Lesson 16: Instrument Reference, VOR Tracking, Crosswind Landings

Aircraft: C172 N52654

Flight  Time:  1.0 hours

Total Hours: 17.7

Fresh tracks on the runway today. I was the first one to takeoff after an afternoon of snowfall and runway 7 had about 3 inches of cover. After our climb, we headed over to the practice area, where I had another half hour of hood time. This time Mark had me track to the Big Lake VOR using only the instruments. Having a good handle on VOR navigation, I was able to complete this task with no trouble. I can tell that I’m so much more comfortable with the basic feel of handling the airplane, because I find myself holding the yoke like I hold the steering wheel of my car.

We also reviewed flying general headings and stall recovery by instrument reference and flying with no attitude indicator. (This is done by simply putting a sticky note over the instrument to simulate it being inoperative.) Lastly, Mark had me try to fly straight and level with my eyes closed, to simulate how easy it is for the body’s senses to be fooled. When I opened my eyes, I was not too far off, but it’s an easy illustration that flying blind in a cloud can really mess with your sense of what feels up and down. Even a slight downward angle could end up in an accident in mere minutes without correction. This is all designed to get me used to referencing the instruments should the need arise.

When we flew our approach back to Merrill, we saw our lone tracks on the runway; noone else had been out since we left. I got some crosswind landing practice, but it was pretty tough. Just as regular landings took time to sort out all the specific techniques, adding the crosswind component will take some more time and practice. I had a hard time coordinating the flare while dropping the left wing and ended up ballooning back up both times on the level off. I remember also being thrown off a bit by the snow, it was just a totally different look and it’s just another challenge that I’ll have to get used to.

I’ve been working on my cross country flight plans, and if the weather holds through the weekend, I’ll have a night lesson on Saturday night and then my first cross country on Monday.

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