As I blogged previously, last weekend, I did a couple of test flights with CFIs. On the last one, we were returning to the airport when the following happened --
- I am not used to the C172's glide (I usually fly an Evektor SportStar) so I was too high on approach and had to cut power and burn altitude to get to pattern altitude.
- The pattern was very busy.
- The controller told us to make right traffic for runway 31 right, which seemed ok.
- He also told us we were #3 behind a Citabria on 3 mile final.
- And finally, to extend downwind, and he would call our base.
- The CFI pointed out to me a water tower that was a 3 mile landmark out at our airport.
- I squinted desperately wondering, which of these is the bloody water tower?
- And I squinted some more wondering, where in the heck is the bloody Citabria?
- We flew on and on, and I started wondering if the controller had forgotten about us.
- I transmitted "Tower, Cessna 123, sequence" and hoped for the best.
- I was (if I recall correctly) asked to remain on downwind.
- I continued wondering where in the heck the bloody Citabria was.
- Now we were approaching rather uncomfortably close to some hills, and the CFI pointed out that maybe it would be best not to fly straight into them, so perhaps I'd better turn base.
- I started my turn right as the controller asked me to turn base.
- And in so doing, the controller asked me to switch to runway 31 left.
- I puttered along trying to make the turn, expecting the kind of performance I get from my usual Evektor SportStar.
- I overshot base to final.
- I had plenty of distance (I extended downwind halfway to the next county, if you recall), but I still needed to be careful to do it right.
Within all this commotion -- I think during my downwind to base turn -- I asked myself the quintessential question:
How am I flying the airplane?
And I glanced at the Airball on the panel and right there was my answer. Indicated airspeed where I expect it to be, AoA where I need it, and coordinated. One glance.