Saturday, July 28, 2012

Windy basics

Plane: Cub, 65 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Scattered clouds, 81 degrees, wind 340 degrees at 8-12 knots

I had to cancel last night's planned 150 flight due to thunderstorms in the area. After spending the morning on a bike tour run by the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (highly recommended!) this morning, I called up the airport to inquire about the Cub's availability. To my surprise it was wide-open all day! Taking advantage of that rare weekend availability, I headed down to Stewart for some solo practice.

The winds were directly across the runway so I would be able to get in more great crosswind practice. They were blowing pretty well when I took off at about 8-9 knots out of the north. I flew around the pattern three times - the last one was a simulated engine-out approach - and nailed the landing every time. It was probably the best, most consistent sequence of Cub landings I've ever had.

Pleased with my performance, I left the pattern and picked out a couple east-west roads for practicing S-Turns. They aren't something I practice all that often and I was pleased to see that I can still do a pretty good job with them. The GPS logger certainly helps illustrate that! Similarly, there was a tower alongside OH-73 that I used for some Turns Around a Point. 

Glad to see I can still pull off some decent ground reference maneuvers!

I'm always slightly apprehensive about practicing stalls. Of course, I shouldn't feel that way so I do try and force myself to do them every so often. Today was to be one of those days so I climbed up to 2,800 feet in preparation.

Carb heat on, throttle to idle, stick back, and wait... wait... wait. It's a Cub, remember - this thing can go pretty slow. Eventually I got a very clean break without any roll whatsoever. Nice!

I continued to hold the stick back, allowing the airplane to go into a Falling Leaf. That's where you remain in the stall and use only the rudder to keep the wings level. I held it for probably 15-20 seconds before finally relaxing the stick and bringing the power back in.

Those were probably the two best stall series I've ever done solo. The wings remained level the entire time. Clearly, I was feeling the 'butt in seat coordinated flight indicator' today. Good stuff.

Back in the pattern, I saw the windsock blowing pretty good. I checked the AWOS at Wright Brothers on my handheld radio and it was calling out 12 knots gusting to 15. Hmm, the solo wind limitation for taildraggers at Stewart is 10 knots. What goes up must come down so I obviously was going to have to land the airplane and I felt confident that I wouldn't have any issues.

A solid sideslip on final had me aligned with the runway as I crossed the power lines. Throttle to idle, hold it off, stick all the way back, and the right wheel touched down softly on the grass. Stick to the right for full aileron into the wind as the plane slowed down and I was safely back on the ground. This was a day of really great practice - and I drove home feeling sharper than ever in that awesome yellow cockpit!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.9 hours
Total Time: 223.7 hours


  1. Sounds deeply satisfying, Steve. I love flights like that, where you feel like you're working in top form. I relived that feeling just on the strength of your description.

    Then I got to thinking...when was the last time I did S-turns across a road? Hmmm...

    1. Yes, sometimes the basics really are fun. Stalls and the falling leaf can be very satisfying when done right. None of us probably practice things as often as we should, so I wouldn't worry about your S-Turn frequency too much.

      Ironically enough, I was kind of tired when the flight started. Seems my best flights sometimes come when I'd least expect it!

  2. Aww man, you flatlanders have it soooo good. I am taking taildragger lessons right now in 1942 Cadet with 90 hp, and that's very barely enough to get us off the ground.

    1. Awesome - taildraggers really are a ton of fun!

      As I've said many times on here, I am truly lucky to have such a great airport so close to home. I certainly try not to take it for granted.

  3. Sounds productive! A geat workout on the pilot skills and ending with a fun crosswind landing at home, good stuff!