Friday, September 2, 2011

Old-school and new-school first flights with TJ

Plane: Cub, 85 hp (+Cirrus!) 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 93 degrees, wind 260 degrees at 6 knots

This all started when I received an email from fellow pilot and blogger TJ, of TJ's Flying Adventures, on Wednesday afternoon. He was flying back home to Florida from Michigan on Thursday and would be stopping to stay overnight at Wright Brothers Airport. We made plans to meet for dinner and he, Gina, and I went out for a tasty Italian meal last night. It was great to finally meet up and have a nice conversation over some food and wine. He asked what my schedule looked like in the morning since it would be nice to take me for a ride in his Cirrus. I lucked out - my calendar was completely free of meetings!

I woke up this morning and logged into my email remotely, working from home for about an hour. Then I drove over to the Hampton Inn to meet up with TJ and give him a ride to MGY. After a quick preflight, I climbed into the right seat and he started to explain all the nifty, shiny gizmos in the cockpit. For someone like TJ that does a ton of XC and IFR flying, all that automation and technology is a major asset. Needless to say, it's also by far the most advanced cockpit I've ever set foot in!

TJ's gorgeous airplane on the ground at Dayton Wright Brothers Airport

It's a very comfortable ride, to say the least

Avidyne's R9 system in TJ's cockpit just after takeoff from MGY

We took off on Runway 20 and TJ had Stewart set as a waypoint. He activated the autopilot and the airplane flew us over towards my home 'drome at 2,500 feet. That turbo up front sure performs well - it seemed like we leveled off 30 seconds after takeoff! TJ showed me a couple of the countless functions available in the amazing R9 system. Then he kindly handed me the controls and I flew us around for a few minutes while he enjoyed the scenery below. I was amazed at how responsive the airplane was; TJ said he enjoyed being able to look out the window for a change!

Flying over Stewart in the Cirrus

Lebanon Correctional Institution

I flew us over King's Island and then made a 360 per TJ's request while he loaded an instrument approach into the system. Then he clicked the magic button and the autopilot engaged, flying us to the initial approach fix for the GPS RWY 2 approach into MGY. The airplane guided us right down the extended centerline, correcting perfectly for a rather strong crosswind. TJ set us down softly on the runway and taxied back to the ramp.

Believe it or not, this was actually my first-ever flight in a low-wing GA plane! I certainly lucked out that I was able to mark that milestone in an airplane as slick as a SR22 G3 Turbo. The short flight was a lot of fun - it was amazing to see all that techno-wizardry at work in person. I'm certainly thankful that TJ offered to take me up this morning... and that I was able to accept the kind offer!

Short final for Runway 02 at Wright Brothers

After that fun, there was still some time before TJ needed to hop back in the plane to fly home. The weather was perfect for a Cub flight with the door open... so what do you think we did next? All of you regular readers know where this is going. We hopped back in my car and drove to Stewart and TJ got to experience his first tailwheel - and first Cub - flight!

He was shocked at the simplicity of the instrument panel and got to figure out his own rendition of the "Cub dance" as he squeezed himself into the front seat. I think he got a kick out of our hand-propped start and enjoyed feeling the breeze through the open door once the engine started turning. I explained the incredibly brief CIGAR checklist as I ran through my checks. We rolled onto the runway and were off the ground quickly thanks to a headwind coming almost straight at us.

I'm about to show TJ some quintessential fun in the Cub...

I flew low for a little while, letting TJ take some photos of the foliage and scenery. Staring out the door of a Cub is roughly the polar opposite of the fancy avionics in his Cirrus and he enjoyed the heck out of it. After crossing most of Caesar Creek Lake, I pushed in the power and climbed up to around 3,500 feet. Then it was time for one of my favorite fun pastimes - streamer cutting! Usual buzz-kill disclaimer here.

Once he was ready, out went the roll of toilet paper. I managed to cut it almost at the roll with the right wing. That's good, except for the fact that without the roll attached the remaining paper just kind of flutters in the wind instead of streaming down. No major loss, it just meant that one cut was the only pass I could make at it. TJ still thought it was a ton of fun and I made two steep turns while we were still up high.

He took the controls for a few minutes after I explained the need for proper rudder usage via my "roll hard with no rudder" trick. You certainly see what adverse yaw is all about in a hurry in a Cub. TJ did a nice job flying and handed the controls back, saying "let's see how you land this thing!" The wind was still blowing down the runway and I remained high on purpose. That way I was able to use a large forward slip on short final before touching down relatively softly on the very dry, hard grass. (We need some rain here!)

Here's the video TJ shot with his camera in the Cub

I really should start requiring my new Cub passengers to sign waivers that they won't sue me for causing a new flying addiction. TJ said he had an absolute blast and, well, I can't blame him. Cubs in the summer are everything that's perfect about aviation. I'm glad he had a great time and I'm equally glad we finally met and shared some flight time together!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.6 hours
Total Time: 207.0 hours


  1. The old and the new....I had an idea where this might be going. Sounds like a great meet up, gotta love flying and blogging. This passion we have opens up so many new friendships and opportunities.

    Sounds like a fun time!! How about that roar and the power when that Cirrus rolls for takeoff? Just an awesome feeling!

  2. Sounds awesome, Steve, and way better than being in the office! I'm surprised about that being your first flight in a low wing GA airplane. Now you can participate meaningfully in those low vs high (Chevy v Ford?) debates that crop up on the red board every so often!

    I figure that, by the time I get my first ride in a current Cirrus, it'll be woefully obsolete. :-)

  3. Nice write up Steve! (We definitely have to do it again soon!!)

  4. He keeps promising to stop at KAEG/KABQ too, but never does :-)

  5. Pete - it's the only state in the lower 48 that TJ hasn't made it to yet, so I have a feeling you'll be seeing him soon! :)

  6. Ahh, very cool. Our club has an SR-20 (steam gauge though) but I need a few more hours before I can fly it.

    Are you and Gina going to buy a Cirrus now?

  7. ^ Considering the purchase cost is probably along the lines of a decade's salary, I'd label that unlikely!