Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sightseeing and practice on a very windy day

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I-I19-40I
Weather: Clear, 40 degrees, wind 250 degrees at 13 knots gusting to 20

The skies were finally clear after what felt like days upon days of precip, but a front was still moving through leaving behind some very gusty winds. I had hoped to fly down to Portsmouth (PMH) with Gina for a $100 lunch but we had to sit on the ground for a bit until the wind calmed down so that plan got scrubbed. Even though CFI Joe came in with a student from a lesson in the 172 and said it was pretty smooth, I went up solo for two laps around the pattern to check it out for myself before sticking anyone in the seat next to me. Aside from a few bumps it was indeed a decent day up there so I picked Gina up and we took to the sky for an hour and a half.

Seeing as how it was now about 2:30 in the afternoon (I had originally planned to take off around 1:00) there wasn't time to fly over to Portsmouth. While the strong tailwind aloft (around 30 knots) would have pushed us there in record time for the 150, we wouldn't have had time to eat and make the return trip. So in place of the XC hours I had hoped to log today, we just did some sightseeing around the local area and I got in some practice to boot. We departed Stewart and then flew over to Greene County Airport (I19) for a couple landings. I was waaay high on the second one (over-compensated for the winds and turned base too soon) so I kicked in 40 degrees of flaps and pulled the throttle to idle and showed Gina just how quickly that little 150 can descend when you want it to. I actually had to add in some throttle as we approached the threshold and I brought it in for a soft landing.

That's about 32 mph ground speed where the track is yellow!

After that we flew over top of my apartment and then over towards Caesar Creek Lake. She was curious what a stall was like so I climbed up to 3,500 and did a power-off stall. Her response was "wheeee!" which actually made my heart jump a second since I'm not used to hearing anyone say much when the nose pitches over, unless it's Dave yelling at me about something. But she thought it was fun and we did two more over the next couple of minutes along with some steep turns. I also chugged along in slow flight pointed directly into the wind for some fun - and it completely looked like we were hovering when you looked down on the ground below. Thanks to my new GPS (UPDATE: my review is here) I saw that I managed to get our ground speed down to a scorching 28 knots. Oh the things we pilots do for fun. In case you're curious, I also pulled 108 knots groundspeed in level flight flying with a direct tailwind. Not bad for a 1969 Cessna that cruises at 80 knots indicated. I then flew us back to Stewart and set up for a short field landing and had us stopped in under 300 feet once I touched down on the threshold. Chalk up another good flight - and my last of 2008. Certainly has been quite the year for me aviation-wise!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 81.8 hours


  1. GPS hunh? What kind did you get? My father-in-law has a Garmin 396 which is kind of outdated from tech perspective but it has proved to be an amazing addition to navigation. Have you ever flown up to Portland, Maine? I used to live there and I could only imagine the coastal scenery from above.

  2. Zach,

    I purchased a Lowrance 600c a couple weeks ago. The post about it is a work-in-progress at the moment but I hope to have it up here in the next day or two. They're on sale for incredibly low prices right now and I agree it's a wonderful aid to navigation in my limited use of it so far.

    Haven't flown up to Maine as that's 667 nm straight-line from here, but it would be a fun trip some day!

  3. I think you should treat Gina to a power-on stall. Those always seem a bit thrilling.

    I'll be looking forward to your post about the Lowrance. Thinking about picking up a GPS unit myself. For now, there's a 430 in the 172 I'm flying, but the entire rental fleet at my FBO is not so equipped. Does the Lowrance also do automobile navigation?

  4. Ha - I like how you think Tony. I actually am planning on treating her to some but I told her I wanted to practice a few solo before I do so. Not that I'm planning on going into a spiral dive or anything, but it's been 5 weeks (in the 150, at least) since I practiced them and seeing as they can be a bit more exciting I figured that's a wise thing to do.

    The Lowrance does indeed to auto nav, although I haven't installed the software (you can upload more detailed maps to the memory card - all the cables/software are included) on my computer to try it out. I already have a small portable auto GPS that works great. Based on what I've seen with the 600c, I'd still recommend a decent auto device if you want to use it a lot. Something specifically designed for the car will still tend to be a bit friendlier and easier to use while driving.

  5. I saw your post on AOPA about Sporty's and noticed how close you are to me so I checked out your blog to see where you're based out of. Nice blog and I have to say you are one lucky guy - Stewart is one great airfield! I've had the chance to take an aerobatic lesson with Emerson and just fell in love with the place, wish I found it before I started working on my PPL out of I68. Just a few hours away from being ready for my check ride and really enjoyed reading about yours.

    If all goes according to my plan I'll be taking more areobatic lessons from Emerson this spring so maybe I'll run into you some time.

    - Shelby

  6. Shelby,

    Glad you found the blog and it's cool to hear from someone else who's flown out of Stewart. It sure is a great place! I haven't taken any aero lessons myself, although I did go up with a friend in his Pitts back in September - there's a post about it on here.

    I've been down to I68 a couple times by car but never have landed there... silly I know, since it's like 6 miles from Stewart. Hopefully I do run into you sometime in the future!

  7. Sounds like a fun flight. I'm sure the GPS is great - I received an AV8OR for Christmas and am itching to try it out in the air (I've driven with it). I've got a night cross country coming up - that should do just fine.

    You need to give Gina a camera to use when you're out knocking around. In-flight pictures are cool :)

  8. I'm sure you'll really appreciate the backup nav provided by the GPS on a night XC. Let me know how the AV8OR works out for you - it looks like a great little unit and I really thought about getting one myself. Just couldn't beat $240 for the Lowrance.

    And yea Gina forgot her camera on Sunday and I didn't have her grab mine out of the bag - probably should have. She did take plenty of photos on our first flight a few weeks back though...