Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adventure ti- oh my goodness.

I went on another cross-country yesterday. Everything was great on the way there. On the way back, though, there were suddenly clouds, so I had to change my whole plan and try not to get lost and meanwhile there was lots of wind. Lots and lots of wind. As in, unless you were out at Auburn airport yesterday, I don't think you understand the magnitude of the wind. It wasn't gusting 50 or anything, but was coming at a 90-degree angle to the runway, and it was between 10 and 15 knots, which is between double and triple my limitation. Oops.

So the first time I tried to land, I didn't get anywhere near the runway before I decided to go around and try again. I wasn't expecting it to be as bad as it was, that's for sure. Somebody behind me landed okay. Then I came back for a second attempt. When I turned base, my airspeed absolutely died. It went from 85 to 55 (should be 75). I almost couldn't get the nose down. When I finally did get facing the runway, I tried to do crosswind correction, only it seems like every time I do that myself it goes horribly wrong, so I reverted to what I usually do: drift sideways down the runway.

The plane floated for forever before going crunch halfway down the runway. I think I was entirely on the left wheel at one point, then I slammed the right one down and skidded sideways. The brakes actually made noises. Bad noises. And they felt weird. I was (am) probably overreacting, it probably wasn't actually that horrible and it might just be that by that point I wanted to be on the ground more than anything in my whole life, but I really thought the gear was going to just collapse. When I finally made my "clear of the runway" radio call, I was having trouble breathing, and I didn't stop shaking until several hours later. My instructor came on the radio and said good job, but I later found out he hadn't seen the landing, so...yay? Another one did, though, and she jokingly complimented me on it later. :P We agreed that since the plane is still usable (more or less) then it was good.

"A good landing is any landing you can walk away from. A great landing is one where they can reuse the plane."


The guy who landed behind me came by later and asked who I was flying with. I said nobody and he responded "We were hoping nobody was soloing up there." Oops.

Aaaaaaaaaaaa planes. I love you so much, why can't we just get along.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hoquiam. Just kidding.

I tried to go to Hoquiam today. It was supposed to be nice, nice being scattered at 3,000 feet. Well, I couldn't even get up to 2,000, because at 1,700 I was practically level with clouds. The flight following person told me another person tried to go VFR out to the coast earlier and didn't make it. Five minutes after that I decided LOL I'm going home.

However, I saw another person from my school practicing instrument stuff at Tacoma Narrows, and a Chinook flew circles around me, so I tried to wave my wings at him to say hi, as he was much closer than I thought he was. Not sure if that was a success. Oh well. It was still pretty fun, as it was actually fairly nice everywhere else. Hooray airplanes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Adventure time!

I actually got to go up north to Skagit today. First solo cross-country was reasonably successful. I mean, sure I didn't get to open my flight plan on the way up, and I accidentally set my transponder to 7200 and then standby and confused the air traffic controller, and got pretty lost going up there, and it was really super windy and I probably should have landed somewhere else, and the wind was taking the controls out of my hands as I was sitting on the ground, and I got lost on the way back, and flew low over some hills, and had to use the GPS, and people at Auburn were debating which runway to use as one guy called final landing north just as another guy took off going south and they both had to do circles, but you know. That's life.

I heard an Australian guy talking to Seattle Approach. That made my entire day.

The flight following person reminded me I should listen to Arlington's advisory frequency as I overflew it because there were planes. I felt like a child being told not to eat cookies before dinner. They were hugely helpful, though. More than once I had people flying directly at me. There was some confusion regarding my flight plans, as the first one never got opened up, and on the way back apparently they opened both at the same time, so once I landed they had already called me and my school looking for me. Oh goodness.

But yeah. I guess it went okay. It was really stressful though. Trying to go on another short trip tomorrow even though my instructor wants me to go on a longer one. I don't think that's such a great idea.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WIND Part II, aka Sherlock needs to learn faster.

No adventures today, so I thought I would go out to the practice area and work on maneuvers, then come back and do more soft field landings. Hahaha, ha, that's funny.

I don't know what the winds aloft were exactly, but I'm going to guess around 20-something at least. At first, it was really cool; there are mountains over by our practice area, and I got kind of nerdtastically excited when I recognized the cap and roll clouds associated with mountain wave turbulence. This quickly grew less exciting as they started to move towards me. After doing one stall and about half a minute of slow flight, it started getting more cloudy and more windy, so I decided to go back to the airport. On the way I almost hit some birds. Fun times.

My landings were an exercise in bad decision-making.

On the first landing, I bounced twice and decided to go around before I broke something. The next few involved wing tips coming uncomfortably close to the runway. The wind observing thing on the radio said it was only about 5-7 knots, but as soon as I got up to about 200 feet the plane would start going sideways and bouncing all over the place, so I don't believe that for a second. The last time I took off, the wind was variable from 140 to 220 at 8. (Taking off runway 16, that was...yeah.) I probably shouldn't have done it, but I took off anyway. And then I landed. And then I parked and sat there for a second to see whether I was actually still alive. Note to self: don't do that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


After seeing thunderstorms predicted in the forecast today, I decided to do a local flight instead of attempting to dodge them while on adventures. This went okay. I need to work on soft field takeoffs and landings like there's no tomorrow, so that's what I tried to do.

Everything was going okay until my fifth takeoff. The radio said the wind was 5 knots, which is okay, but as soon as I got up to about 500 feet, the plane decided HELLO I THINK I'LL TURN RIGHT NOW. I kept listening to the winds as I got to each leg of the traffic pattern. By the time I was on final, it was 9 gusting 14. I'm pretty sure the clouds were dropping too, or at least the visibility was, because it started raining like crazy. I think I made six or seven mini landings, because I was trying to do a soft field landing, but instead it went bounce-bounce-bounce-hover-bounce-crunch.

At least I didn't break anything.

Although when I was parking I turned everything off and then a 16-knot gust blew the plane backwards about three feet.

I'm now nicknaming this plane Jinx. Because it's cursed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The weather continues.

It's supposed to be gross tomorrow. Again. I was somehow not scheduled to fly today, and even though I saw sunlight, it was also kind of windy, so maybe that was a good thing. There's been this endless stream of cold fronts for I don't even know how long now, and it's getting pretty old. I know Washington isn't famed for its mild winters, but still, it's March and I want to go on adventures in small planes.

I might study for instrument stuff or something in a minute. For now I'm making a cake. Cake is good. I would decorate it, but I'm in college. Trying to scrape together enough stuff to make it in the first place was enough of a challenge. It's funfetti. Should be delicious.

Maybe I can at least work on landings tomorrow.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Greetings, world.

This is the obligatory getting-to-know-me post. It'll be a long one, but if you're patient or impatient enough, there are pictures. Hooray!

So, looking back, I probably should've started this back when I actually started flight training, because then it would be way more exciting when I say I've soloed and I'm trying to go on cross-countries by myself, but I didn't think about it until now, so there.

Anyway. Hi, I'm Christine. My friends call me Sherlock. I'm going to Northwest Aviation College. I'm also a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound. But hopefully soon University of Washington instead.

I've been flying since the beginning of October. Since then, my first flight instructor (super fantastic awesome person named Brian) has been hired by Horizon, and my second instructor (super fantastic awesome person named Jon) decided to go fly helicopters for the military. I've also gone flying with another super fantastic awesome instructor named Bryce. We landed at Seatac on my third flight, which was hugely exciting and made up for the fact that we had done stalls for the first time earlier. My latest instructor is a superfantasticawesomeperson named Jesse. He's been to Antarctica. Have you been to Antarctica? I didn't think so.

This is Brian.

As you can see, he's having fun.

And this is my plane. (Sort of.)

He's one of six. I mostly like them all, but this one I soloed in, so it's kind of special.

Here's my shirt.

Yes, those are Angry Birds. Brian showed me the game, so then I had to try to defeat him at it. This rivalry remains unresolved, as Brian got a new phone and lost all of his high scores. Not my fault.

So back to the airplanes.

I've been signed off to do solo cross-countries for a week now, but the weather has been acting all Washington-in-March-y. Jesse said he wants me to be ready for my checkride in a week because I have a March 26th deadline when my school's winter quarter ends and I've heard everything from "nothing will happen, don't worry about it" to "training will completely stop so you'd better be flying five times a day." What can I do? I have so many restrictions that if it's remotely questionable outside, it's stay in the pattern or don't do anything. Lately it's been trending toward not doing anything. Blah. I've already finished private ground school (and passed my written) and I'm just about done with instrument ground. I'm going to do commercial ground next.

Puppy break!

Helicopters are cool too. I have lots of friends who fly them. Even though you KIDNAPPED MY FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR, I guess I can forgive you. You're pretty cool.

That's all I can think of for now. Updates on either flight school or college in the future. I'll try to keep the I-wish-I-was-only-a-pilot-and-not-in-college rants to a minimum.