and crack. Also, today was my first solo day I decided to venture out of the pattern. I took off, and headed north for my office. Tower cut me loose at five miles and I was free to roam the skies of CT (within 25 miles of New Haven of course). That is when it really hit me. "OH MY GOD- I AM FLYING. BY MYSELF!". It was such a feeling of elation. Incredible. Here I was, some 26 hours after my first flight- alone in the wild blue yonder with nobody watching over my shoulder. I changed course a few times- just because I could! I overflew my office, and then my house, and then my brother's office, and then my mother's house. It was the most fun I've had yet. Pilot in Command. Sweet. I then headed back to New Haven and made a flawless left base approach to runway 20. Because of the new engine, I extended the approach and kept the RPMS at about 1700. The controls on this plane were fluid too. Not worn like the other planes. Maybe is was the feel, but something kind of threw me on the flare. I came in fast because of the engine (which is sort of like a no-flaps landing), but I just failed to keep it above the runway long enough. I think I bounced off the nose about 3 times :) Not hard or anything, but not textbook either. I taxied back and regardless of my noob landing I was really excited about what I just did. It was a little tase of what comes when you get your ticket.

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My checkbook and credit cards say:You must stop with these stories.... Everything else about me says:You MUST continue with your stories. They are a great narration of your journey. Even if you don't post them, be sure to save all this and make it the prologue to your lifetime logbook. With EACH story I get closer to sucking it up and going in for lessons... argh!Thanks for sharing your experiences,-Greg

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