I had my fifth Citabria lesson this morning. Dave and I took N5032 up for an hour to practice some low flying ground reference exercises.

We went down to a field to the west of highway 101 and just south of an IBM complex and Dave asked me to fly a rectangular pattern at 1,000 feet following some roads. The first time around, he showed me the corner markers to use when making my turns. The point is to get used to flying in the traffic pattern and staying close to the runway. And if there's any significant wind, you get used to crabbing into the wind to maintain a straight ground track relative to the runway.

After a few circuits, he pulled the power and said "you just lost your engine! Where are you going to land?" I suggested a field roughly 3/4 a mile away, just ahead of us. He countered that suggestion with one we had just passed. To demonstrate, the took the controls did a base and then final turn, and slipped us down nice and low as if ready to land. Six feed off the ground, he put in full throttle and gave me back the plane.

I flew the rectangle a few more times and then we moved onto flying S turns across the road. He demonstrated a few and then I did 6 or 8 of them to get the hang of it. Finally, we did figure eight turns across a road. It's really just a variation on the S turns, so wasn't hard to pick up.

From there, we headed back up to UTC, picked up the ATIS, called the tower, and got a clearance for landing on runway 31 Left. I managed to land the plane nicely but didn't quite have the tail down. Dave told me to pull the stick all the way back, and we jumped back into the air a few feet when I did. Whoops. We should have let it slow down a bit.

Initially it seemed weird to be flying only 1,000 feet above the ground and going 100 miles per hour. But it didn't take too long before that seemed reasonable. Let's hope I manage to keep the fear of getting low that all my glider flying has bread into me!

For the next lesson, we're going to head down to Frazier Lake (just north of Hollister) and do some landing practice. That'll be fun. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at September 22, 2005 02:05 PM

Reader Comments
# Justin said:

All this sounds very interesting.. How much do these lessons cost?

on September 22, 2005 03:23 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Check out http://www.ameliareid.com/ to see the rates. It's about $75/hour for the plane (with fuel included) and $42/hour for the instructor.

on September 22, 2005 03:49 PM
# Nick Arnett said:

When I was learning to fly, they were just finishing the "new" stretch of 101 down there (until then, it was Monterey Highway). My instructor did the "you just lost your engine" and I headed for that nice new, unused freeway. He let us get *very* low before the "okay, let's get out of here." I pushed on the throttle... and cough, cough, cough -- the engine did nothing. Dan, the instructor, moved like lightning to grab the throttle and mixture -- leaned it out, gave it gas, enriched it again... and we were climbing. Meanwhile, below us, some construction workers were starting to scatter. We probably got down around 300 feet. The problem was fouled plugs -- it was a Cessna 152 and they're notorious for fouling when you let the engine idle for a while. Just another lesson in what can go wrong and how to respond.

on September 23, 2005 07:23 AM
# whistle-blower said:

in the silicon valley area, just be sure to steer clear of an FAA DPE named john pyle, whatever you do. comes across as a nice enough guy, but a real shyster that cloaks himself in the guise of bureacratic formality. it's increasinlgy well know that he fails or disqualifies people for incredibly minor technicalities, but the FAA's oversight of the DPE program is abyssmal. anyway, happy flying.

on November 18, 2005 01:20 AM
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