Friday, May 20, 2011

Three years later

Plane: Cub, 85 hp
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, wind 330 degrees at 5 knots

This is my favorite personal tradition. Back in 2008, on my birthday, I flew at Stewart for the very first time in Cub N98286. Every year since, I've flown (as a certificated pilot!) the exact same airplane up on my birthday. Gina and I both took today off work and enjoyed a beautiful morning flight off the very green grass in the venerable J-3.

Prior Years: 2008 | 2009 | 2010

As I recap each and every year, in the past 365 days I have:
Considering the record-breaking amount of rain we've had so far this spring, I'm quite lucky that the weather gods cooperated today. Only a few white puffy things were floating in the sky when we arrived at the airport. Gina helped me pull the Cub out of the hangar and I pre-flighted, then taxied over to the fuel pump to top off the tank. The grass is amazingly green and lush (see weather comment above) and made for a rather graceful takeoff into the crisp spring air.

Enjoying ourselves in the J-3 like usual

Takeoff from Runway 26

Turning crosswind after takeoff

Flying over US-42 while departing the pattern

Some of the farmland is still flooded...

I climbed up to 5,500 feet over Caesars Creek Lake with the intention of having a little toilet paper fun. Unfortunately, we had a TP malfunction - it didn't unroll properly so there was no streamer to cut. It was quite cold up there so I elected to use a steep spiral to quickly lose 2,000 feet and get down into warmer air. Then we just flew around for a little while, screwing around and having fun - steep turns, pushing on the stick for a little weightlessness, etc.

Up high above the haze layer

Some of the fun we had in the Cub this morning

After that, I descended and followed the shoreline of the lake for a few minutes. The water has certainly receded from when Rob and I went flying last month but there are still signs of the flooding. The beach is clearly stained brown where it was underwater and some areas of the park are still closed off. You could see the water rushing out the dam's spillway, which the Corps of Engineers must have finally opened now that the intense rainfall has subsided.

Flying near Caesar Creek Lake

Water being released at Caesar Creek Dam

Looks like quite the nice house down there...

I headed back to the airport, keeping my eyes to the sky while entering the very busy pattern. Emerson was up in the Stearman, practicing his aerobatic routine for an evaluator to renew his ICAS card for the coming airshow season. There were also two Champs up practicing takeoffs and landings. Every airplane NORDO, of course. A pretty standard day at Stewart but I'm sure it might scare off some unfamiliar pilots!

Emerson doing acro in the Stearman as we approached Stewart

In usual fashion, I wanted to log three takeoffs and landings today. The first landing was good but I didn't fly the most stabilized approach; I was staying out of the Stearman's way while Emerson flew some of his routine over the airport. The second was better but I still hit a little bump on the runway and lifted a few feet back into the air before settling down on the grass. My final time around I did a simulated engine-out approach and used a healthy forward slip on short final over the house and power lines. Touchdown was again smooth but I still caught that darn bump.

Downwind leg in the pattern

Your happy pilot for the (birth)day

There's no better way to spend a birthday in my book...

Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 188.5 hours


  1. I can only fit into back seat of Cub too. Dash gets right under knees in front.

  2. Happy birthday, Steve! Looks like it was a perfect day.

  3. Looks like a fun flight!

    An excellent tradition, may you enjoy many more birtday flights!!

  4. I miss flying a Cub and just looking at your photos and reading this entry makes me long for Cub Days.

    I just want to slip on my Randolph aviator sunglasses, climb into the cockpit and take to the skies.

    No Cub available, though.

  5. Your last sentence said it all. Happy birthday and congrats on another year celebrated with flying.

  6. Happy Birthday Steve! Actually your day looked perfect for any day, even more so as a celebration and keeping a tradition alive. Your picture of the "flooded" field has inspired me. I'll be doing a blog on flooding in my area.

  7. Yup, it was the perfect way to spend any day in an airplane... though the birthday and tradition aspect was icing on the proverbial cake.

    Glad you all seem to have enjoyed the recap!