Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cessna + Champ + Clouds = Currency

Plane: Cessna 150
Instructor: (None) / Dave
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Low ceilings, overcast, 29 degrees, wind 080 degrees at 8 knots

Given the weather of late, I was more than happy simply to get airborne this afternoon. My friend Mike and I had been hoping to take a cross-country over to Columbus (TZR) or down to Portsmouth (PMH) for a bite to eat like we did last weekend. Checking the TAFs and METARs when I rolled out of bed it was obvious the skies were nowhere close to allowing for any sort of trip today. Nonetheless, I drove down to Stewart figuring I might at least be able to stay in the pattern and keep my skills as fresh as possible. The ceiling was low (between 600 and 800 agl) but high enough to stay out of the clouds while flying circles around the airport. It was actually rather similar to the weather Dave and I encountered during a lesson back in September.

Cubs flying in formation with another one on final


We pushed the plane out of the hangar and I was about to start it up when Emerson (one of the owners of the place) knocked on the window. I had pushed us right over some gravel and he pointed out that could damage the prop if I started it there. He also had to test fly it since they had just done a 100-hour inspection. So that made me feel like a bit of a moron, although he certainly wasn't upset or anything. I wouldn't have known about the test flight part (I got the book so they thought it was ok to fly in the office) but I know better than to start over gravel. Anyway, lesson learned and I'll likely never do that again.

Mike wanted to tag along after his first lesson in the Champ and I figured an extra pair of eyes never hurts. The pattern was surprisingly busy considering the low ceilings. At one point there were 5 planes in the pattern: three Cubs, the Champ, and us in the 150. I just worked on all sorts of takeoffs and landings - short and soft field, normal, engine-out, and even a go around. All were smooth aside from my first engine-out, where I let it get a few knots slow about 20 feet up and cheated by adding power so we came in smooth instead of dropping in hard. No reason to beat up the plane for the sake of practice when there's a perfectly good engine up front. Overall though I felt quite sharp for not having flown in two weeks.

Short final in the 150 (courtesy of Mike)


When I arrived at the airport I saw that one of Dave's students had canceled so I asked if he'd mind sticking me in the slot for an hour in the Champ. If you recall, I did not feel very comfortable flying solo the last time I went an extended period without flying the taildragger. Even though I won't likely be flying the Cubs or Champ much all winter, I want to at least try and maintain a semblance of currency in them. The ceilings were still low (and lowered some more as the lesson went on) but good enough for us to make five or six laps around the pattern. I felt right at home and other than coming in slightly fast (about five knots, which translates to plenty of floating in the Champ) on about half my landings everything was smooth and coordinated. The last landing was pretty much a three-point greaser as we slowed down to around 50 mph in a short field technique.

I'm very, very glad the weather let me get up today as I don't want to go any longer than two weeks between flights if at all possible. Hopefully we have a stretch of nicer days in the weeks ahead so the time I've booked actually turns into some cross-country $100 hamburger runs. I'm even debating taking the 150 up to Michigan overnight in a couple weekends. Since I won't be up again before the holiday, let me send my sincere thanks to everyone who reads this blog and wish you all a wonderful and Merry Christmas!

Today's Flights: 0.7 hours / 0.8 hours
Total Time: 80.3 hours



    Nice shot of the cubs in formation. I think if I ever get my IR check ride scheduled and completed I'll work on the taildragger or complex endorsements.

    Have safe holiday!

  2. Other than the iffy weather, sounds like a nice way to spend part of your Saturday. I'm thinking pretty much like you, once I have my PPL I want to fly at least every two weeks. Us low timers need to stay sharp.

    Merry Christmas to you Steve.

  3. Merry Christmas, Steve!

    How's the new GPS? I know you haven't had a chance to go anywhere with it but any first impressions?

  4. Thanks for the well-wishes, guys... and Merry Christmas again to all of you.

    It definitely does seem like a wise idea to go up at least 2x/month at this stage in our flying to stay current. While I felt good yesterday, the last time I took 3 weeks off from the Champ I was plenty rusty.

    Paul - the GPS is great so far. I've spent about an hour or two playing around with it and am quite impressed. Lots of functionality, small size, and easy to use for the most part. I actually stuck it on the yoke in the 150 yesterday but didn't pay much attention to it; that said, the ground speed readout and terrain awareness warnings were pretty cool. I was planning on writing a full post on here about it sometime soon, so keep your eyes out for that!