Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dogs and brats at Sporty's

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-MGY-I69-40I
Weather: Clear, 67 degrees, wind 160 degrees at 9 knots

After last night's fun in the Cub, a second day of awesome weather aligned itself perfectly with my plan for a short $100 burger run. I've tried once or twice before to fly down to Clermont County Airport (I69) in Batavia, home of Sporty's, but weather or mechanical issues have interfered. Nothing was blocking us today so I took advantage of the opportunity to fly down for their free weekly cookout.

A great flying destination for free food on Saturdays!

Due to the rain and field conditions (even with good drainage, 10" of rain in a month results in soggy grass!) I elected to pick Gina and Rob up at Wright Brothers. So I got everything hooked up in the 172 and made the very short hop from Stewart to pick them up. While I got out of there safely I'm pretty sure I would not have been anywhere near as comfortable with my takeoff performance with two more adults on board. I'd say it was a very good decision. My landing was a bit ugly thanks to a big gust on very short final - I straightened the airplane out but the extra lift caused some ballooning and a somewhat firm touchdown.

They were flight testing the new model of the Wright B Flyer when I arrived at MGY. Not true flight tests, just flying above the runway then touching down on the other end. I visited their museum a couple weeks ago and it was very cool to see the aircraft actually flying today. Not exactly sure how far along they now are in the certification program but it's clear they're making progress. Once complete, this new model of the flyer will be used at airshows around the world - it's specially designed to break down into a standard shipping container for easier transportation.

We all got situated in the airplane and then I taxied down, did a runup, and took off on Runway 20. I climbed to 3,500 feet and we all enjoyed the sight of the very green landscape passing below us. It's only 30 miles from Wright Brothers to Clermont Co. so the flight went by rather quickly. We enjoyed seeing King's Island and downtown Cincinnati on the beautiful spring morning.

Free food is clearly a draw and the CTAF was abuzz with pilots inbound from every direction. There was another plane a couple miles behind us also coming from the north and I intended to follow him since he was clearly moving faster. Then another plane called in from the south and I saw them about a mile ahead. I had been intending to fly abeam the airport then join the pattern for Runway 22 via a midfield crosswind entry. However, the Cessna in front of us was flying a B-52 pattern and I turned to follow them (we'd be number three) on an "upwind" leg before turning crosswind. No harm, no foul - just another day working into the traffic flow at an uncontrolled airport.

That Cessna flew an extended downwind, forcing me into an even more extended downwind. I held altitude until turning base since I was so far out from the airport. Once turning final, I pulled the throttle way out and ended up using all 40 degrees of flaps in order to land about 800 feet down the 3,500 foot runway. I rolled out to the end and we taxied to parking. You've got to love Eastern Cincinnati Aviation's line service - they attached a tow bar and pushed us into position before we even had a chance to get out of the airplane!

It was a slightly unconventional approach into Clermont Co. Airport

We all enjoyed the free brats, dogs, and metts. Plenty of people were there and lots of beautiful airplanes were out on the tarmac. The airport also seemed to be busy as usual with students and transient traffic - I saw people taking lessons and a guy in one of Ohio University's planes, presumably a flight student on a cross-country. Wandering around outside amongst airplanes an pilots... is there anything better to do on a sunny Saturday in the Midwest?

My good friend Mike drove down to meet us with his son and we all chatted for a while while eating. He also was kind enough to drive us next door (it's across the runway) to the Tri-State Warbird Museum. We didn't have much time so we didn't pay admission to get in but it's a neat little museum with a P-51, B-25, T-6 and other airplanes that are maintained in flying condition.

Citabria parked on the ramp in front of Sporty's

Looking across the airport towards Sporty's from the Warbird Museum

The plane was only reserved until 3:00, so I did my preflight while Gina talked with Mike and Rob took some photos (some are in this post) around the field. We all buckled in and I took off a little past 2:30. I wasn't worried about landing on the grass with all three of us on board so we headed straight back to Stewart. The air was still mostly smooth and the visibility great, just an overall enjoyable day to be flying.

Baron departing Runway 22 at Clermont Co. Airport

Since the winds were only slightly favoring Runway 8, I wasn't completely sure what direction they were landing. I elected to just stay level at our cruise altitude of 3,000 feet MSL and overfly the field. Turns out they were using Runway 8 as expected so I continued north for a couple miles before descending. I then banked left into a steep spiral and lost the 1,200 feet in (I think) 2.5 turns. Sure, you can descend gradually... but we were all in a fun mood today!

Steep spiraling down to pattern altitude just north of Stewart

From there I was in position for a 45 degree entry into the pattern and then continued smoothly onto the downwind leg. Carb heat on, pull back the throttle to about 1,500 RPM, descending from downwind to base to final while lowering the flaps. There was a right crosswind and the headwind component was a little less than I had anticipated so we were a tad high. Flaps down to the full 40 degrees and aim over the hump (to avoid the soggiest and muddiest spot on the runway) while sideslipping down final. I touched down very smoothly, right main first, holding the nose off the grass with the yoke all the way back. Another successful burger run in the books!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 187.5 hours


  1. Someday I hope to make the "pilgrimage" to Clearmont/Sporty's. Lord knows enough of my $ have made the trip!
    I always take a look at your trips with SkyVector, to "see" where your going.
    Like the picture of the spiral descent. It's good to have passengers who like to have fun.

  2. Yeah I'm definitely lucky that the other half enjoys cranking and banking... makes it easier to get some practice in up there and of course have some fun!

    It's definitely neat to look around on SkyVector. I pop random trips and routes in there just to see where places are or to get ideas for future adventures.