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some flight time, finally

I told mom I thought the weather was FINALLY going to maybe brighten up this week so I could fly, and she was like, "with your instructor, right?!" I said sure. Totally lied though! I mean it wasn't an all-out lie, I've struggled for weeks to find weather within my flight school's strict solo regulations and had no reason to get my hopes up this time. But for some reason today was clear with three knot variable wind... perfect!

So I got to take an airplane up by myself and it gave me the glorious feeling that there was nothing wrong with the world. I had a big checklist of things to accomplish as solo practice, then came back and did four or five landings. With no wind I had a little trouble overshooting my intended landing points on the runway. As usual, it took me a few "warm up" ones and I'm so tired of that. I mean, landing #5 felt fantastic, I barely noticed transitioning to the ground. The first one wasn't so nice. Well I mean the VERY first one was a go-around, it was that weird, but a go-around was on my checklist anyway.

I'm suddenly optimistic again. Saturday could be nice too... maybe it's a trend that we won't have any more two-month periods of clouds and snow and fog. If I could get a few weeks or even days of nice weather, I could get ready for a checkride and be a pilot. I was starting to feel so hopeless about it. I mean already I'll have to re-study all the ground stuff I learned to take the written test.

I stand by my statement that the worst part of learning to fly is that there are no time tables, no deadlines, no curve to beat or set, it's just whatever luck and skill happens to get you.

I remember having a lot of trouble adjusting to things like that when I started working, too. In school if you've done a half-assed job, you just take a C at the end of the semester. But in the work force you don't get to just take a C because you're making something for a real customer, and they will call your ass back and tell you to fix it. You have to keep going.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 27th, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
I was thinking about de-icing (as I sat watching my connecting flight be de-iced) and was wondering what the deal is with that. I mean, I get that you don't want like, giant icicles hanging off your plane and all, but why is any amount of frost at all super horrible? I mean, it's really cold at the altitudes the big planes fly at, they must get frost on the wings in flight. I see it on the windows... is it just they don't want to take the chance and have extra nucleation sites for it to form? Does it cause the flaps to bind up if you get too much frost?
Jan. 27th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)
Ice and frost are pretty bad because even a tiny bit changes the aerodynamic characteristics of the wing, reducing lift, adding weight, all those bad things.

When flying at altitude it's often too cold for frost to form on the wings. You might see it on the window because some cabin moisture leaks in between the layers and condenses, but there's not much moisture outside and there's a relatively narrow temperature where frost can occur anyway. If it's really cold, moisture is already so totally frozen it can't freeze on the wing.

Mid-size & big airplanes have fancy de-icing systems but they're better for preventing ice than getting rid of it, and they take a lot of power, which requires engines spinning along generating the power, so it's faster to just alcohol it off on the ground.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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