Saturday, March 21, 2009

Taking some friends sightseeing

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I-MGY-40I-MGY-40I
Weather: High overcast, 48 degrees, wind light and variable

We had some good friends from college come down from Michigan over the weekend to visit, so I figured what better way to show them around Dayton than from the sky. While we would have all fit comfortably in the 172, it only has the 2-place intercom and I haven't got around to buying a portable 4-place yet. Plus, I think the 150 has an all-around better view for pilot and passenger since you're closer to every piece of plexiglass. So in lieu of loading up together, I took our friend Kristin up for about an hour and then came back to Stewart and picked up Sarah for the repeat flight. All told, I was up for 2.2 hours and never went more than about 20 miles from the airport.

You can see the two flights took nearly the same path

Kristin wanted to go up first, so after my pre-flight and topping off both tanks I explained some things to her on the ground. How to operate the doors and seatbelts, that I'd ask her to pop the door if we had to land off a runway, pointing out any traffic, etc. Safety briefing complete, I fired up 60338 and taxied to the end of the runway. She said she was ready and I pushed in the throttle and we smoothly rotated into the sky. I flew us out over Caesar Creek Lake, then down I-71 to the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge where the Interstate crosses the Little Miami Gorge. Then it was North and directly over the cities of Waynesville and Bellbrook, which we had driven through on the way to the airport. Next I flew past The Greene (a huge shopping area about a mile from my apartment) and over my apartment before turning South to stay clear of Dayton's airspace.

I started a descent from 3,000 down to 2,000 in preparation for entering the pattern at Wright Brothers. Once on the 45, I pointed out the neighborhood where our new house is (haven't closed yet, but it's mine!) and we flew right over top of it as we turned base to final. I brought us down for a very soft landing and taxied around and set up for a short field takeoff. She enjoyed leaping from the ground and we climbed straight out and exited the pattern on a direct course for Stewart. I came in on a 45 for a left downwind to Runway 8 and followed a Cub for another soft landing.

First passenger happy and safely back on the ground, I brought Sarah over and went through pretty much the exact same routine. The winds had shifted, so we departed on Runway 26 this time. I took a relatively identical route, almost surprisingly so when I looked at the GPS track in Google Earth.

The one thing on this flight that had me concerned was the possibility of carb ice. For the non-pilots, the vaporization of fuel inside the carburetor causes a large drop in temperature and if there's enough moisture in the air ice can form on the inside and block airflow into the engine. My runup showed no adverse indications and we launched smoothly into the air. However, nearing pattern altitude I noticed my RPMs appeared about 100-200 lower than normal. I immediately pulled the carb heat and climbed while circling around the airport to stay within gliding distance if we had any problems. As I was doing this, I explained to Sarah I was just checking to make sure everything was operating fine and I was staying near the airport for a minute. She understood and wasn't at all bothered by it so I'm glad that, as a pilot, I was able to give an explanation without unnecessarily worrying anyone on board. I turned the carb heat off after a few minutes and the RPMs looked about normal. There never was any engine roughness or anything that would indicate ice had been present prior to pulling the heat. Nonetheless, I kept my eye on the tach throughout the flight and pulled the carb heat again a couple times just to be sure.

Comfortable that the plane was in safe condition, we continued on and followed the same route South over the brige and then North before heading to Wright Brothers. Being a nice spring day, the traffic had increased and I entered the pattern on the 45 for Runway 20 as number three to land. The approach was smooth and stable but right when the wheels touched I caught a light gust of wind that lifted a wing a tad and put a slight side load as I kicked the rudder and tried to straighten things out and touch the mains softly. Unfortunately, I ended up touching before everything I said above was completed so we landed a little rough. She still thought it was pretty smooth but I know I could have done better.

Never one to want the last landing to be a bad one, I told her I'd make one more lap around the pattern. We departed with a short field takeoff and then I made a touch and go (nice and smooth, I might add) and followed with a straight-out departure right on the extended centerline before turning towards Stewart. I overflew the field and made a teardrop to enter the 45 for a left downwind to Runway 26 and brought us in for a very soft landing after we cleared the trees on short final. Once I'd taxied back to the tiedown, Sarah said she had also had a great time up there. Two for two on the day, not bad!

It really was an awesome day to be able to take some old friends up, especially since I hadn't seen them in a long time and they'd never flown with me. Both have flown in a small plane before (we have another mutual friend who is a pilot) so that may have helped them in terms of being excited about the flight in the first place. The weather was pretty good throughout the flight, but due to the front moving through (hence the wind/runway shift at Stewart) there were a few bumps at times. Still, it was a beautiful day to fly and I think that it personally was a great PIC experience for me in taking up two new passengers and maintaining situational awareness and positive control while pointing out some sights.

They both took lots of photos and once they send them to me, I'll add a few to this post. UPDATE: Photos below added 4/11.

Opening up the plane to start the pre-flight

Helping my friend Kristin into the plane

Just about ready for takeoff

Inside the cockpit during our taxi down the grass

Taking to the air from Runway 8 at Stewart

Flying over the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge, which spans the Little Miami River

Downtown Dayton in the distance

Somewhere over Dayton with my friend Sarah

Flying over The Greene, a huge outdoor mall by my apartment

Departing from Wright Brothers Airport

Doing my best to be a good pilot ;-)

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 2.2 hours
Total Time: 92.7 hours


  1. I look forward to the pictures - it sounds like a great couple of flights. Your description "land off a runway" is much nicer than "crash landing"!

  2. I suppose it does sound better the way I described it... :)

  3. you forgot to mention my fun plane time while you took them was GREAT!

  4. Nice shades :)

  5. Thanks... or, more accurately, thank my friends for the photo-taking.

    And heck yeah I'm rockin the $5 shades from the grocery store!