Lesson 10: A Little out of Practice

Aircraft: C172 N52654

Flight  Time:  1.3 hours

Total Hours: 10.6

With the end of the year holidays and numerous lessons cancelled because sub zero weather, I hadn’t flown in over three weeks. I tried not to dwell on the mindset of being out of practice, but when things weren’t going as well as I had hoped, I begun to realize that there might be some truth to that. My last lesson had gone so well and it seemed as if I was finally getting landings down, but yesterday I really struggled. My pattern work and general airplane handling skills were good, but nearly every time I got over the numbers on final, I blew the flare. If I was not ballooning back into the air, I was coming down too hard and flat and bouncing the plane back up off the runway.

And that wasn’t all. One pass I forgot to apply carb heat, another I lowered too many degrees of flaps on the downwind, while at least a couple times I had too much airspeed on the base leg. And, I still seemed to struggle with the rudder and keeping the plane straight on the runway. I tried not to get discouraged, because I know that in any learning process, there are times when you take one step forward and two steps back. This was just one of those times.

One thing that may not have helped, though, was that I couldn’t seem to get my seat adjusted properly. I was sitting too low and felt like I was struggling to see over the panel and out around me. Twice during climbout, I had Mark take the flight controls so that I could try and crank my seat up, but I couldn’t get it any higher. As the lesson went on, I begun to think that this was a major part of the problem, because since I couldn’t even see the engine cowl out the front window, I wasn’t getting a good view, or at least the view that I was used to of the runway as I came down to begin my flare. I found that I couldn’t even discern for myself the times that we were ballooning up without Mark informing me of the fact.

After we had parked the plane, I fiddled with the seat and discovered that I had been trying to turn the seat handle the wrong way. I cranked it all the way up and sat the cockpit again to see the difference, and instantly it seemed much more familiar. This might not have been the only reason for my difficulties yesterday, but it had to be at least a major factor, and a good lesson to learn. 

I’ll get back on the horse- I’m scheduled again for this afternoon. I’ll make sure the seat is all the way up before we leave the ground and approach things with confidence, and hopefully my next lesson will go a whole lot better.

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