Flight 13 was a really good, back-in-the-saddle, firing on all cylinders lesson. And I needed it.
But it didn't start out that way. Long story short, my headset was the only one that worked, so for one thing, communication between my instructor and I was challenging. And, of all nights, there was more than the usual traffic (read: more than none) at KHNB for this time of evening.
Just as I finished my walkaround, we heard a turboprop coming in. Turned out to be the King Air owned by a local business. No biggie, he wasn't headed our way on the ramp, and we hadn't discovered the radio issue yet.
We were originally going to do falling leaf stalls from around 5,000 ft, but a lower ceiling put the brakes on that.
Wind was 081 at 6. Taxied to Runway 09 and off we went, departing to the northwest. S-turns and turns around a point were the order of the evening. Actually, he made it my call. There was talk of wanting to solo me soon, and knowing I had some rough landings last week, he left it up to me. S-turns, or work on landings. I opted for S-turns, because I'd only done them once, and although I did them well, I wanted to see if I could repeat my past success. I had some success, but I still need some work.
I did several S-turns, followed by turns around a point, both directions, which I did well according to him. The lack of radios really hadn't become an issue until we headed back to the airport.
Citation called over unicom, said he was 20 miles out from the west as I'm entering the 45 degree left downwind for 09. Called out our position after each turn, and called clear of the active. We made it a "full-stop landing," then taxied to the runup for 09 again and waited for him to come in. And waited. And waited.
We both saw his landing lights, but based on his time to get to the airport, he had to be more than 20 out when he first called over unicom. Then, when he was about 5 miles out, he called on short final. Instructor and I looked at each other and said at the same time, "Short final?!?"
Took off again, after he finally cleared the active, for a couple touch and gos. First wasn't bad, though I started my roundout just a tad too high. Then we heard another Citation inbound as we were lifting bacl off. Made the call on unicom advising him when we were turning downwind.
As I'm just turning final, he calls out his position, 5 miles north, planning to enter left base for 09, and says "any traffic in the area, please advise." Instructor and I are both pretty much thinking "Oh great, he can't hear us." So I called out "Skyhawk 34Q for radio check," and he replied he had me loud and clear. Advised I was on final for full stop. Set her down, a little better this time, turned it off the runway, did post-landing checklist steps, headed back to the hangar, and proceeded with shutdown.
After we got it in the hangar, we tried to solve the headset and radio mystery (there's more to it, but I don't want to share those details because it involves previous renters of the plane, and missing property). We, with the help of the other instructor who had stopped by, did discover that the intercom had been switched to ISOLATE mode.
Afterward, we went in the office and debriefed the flight, talked about what I need to work on with my S-turns, then discussed next week, and again, his plans for soloing me in the plane.
Next week will be straightforward working on landings. Nothing else. If he's comfortable after that lesson, and the following week the weather is calm, we'll have a conversation before the flight, determine if we're mutually confident I'm ready. Then we'll do 6-7 landings, taxi back to the ramp, and then the moment of truth.
To say I'm excited would be an understatement. As long as the weather is good, I believe I'll be ready. The wait, however, is going to be agonizing.
Two Victor Uniform, clear of the active.