In a last ditch effort to squeeze in a bit more flying and learning time, I drove up to Palo Alto to fly one more hour in the Citabria, my last flight for the year. It involved more touch and goes, slow speed turns, stalls, spin recognition (scary) and slips. This is just what I need to help get me through the muck that is sure to be known as commercial air travel.
I had to fly to Orange County, CA for work today and I thought that I’d have a pretty clean trip, what with it being Tuesday and all. The day started off simple enough: get up at 5:30am, get to the airport by 6:10, and on the plane by 7:30. No security lines, no delays, no parking issues. This seemed great.
But when it came time to fly home tonight, via LAX, I could see the problems mounting. Awful traffic getting to the airport (not unusual for LA), really crowded check-in areas in most terminals, spotty seating at the food court, and a band of unhappy and obviously very non-regular-travel-savvy people at the gate complaining about lost luggage, TSA confiscations, and the way the airports work. When I arrived back in SJC I found a snarled traffic line leading well up into the 2nd story of the parking garage, people pulling into and stepping out of every possible space (just in time to be nearly hit by the cars), blinkers turning on in both directions, slow/lost drivers, and the general inability to understand how to get out of the airport.
Oh how I long for the ability to fly myself to and from smaller airports to avoid this nonsense. People could save themselves, and more importantly me, a lot of headaches if they would just research the airport website and see how things work now, rather than tie up everyone as they wander around aimlessly looking for that perfect parking/storage/surprise space. Geez!
Another weekend, another couple of flights out of Palo Alto. This time around it was a series of landings and simulated emergencies on the way to and from Livermore Airport, with some decidedly better (if I may say so) landings than I had the last time. The instructor seems to think I’m getting a little bit better, so he’s ratcheting up the workload in the air.
On the 24th lesson I was swapped into a similar plane with 40 more horsepower. The difference was like driving my 4Runner around some cones and tight corners, then getting out and hopping into the vette to try the same thing. More power, better handling, and boy can things get out of hand right quick. I felt like I was behind the airplane the whole flight. It climbs better, goes faster, and really gets off the ground in a hurry. Have to be careful with all that power, it can get addicting.
Today with all the wind, rain, and rough weather I headed out for another hour in the front seat of the Citabria. It ended up being not as bumpy a ride as I had first thought, and in general I made my way around the field in relatively good shape. Kudos to the instructor for keeping me flying right, even though the runway and pattern were now being flown from the left.
Landings proved to be tough again, as were my turns to base and final. The instructor snuck in a few extras, like a short field landing, forward slips, and a go-around. I’m starting to feel a bit more confident about my flying now, but I’m still not sure if I’m ready to fly on my own.