CFI Endorsement Day

CFI 2015-05-28 02

I spent a couple of hours on Thursday in the skies over Ionia in the mighty SGS 2-33A with Lee Larder. Seven flights. I think that I’m becoming comfortable in the back seat. It’s a constant struggle to keep the tow plane above the cowl on the climb (especially when the tow plane hits sink and tries to disappear), but I’m not going to add a cushion to the seat now because I’d have to get used to a new sight picture and new muscle and inertial memory. And, as much easier as the whole thing is in the front seat, I don’t think I’d fly the ride from the front even if I had the option.

Still, I’m constantly put in mind of the Mike Meyers bit from So I Married an Axe Murderer:

We started with a tow to 2,500 to demonstrate all of the high airwork. Naturally, the dive brakes became jammed with a mixture of ice and extraterrestrial fauna, so I flew it sideways to that landing, happy with my slip and the control on the roll-out.

CFI 2015-05-28 01

Next came what I had in mind for most of the flights of the day. I’ve long been a little worried about my ability to land the glider precisely. It’s always reasonably safe, but it doesn’t always come to rest on the runway where I want it to. So we did five pattern tows to try to dial in the precision of my landings. We set up a pair of cones along the runway edge about 400 feet apart, with the idea of touching down after the first one, but coming to a stop before the second one.

The first touchdown was a little short and the second one rolled out a little long, but I was generally happy with things. I had been avoiding slamming on wheel brake out of some aesthetic sense, but Lee suggested that I throw elegance to the wind if it looked like I had too much energy in the rollout. After all, it’s an emergency maneuver and you should expect a little brute force. And, as long as the wingtips are well off the ground and you don’t have a substantial side load, there’s little chance of a ground loop. So, if the second cone appears to be advancing too quickly, I’m going to be full-on the wheel brake and I can also let the stick come forward to dump a little more weight on the skid to get it stopped.

Otherwise, I’m doing things like a real CFI candidate. Get stabilized at 60 mph in the middle of the approach cone with half to three-quarters dive brakes. Get that aim point 200 feet short of the first cone (and on the other side of Lee’s head) to hold still in the windshield. Then flare and use the rest of the dive brakes once I have the first cone made. Then throw out the anchor and hope really hard.

The last flight was a 180 abort from 200 AGL. Lee pulled the clown nose at or above 200 AGL (and after my callout) and I know that the altimeter was correct, but we sure looked low at the 135-degree point in the turn back. As a TG-7A driver, I push pretty hard and pretty long for airspeed on a 180 abort because the TG-7A is a draggy beast that loses energy prodigiously when the thrust quits. The 2033A soesn’t slow down as quickly, so waited too long to bank for the turn. I need to get the turn going sooner next time. But we made it back with no problem and I even managed to retain the right amount of energy to get it back to the start point and even taxied off to the side using rudder so there wasn’t as far to push back.

CFI 2015-05-28 03At the conclusion of flying, Lee and I went through the items I missed on the FOI and FIG knowledge tests, then he signed me off. My IACRA application had already been in for a day, so I gave him the application number and FRN so that he could approve it. And I left with all of the required endorsements in my logboog.

So it’s on the the ride!  With CAP NLOC in Atlanta coming up June 10-14 and the River Days airshow June 19-21, I’m probably going to have to do the ride this coming week or push it until after the airshow. And, if I push it, I’ll probably fly one more time with Lee before the ride. I called Carol Dehnbostl (an FIE in the West Michigan FSDO and one of the main reasons that I went to Ionia to train) and I expect to hear back from her on Monday.


More CFI Training – Focusing on the Fine Points

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 7.11.42 PM

Another session in the mighty Schweizer SGS 2-33A Absteigend Reibungmaschine. Two flights this time.  The first was a basic flight with wake-boxing, slack line, some thermaling, and an interesting landing abeam lots of other waiting gliders.  The second flight was a lot longer and involved a lot more thermaling and then the PTS airwork on the way back down.  The track from the first flight is reproduced below.  I apparently ham-handed the iPad on the second flight and didn’t capture the track log.  Bummer, because we maneuvered a lot and that would have been cool to see.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 7.21.27 PM

It was a really good day for soaring.  Lots of bumps on tow, but lots of thermals as well.  A generally cool day through the whole relevant range of the atmosphere, but clear skies allowed the sun to heat the surrounding area unevenly and it was sporty.  Lots of non-school gliders lined up to get towed. The nice thing about training at Benz Aviation is that the tow operation belongs to the school and tows for other gliders are on an as-available basis while I go to the head of the line each time I’m ready.  Yeah, it costs money, but I get the training in and that’s what matters at this point.

This was my third time in the back seat and my fourth week of flying at least once each week.  I’ve nearly doubled the 30 tows that I had in the logbook when I first showed up.  I’m reasonably good in the maneuvers.  I need some work on the precision of my landings and dialing in the SA that I need in order to make the peanut butter and jelly of altitude and distance come out roughly evenly.

I’m scheduled to fly next Wednesday and Thursday.  We’ll go through the other maneuvers to make sure that I still have the inertial and muscle memory, but it will likely be mostly pattern tows to dial in the landings.  If I fly well on Wednesday, Lee says that he’ll sign me off and I’ll call the DPE/FIE to schedule the checkride.  That could be as soon as the first week in June, depending on schedules (and on whether I suck next week).  If it doesn’t happen the first week in June, I’ll probably have to put it off until after the Tuskegee Airshow 20-21 June. But I have a clear path forward one way or the other.

A lot of work stuff to do this weekend, but I’ll also spend a fair amount of it studying for the oral.  And David Allen and I will likely record another Airspeed episode about the impending airshow.