Today I did practice landings at Northwest again. Five landings total, all were great. Well ok, there was that one somewhat rough landing where I flared a bit too much at the very end. My take-offs were good too. I had strong crosswinds of about 17 mph.

My instructor is just about out of things to do with me until my medical license comes in. Once THAT comes in, then I'll be able to do solo flight time to practice maneuvers, tower calls, landings, etc. I have another cross country flight to do and another night flight. I don't know when my medical will come in. Until then, I'll study for the written exam and read the parts of the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge that I've missed or haven't visited in a while.

Below is a picture of a propeller that struck the ground. I don't know the story of what happened (obviously I didn't do it or y'all would have known by now!) but some are guessing a bad landing on a single engine plane (like a Piper or Bonanza), or a broken landing gear of a twin engine plane or maybe someone actually bought/brought back this lovely mess just for looks. Whatever the reason, it's a great visual reminder for me to take safety seriously and keep the nose up on landing!

My instructor was right, night flying is really neat! And way less hot. For anyone else planning to land at Air Park, here's a tip: the runway lights will turn on if you click the mike ~7 times and hold each click a half second. So not too fast. We had to do a go-around to get the lights to finally turn on. It was unnerving to get down lower than 1,000 feet with the lights still off.

Another tip: make sure your windshield is clean during the pre-flight check. Left over watery iced latte is not recommended to clean the windshield. :-) Having a clean windshield makes night vision a bit better.

Instrumentation practice paid off in this lesson. I really had to trust my instruments more then any other lesson. Lowering the nose for a landing didn't look or feel the same as in the day so I had to focus more on my altitude indicator for a reliable judgement.

We did pattern take-offs and landings at a small strip called Northwest which is, heh, northwest of the metroplex. My landings were survivable but not inspiring. I was happy with only one landing. The others were rough.

We also toured DFW airport flying over it at 3500 feet. In the above picture, you can see DFW runway as the strip of lights with red at one end in the middle of a large dark area, sort of middle of the picture. If we had had enough fuel at the beginning of the lesson (damn the man who didn't fill the tank!), the original plan was to practice landings at Lovefield. I'm real disappointed that it didn't work out. Maybe next time!

No more flying this week or weekend. I have ground time on Saturday then wait my turn again next week to fly.

I flew my first cross country today. I charted my course towards Bridgeport, TX but enroute we discovered the Bridgeport runway was closed so we flew 15 miles West to Jacksboro. This was my first flight that required a sectional (essentially a sky map), calculating wind direction to get my heading right, and flight details to be worked up in advance. There was a 10+knot crosswind that kept pushing me off my course. And the plane I was in, a Cessna 172, kept wanting to ascend or descend, but wouldn't faithfully stay level.

One thing I learned today: don't forget to pack a drink!!

I also learned how to get my bearings using VOR signals, doing the 4 C's (Confess you're lost, Climb up to get perspective & radio signals, Circle around, Call in for help), and by recognizing land markings in relation to the sectional. The sectional doesn't have minor roads and farms and housing communities that you can easily see. Instead you have to look for lakes, cities, tower structures, and major roads.

Neither of my landings were great today. Actually, my touch downs were fine but my approach both times sucked. Both times I came in too high. At Jacksboro I had a bit of lake effect right at the edge of the runway. At Air Park I was tired and my timing to slow the craft was off.

Yesterday I also flew. I did instrumentation training and looked for VOR signals. It was boring and frustrating. I couldn't get my heading right to pick up the signal- there was a delay in getting the signal. I also flew "under the hood" which means I wear "foggles". This prevents me from seeing outside. I'm supposed to only focus on instruments. I'm ok at it but I prefer to see where I'm going. I don't plan to fly into fog, eh, ever. If I can safely avoid it. :-)

BTW, that's not me to the right.

Tomorrow I do my first night flying lesson! I'm little excited and lot of nervous about this. I have a fear of not seeing where I'm going. This is true of walking across a room at night. Much more so hurdling through the air at 100 miles per hour merely a couple thousand feet up. My lesson time is from 8:30pm to midnight. I'll probably nap and get some coffee before my session. After tomorrow, I'll have over 22 hours. More than half way!!

Last update: FAA medical. I was denied my medical, briefly technically. They sent a letter that said I was denied because I failed to provide requested materials. I called the cardiologist office to confirm everything was sent. Yes, it was. Long story short, the cardiologist receptionist ended up calling the FAA medical line directly to show them what page the narrative was on (the summary that explains the lengthy 40 page clinical report) and the FAA has reopened my request. I will not be denied! so easily. this time. So now I wait (again) for the FAA to accept that I'm healthy and fit to fly.



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