Well, I've officially filled the first page of my log book now. Not very many long flights (they average a bit over an hour), but this last lesson it really started coming together (until my CFI started having me make the radio calls, then I started hosing my normal approaches . . . coming in too fast).
The lesson started with me doing a few pick-ups and set-downs. Not perfect, but a major improvement over my previous efforts. The last lesson's learnings were the key. It looked good on the video my wife took of it. It was a bit rough in the aircraft but nothing major. Just one bump and then another and we're down.
After that, we did a max power take-off (also on video though the sun got in my wife's eyes and she lost me in the frame for a bit). I was on the controls and it was my best yet. One other student was watching (getting ready for his check ride) and he said it looked good and solid.
Next we flew a short ways away and did an off-site landing (high/low recon, steep approach to a small field with trees and a road on one side and phone lines on the other). I was on the controls (mostly alone) for the whole thing and it went like a charm . This was my first off-sight and my second or third steep approach. I was very happy and surprised at how well I was doing and how controlled and relaxed I felt.
The next max-power takeoff was all me and it was a good one too. We flew back to the airport and I did a pretty good job of staying straight and level and right at 75 KIAS.
Then my CFI told me to enter the pattern and make the call as I was turning onto the base leg. Suddenly, I was trying to remember the things to say and started forgetting about watching my speed and sight picture. My base turn was very slow and, as I made the call for final approach I started speeding up and came in too fast.
I was good at my normal approaches last lesson (keeping the sight picture, keeping rate of descent
We landed, I did a very solid clearing turn (little x-wind but not bad) and then I took off again. It was my best take-off ever. The CFI didn't have to touch the controls and I was right on the ground track and my take-off profile was text-book. I even held my 60KIAS solid up through the first turn and accelerated to 75KIAS without overshooting (my normal MO).
The downwind leg was pretty good, but when I had to make the call for the base leg again, it was like a repeat of the time before. Too fast, too much forward airspeed, too fast on my rate of descent.
I hover taxi-ed over to the pad and set it down as the ground school was about to start. Although I was disappointed in my approaches at the end, I know what I need to work on and I'll be practicing my radio calls until their second nature. The rest of it was great and I still feel like things are coming together.
The bad news is that I won't be flying next week as we're going on a vacation. I was trying to line up a CFI in Myrtle Beach to fly with during the week once, but the one my CFI knew about let his CFI cert expire so. . . looks like I'm ground-bound until next Sunday.
Anyway, still a load of fun and making steady progress.