I flew almost every day this week. It's spring break in Texas, and my kids have been home. My oldest daughter, Thing 1, is a senior and for a class project she chose "learning to fly". For many people, that would have been ambitious, but her case, since her dad is an instructor and aircraft owner, it was the "choice of least resistance". Her boyfriend by way of comparison (a Nation Honor Society Finalist and holder of multiple offers from colleges for "free-rides"), is learning to play the school song on every instrument in the band, and mashing the recording together so that he is playing the whole thing - solo.
I felt that my Bonanza was a bit much for a beginner, so I borrowed a friend's Sundowner for the occasion. Normally, if I'm teaching a student to get ready for a sport pilot or private pilot license, I'll spend more time in the air doing basic maneuvering, stalls, ground reference and gliding before moving to the airport pattern, but in this case her goal is to be able to fly a complete pattern including the landing in a short time. I think this is a good thing - when I fly with my family I would like for there to be someone else on board who could get the thing on the ground, in at least a survivable crash-landing. Thing 1 might fit the bill.
So we started with climbs and descents, level turns, moderately steep turns and simple stall recovery. Next we moved to an airport and started doing pattern work. After nearly 1 week, she can now do the full power take off, crosswind climb (with a bit erratic speed control, but within private limits), come back to downwind power (2,000 rpm) and turn onto a 1,000 foot AGL downwind holding 80 kts, set up for landing (GUMPS, electric fuel pump on, lower flaps, set approach power at 1,700 rpm), do the base leg and turn onto final approach adding more flaps and controlling the descent with pitch and power. I still have to get on the controls at about 100 feet to help with the flare and touchdown.
My friend's Sundowner is hangared in an awkward spot, and since I want Thing 1 eventually to be able to land my Bonanza, I switched her to the Bonanza on Thursday, but as it does everything 10 to 20 knots faster, and has more to remember - she was overwhelmed. We're going back to the Sundowner. But now the weather is changing, the winds are no longer light and aligned with the runway. They are strong and gusty with a significant cross-wind component. We'll take it up again next week after school.
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