For Lesson 89 I did something quite different.
Taking Comrade Misfit's advice, I sought an outside opinion.
Interestingly enough, the outside advice led back to Don Weaver, the acrobatics instructor I already had met and with whom I did my spin training. I guess it takes a roundabout way sometimes to get to the obvious. He indicated he was a aware of some issues and would be happy to meet with me and checkout how I'm doing.
So I met him at Crosswinds Aviation in Howell, Livingston County Airport, one of the locations he teaches out of and I did their paperwork, did the preflight and he finished doing the lecture he was doing, came on out and we were off.
The plane was a Cessna 172SP with a Garmin 1000 glass panel setup. Quite a step-up from the 172M, it has fuel injection, no carb heat, and no more comfy steam gauges. The preflight was slightly different as a result as was the engine start procedure. The glass panel instruments were pretty easy to figure out (Don had to point out where the ball was on the display, other than that I pretty much got it down quickly and its easy). It also had active traffic which would prove to be a boon in the pattern. It was a darn nice plane - everything was nicely setout and had that newer plane feel. The engine with the fuel injection was smooth as silk, the controls were wonderfully responsive and light, and with the trim set the plane basically would fly itself. It was a damn nice aircraft.
So we started off with my taxiing it, doing the run up and then a nice takeoff after a couple other planes in the pattern landed, no problems. We then did a pattern and I did a decent landing and Don pointed out I needed to be flying with my feet more.
For the next pattern we had 4 planes including a Cirrus doing a B-52 pattern and some other planes which made me happy to have active traffic as with the haze the planes were a bit hard to spot and the traffic monitor made it a snap to figure out where they were to grab a visual on them. The Cirrus constantly did wide patterns and given he was faster but we were on a tighter pattern it made for some definite attention to what was going on so we did not cut him off. This did lead to practice with non-standard patterns, which was fine.
Then Don had me do patterns but then not land and instead hold it just above the runway and move the plane back and forth with the ailerons while keeping the nose straight with the rudder and then do a go around once we ran out of runway. This was both fun and rather instructive in doing slow flight down the runway and proved to be very helpful indeed and really helped my confidence a lot.
Then we would do the same thing but actually land and do touch-and-gos, and the landings were excellent.
Don thinks I do need more focus on using the rudder more but didn't see any serious problems.
He suggested I take more lessons with Crosswinds either with himself or another instructor he introduced me to and work on getting the rudder and airmanship confidence up to where I'm fully comfortable and then either finish up with the flight test with Flight 101 so I don't need to relearn all the instrumentation and such as my other maneuvers are ok, or switch fully over to Crosswinds.
The flight was 1.4 with 6 actual landings and quite a few low passes.
The downsides: 1. Training at Crosswinds is more expensive as their aircraft rate is a fair bit higher for their quite admittedly nicer aircraft, but it's about 25% more expensive which does hit the pocketbook, especially after putting this much time in already.
2. If I fully switch I'm going to have to get used to a G1000 glass panel setup with different instrument setup, and totally different controls for running the GPS etc, and the slightly different procedures for the 172SP, as in quit reaching for the carb heat that's not there and the engine start is different as are the V speeds, though not by much.
3. Distance - instead of being about 25 minutes away, they're a solid 60 minutes away which adds up fast in traffic, time and gas.
I'll probably bite the bullet and take some more lessons there but not fully switch over.
The upside is I haven't felt quite this good and confident about flying, and that I can really do this in a while. Maybe this was all it took.