LOG ENTRY - 31-MAY-2011                                        Matt Borland
  Flight: 5 - 31-MAY-2011 - 1.2 hr - Clearing turns, circle points
  Depart: KCOS ~1115  Arrive: KCOS ~1226

This morning the surface winds were calm, but picked up pretty strongly in 
time for my flight, gusting over 30 mph.  My flight instructor wanted to
gauge my assurance level and asked if I wanted to fly...which I did.  The
wind was blowing pretty much down the runway so it wasn't bad for a takeoff.
Airports are often designed with prevailing winds in mind.  Here the winds
start from the north in the morning, but shift and blow up from the south
later in the day.

As we were holding for taxiing, I noticed my legs were shaking, but it wasn't
from nervousness...in retrospect I think it had something to do with my foot
position and my shoes.  In a small plane the brakes are applied by pressing
the tops of the foot pedals, which can be a little confusing because of course
the pedals are used to control the rudder as well.  The distinction between
pressing the tops of the pedals and the body of the pedals is a little tough
for me because I have large feet that tend to reach the top of the pedals
to begin with.  The fact that I was wearing my dress shoes for work somehow
seemed to change this dynamic and I was having trouble resting my feet 
properly...making my calves shake.  I'm going to have to experiment with that
a bit.

Taxiing along we passed an F-15 that was sitting in the ANG portion of the
flight line.  Fighters look sort of small in the sky, but up close they look
pretty dominating...especially the F-15 with its two powerplants.  As we
waited for another plane to land, I spotted a turkey vulture just kiting
above the runway's painted numbers, about 30-40 feet off the ground.  My 
instructor called in the sighting to the tower so the approaching plane could 
be advised of its presence.

Even though Colorado Springs Municipal has three runways, they have been under
construction, so all traffic was limited to one runway: today, 17R.  Since the
winds were a little high and shifting my instructor handled the takeoff.  By
this time the vulture had glided off to the left of the runway and was fast
behind us.  I soon took the controls and for the most part was in control for 
most of the rest of the flight.

We continued doing turns, but varied them up a lot more and a lot faster than 
in previous sessions.  For example, I'd be instructed to climb to 9000 bearing
180, and if I reached 180 my instructor would call in another bearing.  This
would just continue, stringing one change to another, for quite a while. 
Combining ascents/descents and turns had been a little confusing but this time
it was coming much easier.  I felt much more in control of the three 
dimensions.  I found I was also controlling the throttle better...I'd keep my
hand on it and coordinate that and the yoke and pedals much more than before.
I was still having trouble keeping full coordination at times; particularly
when I'd throttle up for a climb I would forget to add right rudder to counter
the extra torque and p-factor generated by the increased propeller speed and
angle of attack.

My instructor also demonstrated a way to determine wind effect.  A little 
closer to the ground (in this case, about 1000 feet off the ground) you pick 
a good intersection, line up and as you cross over it, begin a very smooth 
and even banked turn.  When you complete the turn, you see how far off you are 
from the intersection.  Ideally, if there is no wind, you should be exactly 
over it again; any variance should indicate the effect of the wind.  Then my 
instructor demonstrated a 'turns around a point' maneuver.  You fly about a 
quarter mile or so away from a spot on the ground (in this case the same 
intersection) and fly around it, trying to maintain an even distance so you 
draw a perfect circle around the target.  The purpose of all this is to better 
understand the effect of wind on your plane and to learn how to react to it in 
relationship to a fixed position on the ground...the most important of which is 
'the runway you're landing at.'  I did pretty well at this to my own view, but 
I felt like it was less of a circle and more of an octagon (correct angle, 
correct angle...).  I noticed that I liked this turn and I think it was because 
for the first time I'd been using ground references for turning.  This gave me 
a little more concrete sense of my position relative to the ground; when you're
making turns 2500 feet above the ground you're paying less attention to the
ground below and more to your angle of bank and distant references.

All this time there was a fair amount of wind but not as much turbulence as
some of the previous times.  Either way I felt much more at ease with 
responding to the wind (although I still feel like the character from 
Airplane! who, taking the controls from the autopilot, immediately causes the 
plane to bounce around madly).  On approach, we followed a private jet 
(followed only in the sense of 'came in after'...its velocity relative to ours
allowed it to land four minutes before us even though it started out about
four miles out to the north of us).

I was very pleased with this flight...I generally speaking felt much more
comfortable just executing maneuvers without having to consciously think about
them.  I also felt like I could trust my instincts more, which is not to say
I paid less attention to the instruments (I paid more attention than in 
the past) but rather that I could trust that I could coordinate the throttle,
yoke, and (to some degree) rudder changes...rather than thinking of each 
independently.  Keeping my hand on the throttle really helped; I hadn't really
done that in the past.

Next time, I'll have to figure out what was going on with my leg (probably 
just need to change my shoes), and I will focus more on controlling the
rudder appropriately.