So I have gotten to that point in my flight training where I am just a few hours shy of soloing and we are practicing landing techniques. A lot. I like practicing landings, it’s the area that I currently feel least confident in and of course, landing an airplane is a mandatory component of this whole private pilot thing.
On Friday my instructor and I went up for pattern work, we’d do seven landings and work on crabs, slips and crosswind landings in general.
My approaches are stabilized. The CFI has told me that I have consistent, excellent approaches. I’m hitting the recommended numbers at the right times in the pattern, I’m remembering to what I call “click and spin” or set the trim after putting in a notch of flaps. (Our Piper Cherokee’s trim is on the ceiling, the flaps are manual).
The one thing I’ve been struggling with is where I should be looking when landing. Do I look right off the nose? Do I look at the end of the runway, do I look for something that resembles a horizon? I’m still trying to find my way after listening to the recommendations of my CFI.
On my first landing my approach was stabilized. The sight picture was good. The practice box on the runway was steady in regards to my line of vision. Airspeed was on the numbers. We crossed the numbers and I started the flare. A nanosecond later, we hit the runway and bounced back up.
“Full power!”, my CFI called out. I applied full power, began climbing and cleaned up the airplane. Expecting to hear “nice work, asshole” from ATC, my headphones simply relayed to me, “Cherokee 89R, approved for right hand pattern, report mid field.”
I felt like an idiot.
In the past I would have beat myself up pretty hard about such a bounce in my training. I started to go down that path again and then pulled myself out of it, “I think I know what I did wrong”, I said to my instructor.
As we flew runway heading then back into the pattern, we had a good discussion about what I had missed. I joked about the ELT and we reviewed how I could check that on the radio. He then said something to me that my Dad was always quick to remind me.
“Remember, flying is fun.”
My CFI is a great guy and I have a TON of respect for him. From our first flight together I have felt very comfortable with him. He reminds me that I’m often too hard on myself; I expect perfection as I learn and I simply don’t have the skill set for anything close to perfection. I don’t think that many pilots do. I think I’ll always be learning and when I reach my goal to become a CFI, I think I’ll still continue to learn.
The rest of the lesson went well and I’m looking forward to practicing more landings this week. Practicing and learning. It’s what it’s all about.
And I know that I’ll have a lot of fun doing just that.