Friday, March 27, 2009

Crosswinds, clouds, and go arounds

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I-I68-40I
Weather: High overcast, 57 degrees, wind 070 degrees at 7 knots

While the forecast of partly cloudy never panned out today, it looked nice enough when I was sitting at my desk at the office this afternoon that I called Stewart and reserved the 150 for some practice. A front is headed this way but the haze dissipated enough that visibility was good and ceilings were over 5,000 feet. Winds were out of the East so I planned to fly down to Lebanon-Warren County for some crosswind practice.

If you recall, I was a bit concerned about the RPMs on 60338 last flight and pulled the carb heat just in case there was any icing. Remembering this, I was extra cautious and did a full-power runup just to check the RPMs before takeoff. Everything looked great, but as I accelerated down the runway I only saw 2,400 RPM at full throttle (it's usually 2,500 to 2,600 RPM) and I immediately pulled the power and aborted the takeoff. First time I've ever done that, but I feel it was the right thing to do.

I did another full-power runup and saw 2,500 on the tach, so I rolled on to the runway. This time I held the brakes for a short field takeoff and ensured I saw 2,500 before releasing them. Again, everything looked great and I didn't notice anything abnormal for the rest of the flight. But it's definitely something I might need to have them take a look at if I notice anything again.

I made one circuit in the pattern at Stewart before heading over to Warren County. I've felt myself regressing as of late in terms of my rectangular pattern. They're all rectangular, but I'm frequently overshooting my turn to final. In a self-evaluation after the flight, I decided that I think the problem primarily occurs when the wind is pushing me towards the runway. Now, I'm crabbing to maintain a track parallel to the runway but I'm not offsetting far enough away from the runway. So when I make the downwind to base turn I get pushed too close to the runway. I'll keep this in mind and see if it fixes the problem.

Overshooting aside, my landings were decent. The tree line at I68 makes for some fun landings, as the winds shift all over the place at about 50 feet above the surface. I also have been coming in too low a little bit in general lately and having to add power on final. So that's another thing to put more focus on. Anyway, I was able to lower the wing into the crosswind and touch down safely (if not always gently) each time. I even was able to make two short field landings and managed to hit the first turnoff to the taxiway, which is only about 800 feet from the displaced threshold. On my final landing attempt (where I had been planning to make a touch and go) the wind threw me all over the place about 20 feet from the surface and I elected to make a go around and head back to Stewart.

Heading back, I climbed to 3,000 feet and did some steep turns. I had been reading a recent article in AOPA Flight Training magazine that talked about the benefits of doing 720-degree steep turns in lieu of the standard 360-degree turns I usually practice. So, wanting to give it a go, I first made a 720 to the left and followed that with an immediate entry to a 720 to the right. On the right turns I actually hit my wake a couple times on the second revolution and the little jolt is a nice indication of a stable turn. I was nearly over top of Stewart so I made a steep descending turn down to 1,800 feet to enter a 45 for the left downwind for Runway 8, right behind the Champ.

A quick descent after the steep turns into the pattern at Stewart

Since I wasn't very far behind the Champ, I extended my downwind to make a short field landing. This approach was stable all the way down and I stopped in about 400 feet, turning off before I reached the top of the hill. Dave (who was in the Champ with a student) was talking to me later and commented on how the student couldn't believe how short my rollout was. Gotta impress the teacher, right? I made a few more laps around the pattern and made two simulated engine out landings, both times turning base-to-final early so I dumped in all 40 degrees of flaps and quickly dropped it down right near the end of the runway. Better to make the airport in an emergency situation than to come up short is my theory. On my next-to-last landing, I was following the Champ a little close (they had quickly turned off earlier and I figured I'd see if they cleared the runway in time) but at about 50 feet they were still in the process of turning off so I made a go around. Good practice in a realistic situation (plane on the runway) and that's why I followed closely in the first place.

Going up tomorrow, weather-pending, to get checked out in the Cub! Once that's done, I'll be allowed to solo the Champ, Cub, 150, and 172. Then I'll just have to try and stay current in all of them...

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.6 hours
Total Time: 94.3 hours

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