Monday, May 21, 2007

In The Pattern At S03

I went flying again today with the same instructor. Before I can fly as Pilot In Command again I need to complete a Biennial Flight Review. As part of my preparation for that review, we went to practice landings. This would be my third hour in a 172.

"Why don't we go down to Ashland," I said, "It's a smaller field, and more interesting."

I was a little bumpy as we left Medford; the scattered cumulus clouds promised occasional turbulence. Winds were 310 at 9, gusting to 15. Ashland would certainly be worse. That's what I meant by "interesting."

I made three passable landings to a full stop; nothing to brag about, but Ashland's tough. There are three wind socks on the field and sometimes they all point in different directions. There are tall trees a few hundred feet from the approach end so you have a tendency to come in steep. And it's typical to sink suddenly as you cross the grassy field just before the threshold.

"Let me take it next time around," he said, "and give you a few pointers."

I got it set up on final and turned it over to him. He added another ten degrees of flaps. The winds were gusting to twenty knots, but pretty much down the runway. He talked a pretty good lesson, but kept interjecting "oops" and "darn". He flared and floated, and a little crosswind gust had him swinging the yoke to compensate. He touched down on the left wheel as he should but not as lightly as he would have liked. Still, it was passable. And I did pick up some pointers.

After we returned to Medford he said, "If you want to spend a little time next time on the knowledge test [oral exam] I'll sign you off on your BFR."

"Really?" I said, "I didn't think I did a very good job on those steep turns."

"What I'm concerned about on a BFR," he said, "is that you're not going to do anything stupid or get yourself killed."

"And if you can land at Ashland, you can land anywhere."