Saturday, December 28, 2013

Three hundred (point two)

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-1G3-40I
Weather - 40I: Clear, 38 degrees, wind 210 degrees at 10 knots
Weather - 1G3: Clear, 45-52 degrees, wind 240 degrees at 11 knots gusting to 20
Weather - 40I: High overcast, 46 degrees, wind 210 degrees at 10 knots

Well, this doesn't happen that often in December. I reserved the 172 a couple weeks ago in hopes of flying up to Akron to visit my grandma. Weather tends to interfere with one's best laid plans this time of year. But today was a wonderful exception, with CAVU skies and a monster tailwind up, and still-very-nice weather on the way home. So we flew. As planned!

Gina and I pulled into Stewart a bit after 8:00 and I started my preflight. Emerson kindly got the preheater going as soon as we arrived; it was hooked up for twenty minutes or so before I put it away. With all the metal under the cowling nice and toasty, I started the engine, taxied over to the pump, topped the tanks with 22.5 gallons of 100LL, and let Gina climb into the right seat. We were off the ground around 9:20.

Crossing over US-40 and I-70 west of Columbus

My beautiful bride enjoyed the flight while seated on my right

Nothing but blue sky as far as the eye could see

Level at 3,500 feet, I picked up flight following with Columbus Approach south of Greene County (I19). We were screaming (by 172 standards) across the ground at 135-140 knots, with an ETA of just 1:15 after departure. The controller handed me off to another sector somewhere around I-70, then to Mansfield Approach, who passed me to Akron-Canton Approach.

We hit a few small bumps over Akron but nothing like the last time we flew there. I spotted Kent at least ten miles out (one definite advantage of having flown somewhere before!) but the frequency was packed with other pilots enjoying this rare day of wonderful winter flying weather. I wasn't able to cancel until the controller reached cut us loose about five miles from the airport.

Small pockets of snow still hid in valleys nestled between tree lines

Flooding along Lake Fork southwest of Wooster

More flooding around the Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area

With 25-30 knots on the tail, we made great time on our way there!

Flying over downtown Akron

There was only one other plane in the pattern at Kent, which Gina spotted as he made a takeoff call on the CTAF. I turned in behind him, entering a little unconventionally on the crosswind leg. I extended my downwind slightly, turning base to final as he touched down.

The winds were gusting from 45-50 degrees right off Runway 19 at 1G3  My hands and feet were real active on the controls as I brought us down extremely smoothly. Gina let out an unprompted "great landing!" over the intercom. That's not always the standard reaction in gusty crosswinds!

My uncle picked us up and drove us to my grandma's. As is the norm with any Italian family, we consumed a ton of delicious food, cookies, and espresso.  We also walked over to my uncle's (great uncle's, technically) house and chatted with him for an hour.

We weren't able to be there for Christmas; we spent the entire holiday up in Michigan. So it was really nice to be able to take a day trip to see everyone. It was a really nice visit and, all together, we were on the ground for about five hours.

We spent a nice afternoon with my grandma

My two aunts drove us back to the airport and hung out with Gina in the office while I paid for the fuel and checked the plane over. We said our goodbyes (they waited around to watch us take off) and I got the propeller moving. Once the engine warmed into the green, we took off and I was in a healthy crab soon after leaving the ground.

Great tailwind there = dreadful headwind back

I'd checked the winds aloft in the morning and checked again before we left - all the forecasts said it should take about 1:55 to fly home. So we planned on taking off at 3:30, which would get us home right at sunset. We took off a few minutes late and the winds proved to be slightly stronger than anticipated. The light hadn't totally faded upon our arrival but we got to Stewart around 25 minutes later than planned.

Ohio State University Airport

I crossed the 300-hour mark just before landing back at Stewart

By now, you're probably wondering what the title of this post is all about. If you've read my recent posts, you may already know. In short, just a few days ago, it looked unlikely that I'd cross the 300-hour (total time) mark before the end of the year.

Well, I suppose that's one benefit of a huge headwind. While descending from 6,500 feet to pattern altitude about 10 miles out from Stewart, the Hobbs meter clicked over to 4876.6.

I'd hit 300.0 in my logbook. 

Our flight time was 1:20 up and 2:05 back

The landing was another total greaser in a healthy crosswind. I was using a lot of leg on short final for Runway 26! Rounding out, the left wheel touched first and the right one started rolling on the turf a second later.

By the time I pulled the mixture knob out, another two tenths had ticked off. In particularly amusing (to me) fashion, that put my total hours at 300.2. And left my 2013 total at 49.9.

I got my 300, but I think I'll be conceding that final 0.1 to the logbook gods. This time...

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 3.9 hours
Total Time: 300.2 hours


  1. Congrats on the 300+

    Checking my mail daily still from that letter from Oklahoma. I need to stop looking for it and get on with stuff.

    1. Thanks! I know you'll be back in the saddle when you're able and ready.

  2. Steve,
    Congrats on busting 300!

    Good use of the airplane to visit family and save the loooong drives. As I read your post and checked out the tailwind added speed I wondered what the return trip would look like......darn those wind Gods.

    1. Definitely. It was also an awesome illustration of the "it always takes longer with a headwind/tailwind than with no wind at all" concept. Total time was 3.9 and when we flew up there in 2009, with lighter winds, making another stop (20 more miles flown), it was an identical 3.9 on the Hobbs.