Friday, March 16, 2012

A Lesson in Overconfidence and *&^% Presidential TFRs

Today I had my "mock check ride" to see if I am ready to take the real check ride. It was quite affirming to hear the examiner's comments, which he apparently passed on to my instructor since he called to ask when I wanted to schedule the real thing. Nice. As expected, I had two big things to work on: putting the blasted plane where I want it when landing and tightening up instrument flying. The former didn't shock me too much, though I was a bit miffed about the latter as I just was having one of those days.

Overconfidence. So, there I am minding my own business trying to fly N399JA sans auto pilot (since it doesn't have one) and dealing with some in flight calculations (my favorite combination... ok, so indicated altitude and, oh fly the plane, and OAT, and oh fly the plane and.... what was I doing again? Oh yeah, flying a plane. You get the idea) when the examiner decided it was time for a simulated engine out. I thought, "No worries! I'm at 8500 feet, there is an airport over there somewhere close at about 800 feet MSL, so I got this." Pitch to best glide speed and trim, turn toward general direction of airport and use GPS to get specifics like distance, heading, and CTAF, and then run through a flow and check list. Funny how none of that works during a lesson. So, I find the airport and start making some radio calls. I talk about what communication procedures I'd use, transponder and how I'd secure the plane for landing. I get in position and circle. So far so good. As I turn into the downwind at about 900' AGL (not too shabby) I start to wonder how the heck I got so close to the runway. Let's just say that I had to do quite a bit of maneuvering and a forward slip to make a survivable landing on that runway. Ok, I am being a bit hard on myself because when I started this maneuver I envisioned a squeaker on the numbers and instead I would have touched down about mid-field and maybe run off the end of the runway. But, we would have survived... that's the good news.

I was essentially focused on congratulating myself for executing a near flawless engine out landing rather than flying the plane. Hopefully, that will teach me in the event I need to deal with the real thing.

Presidential TFRs. One of the things that really stinks about living in the Chicagoland area is that we get those lovely Presidential TFRs from time to time. Those really are an annoyance, and I'm not looking forward to the NATO summit here in May or the campaign season. Although, we are unlikely to see the president here except maybe for one of those $30,000 a plate meals for the people since the last Republican to win Illinois was probably Reagan. I was pleased as punch when they moved the G8 to Camp David, and I could care less if it was moved for a more "intimate" meeting with these leaders where our president can get to know Putin (you know, the president really should have thought about that answer because it sounded like he wanted to drink vodka and play Twister) or to avoid pictures of wacky protesters in an election year. They can take NATO, too. Between the TFRs for dignitary movement and the enormous tax bill, they can't take it away soon enough.

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