Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Plane: Cub, 65 hp
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, wind 190 degrees at 11 knots

I made tonight's airplane reservation about three weeks ago so I was quite excited that the weather panned out. It actually more than panned out with a blast of warmth that moved into the area today. Seventy degrees and clear skies - oh yeah, it was finally time to Cub it with the door open again!

Gina was able to meet me down at Stewart right as I was finishing my preflight. I had been watching the winds and they were somewhat shifty but averaged out to a nearly direct crosswind. I elected to use Runway 26 since you take off away from the trees and I thought the winds were ever-so-slightly favoring that direction.

I love back-seat flying

My takeoff roll wasn't the smoothest as I slightly over-corrected with the rudder but quickly had us pointed straight down the runway. Left aileron in and slight forward pressure to raise the tail, then I relaxed the pressure and we gently lifted off. The crosswind was quickly apparent in the climbout from the roughly 20 degree crab angle I was maintaining.

I asked Gina what she wanted to do and she asked if we could fly over Kings Island. It was nearly a year ago when we last flew over the amusement park. Now the winds were almost directly on the nose as we made our way South and the Cub's such a speed demon... it took a little while to get down there. Looking at the GPS track, our ground speed was a blistering 50 mph!

Approaching Kings Island from the Northeast...

...and now as we turn in from the South

One final shot of the park

After circling for some photos I headed back towards Stewart with the help of a nice tailwind, stopping over a church to practice some turns around a point. The strong winds made for great practice and I'd be lying if I didn't say I felt I was doing a pretty crappy job until I looked at the GPS track. They weren't perfect but the ground track is a lot more circular than I would have expected.

Passing over a sand and gravel pit - I just like the colors

Another plane we saw out flying (click to zoom)

A couple minutes and we were in the pattern. I set up for a normal landing and the crosswind made for a less-than-stabilized approach. Add in the great visibility from the backseat of a Cub and the sun glaring directly in my eyes and it wasn't one to write home about. About 50 feet up I was able to see the cones, shift back over centerline, and hold the plane off until we touched firmly on the left main. It was a pretty soft touchdown considering the winds but I know I could have done better.

Final approach into the setting sun

Very short final - I love this photo!

We took off one more time and again felt the plane cock sideways into the wind as soon as the plane started to climb. Turning downwind, I saw the Champ a couple miles behind me and I assumed they were going to follow me in. I didn't see them again (note to self - pay closer attention to opposing traffic when lined up with the runway) until I was on final and then I saw them go around. Seems they had decided to land Runway 8 while I was landing Runway 26. The crosswind was still directly across the runway so neither direction was clearly favored. I'm just glad they saw me in time because I never once caught a glint of an airplane with the sun shining directly in my eyes! Perhaps that shook me slightly (though, interestingly enough, I never got any sort of scared feeling when I noticed them going around) because I had to again kick some serious rudder to straighten out right before we touched down.

Joe and a student had been flying the Champ so we talked for a minute inside the office. They said they had seen me and were keeping an eye out. I told them what I mentioned above, that I thought they were following me in for Runway 26. No harm either way, just a good example of good see-and-avoid procedures, at least on their end of the runway. Pattern fun aside, it was a beautiful day to fly if a bit windy and I'm glad I can finally fly around with the door open again!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 0.9 hours
Total Time: 144.5 hours


  1. For direct crosswind days, choose the runway that puts a headwind condition when flying the base leg. Helps when flying at the lower end of performance envelope and also you don't have a tailwind condition when making the turn from base to final.

  2. You know, I was reading about this a bit after the flight and saw the same thing - put the headwind on base. Makes sense and I'm going to remember that from now on. I don't ever recall learning that before but I sure know it now - thanks, Rob!