LOG ENTRY - 04-OCT-2011                                        Matt Borland
  Flight: 21 - 04-OCT-2011 - 1.3 hr - Touch-and-goes
  Depart: KCOS ~1130  Arrive: KCOS ~1148

Lately it seems I have been going around in circles a lot...but not in a bad
way I guess.  I practiced more landings today and apparently still need to
better develop my skills through the flare.  Luckily I'm experiencing less
frustration and am just trying to soak as much as I can from each flight.

Today the winds were a little strong from the south, so we were set up to 
depart from 17R rather than 13/31.  Before you ask for permission to take off,
you perform an engine runup and a few other tasks.  These checks are performed 
near the threshold of the runway, but positioned so the plane is generally 
facing into the wind and also such that it doesn't block traffic.  In fact, as 
we started the runup a Lear Jet that was ready taxied past us so it could line 
up to take off.  In my plane, to perform the runup you bring the throttle up to 
1800 RPM (holding the brakes well is essential).  You then test the two parallel
magneto systems that manage the ignition.  These two systems work asymmetrically
so that when both are running, the ignition is firing completely, but if one 
fails then you still have enough cylinder ignition to provide most of the power.
So for the check, you switch to one magneto only to verify that it is operable 
and you should see a small RPM drop; you switch back to both magnetos and regain
1800 RPM; then you check the other magneto and then return to using both again. 
After the magneto check you drop the throttle to idle and verify that the 
engine does not stall.  You would not want to pull back throttle too much and 
stop your engine mid-flight.  Finally you bring the power back to the standard 
1000 RPM and continue on to a pre-takeoff checklist.

We called to the tower to let them know we were ready for takeoff behind the
Lear Jet.  The pilot of the jet was polite enough to only open up the throttle
a little so we didn't get blasted as he taxied into position on the runway.
Soon after they began their takeoff we were cleared for takeoff with a caution
to avoid wake turbulence.  Wake turbulence is the turbulence created in the 
wake of aircraft, and is more powerful behind larger or more powerful aircraft. 
This turbulence can largely be avoided by ensuring that you do not pass through 
the area at which the plane took off (or landed).

We flew several patterns, and in general my landings were a little flat, meaning
I wasn't raising my nose enough to ensure that the main gear touch down well
before the nose.  There was a bit of wind but I didn't mind as I am getting
better at battling the wind.

Sometimes the tower will direct you to 'extend your downwind' which means to 
fly longer on the part of the pattern where you are paralleling your runway
but in the opposite direction.  This is usually done in order to better space
traffic in the pattern.  I am not sure but I think today our extension was due
to the fact a large plane had recently taken off from our runway and they wanted
to wait for wake turbulence to subside.  We kept on our downwind for a few miles
then asked the tower for some direction (as sometimes they forget about you) and
they switched us to the other parallel runway.  Most likely this was due to a 
combination of factors, such as the wake turbulence on the runway and possibly
another faster aircraft approaching.  So, we adjusted our pattern appropriately
and began touch-and-goes on 17L.

After our first touch-and-go on 17L, we were told we were cleared to land 
after another approaching Cessna.  In this situation you need to advise the
tower if you see ('have contact with') the other craft.  We looked and looked,
expecting to see a small plane approaching slightly below us, and after half a
minute or more we still didn't see it.   We advised the tower that we still 
didn't have contact and then saw it...quite a bit above us, parallel and to the
opposite direction, going quite slowly.  Both I and my instructor watched in
confusion as we monitored the plane's progress.  The pilot was approaching very
high, and didn't really seem to follow standards for the pattern.  He was going
very slowly and eventually started to descend just near the threshold for the
runway, and for landing appeared to be all over the runway.  We followed the
plane in the pattern through landing, and upon takeoff expected to follow.
However, we'd lost sight of the plane and queried the tower.  At the usual point
where I would turn off the runway heading, I had to wait because the other plane
was just barely into its downwind leg.  Again it was quite high, and instead of
maintaining a 'close' pattern of about half a mile, he was flying a full mile 
out.  This meant that either we had to follow him that far out, which was not
our pattern, or that we had to go very slowly in the correct pattern.  So, this
gave me the opportunity to practice slow flight.  I was going about 60 MPH, near
but not at the stall point, and this was about what was required to space our
two planes properly.

Luckily the tower seemed to see what was going on, and they switched us to a 
different pattern for the other runway after our next touch.

As our session progressed the winds became stronger and more turbulent.  The
tower advised us that winds were 19 knots gusting up to 24 knots (22 to 28
MPH).  In addition there was a lot of variation depending on the altitude, so
it was good experience for me in learning how to fight the wind, and my 
instructor said I was doing very well.  I made a couple more landings in this
condition and then the winds were getting pretty high.

After refueling the plane, to taxi to the ramp we had to take a detour due to
construction.  The primary taxiway along the flight line was closed for a long
section, so in that area the airport had reappropriated the outer part of the
military ramp as a taxiway.  However, this part of the ramp is technically
restricted to military access only (because it is used to park and service 
military planes).  So as a temporary measure, non-military aircraft are cleared 
through the restricted area as long as no military aircraft are present.  This 
meant that we had to check with ground control to see if any military aircraft
were in the temporary taxiway.  They told us that 'none appear to be present'
and I was told by my instructor that they must use the term 'appear' in case it
turns out later that they were wrong; they can then state that they didn't say
for certain that it was clear but that it just seemed that it was clear.  I 
suppose everyone has to cover themselves.

Next time, more touch-and-goes.  With luck I can experience a less windy day so
I can focus less on fighting the wind and more on the fine points of the flare.
Either way, it was a fun day and I was grateful to be flying!