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Pilot

Posts about pilot skills, knowledge, and judgment

The needles were perfectly centered and absolutely still as we coasted down the ILS into Salinas, California. My instructor Bill reached over and tapped the instrument, saying with a smile, "Is this thing broken?" Believe it or not, it was working perfectly and I was flying a beautiful approach. It was one of those vanishingly rare days when I was completely "in the zone"—detecting tiny deviations in vertical speed and heading and responding with micro-adjustments on the controls to compensate—and it felt effortless, just like breathing.

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"Let's make this one a soft-field," I said to my buddy Tim as I pulled the Cessna's yoke back to the stop and smoothly advanced the throttle. Nosewheel's off. Start feeding the yoke forward—a little too much, back a bit—good. Mains are off. Don't get too high—accelerate in ground effect. There's best-rate-of-climb speed. Start climbing away. Our session in the pattern was going well. "I had a little nose bobble there at the beginning—a little graceless, but not too bad. I give it a 7," I said to Tim as we leveled on downwind and started setting up for landing.

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