Saturday, January 30, 2010

How'd I do after 85 days off?

Plane: Cessna 150
Instructor: Emerson (for 0.5)
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Clear, 24 degrees, wind 020 degrees at 10 knots

When I passed my checkride I said to myself that I wouldn't ever go more than two weeks without flying in order to stay comfortably current. Of course, I didn't own a house then and it wasn't yet winter. Needless to say, life gets in the way sometimes and nearly three months elapsed since my last time in the left seat. So, while not specifically required by Stewart since my last flight was less than 90 days ago, I decided it would be best to err on the cautious side and have a CFI ride along.

The sun was shining and it was absolutely frigid out but that wasn't going to stop me today. Winds were blowing steady out of the North and would provide a strong 10-12 knot crosswind. Nothing like some real flying conditions to keep you on your toes!

I'd never flown with Emerson before although we have talked plenty of times at the airport. He met me out at the 150 after I had finished my thorough preflight and hopped in after I topped off the tanks. Three shots of primer, carb heat on, and the still lukewarm engine (from the last student) came to life using the cold start procedure. The field ranged from a light covering of snow and ice to slightly soft grass but was mostly hard due to the well below freezing temperatures.

I taxied on to Runway 08, pushed the carb heat off, applied full power and lifted off with one of the smoothest crosswind takeoffs I have made in the past year. Emerson and I talked a little bit as I made my way around the pattern until I added in the carb heat abeam the threshold. As I descended and turned final with 30 degrees of flaps hanging out, it took nearly full rudder at times to stay aligned with the centerline while in a sideslip. I touched down smoothly and held the nose off as I allowed the plane to slow down without using the brakes.

Emerson looked at me and said, "so why am I sitting here?" I replied, "because - and you can ask Dave - after a nice trip around the pattern like that I usually manage to do something completely stupid on the next lap." With that, he remained in the right seat and I taxied back to the end of the runway.

I made two more circuits with two more of the best takeoffs and landings I've done in quite some time. On both landings, I used 20 degrees of flaps and kept my speed up a few knots for a little more rudder authority in the crosswind. Each time, I held the plane off longer and touched down very softly. While taxiing back for my third takeoff, a family of deer ran across the end of the runway so I kept a watchful eye out for them. Emerson commented after my third landing that he really liked how I was holding the nose off the ground as long as possible. I then dropped him off (at least he got to do some aerial sightseeing!) and headed up one final time solo.

Again, the takeoff was very smooth and I scooted around the pattern quickly. It sure is hard to argue with the performance of a half-loaded 150 in below-freezing temperatures! As I began my descent, I decided to make my approach with only 10 degrees of flaps this time since I wanted to land long and shorten my taxi. Shooting down final I was able to transition from my crab into a sideslip and again touched down very softly on the left main.

I have to think the performance was due in part to a little extra focus since I had not flown in so long. Maybe there was some subconscious motivation to stay sharp since I was flying with Emerson for the first time. Those crosswinds sure required me to focus on the stick and rudder skills, too.

In the end, the fact that I was finally able to get back up was the important thing. It's always a great feeling as I pull out of Stewart on to US-42 in my car after another successful flight. Nothing like reflecting on the view from above after I return to the ground. That I was able to string together a series of the best takeoffs and landings I've made in months after such a long break is just icing on the cake.

Today's Flight: 0.7 hours
Total Time: 140.8 hours

Monday, January 11, 2010


I thought the video I posted last year was good TSA satire, but this is simply outstanding. Enjoy! :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Crazy as it feels to already be sticking /10 at the end of every date I write, the year 2009 has indeed come to an end. Now is the time for a quick reflection and to look forward to a new year of flying adventures. So read along as I recap these last 365 days, Gary style...

Total Hours: 58.3 | Solo: 15.3 | XC: 21.6 | Dual: 7.2 | Landings: 151

Aircraft Flown: C150, C172, Cub

New Airports: KFGX, I68, KMRT, KSGH, KOXD, Y47, 3W2, KPCW, 16G, I66, KEDJ, KAXV, 1G3, 15G

New States: Kentucky

First Flights: 4 (Sarah and Kristin - two college friends, my sister and Dad)

People Flown:
9 (above, plus Shaun - pilot friend from Australia, Mike - local pilot friend and coworker, Rob - my best friend and college roommate, Gina's Dad and, of course, Gina)

$100 Burgers: 4 (one each in February, April, May, and October)

1 (MERFI in Urbana, OH - I74)

What I'll Remember: Took my first two 'real' trips in an airplane, up to Michigan and Put In Bay in August and then to Akron/Kent State in October. Way too much fun in the Cub with the door open, including flying over top of Wright Bros Airport as a B-17 and P-51 landed below me. Enjoyed the sights with friends and family while touting GA as much as possible, although the view generally did all the talking for me.

2010 Goals: More cross-country flights including a trip or two to visit other pilot friends, take as many people for their first flight as possible, fly Young Eagles, fly the Cub on skis, get in some glider time, make more money to spend on all of the above.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read the blog and engage with others in the comments. I appreciate it more than I can ever say in a few short words and am looking forward to another great year sharing in my aviation experiences with all of you!