Dan's Blog

My first passenger and a change in plans


The original intent was to fly to the nearest Class D airport, maybe do a few landings, return to our home field and on the way practice a few other maneuvers completing with a few rounds in the pattern.  Another instructor needed a ride to Sac Executive to pick up a plane. My instructor asked me a couple of times if  I was alright with the change in plans. I’m not sure if he wanted to make sure if I was comfortable with the extra distance, the fact that we weren’t flying the original plan or the fact that on my dime I was serving as a free air taxi. I was fine with all of the reasons and actually looked forward to landing at Sac Exec (KSAC). It has three runways which leads to many taxiways and the possibility of a complex taxi assignment. I knew before my instructor of the possibility of flying to KSAC . Prior to my instructor showing up I pulled out the sectional and examined the many possibilities of getting there from KPVF. There was the Mather Class D airspace right next to the KSAC Class D which was south of the Sacramento International (KSMF) Class C. Once it was agreed we would make the trip to KSAC, my instructor and I reviewed the various options of going as direct as possible and talking to many people or to go the long way around Mather to the south and just talk to KSAC tower. The final plan was to go direct, obtain KSAC ATIS after taking off from KPVF and then calling Norcal approach for flight following to KSAC. Things went as good as could be planned. My instructor thought KSAC would land us on runway 20 (the preferred runway when winds are calm which they were trneding that way) but during our briefing I mentioned that due to the winds, we may get rwy 30. We planned for both and in the end, the winds did not calm so we ended up with plan B being given a right base to rwy 30. That required us to taxi off 30 , then cross 20 and then direct to transient parking.  Prior to landing, ATIS was updated to Romeo. So a good bit of radio work with multiple frequencies.

The flight back was a good learning experience. I forgot to request flight following on the ground. No problem. It provided me the opportunity to request a frequency change from KSAC to Mather tower (I forge the code) to request clearance to transition through Mathers Class D. Mather tower released me and mentioned Norcal departure. I didn’t have to call Norcal, Mather tower just gave me the frequency and I assumed I had to call them. I was fine to continue squawking VFR all the way to KPVF. More practice and a mistake to learn from. We just did a single landing at KPVF.

I forgot to mention that the Directional Gyro was out.  We knew that before we started the plane.  I worked off the compass for much of the flight. The instructor also had the GPS fired up. The GPS in this airplane is essentially the same as what I used before. For a short trip it was more information than I needed but I picked up some nuggets of knowledge.

Takeaways from this lesson

 • I’m still developing my sense of flow to keep flying the aircraft while doing other tasks
• While my instructor said I did well on the radio, I still feel a sense of rushing. Not quite calm on the radio yet.
• I want to transcribe what I can remember of the various transmissions to study later
• The first landing was good. I had the other pilot in the aircraft behind me returning to KPVF. I think I let that get to me a bit because I was a little squirrely.
• Both landings had me a little high on final. I’ll take that over lower than desired.
• I feel I’m lucky the winds have generally been calm during my lessons. I don’t feel I’m managing final very well.  I can get stabilized but don’t keep it there.

The instructor said. Tomorrow we’ll focus on landings.  Preparing for tomorrow I’ll:

 • Mentally walk through the pattern process, power settings, airspeeds
• The DG may still be broken, what will the compass readings be for the different legs and how will the banking and descending affect the compass
• What do I remember of the sight picture for the different legs?
• What is the sight picture for short final?