Officially, flight #3.
(this was an email I sent to my instructor within an hour of my lesson)
If I had to evaluate my own flying today I'd give myself a C+.
For the most part I felt comfortable with the preflight check, although there were 2 things that through me off, the ELT of course, and the gas valve under the nose, which took me awhile to remember where it was, both of which will be no problem next time. By the way, the binder doesn't contain a printout of the preflight side of the card. I think that would be a helpful study item just so I can visualize the preflight check in my head.
I'd say I gained a "little" more comfort and control on the ground in the couple of minutes we had, although doing circles in front of the office is a little un-nerving especially while other planes are landing, it's obvious I need some practice, but I'm certain I'll get a good feel for that. Braking to swing the tail around was a good tip and reminded me a little of how you drive bumper cars at the fair...maybe you're too young for that one. Taxing down the runway felt fairly comfortable, and I didn't feel like I leaned on the brakes too much, of course there was no wind, which helped considerably, and taxiing down the runway at 15mph is one thing, landing on it 65mph is a whole different ball game, I'm sure.
As far as the actual flying went, I felt comfortable flying at speed and elevation, and flying at slow speed and elevation, and climbing and descending, but like you said, when it came to turns, I think my coordination was way off compared to the last 2 times. I think it's like golf, the first time you go out, you just grab a stick and hit a ball and it all seems very natural, then you take a lesson and learn things like stance, stroke and follow through, then you get a book and read about pitch, angle, wind and trajectory and when you get back on the course, you're thinking about all of these things, not just hitting the ball, and consequently, a lot of them end up in the woods and the lake. These are all good things to know, mind you, and they'll serve you well in the long run, but they are very hard to think about all at once while you're trying to just hit the ball.
I know I was probably over thinking it, trying to pay attention to all of the details, keeping my eyes on the altimeter, rpm, attitude, speed, the rate of climb and descent, and trying to keep those somehow coordinated with the actual physical aspects of flying, you know, the part where you use your hands and feet. Last time I also didn't need to concern myself so much with power and trim and trying to get a feeling for what that's doing while I'm flying, so naturally, as I paid more attention to those things, I paid a little less to things like attitude and coordinated flying. The bad news is, there was a lot more skidding and sliding around, the good news is, today I actually knew what those were when they happened. I can tell I need more clarity on the difference between natural "turbulence" and pilot turbulence…I think you had a name for that, but I had difficulty differentiating the 2 today. I also felt more physically "taxed" today, so as you suggested, I'm sure I was too heavy on the gear all around and need to practice a lighter touch. I'm sure that will happen when I can start balancing my attention better between the controls, the instruments and the visuals. Hopefully everything will come together a little better as I get more comfortable with my surroundings both in and out of the plane.
You have a lot of courage taking guys like me up, and a lot of confidence up there, and it's great to see. I look forward to the day when I share that confidence with you.
Thanks for your patience.