Well I did my stage check this afternoon. Everything seems OK, and got some good pointers. Did it with this small Latino bloke called Mike Diaz.
We took off from Gillespie, and as soon as we departed East, he had me put on the "foggles" which are glasses which limit your vision to just the instruments. He had me fly headings, climb at specific speeds etc and I felt I nailed it. He said I did well on that part, no problems.
Then we did some slow flight. We did slow flight without flaps...never did it before, so he gave me a speed to fly and I did that. Did pretty good, and then also some slow flight with flaps. Again, no real problem. Then we did some stalls. First one.....a clean stall, wasn't great. Not enough rudder from the beginning and then I had to carefully not over correct. His tip was not to be afraid of the rudders and to use them to stop moving side to side. Overall it was OK though.
Then we did "turn to final" and "final approach" stalls. It was a little difficult to get the turn to final stall setup. But once I got it, I recovered well. The final approach stall was good too.
Then he pulled an engine failure out of the bag. I did the drill and set best glide, but I'd forgotton to retract the flaps and we were dropping faster than normal. He asked why were we dropping faster and I said "shit", retracted the flaps and set us up for a forced landing. His biggest tip was to not just work from memory, but to also go through the checklist when I've got everything done to make sure I got everything covered. He said that because I had forgotten to do the Mayday call. D'OH!!!!
Anyway, picked a field, coasted out and turned base leg and then final. But it's very difficult to get the height sorted out. SO I was a little high, and had to slip. Wasn't the best PFL, but was good enough. We'd have landed safely, albeit a slightly worse for wear airplane. Climbed out and went to do steep turns.
I learned something new here too.....Kevin has taught me, and as do the books read, that you put in full power for the steep turns. But he asked why I did. So I told him it was how I was taught. He told me you don't have to, so I pulled back on the power. Turns were OK, but he gave me a tip to pull the power back as I roll out of the turn.
We headed off home and did some touch and go's. I did the checklists and he wanted to see a shortfield landing. It was a bitch, because ATC had us do a straight in approach. This is annoying, because when you're in the circuit, you have specific turning points and the picture is set in your mind. But coming in straight, you have to amend everything. Consequently I came in a little high. I still made the number, because I had to side slip like to loose height, and I landed in a very short distance, so no biggy....but I was just vexed because it wasn't a smooth landing. But if I remember what Neale said (one of the senior instructors who did my pre-solo checkride) said, "If you've landed and you and the plane are all in one piece, it doesn't matter then how slick it was....all that will come later and you can work on your finesse"
The next landing was supposed to be a short approach landing (i.e. pretend the engine is out). But Mike was too late in asking ATC, so we did a soft field landing instead. Because we were too late, I was a little late setting up the plane, and again a little too high. Once again a little sideslipping was needed, and I landed OK. Nose was kept off for as long as I could and we came off the taxiway and headed back.
So his tips were not to be frightened of the rudders when stalling, to remember the pull out the checklist for everything (even when doing stuff from memory), and not to put in full power in the steep turns and pull out the power when turning wings level.
Some night flying later tonight with Kevin, and it now seems the checkride will be Saturday now and NOT Friday....fucking hell.....I think that means no Mirimar this year :-(