Weather: Broken clouds, 35 degrees, wind 320 degrees at 8 knots
Ceilings of 3,000+ feet, light winds, and visibilities of 10 miles are a rare occasion these days. So I took the opportunity to fly a short XC over to Bolton Field in Columbus and meet up with a friend. The engine was still a little warm when I climbed in and 60338 fired right up - no fun with fire today. Full of fuel and checks complete, I taxied on to the runway and made a smooth soft field takeoff. Within a few hundred feet of the ground I had already been tossed around a good deal more than I would have expected on what looked to be a smooth day. Turns out all those broken clouds had some decent updrafts and downdrafts and I ended up with a bumpy flight all the way.
Video from today's hop to Columbus and back...
For the first time in what felt like forever, I called Dayton Approach and requested flight following. Uneventful as usual and I never received a single call about traffic. The handoff to Columbus wasn't so smooth (I had to pass along some extra info. and they didn't seem to know who I was at first) and things sure sounded a lot busier once I changed freqs. Maybe they were understaffed or something, because it was surprisingly talkative for a Sunday afternoon. Still, I kept chugging along doing my best to hold altitude in the bumps (I was +/- 150 feet the whole way there) and spotted Bolton about 10 miles out. Canceled flight following and switched to Bolton Tower and was cleared for a straight-in and asked to report 3 miles. Another Cessna (looked like a 172) was approaching from the East and Tower asked him to report a 2 mile right base. As you can imagine, he goes faster than me in the rinky-dink 150 so he ended up having to fly around me to get in position even though I kept that thing firewalled until about a mile on final.
The landing was smooth and felt good with the 60ish degree crosswind, although I touched down left of centerline. I kept some power in to hurry down to the next turnoff so the guy behind me didn't have to go around. Parked and shut down, I went into the terminal and talked to the girl at the counter for a couple until my friend arrived. Then we headed next door to grab a bite to eat at JP's Barbeque. Numerous pilots have told me it's a great place to eat and I've been wanting to try it out. Overall, I was quite satisfied - not the best ribs I've ever had, but $12 for a 1/2 slab, 1/4 chicken, 2 sides, and a roll is hard to beat. If you're in the area, be sure to try it out!
We took our time eating and then I took Gabe out to the 150 on the tarmac to show him what it's like. He's never been in such a small plane and it was cool for him to climb in while I explained what all the instruments do. I would have taken him up for a short flight but I felt it was just too bumpy for someone's first time in a small plane. Maybe next time. We then went back inside and talked for a short while before I headed back out to preflight the plane. Everything looked good so I started her up, called Ground for taxi clearance, and made my way down to the end of Runway 4. Cleared for takeoff, I smoothly rolled onto the runway and made one of the smoothest crosswind takeoffs in my short flying career. Don't believe me? Watch the video!
By the way, I could quickly tell it's been a while since I've used the radio for anything other than calls in the pattern at uncontrolled fields. Not that I didn't know what to say or do, but I felt a step behind in keeping up with ATC when things got fast. Plus, I just said some stupid things that didn't make much sense. Such as, "Cleared to land 4, uh, Bolton, uh, 338." Alright, that's not the most egregious of errors to ever occur over the airwaves but it's the one I'm remembering right now. Rest assured, there were plenty of others.
While we're on the topic of the radio, I think I was given a sign. You see, I called Columbus Approach for flight following on the way back home and they seemed to ignore my call. Maybe they just never heard it, but the frequency was sort of busy and I didn't worry about it. Visibility was decent and other than a Cessna that came directly at me about 500 feet above (I assume he was IFR cruising Eastbound at 3,000 feet) I didn't see any traffic until I was almost back to Waynesville.
Anyway, about half way between Columbus and home the radio in the panel suddenly died. It got quiet (I had been tuned in to Dayton Approach) and after a noticeable time between transmissions I looked over and saw the display was blank. I cycled the power and it didn't revive itself, and after being unable to pull the fuse out I left it alone. Good thing I hadn't been on flight following, or I would have got to finally try out squawking 7600. But seeing as I wasn't talking to anyone and wasn't flying to a field where I would even be using the radio, I left the transponder on 1200 and onward I went. I did pull out the handheld (I knew it would come to the rescue some day!) to dial in the AWOS at nearby Wright Brothers Airport to check the winds about 10 miles from Stewart.
I flew about a mile North of the field before turning in to enter the pattern, just to be clear in case someone had decided to land Runway 8 as I saw a plane doing this morning. But nobody was around other than a tractor rolling out the grass on the runway. Coming around on final I was a little low (good thing the engine was working properly) and added power until clear of the trees. Obstruction clear, I chopped the power and set her down slightly right-wing-low for one of my best crosswind landings in a long time. Taxied back, tied the plane up, and marked off another 1.8 hours of PIC cross-country time towards the 50 required for my Instrument Rating.
Flight Track: I don't know what's wrong with the thing - it's not recording my tracks!
Today's Flight: 1.8 hours
Total Time: 88.6 hours