Flight 19: Debut of the Cessna 172

I inadvertently put my name in the wrong column on the schedule for today, so we ended up taking a Cessna 172. The rest of the Cessnas were out, so this was another chance to fly something different. I found the 172 to be a cross between the other planes I’ve flown. It has the same engine, rental fee, and four-person capacity as the Warrior, and both of the larger planes have improved forward visibility, but otherwise the 172 is just a more powerful version of the 152. Since we had full fuel tanks, and the temperature was around 80, it was nice to be in a more powerful plane.

We flew up to Tampa North Aero Park (X39), a small airport consisting of a narrow runway and a couple of buildings. (One reason we went there was to look at a plane that’s for sale.) The runway is narrow (50 feet) and surrounded by trees and has a right-hand pattern when landing toward the southeast as we did today (runway 14). Those differences mixed with a crosswind made it an interesting place to do some touch & goes.

There is no taxiway, and the parking area is next to the end of the runway, so we had to taxi down the runway in the opposite direction (back taxi) and make a U-turn before taking off.

Today’s new maneuver was a soft-field takeoff to simulate a grass or dirt runway. My landings were good today, except for one which my CFI politely referred to as pilot-induced oscillation, also known as a bounced landing. I’ve had a single bounce before, but not multiple times in one landing.

As I was trying to hold the plane off the runway, the wheels gently touched the pavement, and I thought I had another decent landing. The touchdown was too early, and we bounced up a couple of feet. My reaction at that point was wrong, pushing the nose down or pulling it up when the opposite should have been done, so the result was three or four small but embarrassing bounces. It happened too fast to remember the sequence, but the point is that instinct is not always right. I should have held the plane off longer or put the throttle in and gone around.

I’m surprised it took until now for this kind of landing mistake to happen. It was quite a lesson; my CFI saw it coming but let it happen for its educational value. I guess I didn’t do too badly today, though, because when I got back and said I’d see him next time, he said I didn’t need him for the next flight, and took himself off the schedule. I think that’s a vote of confidence, or maybe he doesn’t want to see another messy landing!

Today: 0.9 hours
Total: 21.5 hours
Total Solo: 1.1 hours

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