After my solo cross-country flight on Wednesday, I arrived at Twin Oaks Airpark Thursday afternoon to get in an hour or two of solo practice in the pattern and at a tower-controlled airport. I wanted to spend some time getting takeoff and landing routines a little more refined, and it had been a while since I'd flown the pattern at tower-controlled Portland-Hillsboro airport. The weather was amazing, so I wanted to take advantage of it.
I got back in the same airplane I'd used for my cross country flight the previous day. It had been checked out to confirm the little issue I had the evening before was in fact carb ice and that there we no other issues. I put the video camera in the luggage area and pointed it forward just like I had on the cross country, then turned it on and forgot about it. I wanted to be able to go back and look at my landings and takeoffs and review the little detail aspects of what I was doing. I find it's a tool that gives me better perspective on what I can do better. It also makes interesting video for posting here. I'll likely add it to this post after I get it processed on the computer. I also plan to add a little video from my cross-country flight the other day. I just don't have time right now to get that done.
Once I set up the camera and turn it on, I just let it run. It's completely out of my way and stationed solidly behind the seats. It either quits on its own (by running out of battery or hard drive space) or I turn it off when I finish flying. I don't worry or think about it when I'm in the air, except to talk through everything on the intercom, which record my voice in the camera's audio track. Come to think of it, I talk to myself on the intercom whether the camera is there or not. It helps me stay focused and organized.
I was happy with my take-offs and landings that day. I was pretty much on the money and things were smooth and properly executed. It was fun to fly to Hillsboro and fly the pattern with other airplanes and talk to the tower. That controller stays plenty busy, I can tell you. Someone told me it's the busiest airport in Oregon, even more so than Portland International in terms of the number of airplanes operating daily. That's crazy. They have a big flight school there, which makes up a lot of the traffic.
On Friday I joined my instructor Kelly again and we did what he termed a "check-ride prep" flight. We flew from Twin Oaks out to the east to a safe practice area and I did all sorts of maneuvers and configurations: Slow flight, power-on and power-off stalls and recoveries, steep turns, flying under the hood and doing turns and level flight, and a couple simulated engine failure drills, one of which I flew until I was 500 feet over an abandoned airport before applying power to go-around. We then returned to Twin Oaks and crossed over the airport at 3,000 feet, where he again "killed" the engine (meaning he put it at idle) and I had to perform a spiraling descent over the end of Runway 2 to an altitude and position that would allow me to enter a downwind leg for landing, and then I landed the plane with no power, right on the money.
Next we did a short field takeoff and landing, followed by a soft-field takeoff and landing before calling it quits for the day. Overall I felt good about my progress and performance, and can see I'm getting closer to being ready to fly with an examiner. There are a number of things I want to practice more to be more proficient, but all in all it's going well.
On Saturday I plan to do about 90 minutes of solo flying time to practice the same things Kelly and I did on our "checkride prep" flight, and then after a brief break he and I are scheduled Saturday evening to complete the night cross-country flight that we need to get out of the way. Unfortunately we won't be able to fly to Boeing Field in Seattle as we have wanted to do, since the weather up there is still not cooperating and shows no real signs of improving. We're planning to fly to Astoria and back, which more than satisfies the training requirements. I'm hoping to get to fly with Kelly to Boeing Field so I can get the Class B airspace experience before I finish training, maybe as part of prep for my checkride since that would provide plenty of time and opportunity to review and test my skills, as well.