LOG ENTRY - 04-MAY-2011                                        Matt Borland
  Flight: 3 - 04-MAY-2011 - 1.1 hr - Continuing turns
  Depart: KCOS ~1115  Arrive: KCOS ~1226

Today's lesson was scheduled for 10 am but was delayed an hour due the airport
having 'Quiet Hours.'  Quiet Hours is when the airport stops traffic because
of the arrival and receiving of a plane bearing a fallen soldier.

I wanted to familiarize myself with the cockpit a bit more and get a better
feel for how to properly set myself in what is a fairly cramped position.  
I took the extra hour to look at the airplane checklist, try to understand
why the items in the checklist were present and in the order they were.  For
example, I wanted to know why the fuel selector is changed from BOTH (both
tanks feeding the engine) to either LEFT or RIGHT before fueling or shutoff.
Reason: with BOTH selected during fueling, you're basically filling both 
tanks simultaneously and this movement of fuel could rock the plane.  Other
minor questions came up that I asked my instructor later.

While I was sitting in the cockpit a motorcade came along the road by the 
flight line.  The motorcade was for the ceremony for the fallen soldier.
Given that the airport had quieted itself, the procession of motorcycles
thundered all the louder.  I was reminded of a movie I had watched last year,
Taking Chance, with Kevin Bacon starring as an officer escorting the
body of Chance Phelps back home.  The movie showed the care and honor with 
which fallen soldiers are treated on their journey home.

As we began the lesson, I made sure I snacked on a fig newtown to stave off
hunger, and took extra care to make sure that I stowed the checklist away so
I wouldn't lose it.

As we taxied out I tried to make sense of the directions that ground control
gave us to our runway.  Each taxiway is given a letter name, so for example the
taxiway that goes along the flight line at Colorado Springs is 'bravo.'  This
means that if you're taking off on runway 17L, the controller may instruct 
you to taxi 'bravo, foxtrot, echo, echo two' meaning that you take taxiway 
bravo, turn onto taxiway foxtrot, then taxiway echo, then turn and wait for 
takeoff at echo two (which is basically the airport equivalent of an on/offramp
for a runway).  It's good to know the layout of the airport ahead of time 
and also to have a printout of the airport diagram to help you.  I wasn't 
really familiar with the directions so I had to ask my instructor exactly which 
ways we had to go.

The winds were less turbulent than the last time and I found myself more
capable of focusing on the tasks at hand.  For the most part, we practiced 
turns much like we had been.  I was doing OK but still not as focused as I'd
have liked, especially on ascending or desending turns.  One trick when 
performing a turn is to get the correct angles of bank and pitch and (when
flying visually) take a mental snapshot of the angle of the horizon.  If you 
can maintain that picture during your turn and maintain coordinated flight, 
then most likely you will execute the turn successfully.  During ascending
and descending turns, if you are going from level flight you are changing your
pitch (nose up/down) as well as your bank (rolling left/right with your wings).
I was having difficulty mentally combining the two if only because you have
to watch both your climb and your turn and most likely end one before the other.
So, you may have to stop descending before ending your turn, meaning you have
to nose up and power down a little but maintain your angle of bank.

Luckily I was not too frustrated even though I was not executing things as well
as I'd have liked.  After the flight I figured that what I needed was a simple
routine that I could practice to make sure the 'snapshot' initial view of my
horizon was right.  During this lesson I was sometimes taking too long to set
my angle of bank, or otherwise I wasn't really paying attention to my pitch
before forming the mental snapshot.  So since then I've determined that to 
start the turn, I need to first look down to my attitude indicator, which shows
your angles of pitch and roll, quickly place the plane in the proper attitude,
then look up for the picture of the horizon.  If I can do that quickly I think
I'll improve the turns dramatically.  I think my home flight simulator may also
help in establishing this rhythm (since it doesn't cost any fuel, rental time,
or flight instruction time).

All too soon it seemed we had to go back.  I am not sure if my instructor
thought I was tiring, or if it was just time to go back.  Either way, I was
gladly eager to continue the lesson and only sad I didn't have more time.

To go back to the airpoirt, we navigated by using several landmarks as visual
cues.  Each runway approach has a slightly different path that you take,
and my instructor showed me landmarks he uses for going to runway 17L.  East
of the airport, just south of the highway I take to Schriever Air Force Base,
is a set of bluffs, each with some rough outcroppings and topped with trees.
Three of these bluffs make a triangle that is a good waypoint for this approach,
so we aimed for them and a particular altitude.  Coming back to the airport 
sometimes perks up my senses because you're close enough to the ground to see 
detail, yet of course you are experiencing flying.  At higher altitudes, you
are less aware of the detail on the ground and the feeling of motion, visually 
at least, is not as great.

There was a bit of a crosswind coming in, so my instructor had to sort of 
'crab' the airplane a little bit to counter it.  In this case he had to angle
the plane to left of the runway so even though our plane was pointing to the
left of the runway, we were coming in pretty much straight down the runway. 
This is a very common technique in landing planes, and is very noticeable in 
small planes due to their relatively slow speeds and light frames.  

All of this seems very complicated to put together, but it seems more than
anything a matter of practice.

In retrospect, I didn't feel much overall skill improvement, but I am becoming
more aware of what I know and what I do not know.  I feel a little more 
familiar with the controls and checklist.  On the other hand, I realize I 
don't quite have the feel for the throttle just yet, and on this flight 
fiddled with it too long when throttling down (like in a descent).

Tasks to work on:
 * Use the flight simulator to practice a routine for executing turns.
 * Learn the runway and taxiway layout.
 * Remember to 'queue up' the next expected frequency for communications.