Friday, August 22, 2008

Lesson 19: Airplane therapy

Plane: Cessna 150
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I-MGY-40Il
Weather: Haze, 84 degrees, wind 090 degrees at 3 knots

This has pretty much been the week from hell at work - long hours, way too much stress, and finding out about a trip half way around the world on ridiculously short notice. But let me tell you that when I got back on the ground after tonight's lesson I was completely relaxed, happy, and my mind was clear. I've heard other pilots talk about escaping from everything up in the sky and it sure seems like I am able to do the same. And it's a wonderful thing.

It felt like I hadn't been up in forever and I was expecting to be a bit rusty, especially having only flown the 150 one time. After adding 8 gallons of fuel (4 to each tank) and running through the takeoff checklists, we headed off to work on some maneuvers. The visibility was atrocious thanks to the hot and humid air. We heard 10 miles from the AWOS (that's an Automated Weather Observation System, which broadcasts weather information over the radio) at MGY but that seemed optimistic. And looking into the sun I'd just about dare you to make out anything that wasn't sitting on the cowling.

My steep turns were surprisingly smooth and I only lost about 50 feet of altitude. Take a look at the photo below and you can see where we really slowed down (bright green) while we did some slow flight. Then it was a sequence of stalls, both power-on and power-off. I did a much better job recovering than last time, but it's still crazy just how much the plane wants to drop the left wing (torque tendency) during a power-on stall.

Magenta is fastest (115 mph) and green is slowest (40 mph)
New things are fun and tonight (drum roll, please) we actually went somewhere! It may only be about 10 miles from Stewart but we flew over to Dayton Wright Brothers Airport (MGY) and I got to use the radio for the first time. It's an untowered airport so all you do on the radio is call out your position (called transmitting "in the blind") in the pattern and vicinity so other pilots know where you are. Having listened to ATC on the computer and my nice new handheld transciever I knew what to say, but I was still a little nervous the first time I hit the push-to-talk button. "Wright Brothers traffic, Cessna 60338 is 3 miles East, inbound for landing, Wright Brothers." All went well (aside from calling my base leg 'crosswind' one time - oops) and Dave thought I kicked that radio's butt.

Entering the pattern I turned downwind late so as you can see in the GPS track I ended up way to the right on final but managed to line us up and land. Oh sweet concrete, how different you feel after over 20 hours on the grass. Taking off was so smooth I had to look down a couple times to make sure we were off the ground. We made one more trip around the pattern (I still turned to final late) and then departed to the Southeast towards Waynesville. A quick jaunt to the other side of town is all it was, but it sure felt good. Landing back at Stewart I ended up incredibly high on final so I added full flaps and cut the power to idle and got us down safely.

All told, it was a surprisingly good lesson after a short break in my training. The maneuvers went very well and I had a good first time on the radio. It was great to get up and remember just how damn much I love to be flying. I parked us in front of the fuel pump and turned the key to Off, which made Dave yell out something that sounded like "Garaahgh!" since I should have pulled the Mixture to Lean to kill the engine. Darn it, I knew I was due to screw something up tonight!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Solo/PIC Time: 4.3 hours
Total Time: 26.7 hours


  1. I've had my instructors yell "gaaaaarahg" when I forget to turn avionics off before leaning the mixture. LOL. I'll never do that again. :D

  2. The only time I've had my instructor utter a yelp is when I broke my first stall by SHOVING the yoke forward. It was interesting seeing nothing but cornfields in the window...

  3. To both of you, I say...

    "Been there, done that."

    Hey, we're just making sure our instructors are paying attention - right?