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First Unsupervised Solo, April 12!!!!

April 14, 2019

Author: Bianca Yang
Email: ipacifics@gmail.com

Whew, I made it! After 36.2 hours of training, I was cleared to do my first completely unsupervised solo. The lesson just before my first unsupervised solo, I went over steep turns and stalls and then headed out to Brackett airport. I decided that I would go to Brackett on my own.

Getting to Brackett was pretty easy. I set up the GPS to give me straight line distance to KPOC and then set off with the appropriate frequencies on standby. We were using runway 19 that day, so I asked for an east (left crosswind) departure. Winds were fairly calm that day, max of 4kts in any direction. I called in to Brackett and was given right traffic on 26L. I aimed for the VOR on my way in and executed a rather uncoordinated turn. The nose was pointed to the left and I somehow couldn’t get it corrected before I landed. The landing was a bit rough. I did a full stop and then taxied back for another round of pattern work, hoping that this I could execute better on the second try. Not much luck. I decided to stay at KPOC and do pattern work for the day.

Why was I landing so poorly? Well, let’s first consider that my instructor weighs a decent amount (something around 10% of gross aircraft weight). The plane thus feels exceedingly floaty without him next to me. The balance also gets completely thrown off. I think I was also suffering from a bit of nerves and stress from trying to remember everything I was supposed to do and which airport tower I was talking to (Brackett, not El Monte ~).

Another stress factor was the relatively high amount of traffic at Brackett. At some point, I was asked to switch to right traffic. We were using left traffic on 26L, for reasons that should be obvious if you look at the airport chart. I was also asked to squawk something other than 1200 from then on. I preferred 26L but they were assuming I was going to use 26R so there was a bit of urgency in the controller’s voice when he told me to turn base for 26L. 26L is longer and wider than 26R. I wanted that additional margin on Friday.

One thing I almost messed up on was making too wide of a final turn. 26L and 26R are very close together, which means I should have been angling a bit sharper on my final turn so as to not interfere with aircraft on 26R. There was not much traffic on 26R, though. I figure the controllers were paying attention.

I did 7 landings at Brackett that day. I then asked for a straight out departure so I could go to the Santa Fe practice area and hopefully find some place to do one steep turn or stall in. Unfortunately, traffic was horrendous. Somebody coming up from the south crossed over Huntington gardens and then stopped over the 210 near the Santa Anita racetrack about 1000ft below me and there were lots of other people fairly close by. Turbulence was also picking up so I figured I’d be safer just heading back to KEMT. My 8th and final landing at KEMT was also not very well executed. I came in too slow and met the ground at a higher speed than I would have liked to.

Well, that was quite the adventure. My next unsupervised solo is on Wed. I plan to do some work on steep turns and stalls that day.