Flight 8: Using the Other Runway

Today I made my first takeoff from runway 18 instead of 36, since the wind was mainly from the south instead of the north as it had always been before. I practiced a couple of the ground reference manuevers, then we went over to Plant City (PCM) for more landing practice.

It was good to see another airport for a change, since the last few sessions were around home. I was consistently high (the plane, I mean) on the approaches, which I consider progress over last week’s grab bag. I’ll take consistent errors over random ones any day.

Driving home, I realized why I had been too high. Our home airport is practically at sea level, so it’s easy to get used to thinking of “above ground level” (AGL) being about the same as “above sea level”. (Not a good idea if you’re in the mountains.) Plant City is at 100 feet, but I didn’t completely compensate for that.

I’m used to making the first turn at 500 feet after takeoff, and did so today. I should have turned at 600 (500 above the ground). Since I turned too soon, the rest of the pattern was thrown off. Where I should have been leveling off, I was still climbing, until I got past the point where I would normally start descending.

Realizing the airport was by then behind me, I made the last two turns a bit later than usual but still too high. The result was a steep approach that makes for a more difficult landing. (Someday I hope to start having these insights while I’m still in the air.) Good thing my next lesson is in two days, because if I could have turned the car around and gone back for another hour, I would have.

Today: 1.3 hours
Total: 9.1 hours

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