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Soup 'n stalls were the menu items for flight lesson 4. We had a solid cloud layer between 1300 and 2400 feet, so we got to check off the hood flying training requirement. We requested an IFR to VFR departure, which was obviously a new thing for me.

While climbing through the soup, I did instrument constant airspeed climbs with heading hold and constant airspeed climbing turns. Simultaneously managing and monitoring airspeed, attitude, altitude, heading, turn coordination, and turn rate without seeing anything through the windows sounds like a heavy workload, but it turned out to be simple and straightforward. That's probably because I managed to keep everything pretty close to the targets. This was the first time I really noticed the slight response lag in airspeed, altitude, and rate of climb indications. It wasn't a big deal, just something to take into account. When we topped the clouds I said to my instructor "So that's what instruments are for!

This time we headed to an inland practice area that wasn't clouded over. It was nice to see things down there during the few brief moments I had to look down. Also, the mountain peaks were handy heading references. I must have done at least 10 stalls this time, half approach stalls and half departure stalls. At least I kept the attitude coordinated every time so there were no heading changes.

Approach stalls are power-off with full flaps, which is the configuration used for landing approach. When the airplane fully stalls in that configuration, it drops and pitches down rapidly. A lot. Really rapidly. Consistent with my tendency to over-control the airplane in unfamiliar circumstances, I pushed the elevator too far forward during the first recovery. We got kinda light in the seats, but didn't lift out of them. At least that produced enough airspeed for a pullup without a secondary stall. On subsequent stall recoveries, I just released the back pressure on the column without pushing it. That worked better. In comparison, the power-on departure stalls were a piece of cake.

We did a full-stop landing at a different airport to get an idea of what it's like to fly into an unfamiliar airport. That all went fine. While we were taxiing back for takeoff, we watched a Velocity approach and land. I want one of those, or perhaps something better........

It was a short hop back to home base, but back through the soup again. My instructor flew the ILS approach when we got close. This was the first time that I'd had a chance to relax and look around a bit while someone else did the flying. The clouds were beautiful, puffy things when seen from above. Descent into solid gray was fairly gradual, so I got a nice sensation of speed as we sank in. When we broke through, the controls were mine again. The first thing I saw was the runway perfectly lined up ahead of me. I like ILS! The final approach was less stabilized than I would have liked, but resulted in a decent landing. Flaring a bit early is a LOT nicer than flaring a little bit late.

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