Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sky time in the Skyhawk

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Scattered clouds, 28 degrees, wind 350 degrees at 6 knots

Somehow, it's already been over four months since we took the 172 up to Michigan. With a one-day jaunt over to Evansville, IN in the near future (that's plan, at least) I needed to get current. So I bugged out of work a little early for some Friday flying in trusty old 14L.

Other than the cold, it turned into a nice afternoon to fly. I thought about heading over to Wright Brothers to stay off the grass, but in the end decided to stay at Stewart. The ground wasn't too soft and I didn't have a ton of time; five trips around the home patch would have to suffice.

A lightly-loaded 172, with only a pilot and 20 gallons of fuel performs quite admirably when it's 28 degrees outside. I was climbing fast and had to remind myself to knock a few knots off my final approach speed. The first couple of landings were a tad long, though smooth. I didn't like my third or fourth approach and went around. The final landing was a total short-field greaser, with little float and as gentle of a touchdown as one could ever hope for on frozen turf.

I recorded video but, over a week later, haven't had a chance to touch it. Editing software is still on my to-buy list for the new PC. Not that watching me take off and land is particularly exciting, but it's nice to have more than text to share sometimes. I guess that will have to wait until the aforementioned trip!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.8 hours
Total Time: 251.8 hours

Friday, January 25, 2013

Classic video of Bob Hoover flying the F-86 Sabre

If you know anything about aviation, you know about Bob Hoover. He's the ultimate aviator, to say the least. You'd be hard-pressed to find a smoother performance in an F-86 than this one from 1961 at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. This was posted years ago but I just ran across it today and thought I should share.

On a related note, there's what looks to be an awesome documentary in the works about his life. The teaser trailer for The Bob Hoover Project was released last month and work remains ongoing. Needless to say, I can't wait for it to be released!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Well this was a bit ridiculous

One could say this is not the expected sequence of events during - and following - a peaceful flight in your glider on a nice, sunny afternoon. Understatement of the year? One could say...

Pilots returned, one by one, to Bermuda High Soaring in Jefferson, S.C. By about 5 p.m. on July 26, 2012, the lift had died and everyone had returned to the gliderport—everyone except Robin Fleming. No one remembered hearing from Fleming since 1:30 or 2 p.m., and Jayne Ewing Reid, co-owner and chief tow pilot of the glider club and commercial operation, was worried. 
She called pilots who lived in the region and asked them to try to contact Fleming on their handheld radios. She flew the club’s Piper Pawnee in the direction of Fleming’s last known radio call, but found no evidence of the missing glider or its pilot. 
“This is when you get that feeling that something’s not right,” she said. Fleming always called if he landed out. Worried that something had happened to Fleming, an avid glider pilot and instructor at Bermuda High, Jayne Ewing Reid and business partner Frank Reid decided to file a missing airplane report. Neither suspected that Fleming was in trouble with the law. 
Fleming, 70, had been arrested for breach of peace after flying his Rolladen-Schneider LS8-18 sailplane noiselessly over the H.B. Robinson Nuclear Generating Station at an altitude of 1,518 feet msl - by his estimates, about 1,000 feet over the power plant’s dome - on his way to search for lift at nearby Lake Robinson.
Read the full article at AOPA Online.

Friday, January 4, 2013

More fun on skis

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Instructor: Emerson
Route: 40I-2OH9-40I
Weather: Scattered clouds, 30 degrees, wind 250 degrees at 14 knots

Due to the recent cold temperatures, much of our Christmas and just-after-Christmas snow remains on the ground. This means Stewart has had the big Cub on skis for over a week. That equates to me being overdue for some stick time in the coolest winter flying machine around!

Given that we only saw snow once last winter and the skis never found their way onto the Cub, I certainly didn't want to miss out this season. Although I have a feeling we're going to see more snow than a year ago, you never know. Doesn't feel like it, but the last (and only) time I flew the J-3 on skis was nearly three years ago.

Yet another awesome thing offered at Stewart - a Cub on skis!

It took a minute to pull the engine through but Emerson hopped on board once it was humming and I taxied towards the runway. No feet on the brakes since the brake lines are capped when the skis are attached; you can actually mess them up if you smash on the pedals! The snow is pretty packed at this point and we ended up making quite a large circle, down to the less-packed snow and back, in order to do a 360 before takeoff.

There was a screaming wind by the time I got to the airport (14+ knots) but thankfully it was almost directly down the runway. Between that and the icy surface, this was a perfect day to illustrate the importance of proper control positions while taxiing. The rudder can be less than effective on ice/snow (big skis sliding vs. little wheel digging into the snow) but it was actually possible to turn the plane faster by utilizing the aileron into the wind technique. Basically, I was able to use the aileron to help weathervane the plane on the skis. Handy!

Flying-wise, it's really not all that different than when the wheels are on. Slight forward stick, then gentle back pressure until you gain speed and the plane lifts itself off the ground in the familiar three-point attitude. Landing is pretty similar as well, though I always felt like I was about six inches higher when I flared. But that's the beauty of snow + skis; even the not-so-great landings were quite soft and cushioney. As you may imagine, taxiing requires more throttle than usual, around 1500 RPM. You also have to slow down more to turn in order to let the skis grab into the snow and not slide all over the place.

From 30 MPH on takeoff/landing to 90 MPH on downwind - it was windy!

We landed a few times at Stewart, first on the runway and then on the north taxiway. The runway's quite compacted after a week of skis sliding on top but the taxiway was covered in fresh, untouched snow. Judging by our tracks, we landed in about 100 feet on the fresh stuff. Emerson then had me fly over to the gliderport and we landed there twice. Finally, we headed back to Stewart and called it an afternoon.

You really do pick up the knack of the skis quite quickly. They're not harder per se, just different, especially if you're used to tailwheel flying. As if to follow the general taildragger mantra, the only real differences are on the ground. Regardless, it's still a hoot and I'm quite happy to have been able to squeeze it in at least once this winter.

And hey, I'm already ahead of 2012, when I didn't hop into the left - or back - seat until April!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.7 hours
Total Time: 251.0 hours

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

We begin anew once again - 2012 has come and gone, Gina and I have been married for over a year, and I logged more fun time in the sky. It's hard to believe that we've already reached another new year but I'm optimistic that both my aviation and personal life will see some real positive growth in 2013. Check out my goals below to understand what I mean by that last point.

Prior Recaps: 2010 | 2011 | 2012

The best news is that my hours-flown chart spiked in the right direction for the first time since I passed my checkride back in 2008. I logged, literally to the tenth of an hour, the same amount of time in 2012 that I did in 2010 - a 43% increase over 2011! Even ignoring my 4.5 hours of safety pilot time, it was over 25% better. I still didn't fly as much as I wanted (heck, I didn't even climb into a plane until April!) but I'm quite happy about the improvement.

Total Hours: 40.8 | Solo: 7.3 | XC: 11.5 | Dual: 2.7 | Safety Pilot/SIC: 4.5 | Landings: 84

Aircraft Flown: C150, C172, C182 (Safety Pilot), Cub

New Airports: LIH, ISZ, HAO, PMH, HOC, OZW, 45G, DET, BTL, 2H4, OEB

New States: Hawaii

First Flights: 5 (Jessica, Rob, RosaLia + John, and Jamie)

People Flown: 8 (above, plus Rob, Jon, and Gina)

$100 Burgers: 5 (Sporty's in May, Portsmouth and Urbana in August, and WMU's Pancake Breakfast and Urbana again in September)

Fly-Ins: 3 (MERFI in August and WMU + Triple H in September)

Pilots N Paws Flights: 1 (July)

What I'll Remember: Flying completely around the island of Kauai in April. Taking the 172 up to Michigan to visit family, land at my childhood airports, and fly past downtown Detroit in August. Heading back up to Michigan with Gina the very next weekend, flying over WMU's campus (our alma mater) and getting hit with a laser on our way home. Finally logging a bit of right-seat time as a safety pilot for Mike in the 182. Landing at Blue Ash before the airport closed for good this summer. Crossing the 250-hour mark (barely) on my final flight of the year.

2012 Goals: Log time in the Stearman, log stick time in a glider, take some of our friends flying, keep the blog more active than I have over the past six months.

^ Uh, well it's good to bat .500, right? I need to get better about working towards my goals, which leads me to...

2013 Goals: Start and complete my Instrument and Commercial ratings. Yup, you read that right. Woo boy, I'm gonna be busy, eh? Here's the thing - I know I want to get them, I've put both off for far too long, and I sure as heck want them done before we have kids if at all possible. The ultimate goal is getting my CFI/II, but doing all of that this year would be extremely hard, if not impossible. Maybe in 2014. I'd also still like to log some Stearman time, get checked out in the Taylorcraft, and maybe finally take that elusive glider flight.

So it's time to get my ass in gear and hop back onto the flight training bandwagon. A lofty goal? No doubt about it. It's time to challenge myself, learn something new, and improve my skills. I intend to recap every lesson just as I did when working on my Private, so expect a significant bump in activity around here!

One final note - this post is my 300th on the blog. Not too bad in just over 4 1/2 years, huh?