Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Solo Practice 4: What a difference a new engine makes

Plane: Champ
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Haze, 84 degrees, wind 110 degrees at 4 knots

Back from Japan and unable to get in with an instructor until this coming weekend, I scheduled a solo flight this evening to keep myself from getting too rusty. Last time I mentioned the Champ she was in the hangar getting a new engine installed. The prior engine had over 4,000 hours on it - that's a testament to the reliability of aircraft engines right there! Given the new engine, I was extra careful to check every detail during my preflight inspection and watched the gauges in the cockpit a little more than usual. Everything looked perfect so I decided it was time to take to the sky.

Today was very hot (it was 93 when I left work) and humid so I did not expect much performance from the airplane. Pushing the throttle forward I could not believe just how fast the plane picked up speed, lifted off the ground, and climbed away. If you had sat me in the back seat, I may have mistaken the Champ for the 85 hp Cub! Seriously, any reputation the Champ has as the dog of the fleet is going to have to be thrown out the window. New performance found and enjoyed, I adjusted the trim and settled in for some pattern work.

I just worked on takeoffs and landings for the most part, because the temperature was dropping and that means it was getting closer and closer to the dew point. Visibility was slowly degrading as a consequence of all the moisture just waiting to condense out of the air and probably dropped from 10 to 5 miles during the hour I was flying. My takeoffs were all straight and smooth and even though I didn't grease a single landing all had minimal bounce.

Along with the standard practice, I had a little fun with some other maneuvering in the pattern. On two of my takeoffs I lifted off and then accelerated level above the runway to around 80 mph, then pulled back into a steep climb until I hit 60 mph and lowered the nose. Gotta enjoy yourself up there sometimes, right? :) I also practiced a go-around on one approach, applying full power at about 50 feet agl and sliding over to the right of the runway while climbing. And on my final approach, I pulled the power to idle abeam the numbers and made a simulated engine-out approach and landing. Nothing too fancy tonight, but it's always good to get up and should tide me over until my next lesson on Friday.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Solo/PIC Time: 5.3 hours
Total Time: 29.3 hours

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