Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall colors and knocking the rust off

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: High overcast, 62 degrees, wind 190 degrees at 4 knots

Wednesdays are bowling league at work, but when I woke up to blue skies and a forecast of light winds and 70 degree temperatures in the middle of October I knew I needed to find a sub. By the time I squared that away and called Stewart I realized most other pilots had the same idea. Neither Cub was available after work (I was hoping to get in some J-3 time) so I ended up reserving the 150. Better in the sky in a Cessna than on the ground wanting to be piloting a Cub!

Gina met me enroute to the airport and we arrived just before 5:30. The sky wasn't blue anymore - a high overcast had blanketed the region - but it was still warm and surface winds were light. I took the runway and made a normal takeoff with a straight-out departure to the West. Gina wanted to see the field with the corn art I last flew over back in August so I took us over that way. I circled overhead while she took a few photos then moved on to the next order of business. It's been a month since I really went up and practiced, as my last two logbook entries were cross-countries with a 'get there and get back' mission, so that was the plan for the rest of the flight.

Crop art from the North side of the farm...

...aaand now from the South

Anyway, I climbed up to 3,000 and made two steep turns. I held altitude spot on both times and hit my wake exiting the second, so that was a good start. Then I wanted to descend quickly to work on some ground reference maneuvers (it had been forever since I practiced these) so carb heat in, throttle to idle, and into a forward slip to quickly lose 1,000 feet. With a relatively strong wind aloft (about 15-20 knots even at 1,000 feet above the ground) the conditions were perfect to knock my rust off S-Turns and Turns Around a Point. I can't say I was satisfied with my S-Turns; they weren't very smooth and I didn't hold altitude that well. On the other hand, my Turns Around a Point (a water tower, if you're curious) were great and my GPS track sure confirmed that feeling.

What rust? Red is the slowest ground speed and blue is the fastest.

I then headed off to the airport for some takeoff and landing practice. Each lap around the pattern I used a different configuration - normal, soft field, and short field. My soft field takeoff wasn't the best at first, as the full back elevator lowered the tail right into the grass when enough airflow started moving over the control surfaces. I instantly relaxed the pressure and made an otherwise smooth soft field departure. I'd rate all my landings good, although I did come down a tad bit hard on the short field. The mains touched smoothly but I let the nose wheel drop way too fast and it hit hard. On my final lap, I pulled the power abeam the numbers to simulate an engine out. I turned back towards the runway a little too soon as I sometimes do and ended up dumping in all 40 degrees of flaps to touch down about 600 feet past the threshold. Not that it affected the landing, as my flare was perfect and the landing the smoothest of the day.

It's too bad the camera batteries ran out shortly after takeoff since the colors were quite vivid in many locations down below. Gina was kind of tired from a long day at school (they started a new quarter today, which means three classes full of new students) so she wasn't able to enjoy things as much as usual. Then again, given all the ground reference maneuvers and pattern work I did, all she really had to do was stare out the window anyway. Good practice all around as far as I'm concerned and it was nice to get up and spend some time on the basics. Tomorrow night I'm headed to Indianapolis for a town hall with Indy Center - hopefully it's a great session with ATC. Let me know if you're going to be attending!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.1 hours
Total Time: 138.3 hours


  1. Steve,

    Good to hear that even experienced pilots still work on the basics, like us student pilots. When was the last time you worked with ATC somewhere?

    Have fun in my home state of IN.


  2. ATC as far as having to talk with them? In that case, it would be our XC up to Akron a couple weeks ago with FF there and back - and also the week before when I flew to Wapakoneta for BBQ. In terms of a towered field, it's been a looong time - back in February, if I recall correctly.

    Go Wings! ;-)

  3. Steve,

    glad to hear you still enjoy getting out and practicing the bread and butter of piloting. curious as to how much you're paying to rent the C152? when I'm done with training I'd love to spend a few weeks renting planes in random parts of the country.

    great post, and looking forward to the next.

  4. Hey, it definitely is important and nice to get out and practice the basics to stay fresh! Weather around here's been pretty shoddy and I've been working a ton of hours so unfortunately I haven't flown since the last post - hopefully this weekend.

    Anyway, rent at Stewart is a wallet-busting $64/hr wet for the 150. Hard to beat no matter where you go in the country. Cubs are $56 or $61, depending on the engine. Let me know if you're ever headed out this way!