Training, Flight Logs, and Narratives

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I had always been fascinated by flight, but never followed up on this interest. In August 2000, at the age of 74, my father fell off a ladder and was dead 8 hours later. This taught me many lessons, one of which was that time is short and uncertain. At the time of my father's death a long-time friend, Gregg, was taking his flight training. We fantasized about becoming partners in an aeroplane.

Time is short and uncertain ... Do it now. Gregg had earned his PPL-ASEL shortly before. That's Private Pilot License - Airplane, Single-Engine, Land. Gregg had had success at Snohomish Flying Service based at Harvey Field in Snohomish, WA. I started my flight training at the age of 48 on 17 November 2001 at Snohomish.

My flight instructor throughout was Chong So - a very patient, very calm man. Even my early attempts at stalls failed to perturb him, and as such I was never fearful during my training. Nauseous, yes, but never afeared. I tried a few different flight instructors, and Chong's teaching style and demeanor seemed to fit mine the best. Also, unlike most CFIs, who tend to be quite young, Chong was a seasoned, full-fledged adult in his 30s, a practicing lawyer who had seen the light, repudiated lawyering, and became a productive member of society by becoming a Certified Flight Instructor Instructor. It's not a typo, Chong not only taught people to fly, but taught people to teach other people to fly. As is true of most flight instructors, Chong was working toward some sort of pilot job and teaching to build hours and gain experience. Chong was no exception. He had been hired as a pilot and was to leave teaching in September 2001. The week before he was to start his new life, religious-fanatic vermin highjacked 4 airliners and destroyed the World Trade Center towers, damaged the Pentagon, and thanks to couragous Americans plowed a long, deep furrow in a field in Pennsylvania. Chong's piloting job offer was withdrawn. All flight training in the country was shut down for over a month.

Chong's misfortune was my great fortune as he was forced to continue teaching. I hope he soon realizes his dream. (Update 2003-05-25: Unfortunately, Chong had to go back to lawyering. May God have mercy on his soul.)

I trained exclusively in a Cessna 152. These are 2 seat, high-wing planes. They are so small that Chong and I sat with our shoulders touching. We are both only about 155 pounds. 11 months after beginning my training I passed my checkride on my Sister's 40th birthday, 11 October 2002.

Flight training is broadly divided into pre-solo, solo, and cross-country phases. In my pre-solo phase I scheduled a lesson a week, but due to inclement weather did less. Were I to do it again, I would schedule 2 lessons a week. It took me 7 months to solo and accumulate 25.7 flight hours. It took me 3.5 months in the post-solo phase including the cross-country flights to accumulate 50.5 flight hours - twice the flight hours in half the time. Things were much more efficient when I didn't always need an instructor to fly.

The total cost of my flight training was $8105.48. If I had moved a little faster I could have saved a few grand. So, if you are thinking of flight training plan on at least 2 lessons a week, and stay focused.

Date Hours Description
2001-11-17 0.0 Start flight training
2002-06-25 25.7 First solo flight
2002-09-28 66.0 FAA Written Exam passed - 98%
2002-10-11 76.2 FAA Checkride passed
2002-10-13 76.2 First Passengers
2002-11-24 89.4 Mom's First Ride

I flew 6 different C152 planes during my training and 6509 Lima was my favorite. It was the plane I soloed in and the plane in which I passed my checkride.

Flight Logs


Date : 2002-06-25, Tuesday, 3:00 PM
Airport : Harvey Field, S43
Runway : 32
Aircraft : Cessna 152
Tail number : 6509L
Pre-hrs, dual : 24.5
Hours, dual : 0.8
Post-hrs,dual : 25.3
Pre-hrs, solo : 0.0
Hours, solo : 0.4
Post-hrs,solo : 0.4
Total hours : 25.7
Weather : CLR 28007 29C
Manuvers : 4 dual cycles, 1 go-around, 3 solo cycles

Beautiful day. Did 4 cycles with Chong and one go-around. After I executed the go-around, he asked why we went around. I said I thought we were getting pretty long down the runway. He said, although we were long, we were not too long, and it was one of my better set ups :-)

After the third landing he said we'd do one more, then he would get out and I would do three solo landings. While we were taxiing around for the 4th takeoff he endorsed my logbook and my medical certificate.

After the 4th cycle we taxied past the shop and he got out and headed up to the office to watch and be near the radio. The plane seemed awfully empty after he got out. Taxiied around up to runway 32 and took position ready for take off. I was more nervous than I had thought I would be. Punched the throttle
and executed a good takeoff. Interestingly, the plane took off about 200 feet sooner than it did with Chong. His 150 pounds make a noticable difference in the handling of the plane.

All three of my patterns and approaches were good, if somewhat long in the downwind. First landing was bad - ballooned and bounced - late roll out, then too abrupt flare - terrible - embarrassing. Second landing was worse! Bounced, got right on the runway, then corrected to the left and got the nose to the left and landed with a side load. Again embarrassing.

The third one was okay - a bit late in the roll out and hence little flare, but it wasn't a hard landing, a bit of a balloon, but slight, well-centered. I redeemed myself.

Adrenaline makes you stupid.

When I pulled it in to park, my brain wasn't really working up to par, and for some reason I decided to stop it and push it backwards into the parking space. Chong and Gabe came out and Chong asked where I was going to park it. Basically, in his polite way he was asking, "What the fuck are you doing?" The space in which I had planned to park was a 172 space and there were 2 free 152 spaces right in front of me. I hopped back into the plane to start it and taxi - I have NO idea what I was thinking - and Chong said, let's push it. So, Chong, Gabe, and I pushed it into place. I think I was irrational with adrenaline. I was certainly vibrating.

Gabe had a camera and Chong and I posed in the handshake along side the tail number, but the camera didn't work :-) No picture. I didn't think to bring a camera.

During the solo I thought about Dad, as I was taxiing for the first takeoff, then as I was turning to base on the first cycle. After that I didn't think about anything except flying the plane.

I'm a soloing pilot. I can rent a plane and go fly within 25 nm of Harvey, though until my check ride with Peter, they don't want me to fly solo. Next Wednesday Chong and I do a review lesson with all the manuvers, then Sunday I have a check ride with Peter where I do all the manuvers. Once he signs me off, I can fly anytime I can get a plane.

Checkride log

Date : 2002-10-11, Tuesday, 3:00 PM
Airport : Harvey Field, S43
Runway : 32
Aircraft : Cessna 152
Tail number : 6509L
Pre-hrs, dual : 44.8
Hours, dual : 0.0
Post-hrs,dual : 44.8
Pre-hrs, PIC : 39.7
Hours, PIC : 1.7
Post-hrs, PIC : 31.4
Total hours : 76.2
Weather : Gorgeous
Manuvers : All

The original checkride was sceduled for 2002-10-05, last Saturday, but the weather did not cooperate (ceiling), and so we just did the oral exam. I passed. No trick questions. Asked about the arcane details of minimum equipment lists (MEL). I'd studied it, but still didn't get it all. We went over the cross-country (XC) flight and navigation logs I had been assigned the week before, Snohomish, WA to Sandpoint, ID. At one point Arnold asked, "why this leg?" "Sightseeing, I want to see Grand Coulee from the air." He pointed to various symbols on the chart and queried me for what they were. We went over airspace types and definitions, as well as weather minimums in excruciating detail. It was about 90 minutes and seemed pretty thorough. I had the advantage of having passed the written exam only a couple of weeks before (98%) so most of that was still fresh.

We rescheduled the practical exam. At the time, I was relieved, as I was incredibly nervous. The postponement meant that I had met Arnold E. Ebneter, knew he was a straight-shooting good guy, and I had another week to practice.

The weather permitted 2 more practice flights. The weather limited the first to the pattern and T/O's and landings. Practiced a bunch of forward slips to landing, as Chong and I had never done them. The weather was poor for the next 2 days, so I was getting more nervous, because I REALLY wanted to practice all the manuvers before the checkride. The weather cooperated Thursday and I got to the north and practiced everything, stalls, MCA (minimum controllable airspeed), turns around a point, S-turns, traffic monitoring, steep turns. Then returned to Harvey for a few landings and go-arounds. 2.3 hour flight.

I took Friday off, so I could fully obsess :-) Went to the bank, picked up stamps, ordered a fruit tart for Toni's birthday dinner at Mom's that night, and then went home and took a short, fitful nap. Awoke, updated the first XC navigation leg, and made a sandwich for the road. Was preparing to leave when Joyce showed up for some moral and emotional support. It was GREATLY appreciated. Left for the field about 2PM, and arrived about 2:45 PM.

Arnold E. Ebneter, DPA, had back to back checkrides with students of Chong (Cole and me). Cole was upstairs getting congratulated, so I joined in and shook his hand. He knew I was next and made a comment that it wasn't as bad as he had imagined and that Arnold was a great guy, and I shouldn't worry. Cole said I'd do fine, as he'd seen me land. I replied that he had seen it from the outside, and he didn't see Chong screaming on the inside.

Did I mention that I was nervous? I was even a little nauseous.

Arnold saw me and said he had a short errand to run and that he would be back shortly. I got dispatched and went outside to sit in the sun. I see Arnold walking from the aircraft hangers carrying a bucket of something to the maintenance hangar. I think he had drained the oil in his plane and was dropping off the waste oil.

We got started about 5 mintutes late. He explained what we were going to do, and the order in which we were going to do it. I would be the PIC (Pilot in Command) for the flight and should log it thusly. We would do a normal takeoff and come on course for the first leg of the XC. Then hood work, then diversion, then normal landing and takeoff at the diverted airport, then manuvers over the practice area, then back to Harvey for performance takeoffs and landings.

I waited for Arnold at the plane so he could observe the pre-flight. I think he had expected me to just go ahead and pre-flight without him, but I figured I'd just wait for him. He didn't make a single comment or ask a single question during the pre-flight.

Climbed in and got settled. Carefully went over the checklist, as usual, and started the engine. Continued with the checklist during run up and the normal takeoff, which was good. Climbed to 700' then turned north until above pattern altitude (1000') then came to 063, my first XC leg heading. We flew that for a few minutes and climbed to 3000', then Arnold asked where we were. I had not really been paying attention. The chart was on my knee so I picked it up, looked outside, found a cluster of 3 lakes and noted it to Arnold. Lost procedures were over. He took the plane and I put on the hood.

The hood is an ingenious implement of torture. Basically, it is a very big hat brim/visor. It blocks your vision to the sides and above. You can see the instrument panel but not outside the plane.

My hood work was some of my best. Although Arnold had said to come to a heading of 300 and I came to a perfect heading of 330. He didn't care. He took the plane and had me put my head down and close my eyes. Unusual attitudes! Arnold's unusual attitudes weren't that unusual. Certainly not as unusual as the ones Chong and I had practiced. First was a climbing turn, maybe 25 degrees. Jammed full power, dropped the nose and leveled the wings. Second was a descending turn. Pulled power, leveled the wings, and pulled up. End of hood work. So far so good.

Let's divert to Paine field. I tuned the VOR, listened to the Ident, then centered the needle, and came to that heading. I pointed out PAE about 15 miles ahead. End of VOR navigation. Tuned the ATIS (Aerodrome Terminal Information System (weather and runways), and wrote everything down. Set the altimiter (30.40!). Tuned 120.2 and called the tower, "Paine tower, Cessna 6509L." No response, but a lot of chatter. I repeated the radio call, and the tower responded. I said, "Cessna 6509L with information November, 7 miles SE inbound for full stop." "Cessna 6509L make for straight-in to runway 34R and report 2 mile final." I parroted, "6509L, make for straight-in to runway 34R and report 2 mile final, thank you." God damn! A straight-in approach on my checkride!? Much like that straight-in billiard shot, a straight-in approach can be tricky.

We flew on for a few minutes and I couldn't remember which runway he had given me. I didn't write it down. I asked Arnold, and he said he thought 34R. I thought about it for a few seconds, then in a lull in the radio chatter asked, "Paine tower, Cessna 6509L, please confirm runway 34R." "6509L, confirmed on runway 34R." Okay, so now there is no question and no harm done, and I've demonstrated my attitude. Good boy.

Not too happy about the straight in approach, but what-the-hell. I was looking for the green tanks, but never found them, so I rolled onto final guessing at 2 miles. Reported my position to the tower, and he repeated my landing clearance and noted a Bonanza on short final. I drop the first increment of flaps and stabilize at 70 knots, then drop the next increment of flaps, and slow to 65 knots. A little low on the approach, VASI is all red.

[VASI - Visual Approach Slope Indicator - These are bright lights off to the side of the runway. There are 2 sets of lights separated by 50-100 feet along the runway. They are dual lights, both red and white, and shine into the approach at a the appropriate angle. If you are above the glideslope the lights are white. If you are below the glideslope the lights are red. The idea is to get the closer light white and the farther light red, meaning you are above the nearer light's glideslope and below the farther light's glideslope.]

[The stall horn is a little flipper about 3/4" square that sticks out of the leading edge of the wing. If lifted the back of the flipper closes a circut and the stall horn buzzes or screeches. If the angle of attack of the wing to the air is lower than the stall angle the air pressure keeps the flipper pressed down. If the angle of attack is very close to the stall angle the flipper is blown up and turns on the stall horn.]

I goose the power until we intercept the glide slope, then go full flaps, and slow to 60 knots. I pull power over the threshold and glide in with the stall horn screaming and plop onto the runway in an EXCELLENT short-field landing. Except, it was supposed to be a normal landing. Who cares, it was a good landing. No problem. Taxi off the runway to the left.

Contact ground control, and request taxi for takeoff on 34R. He clears the taxi. Later, in his office, Arnold commented on my failure to acknowledge the taxi clearance. He said that I was very polite, and thanked ground control, but I did not acknowledge the taxi clearance. Oops. I always acknowledge runway clearances, but didn't really hold ground ops in the same regard as tower ops. Interestingly, I didn't even realize that I held tower and ground in different regards. I learned something important. Taxi back to the end of 34R at taxiway G6. Called the tower, got takeoff clearance, and repeated the clearance. I explained that we had plenty of runway and were not going to use any flaps. Did a normal takeoff with departure to the east.

I was carefull to turn east over the soccer fields to avoid flying over the Boeing buildings, and careful to briskly climb above 1600' since Erik had pointed out that below was a congested area and we need 1000' over congested areas. PAE tower released us from their frequency, and Arnold had me head NE to the practice area. Basically we headed over Lake Stevens.

Arnold called for steep turns, and I said that I wanted to wait until we were a little farther east so I was sure to complete the manuver east of the river to give the Everett homeport TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction - generally permanent) good clearance. We flew a few more minutes, then I rolled into a left-hand steep turn. Nailed 45 degrees pretty well, goosed power just a bit, maintained good external and internal awareness, rolled out within the PTS (Practical Test Standard), and rolled into a right-hand steep turn and performed it equally well. I am relieved.

Next Arnold calls for MCA (Minimum Controllable Airspeed). I come to 000 heading, then pull carburator heat, then pull power to 1500 RPM, keep the nose up, bleed off airspeed, and when in the white arc drop the first flaps, slow some more, and drop the rest of the flaps. Watch the altitude and airspeed. We slow through 45 knots maintaining altitude with a steep up pitch, and I increase power. Our airspeed stabilizes around 45 knots and I play with pitch and power to get it around 40. The stall horn is screaming. The plane feels like a wallowing boat. He calls for a turn in one direction, then the other, then calls for a recovery. MCA is over and I'm not busted yet!

Next, power-on stall. I realize I have not done my clearing turns - YIKES! Maybe Arnold thinks my steep turns were clearing turns, but I better do some now. So, I say that I'd like to do a clearing turn first, and do so, briskly executing a 180 degree turn while checking for traffic, then repeat the instructions for power-off stall. No, power-on stall. Okay. Pull carb heat, pull power to 1500, keep nose up, bleed off airspeed, we hit 60 knots, go carb heat off, full power, and pitch up. Come on baby! I had tried to get a cloud in my view for easier rudder orientation, but we were pitched up into a featureless blue sky, so I look out the left window and adjust yaw. Stall horn goes off and I call it, controls get mushy and I call it, a bit of buffet and I call it, and finally it breaks and the nose drops. I release some back pressure on the yoke, retract some flaps, gain a bit of airspeed, pitch back up, and retract all the flaps coming to a 70 knot climb. Not burned yet, but there is still time.

Arnold calls a power-off stall. I do a clearing turn. All my turns are preceeded by a little wing-up to get a good look in the direction of the turn. Good boy! Pull carburator heat, pull power to 1500, pitch up to maintain altitude and bleed off airspeed. In the white arc I drop first flaps, then straight to full flaps. Hit 60 knots and pull power completely, then pitch down and trim for a 60 knot descent. Once stable (3 seconds), I pitch to level or slightly higher. Airspeed drops, I call the stall horn, call the mush, call a buffet, call the stall. Nose drops, carb heat off, full power, retract some flaps, gain a bit of airspeed, pull up and establish a positive climb rate, retract the rest of the flaps and trim for a 70 knot climb. Oh, baby, I might pass this thing!

Turns around a point. I start looking for a good landmark, and Arnold pulls power. We just lost the engine. I trim for best glide angle, which in a C152 is just spinning the trim wheel back until it stops, then start looking around for a place to put it down. I choose a spot, but need to drop some altitude, so I start some S-turns, while I check fuel, ignition, etc. We still have a long ways to come down so I start a forward slip. So far this is my weakest performance and I know it. I'm looking outside and Arnold terminates the manuver by applying full power. We are trimmed for best glide angle, that is, the trim tab is pegged at nose up. The engine roars to life and the nose pitches up violently reaching for the sky! The yoke slams back against my hand and I jam it forward to counteract the sudden pitchup. Everything on the dash, as well as our butts pop up in the air then slam back down as we level off. I said something intelligent like, "Whoa!" Neither of us made any comment other than that. It was Arnold's doing, and I wonder whether it was part of the test to see how I react to something unexpected and off-the-wall. If so, I passed. Surprizingly, this episode did not unnerve me. In fact, by this time I was pretty calm.

Okay, back to the turns around a point. Found a white house, and made an altitude of 1500 feet. It's fall and a few homes in the area had nice smoke plumes pointing mostly NE, so I verbally acknowledged the smoke direction and entered the turn on left downwind. There was not much wind, and Arnold looked bored. I split my attention well between the house, the instruments, and traffic monitoring. In the middle of the turn Arnold asked, "What's that little gauge?" I answer, "It's the suction gauge." He asks, "What's it do?" I answer, "Monitors the vacuum system for the instruments." Passed the distraction test. Arnold has me roll out of the turns a little early and says to head back to Harvey. Okay, passed ground reference without having to do S-turns.

To stay out of the Everett homeport TFR, I carefully stay east of the river and make for the bend in the river and slowly descend to pattern altitude. Make the "bend in the river" radio call, and prepare for a normal landing. Good pattern, good approach, slow on final, but I really don't want to float too much, and a good landing. Stall horn was going off. Taxi around for a short-field takeoff and landing. Use the checklist to clean up the plane after leaving the runway.

[A short field takeoff assumes an imaginary 50 foot obstacle at the end of the runway. You bring the engine to full power with the plane stationary at the end of the runway, then release the brakes. At minimum rotation speed you yank it into the air and make for a best angle of climb (most climb in shortest distance, Vx). Once clear of all obstructions you make for best rate of climb (most climb in shortest time, Vy).]

I configured the plane for takeoff. Take the runway at the very end and center the plane and come to a stop. Jam the brakes, and apply full power. The plane starts to buffet and rock as the prop wash hits the wings and fuselage. I verbally note that the engine instruments look good. Release the brakes and apply right rudder. We are right on the centerline. At 50 knots, I firmly apply back pressure, and come to a Vx climb. Arnold states that we have cleared the obstruction, so I retract flaps and come to a Vy climb. Not busted. A little long on base so I overshot the runway alignment a bit. Set up for a short-field landing. Slow on final. Arnold had said that there is NO imaginary obstruction, so I can use any glide slope I want. I'm down to 55 knots when I pull power and put it down right on the numbers, slap the flaps up and brake hard. We made the first taxiway easily. Arnold turned around and looked behind us. It was just like the short-field landing that I had done for Chong in our last dual, when he said, if I did it just like that for Arnold, it would be perfect. Well, it was nearly perfect. After all the worry about short-field landings I nailed it.

[Soft-field takeoffs are designed to protect the nose gear. You roll onto the runway and do not stop. If you stop you may get stuck in the mud, so you roll onto the runway and hit full power. The yoke is way back so as the plane picks up a little speed the nosewheel pops off the ground. But, the plane still doesn't have enough speed to liftoff, so you are tearing down the runway doing a wheelie. You need to manage the yoke to keep the nosewheel off the ground, but not lift off too soon. At the minimum rotation speed you ease it off the runway and keep it in ground effect until you have attained a suitable climb airspeed, then pitch up into a climb.]

Taxi around for a soft-field takeoff and landing from the pavement. The grass was closed. Take off was good. Got airborne and stayed in ground effect a few seconds to accelerate then came to Vy for climb out. Good pattern, good roll onto final alignment, flaps are full, I'm just about to pull power, and Arnold calls a go-around. EEK! I should have been expecting it, but wasn't. Carb heat off, full power, retract some flaps. We are trimmed for landing and the nose wants to pitchup, so I've got considerable pressure keeping the nose down. Retract the rest of the flaps, trim for 70 knot climb. Once stabilized, I radio call the go-around. Arnold explains that the approach was fine he just wanted to test my go-around. Oh, my god, one soft-field landing away from getting through this!

[Soft-field landings are designed primarily to protect the nose gear. Just as you are about to touch down you goose power for a moment to cushion the touchdown. You don't want the main gear to dig into the surface. Then you hold off the nose drop until the last possible moment.]

Good pattern and approach, pull power, and start flare, we wander to the left and I'm correcting and then goose power to cushion, and we float a bit, and are coming back down, so I goose again, and we gently touch down, then bounce a couple of inches, come down again, and I keep the nose up until I'm out of backpressure and the nose drops. We are not well centered, but to the left. I go all the way to the last taxiway, pull off and clean up the airplane. Damn! Did I blow it on the last manuver?! Arnold says to park it. He gets out and says to meet him inside.

I am sweating bullets. It was not a good soft-field, but it was safe and gentle, if a little long. I can't believe that I could of blown it at the last posible moment. It's an anxious 10 minutes while I dump the adrenaline and secure the plane. It is a long walk across the grass and tarmac to drop off the dispatch board and head for Arnold's office.

I sit down. It's REALLY hot in Arnold's office. He says to close the door. Now I'm REALLY worried, why close the door for good news? Crap. Crap. Crap. Arnold says, "You passed." HOLY SHIT! I'm a pilot. He shook my hand. I said, "Thank you."

He went on to explain that he always tells the student in his office with the door shut. That way the student is the first to know, and no one is way-laid on the way in. I must admit that I was not paying the utmost attention to his explanation.

I asked for comments on the test. He picked up his notes. Everything looked good and he only had a couple of comments. One was from the oral exam and had to do with Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL). Seemed a minor, nit-picky point, but I dutifully took notes, though his comments were not real clear. He mentioned the ground control issue above, and then spent some time on my emergency manuvers. He said that he really needed to sit down with the instructors and tell them what he wanted to see taught in this regard. I should have dropped flaps and just made for the landing without dithering around. He said if you have to dive for the deck, then dive for the deck. Put out everything that can create drag and descend. He didn't bust me for it and seemed to lay the blame on the instructors - interesting. His last comment was that I seemed a little slow on final, and chuckled and said that I had been trying hard to avoid long floats for the checkride.

Other than that it all looked good. He typed up the temporary license. By the time we were done it was nearly 6:00 PM and most everyone was gone. Chong was on a flight, and only Bryce and Jessica were there to congratulate me. It's okay, I was high enough already. I'll stop by Ponti's and figure out how to give Chong and his wife a dinner in thanks.


First Flight in 2175N

Date : 2002-10-24, Thursday, 3:00 PM
Airport : Harvey Field, S43
Runway : 32
Aircraft : Piper Warrior II PA-28-161
Tail number : 2175N
Hours, PIC : 2.1
Total hours : 79.7
Weather : 6SM hazey
Manuvers : Slow filght, power on/off stalls, steep turns, landings

Check-out ride in Gregg's Piper Warrior II.

I had scheduled a block of Chong's time at 3PM. I felt more comfortable with Chong there as backup in a strange plane. I got to the plane at 2PM and did the preflight and sat in the left seat and got familiar with the controls. The manual flaps lever is easy to use, but weird. To release the flaps the pilot needs to lean way forward to depress the release button on the tip of the lever.

The rudder pedals are VERY stiff when the plane is not moving, but light up a lot when the plane is moving and in flight. I don't understand it. [Now I understand it. When the nose gear is up, as when the plane is on the ground, the rudder pedals turn the nose gear for steering. Not true in the C152.]

Obviously the Piper is a low-wing aircraft. Much different from a Cessna high-wing. As such, many things are different. The preflight is a bit different. You can not see the landing gear due to the wheel farings. There are inspection ports, but basically all you can see is the tire. I wonder what the performance difference is with and without the farings? The plane has a "stabilizer" rather than an elevator. The difference being a stabilizer is a movable horizontal stabilizer - the entire thing moves. An elevator is just a movable section of the otherwise fixed horizontal stabilizer. It is difficult to see the securing bolts and nuts on the stabilizer and rudder.

The cockpit is "more" - more gauges, more radios, more navigation, just more. Throttle and mixture controls are handles not plungers. There is both stabilizer trim AND rudder trim. Since the fuel tanks are below the engine there is an electric fuel pump as well as the mechanical fuel pump in the engine. The fuel tank selector does not have a "both" option, so you need to cycle between the left and right tanks manually and periodically to keep the load balanced. Manual flaps, stabilizer trim wheel between the seats, a parking brake, better ventilation, a more secure door, one less door, no opening windows, a couple of extra seats all make the plane a little different than the lowly C-152 I've exclusively flown till now.

I pickup Chong at the office, and of course he is running late, and needs to make a couple phone calls, and we do not get off the ground until 3:30PM. Chong asked if I had been studying the POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook), and of course I had. He asked if I knew the various speeds, and I said "most of them". He asked for best glide and I said 79. He asked knots or MPH? And I thought knots. While waiting for Chong I picked up a quart of oil because the oil level was at 5.5 quarts on the 8-6 quart system.

I add the oil and we pull the plane out of the hangar. I climb in, then Chong. I handed Chong the checklist which has all the speeds and they are all in knots, but the best glide speed is 73, not 79 - damn :-) Chong remarked that the avionics package was complete for instrument flight. He quized me on the rotation and climb-out speeds - Vr = 45-55, Vx = 63, and Vy = 79. I said I planned on Vr of 55. Ran through the pre-start checklist, then the start check list, and got the engine started. Much quieter than the C-152.

Since the rudder pedals were so stiff it was a surprise how much they had lightened up after the prop was turning. We taxied to the runup area and I went through the ground and run up checklists. Finished and started the roll to the line, when I had the uneasy feeling that I was missing something - oops! Flight instrument check. Stopped the roll and set the AI, altimeter, and DI. Went to the line. We discussed the use of the electric fuel pump and carb heat. The electric fuel pump is only used on takeoff and landings as insurance against failure of the mechanical fuel pump. It is turned off after gaining some altitude, and turned on at power-down for the landing approach.

At the line, I do a radio check, check the fuel selector, pull up a notch of flaps (10 degrees), set the pitch trim wheel, turn on the electric fuel pump, set the transponder to ALT, make the takeoff radio call, and roll out onto the runway.

The plane feels like some weird strange beast. The wings are in the wrong place. I'm sitting higher than I'm used to. The throttle is a T-handle and the rudder pedals are meaty. Everthing is a little bigger and more robust. Advance the throttle and the plane starts to roll. You can really feel the ground effect in the low-wing. At 45 knots the plane gets light, and at 55 it's floating and sliding on the runway. A good Vr is about 50 knots, slower than the C-152. Trimmed properly the plane jumps off the ground and naturally pitches to about 65 knots.

We climb, turn downwind, and head for the southeast practice area, making our altitude 2500. I find it hard to keep the plane from climbing, since I am not familiar with the level flight sight picture. Chong calls for slow flight. Retard throttle to 1500 RPM, drop the first notch of flaps, then the next, and the last (40 degrees). Keep the pitch up. We slow to 50 knots, then slower, and start losing altitude, so I advance the throttle to keep us up, and we mush around at 45-50 knots. Try some turns. The stall horn squeeks now and then. I recover. No problems.

Let's try a power-off stall. Okay. Retard throttle, drop flaps, keep pitch attitude, and at 60 knots power off. Stall horn goes off, and we start buffetting and I'm waiting for the stall and waiting for the stall, and we keep buffetting and finally get a stutter so I recover. Chong asked if I had kept it stalled so long on purpose. I said, no, I was just trying to get it to drop. The Piper does not stall the same way as the C-152. Apparently, it stutters and flutters at the edge of the stall and really needs to be pushed over the edge. There was very little tendency to drop a wing. I did it again, and could see how the buffeting and stuttering was actually a continous series of stalls and recoveries. To get it to drop the yoke had to be way back.

On to power-on stalls. I was a bit worried about more left-turning tendency with the bigger engine. Rigged for slow flight with no flaps. At 60 punched full power and pitched up. Slight yaw to the left from the engine torque. Touched the right rudder to compensate. Very similar to the power-off, in that the stall was very benign and easy to control. Did another one just for good measure.

Then Chong suggested steep turns. Again I had a little trouble keeping the plane from climbing. I did not accurately and judiciously re-trim for level flight after the slow flight and stalls. I gained over 100 feet and remarked that I had busted the PTS. Chong found this amusing and said it wasn't a checkride. The steep turns were okay. Easy to keep 45 degrees of bank. Not much over-banking tendency, even the opposite.

This is an easy plane to fly.

Let's go do some landings. Paine or Harvey, your choice. I figure that I've only got Chong for 90 minutes, Paine is lost in the haze, we'll lose time getting there, and the pattern is longer. Let's go to Harvey. We'll head for the bend in the river. We were at 3000' as we crossed Harvey field to the south. A few minutes later Chong pointed out that we had a couple of thousand feet to lose, and now that I owned a plane I should be thinking about resource (fuel) management. Cool, then let's trade some altitude for fuel. Power back and pitch for 80 knots. A few minutes later Chong says we can increase speed, so I pitch for 100 knots and the descent looks better. As we approach the bend in the river Chong suggests that he make the first landing so I can watch the procedure. "I have the plane." "You have the plane."

There is a little more to do in the Warrior on downwind than in the C-152. You turn the fuel tank selector to the fullest tank, cycle the carb heat which takes 10-15 seconds longer than just turning it on, turn on the electric fuel pump, retard the throttle, drop flaps, and trim. It may only be 15 seconds longer, but at 100 knots that's about 2500', nearly as long as the Harvey runway. So, the process needs to start as you enter the downwind leg.

Everything is cool as we are on short final. Approach speed is about 65 knots, Chong's descent looks good. He rounds out too high, much too high, and we float in the flare, bleeding off airspeed. In the process the nose gets high and we bank and drift to the right - farther off the centerline than I've ever seen Chong land. He starts to bring it back and we drop the last couple of feet to the runway - a real stinker! Chong says that it was horrible :-) I said something charitable, while inwardingly rejoicing.

Once we are across the line I take the controls and we go back around for another cycle. This will be my first landing in something other than a C-152. I start the approach procedure at the far numbers - too late. While setting up we inadvertantly climb to 1100', so we are now high and fast. Turn to base is okay and amazingly you can see the runway! In a high-wing the wing blocks the view of the runway during the pattern turns. Being able to see the runway is good. The turn to final is long I have to spiral back to align with the runway. In this case not a bad situation since it bled off both altitude and airspeed. The plane feels pretty stable on final. It's not bouncing around in any little air pocket like the C-152. I start my flare a bit early, bleed speed, hold it off, then it sinks and god-damn if it's not a pretty good landing! Certainly much better than Chong's. It's always good to fly better than your instructor!

Over the line, clean up the plane (flaps up, fuel pump off, transponder to standby), and go around for another cycle. Chong's comments: start the approach checklist sooner, you can drop flaps at 103 kts in this plane, and start the round out a bit later. Cool, my thoughts, exactly.

Second try was much better. Started the checklist sooner, dropped flaps sooner, started the round-out later, and it was a good landing, better than the first.

Chong's time was up so I dropped him at the office and went back up for another 6 or 7 landings. Things continued to improve. I forgot to trim for takeoff a few times and the plane seemed sluggish in the climb. Well, duh, it was trimmed for a slight nose-down with full flaps. Once I remembered to add trim to takeoff checklist the climb performance came back. The turn to final got better. This plane is not quite as agile as the C-152. Also, I was a little tight in my earlier downwind.

Takeoff leassons learned:

Landing lessons learned:

In general the plane is easier to fly than the C-152. It is most certainly more stable which is quite apparent in slow-flight and on final approach. Let the seat back from the panel a bit. The perfect position is the first notch that feels like you are too far away. The seats suck. They are too narrow. The lumbar wings stab you right in the kidneys. I need a center back cushion of 2" thick by 12" wide foam to keep my kidneys from getting pounded. Ouch!

I'm buying half of it.

A Practice Day

Date :
Airport : Harvey Field, S43
Runway : 32
Aircraft : Piper Warrior II PA-28-161
Tail number : 2175N
Hours, PIC : 2.3
Total hours : 110.2
Weather : 10SM SCT025 32006
Manuvers : T/O and landings, slow flight

17 days since my last flight. I was the last to use the plane.

Wanted to practice slow flight and determine the stall speeds of the plane at all flap settings. Also wanted to practice slow full flap landings.

Got to the field at noon, and had to wait until 1:30 for the ceiling to clear. Took off around 2PM. Climbed to 4500 feet and flew over the top of the broken marine layer at 2500. At the Skagit flats it broke up a lot and I did the stall speed determinations.

Pulled power to 1600 RPM and kept the nose up to bleed airspeed. As the plane slowed increased power and increased pitch to keep from losing altitude. Clean configuration (no flaps) and we are mushing around the sky at a stable 50 knots. Pitch up just a bit and try to find the edge of the stall. Airspeed is edging down, and altitude is stable. Stall horn starts to squeal. We get a bit of buffetting - a flutter really. If the yoke is held just beyond the stall pitch, the plane will flutter just at the point of a stall. It wants to pitch up beyond the stall point, but it gently stalls and falls back into lift domain. This is happening a few times a second, so the plane seems to flutter. Cool. The stall horn has not stopped squealing. Fun, fun, fun! To force it over into the stall domain you need to give it another inch or two of back pressure. Then nose drops in a typical stall.

These are Indicated Airspeed values.

WeightAltTemp CAltim0 Flap10 Flap25 Flap40 Flaps
1999.54500030.5244 kts41 kts38 kts35 kts

Fairly linear function plotted with flap notches.

Made for the Anacortes refinery and entered the diagonal for 34 at BVS.

Did 4 laps, and parked and took a break. During the break an experimental plane working the pattern with me, apparently had a prop strike. It had one center wheel and two spindly underwing mini-wheels. The plane must be landed on the single center wheel, then it cants over onto one of the spindly underwing mini-wheels. The runway was closed for about 10 minutes until they towed the plane off the runway.

At the numbers I was trying for 95 knots, and 2000-2200 RPM. The original formula works pretty well, but the airspeed on final can be lowered to 60.


First two landings had a bit of a drop as I rounded out a little high. The plane floats so well that it doesn't drop like a highwing. All landings were GOOD with nothing close to a nose prong. All very short rolls. A VERY good day.

Flew with bald eagles and hawks around BVS. These birds are not intimidated by my little airplane. They will eye you from 30 feet away and not give ground. It is up to me to avoid them.

Took off from BVS and decided to bag Whidbey Airpark at Langley (W10). This is a 2400x25' runway cut out of a forest. It was 4PM and the sun was low. I was looking for the runway and didn't see it until I was literally over the north end of the field. Made a quick radio call announcing my position. No problem, as there was no one using the field.

W10 is cut out of a forest. 100 foot high evergreens line the field on the east, west, and north sides. On downwind you can not see the runway for the trees. This means you can not see the numbers to know when to reduce power, so take your best guess and then use power on final to adjust your glideslope. Downwind for 34 passes over a red and white radio tower. Turn base over the lake at the south end. On final you get your first look at how narrow the runway really is. Watch the winds. They can be squirrelly at and below treetop level. My glideslope was pretty good and I only needed about 100 RPM for a few seconds to adjust. Touched down with full flaps at about 45 knots. There are no taxiways. The runway is so narow that my wingtips are over the grass on each side. I assumed that there would be a paved turn out to turn around in but there wasn't. I went all the way to the north end, and just turned around off the runway on the grass. Made a radio call to announce that I was taxiing back to the 34 end. Again I turned around on the grass, and lined up on the runway looking north. Seemingly inches past the north end of the runway is a wall of 100 foot tall douglas fir trees. They look very, very tall. Now my home field is only 2660 feet long and I lift off within the first 1000 feet, and I'm over 200 AGL by the time I reach the end of the runway. I know this. I know I can easily take off from this field. Other people do it all the time. My head knows this, but my guts are not quite so sure. Sitting on the field is like sitting at the bottom of a deep, dark canyon. Okay, despite what my guts are saying I know the plane and I know I can do this no sweat.

No daddling over the throttle, just jammed it to full and picked an abort spot on the runway. If I'm not airborne at the abort point, I pull power and hit the brakes. The trees start growing in the windscreen. They are bigger than they looked, and then I'm airborne and taking the elevator up. Despite the minor trepidation the takeoff is easy, and clear the trees by 100 feet. I would not want to do that on a hot summer day at max gross.

Headed east over Lake Stevens and approached Harvey from the South. This avoids the approach to the "bend in the river", in which you are starring directly into the sun and haze. Landing at Harvey was good.

Tomorrow, flying again!

Flying on Maui

Date : 2004-01-28
Airport : PHOG, Kahului, Maui, HI
Runway : 02, 05
Aircraft : 1976 Piper Archer PA-28-181
Tail number : N6169J
Hours, PIC : 2.0
Weather : 04021G28KT 10SM SCT025
Manuvers : 4 landings, 2 on 05, 2 on 02

Rented an Archer (P28-181) from Maui Aviators at the Kahului Airport on Maui. The Archer has the same airframe as a Warrior II except with a 180 HP engine.

Arrived at noon, a little nervous about flying a checkout in an unfamiliar plane with an unfamiliar CFI at an unfamiliar airport. Joyce dropped me off then went to shop in Kahului at Fabric Mart. Filled out a bit of paperwork, then Jon sat down with me and went over the sectional and airport diagram. He explained the standard procedures in and out of Kahului in the four directions, NW, NE, SE, and SW. Traffic patterns are 800' in Hawaii. He explained departure clearance, Maui app/dep, Maui Tower, Maui ground, and the frequencies associated with each as well as the enroute frequencies associated with each island. He explained that the east/west altitudes were different in the islands with west traffic at thousands and east traffic at thousands plus five hundred. In general the traffic in Hawaii is low, westbound 1000, 2000, or 3000, and east bound 1500, 2500, 3500. He explained the free taxi east ramp. Jon suggested I visit the northshore of Molokai to see the world's highest sea cliffs. It was a lot to absorb in a single 20 minute session.

After the briefing Jon went off to do something else and I hung out for about 20 minutes waiting for the Archer to come back from another check out. They returned and the checked out woman and I chatted for a moment. She also owns a Warrior and the same speeds apply, except, the airspeed indicator is calibrated in MPH on the outside arc and Knots on the inside arc.

I walked to the plane with my pack, kneeboard, and headset. I was organizing the cockpit when Ian arrived, the CFI to check me out. He ran through a very fast preflight while I finished up in the cabin. The plane was in poorer condition than 2175N. Dual Narco comms, a Narco DME and VOR. I never did get the VOR working. Same stabilizer and rudder trim. Interior was natty, but serviceable. The O-360 engine was under 300 hours.

After I had organized the cabin, I jumped out and did a preflight although Ian had already done his own. The wind was whipping down the runway. The palm trees were bent over with the leaves flapping like flags. The flap turn-buckles were stiff. I loosened the cowling hold downs and tried to lift the right cowling. It did not lift. Then I noticed that the cowling was NOT hinged like the Warrior and the top was a single piece. There is an oil dipstick inspection port much like a Cessna. I sumped the gas at the 3 points and checked fuel levels - an inch below the tabs on the right and just above the tabs on the left.

Ian explained how the plane liked to be started. There was no fuel primer. If warm, turn on the fuel pump, goose the throttle once, just crack the throttle, turn off the fuel pump, and hit the starter. If cold, goose the throttle twice. It worked perfectly. I felt a bit out of place in the cockpit. We taxied to the south end of the east ramp and did a run up. I worked from my Warrior checklists. The wind was whipping and while taxiing I was careful to have the stabilizer and the ailerons properly configured. Ian noted that 80 mph was the magic number on final, and that I could fly the plane just like the Warrior but adjust for MPH rather than knots.

We listened to the ATIS and heard that the winds were 282254Z 04014G21KT. Even at 21 knots the crosswind component was only 7.2 knots. We called Maui Tower and notified them we were headed for taxiway echo for take off on runway 02 for touch and goes on runway 05. We had to wait for an airliner to clear the runway before getting "position and hold" clearance. We got takeoff clearance, a warning to watch for wake turbulence, and I pulled onto the runway, no flaps, and went to full throttle. The plane accelerated a bit better than the Warrior. Ian had said that Vr was 60-70 mph. The plane was considerably more nose heavy than the Warrior and despite pulling back on the yoke we hit 80 mph before liftoff. It was very easy to avoid wake turbulence and rotate well before the position at which the airliner rotate. The plane immediately moved to the left of the centerline and weathervaned to the right. I compensated. At 300' we turned out to the left to enter a left downwind on runway 05. I wasn't really ready for a landing and was looking around at the scenery so we climbed 100' over TPA to 900' and I pulled power late. Used full flaps on final and bounced it in on the mains to the left of the centerline. Played the throttle a lot in the flare because I rounded out too high. Winds were around 20 knots with gusts, though fairly well-aligned with the runway. Ian was working the radio and we made a full stop on the runway and sat while we waited for another airliner to clear runway 02. We took off from 05 and this time I paid attention. I climbed to 800' and pulled power abeam the numbers, flew a downwind, base, and final leg with flap increases for each leg. Again I played the throttle to ease it onto the runway. Again, not a great landing, but better than the first.

We made this a touch and go and took off with a turn out to the right to come to a right downwind on 05. The novelty and strangeness had worn off and I was feeling comfortable in the cockpit. I pulled power, increased flaps, and put it down even better. Ian said to pull off onto the east ramp and drop him off - I had passed the check out. I was uncomfortable with someone getting out of the plane while the prop was turning, so instead I taxiied to the tie-down, shut down, and took the opportunity to visit the can.

Returned to the plane, started it up, and taxiied to the echo taxiway. Had some confusion with the tower - I needed to call departure clearance to get a squak code before the tower. Straightened that out, was told to wait at the line. An airliner came in and landed on 02, then Maui Aviators' Cessna Aerobat was cleared to taxi into place and hold for runway clearance and wake turbulence. The Aerobat got take off clearance and I got "position and hold" clearance, then take off clearance. Went to full throttle and noted the same nose heaviness. I wasready for the crosswind, and left the runway at about 70 mph and shot into the sky with the help of a 20 knot headwind.

Turned out to the NW with the intent of visiting Molokai. Clearance delivery had given me the instructions to maintain 1000' and stay 2 miles off shore. Out over Kahului Bay, West Maui, the Io Valley was just off to the left. The northshore was cloudy at about 2000 feet. The tower terminated radar services and I squawked 1200 and maintained 1000'. There was a problem with the Mode C on the transponder. It was inoperative and repeated cycling did not clear it. Headed NW along the shoreline gawking. The water was filled with whitecaps. Around the north end of West Maui I made a position report on the Kapalua airport (private) frequency stating my intentions to cross the channel.

I headed out across the Pailolo Channel that separates West Maui from Molokai. Low clouds at about 2000' shrouded the northshore of Molokai. Snapped pictures of the thousand foot high sea cliffs, reputedly the highest in the world. In a few of the valleys 800' waterfalls cascaded into the sea. Flew east until I encountered the Kalaupapa peninsula where I made an in bound 180 and headed back along the cliffs to the east. I climbed to about 1400 due to the cloud base. Took more photos. The air was a little bumpy.

Rounded the east point of Molokai, and turned to the southwest aiming for Lahaina, West Maui. Crossed the Pailolo Channel at 1500' and followed the coast from Kaanapali to McGregor Point snapping photos. Around Olowalu the turbulence became moderate which is to say pretty damn bumpy. By McGregor Point it was VERY moderate. The plane was controlable, but bucking, rolling, climbing, and dropping. I could hear the stuff in the baggage compartment flying around. At one point the plane dropped hard, then, BAM!, hit hard air. Rolled to a 45 degree bank suddenly. It was not pleasant. Communicated with Maui approach while fighting the turbulence, and probably a few exclamations and perhaps an expletive or two got through. Crossed Maalea Bay and followed the coast south over Kehei. The turbulence got better then worsened. There was a long black cloud extending from Makena to Kahoolawe, and as I neared the turbulence increased. With an altitude of only 1500' I was afraid of inverting in the turbulence and not having enough altitude to recover. I headed inland in the hope of calmer air and found some a mile inland of MaKena hill, though the price was fighting a strong downdraft as the trade winds flowed downslope over Haleakala. Followed the coast of thesouth side of Haleakala fighting the turbulence all the way. I took no photos between McGregor Point and the south shore of Haleakala. Climbed to 2500' looking for calmer air, but didn't find it. I should have climbed to 5000' feet, since the sky was clear on this side of the mountain, but I didn't think of it.

Up ahead I could see clouds around the east end of Haleakala that looked thick and low. The turbulence was still alarming and not abating, so at around Kaupo I decided to turn around and head back to Kahului. I was also scheduled to have the plane back by 3PM.

On the way back, I managed to snap a few photos while looking for calmer air. Again passed inland of Makena and then turned left out into Maui Channel. I had an idea to get a photo of Molokini atoll. As I approached the turbulence increased to the point that I turned back toward the airport and called Maui Approach. They gave me a squawk code and said to remain clear of the Class C until I was within 10 miles, then call Maui tower. The plane was bucking around so hard that radio work was hard. I expect that I again tranmitted one or more, "eek", "whoa", "shit", "gasp" and other exclamations. Heard a radio call from a commercial airliner reporting moderated turbulence at 2700' near McGregor Point. Shit, if an airliner was experiencing moderate turbulence I was probably experiencing something approaching severe.

I approached the airport from the SE over Kehei staying east of the class C tail. The tower was clearly visible from 15 miles. At 10 miles from the VOR - the DMS was working - I called Maui tower and they said to turn twenty degrees to the left until I intersected the 02 runway centerline and then turn to straight-in. Again, the turbulence made for difficult communications.

After the 20 degree heading change it was a few minutes before turning onto the runway heading at 800'. An airliner was sitting on the 02 runway awaiting takeoff clearance. The tower controller called the airliner alerting them to the fact that I was on a 3 mile final and they were cleared for immediate takeoff, and they started their takeoff roll. I took the 3 mile final as a signal to pull power and add flaps. Airspeed was way fast when I intercepted the VASI glide slope. Eventually at full flaps I got a good, fairly stable descent. ATIS indicated winds of 290054Z 04021G28KT. Even with the gusts the cross wind component was only 9.6 knots at most. Held some right aileron and kicked some left rudder to align the nose. Did not check the airspeed on final because I was too busy maintaining the slip and positive control in the turbulence. Carried a bit of power onto the runway, then went to idle. Held the slip into the round out and flare. Touch down was smooth and roll out VERY short. Never touched the brakes, and the plane slowed to taxi speed all by itself well before the first taxiway, echo. I was quite pleased with the landing.