Flight Instruction from Chuck Yeager

June 29th, 2014

Today, I was bit more brave. A few months ago, I might not have gone flying. But incrementally I was getting more experience and confidence and really more options in my arsenal.

It seemed windy, perhaps too windy? I figured, I’d get in the airplane and taxi out. See how I felt taxiing.

The winds were 9 kts at 300 degrees. The runway heading was 320.

Our friend flew with me – not a pilot, but a good passenger – JN. Gen Yeager watched from the ground.

He has always said, Fly your airplane. ASOS and AWOS is yesterday’s news.

He is right about that, no less so today.

Some people don’t understand that instruction. What it means is if the wind picks up your wing, move your aileron to put the wing back to level or where you want to be. Expecting the winds to be what was reported a minute, 5 minutes, or 30 minutes prior is a waste of time. What are they now is important.

Taxiing out was no problem. I headed into the wind for the run-up.

True to form, while my head was down checking instruments, magnetos, etc.; JN alerted me to a plane nearby.

As I lifted my head, I couldn’t believe that a big Ag plane was taxiing right for us with no signs of stopping and without calling in.

I radioed: Do you see me? Do you see me? My options weren’t great – rev up and pull onto the grass which could be hiding unknown hazards.

He finally stopped – but too close for comfort and unnecessary as this is a big airport.

I finished my run-up and then turned the easiest way which also happened to be the way that would cause my prop wash to rock him. Heh heh. Although he was so heavy, I doubt it was a blip – or even, he may have been nuts enough to enjoy it.

I called in, quickly took the runway, put in a notch of flaps, asked my passenger if he was ready, he was, and took off.

Me: Do you want to go look at anything.

JN: No, I’m good.

So I set up for doing stop and go’s.

I was on final, losing altitude, not confident enough I’d make the runway without power, or more importantly, not enough extra cushion, so put on some power. It’s a long runway.

We flared. We kissed the runway, lifted a little, kissed the runway, lifted a little and we were down.

I wasn’t worried – no moment of panic.

We took off.

Around the pattern again. On final, put on some power again – just a bit concerned about making the end of the runway.

Which meant we floated a little when we got there.

We kissed the runway; this time the wheel came up. A little aileron put it down again. I was glad I didn’t really over control – but then it wasn’t a violent or harsh uplift. Just the right one for my comfort zone :-)

Again, I was glad….still not panicked.

We took off again.

This time, I called: Full stop. It was a hot day (97 degrees), fairly bumpy, and I didn’t want to find my concentration lacking for a fourth go-round. And the winds typically become stronger and variable about this time of day.

I turned earlier onto base to see if I could make it, or feel I could make it, without power. As I turned final, I realized, the 9 knot wind was putting on the brakes.

We came in, flared, landed on wheels. As I put down the tail, we popped up and were blown to the left. I put a little power back on and centered the plane.

It bounced a little every which way. I concentrated on landing straight so we didn’t get into trouble.

We got down. Back up about a foot.  Down again. As I controlled the pushing with ailerons, I got the left wheel firmly down too, and tail.

We were pushed left on the ground but I was on top of it so we straightened out.

And immediately slowed down. The above took about 10 seconds.

I called out: We’re down. Safe.

JN: Good thing it’s a wide runway.

We actually weren’t even close to the side but to a non-pilot, not in control, I can understand his viewpoint.

We exited at the next taxi way and headed in.

I was so glad I wasn’t panicked, no lump in my throat as I corrected.

JN: I thought crosswinds would blow your wing up and throw you to the side.

I smiled and said: I was compensating. Not to say those were heavy crosswinds but…

Clearly he had a high tolerance of deviation or I had done a pretty good job this time….Doesn’t matter – I felt pretty good – not a big crosswind but enough to test me.

When we got back to the hangar, Gen Yeager said simply: Your second landing was better than the first.

JN reported we just had a little grass on the tires.

As we drove home, General Yeager commented: You were a little hot (fast) on final.

Me: You’re right.

After a few minutes: I get a little scared I’m not going to make the runway.

Gen Y: Why?

Me: I don’t know – but it just means I have to control the float and not get impatient. I guess the headwind felt like too big a brake. aI guess I should wait a little longer to put in power, IF I need it. And just in little increments, not so much at once.

Gen Y: That’s what power is for.









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