Friday, July 22, 2005

First solo flight!

I had pretty good conditions for it: big, puffy clouds at about 5000 feet, and wind at or under 10 knots. The direction of the wind, directly across the runway, put the crosswind component right at my personal limit. Another knot or two and I would have cancelled.

The takeoff was a breeze! Without the weight of the instructor, I was in the air long before the accustomed point. The crosswind was easily handled with a little left aileron.

I climbed to 4500' and headed out west to the local practice area. With the wheel pants back on, I was doing 158 knots at 2450 rpm. Pretty good! A little of that was tailwind, though. Once I got out to the boonies, I decided to try an aileron roll. I've do a few of them in different types of airplanes, and found them to be quite simple. Still, I had given some thought as to how to approach the first few. I decided on 130 knots entry speed, node up 20 degrees, and pretty authoritative roll rate. I didn't want to take the stick to the stop, but I also didn't want to mush through it and spend too much time inverted. I wasn't sure how much the nose would drop or whether the enginer might burble a bit. So, first roll used about 3/4 aileron throw. It was pretty quick. I did a few more that way, then did a couple with full aileron deflection. Then I started using less aileron and a little back elevator while inverted. No problems with the engine at all, and the nose behaves nicely in pitch. Fun, but I started getting a little queasy after the 8th or 9th roll. It was pretty hot, too.

Heading back to Bolton, I slowed to 100 mph to practice extended flight at that speed. This is in preparation for the approach into Oshkosh, which requires miles of flight at 1800' and 100 mph. Actually, the requirement is 90 knots, which is 104 mph, so I kept it a notch above 100. Piece of cake, really, and doesn't concern me in the slightest in the overall package of flying to Oshkosh.

If you've read any prior posts on the flights, you'll be wondering how the landing turned out. This was, after all, my first solo landing, and with a fairly decent crosswind thrown in. Well, nothing to it. No bounce, and only a little sideways drift before I could get the aileron in. Very, very gratifying, and immensely valuable in confidence building.

What a fantastic machine.

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