Wings Program, Level I

I had banged up my leg the month before this, and wasn't feeling confident enough to fly yet when my 60 day currency expired. (For insurance reasons, we have to do 3 landings every 60 days to rent planes from the club). So to get it back, I had to go up with an instructor.

It was almost time for my BFR (bi-annual flight review), which is another oral and flight test you have to take every two years (FAA rule, not the club). The alternative to the BFR is the WINGS program, where you take 3 hours of training and go to an Air Safety Seminar all within a year, and you get credit for a BFR for the next year. You can do this for up to 20 levels of WINGS, each at least 12 months apart, unless you have an accident. In that case, you start over at level 1.

So I got up in the morning and looked at the clouds outside, dark, but high, and clearing. I took off out to the airport after talking to Donn about the clouds. We both thought they were ok. Once I got to Rancho Murieta, though, the wind sock was sticking straight out perpendicular to the runway - a good 15 knot cross wind. Which is about the limit these planes can take.

I called Donn again, cuz I wasn't sure I wanted to fly in that much wind, but he said (with some amusement in his voice at what he correctly perceived as reluctance on my part :-) that it would be good crosswind training. So up we went.

It's kinda fun flying sideways. :-)

So we took off (bumpy take off!!!) and flew to Franklin and did some cross wind landings and take-offs. They weren't bad, except the one where I forgot to put the flaps back up and turn off the carb heat. :-) Then we flew back towards Rancho and Donn had me put on the hood.

"The Hood" is actually glasses that prevent you from seeing out the window, you can only see the instrument panel. His glasses had seen better days, though... both ear pieces were broken off, and duct tape was the word for the day. But the stuck on my head and I was able to use them. He said "slow to 90 knots and hold your altitude. Then turn to a heading of 120." Sounds easy, but it's not! Slowing involves either raising the nose or pulling back on the throttle. Both will get you too much, just one maybe not enough, so you have to really work on it. Donn, of course, can will it into submission, but I have to really fight it.

Then we flew back towards Rancho (unbeknownst to me), and when he had me take the glasses off, we were about to enter the pattern to land. I thought we were still halfway to Franklin. :-) Anyway, a very bumpy landing later (remember the nasty crosswind? It was worse) I still needed a tenth of an hour to complete the Wings time, so we went around again. Plus I hate to end the day on a rough landing. The second landing was better, and we packed up for the day.

So now I'm legal to fly people again, and legal to fly period for another couple of years. Not I just gotta win the lotto...

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