So, after last Friday's abortive flight test, it doesn't look like this Friday will be good either. Snow and cold along with low ceilings and icing in the clouds are forecast for at least the next three days. Such is January, I suppose. I was hoping that this coming Monday or Wednesday would be good weather, but Tim (my inspector at the Columbus FAA) is not available until next Friday. So it goes. I'll be happier so long as I finish the test before March 22, otherwise I'll have to start all over again.
Since it looks like at least a week before my flight test, and today saw by sun and a beautiful clear blue sky with a light smattering of high cirrus clouds, I decided to go up for an hour and practice. Of course the flying part, but especially the teaching/talking part. The plan was to take off with short field technique, do all the commercial pilot maneuvers and the CFI stall series in the practice area, then come back for a soft field landing and takeoff, then finish with a short field landing.
When I got to the airport, Rob was there. I asked him what all I should do in order to be allowed to teach with their airplanes. We talked for a little while, and he said he would talk to the owners of the place and put a packet of papers together for me to fill out once I get my CFI ticket and add instructor coverage to my insurance. We also talked about how to switch my friend Kim over to me as in instructor - she has been taking lessons with another CFI over there, but their schedules don't mesh up too much. I think the general idea is to get the three of us together and discuss it. At any rate, Rob says he sees no reason I wouldn't be allowed to teach out of the planes here, and I would probably wind up with extra or hand-me-down students (because I'd be the low man on the totem pole, so to speak, I'd have last dibs on whatever job may come along). The only problem would be if I try and teach at more than one airport - they don't want me accidentally taking their business along with them. Understandable to be sure, we will have to figure something out.
At any rate, there was enough gas in the plane for what I had in mind and it was gusty and 28 degrees F, so I did a brief (but complete) preflight inspection and skipped the trip to the pumps. Started up, taxied out, and took off after a successful engine check.
Best rate climb up to pattern altitude, contact the local Tracon for flight following in the practice area, and then depart up to 3500'. I started with an intro slow flight lesson, explaining the relationship between pitch, power, and drag. Then it was time for some stalls. Since I was climbing, I went ahead and talked myself through a departure stall, then transitioned to a power off approach stall. The cross control stall - where you stall with the controls in a very exaggeratedly uncoordinated position while turning, was successful and fun. The accelerated stall - a stall in a steeply banked turn - was characteristicaly difficult to achieve a clean break. After some steep turns, it was time to descend a little bit, so I practiced the steep spiral on the way down.
Everything was going well, so after a quick chandelle and lazy eight I reported inbound to the airport. Came in on the upwind leg to runway 26, flew around the pattern, and landed. Turned out that, rather than a contrived short or soft field technique, I had the opportunity to practice a real crosswind landing. It had been a choppy flight, and the landing was also, with winds variable from directly ahead to directly across the runway gusting to 15 or 20, though I was able to get a smooth enough touchdown out of it.
I have been comfortable flying in much worse, so I went around once more. I haven't had the chance to practice-teach-to-empty-space (or just to brush up my flying skills) crosswind operations for a while, and it felt good. One textbook takeoff, properly judged descent, and properly firm arrival later I was done for the day, with 1.1 hours to put in the book.
Rob came out and helped me tie the plane up while I installed the gust lock, pitot tube cover, and locked the cabin. We chatted a little bit as he wrote my ticket up and I put some money on account.
Everything went well, and I flew at least to Practical Test Standards, but I'm really getting frusterated. I want to finish my test and earn the last 30% of my instructor certificate. I'm qualified, I just need a day where the weather and personnel schedules sync up enough that I can demonstrate it to the FAA. I don't expect the cash to start rolling in (not really what I'm after anyway), but I know of at least one person who wants to fly with me on a weekly basis, and I'm ready to get started.
Stay tuned, I'll actually get to write up the flight test some day, maybe Feb 5 if the weather cooperates.