Saturday, March 14, 2009

Back in the 172 with Dave and Gina

Plane: Cessna 172
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I-MGY-40I
Weather: Overcast, 48 degrees, wind 070 degrees at 6 knots

Two flights in two days has reminded me just how much I love aviation. Nothing in particular, but just the freedom of it all and how relaxed and happy I am after I shut the plane down. Tonight I took the opportunity to fly the 172 with a passenger in the back (Gina) and a CFI up front. Why fly with Dave? Well, I've only flown the Skyhawk once before and it was three months ago - and I've never flown it with anyone sitting in the back. So before I start loading it up with people I wanted to at least fly heavy once with an instructor on board. Just seems like the safe and prudent thing to do. Plus, he's an awesome guy and it's been too long since we flew together. Gina hadn't flown with me since New Years Day either, so I'm glad she was finally able to get up again.

About 5 miles away from the airport on the drive there it started to drizzle but luckily the precip never got any heavier. We talked with Dave and Joe inside the office for a few before heading out to preflight the 172 in the very light drizzle. She was still warm from an earlier flight so the engine turned over quickly and smoothly and I taxied down to the end of the runway. Full power added (I love the smooth growl of the 6-cylinder engine) and we accelerated down the grass and into the sky. Visibility was decent as I climbed up to 3,000 so we could practice slow flight.

After hanging on the prop with the stall horn blaring and making 90-degree and 270-degree turns, I pulled the throttle to idle and let 2814L slow until she nosed over for a tame power-off stall. Uneventful and Gina didn't thought it was pretty boring. This would be a good time to mention the intercom in the 172 is only a two-place, so we were flying without headsets so we could (sort of over all the noise) talk. It also meant I wasn't talking over the radio, but with the crappy weather we figured Wright Brothers wouldn't have any traffic, since they seem to mostly have fair-weather flyers there. My head was on a swivel and I turned on the landing light to help other pilots see us, but the stereotype proved true as nobody else ever showed up while we were there.

On the ground after a semi-decent normal landing (the wind's always fun on short final to Runway 2) we taxied back and I made a short field takeoff. You really have to yank the plane off the ground and I didn't use enough force right away. Dave told me to pull hard and we lept off the ground, climbing away at Vx. Back around, I set up for a short field landing and made a very stable approach. Power off and the stall horn was almost instantly on as the wheels touched right on the numbers. I hit the brakes and we slowed down well in time to take the first turnoff about 900 feet past the threshold. It was definitely one of the best short field landings I've made in a long time. Gina said she didn't like this landing because she was sure I was going to hit the lights. Obviously I found that pretty funny, but it definitely reminded me of how much I used to think I was sure to run into trees on short final into Stewart when I started training. It takes a while to get a feel for the sight picture, that's for sure.

Ready to head home, Dave said I should make a F-172 takeoff. For those of you who recall my training way back in October you may recall the lesson when he showed me what he calls the F-150 takeoff. Just a way to have a little safe fun, right? So I took off and flew about 50 feet above the runway until we were about 1,000 feet from the end going around 90 knots, then pulled back and we quickly climbed a few hundred feet before I pitched down to a normal climb speed. Gina of course thought this was way too much fun sitting behind me in the back seat.

When we were taxiing at Wright Brothers she had told Dave she liked power-on stalls better so I climbed up to 3,000 again on the way home and did one. It's still surprising how tame and boring they are in the 172 compared to the 150, which is always ready to drop a wing in a heartbeat. I then made two steep turns before a quick descent down into the pattern at Stewart. Dave asked for a soft field landing and I may very well have squeaked out the best one I've ever made. The wheels softly grazed the grass as I left a little power in and held the nose wheel off as airspeed slowly bled off. Yup, I'm quite proud of it!

We've got two college friends visiting next weekend and I blocked off some time in the 150 to take them up. I might switch to the 172 if we want to go somewhere, but with the two-place intercom it might not be fun if we can't talk much. Regardless, I hope the weather cooperates and I get to have some fun with new passengers. It really is wonderful to be able to fly more regularly again... sometimes it's hard to know how much you miss it when you're away!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 90.5 hours


  1. Steve I'm been discretely reading your blog for some time now, and I must say, I'm impressed! It's great to know someone is practically at the same stage of the game as myself. I can definitely fit in your shoes when it comes to stalls and soft-field landings!

    As you know, I attend Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach. I should have finished up my Private a long, long time ago, but for more reasons than one, I should finally be ready for my checkride in the coming week.

    One of the main reasons I decided to leave you a comment was that now on spring break, I elected to bring my friend back home with me to let him experience what home is like for me. Yesterday, I took him to the airport I spent many hours at to show him my solo photo on the wall, just where I left it. All the memories flooded into my mind, and it was surely nice to be back where it all started.

    I'm glad to see your flying endeavors keep coming and you're having a blast with it!

    Yours In Flight,

  2. I'm impressed Gina is so game for all the maneuvers. My wife doesn't even like the traffic pattern, except for the part where we land.

    You could pick up a portable 4 place intercom at Marv Golden for around $150. If each friend chips in $50...

  3. Kyle,

    Thanks for all the comments. I've been following your blog as long as you've had it up as well, and you've probably seen my posts from time to time. You'll have the PPL before long, and good luck in finishing it up down there in Daytona! I attended Western Michigan University (although not for aviation) and looked into ERAU back when I went into college myself. There really isn't anything like taking friends to the airport to introduce them to GA. Just wait until you can take them up in the sky!


    Stalls are nothing. She had Dave (my CFI) take her up in the Cub this afternoon and do 3 spins and some steep spirals! Good call on the intercom as well, I do intend to buy one soon so I can easily fly 3 people in the 172.