Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cruising in the Cub with Rob

Plane: Cub, 85 hp
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Partly cloudy, 58 degrees, wind 320 degrees at 7 knots

My good friend Rob came down to visit for the weekend so we could attend Thunder Over Louisville, the Doolittle Raiders Reunion, and visit the USAF Museum. No aviation-related weekend would be complete without some time in the Cub so I made sure to schedule a couple hours for us on this beautiful spring evening. Our cameras were on hand every day so I'll be adding more museum photos to the series and posting about Thunder on here in the next month.

Today's aircraft of choice - the 85 hp Cub

The weather looked ripe for flying this afternoon with scattered puffy clouds, light winds, and an blooming landscape below. I got the plane preflighted while Rob watched some planes in the pattern and taxied over to the fuel pump to top off the tank. Although I only added 3.9 gallons, that's nearly an hour's worth of 100LL for the Cub! Rob climbed in and got comfortable, then I hopped in the back, we got propped, and I taxied off in the grass for my pre-takeoff checks.

I rolled on to Runway 26 and smoothly lifted off and climbed straight out. At around 1,500 feet I turned 45 degrees to the right to leave the pattern. Brett was up in the MXS practicing aerobatics (there's an aerobatic box over top of the airport) so I wanted to stay out of his way and climbed a few miles away as we flew towards the lake. I made a few sharp turns so Rob could see down as we both enjoyed the scenery passing below us.

We flew about 80 miles over Southwest Ohio in total

Once past the lake and headed towards Kings Island, I handed the controls over for a few minutes. Rob did a pretty good job holding us straight and relatively level as I kept my head on a swivel in traffic watch mode. Other than checking the instruments to watch airspeed and altitude and occasionally adjusting the throttle, I was hands-off the whole time. I had him make a gentle left turn around the amusement park and I watched for traffic and monitored the instruments while he enjoyed the view of the rides.

We then headed off East and I showed Rob a few Dutch Rolls to help explain adverse yaw. I had been able to feel that we were slightly out of coordination (not at all unexpected for someone who's never taken an official flight lesson) during some of his turns and knew this would be a great illustration. He then tried a few and, by the end of the minute or so, definitely was doing a really good job using rudder and aileron to keep that little Cub coordinated. I was impressed! I descended and followed the Little Miami River through the valley at about 1,600 feet from I-71 up until we were a few miles from Stewart.

As we approached on the 45 I could see another plane on crosswind. He was flying a bit of a B-52 pattern and was easily half again the normal distance I fly from the runway. Regardless, I didn't want to cut anyone off so I turned downwind a little early so we would stay comfortably in front of him. You would think we would have been quite visible as I turned with the sun shining brightly on those bright yellow Cub wings. As we made our way on downwind I lost visual but both of us were looking constantly, knowing he was out there. Soon after I saw him off to our right and descending - obviously he had somehow never noticed us in the pattern. I firewalled the throttle and broke off in a climbing right turn as we watched him continue descending, turn base, and land.

I circled back around and re-entered a 45 to the downwind for Runway 26. This time the pattern was clear and I made it all the way to the runway. I had been a little high and reduced the throttle and all was going smoothly until I felt us start to sink faster than I wanted. Just a friendly reminder from the Cub that, past a certain point, it will sink like a brick when you're in the flare. I poured on the throttle as the mains touched and climbed back out in a go around.

We circled around once more and the next landing was much better, albeit still more firm than I aim for. There was a light right crosswind and I didn't exactly make my best-ever transition into a sideslip on short final. I taxied back and made another takeoff and this time the landing was again better, but not super smooth. Never satisfied with that kind of end to the day, I took off one last time and elected to make a simulated engine-out approach. Pulling the throttle to idle abeam the numbers, I made a gentle turn back towards the runway and skimmed over the power lines and house at the end of the runway. The landing was perfectly smooth, a total greaser where we touched right as I brought the stick all the way back. Now that's a proper ending!

After I had shut down and paid the bill both of us took our cameras out alongside the runway and shot departing and arriving airplanes for about 15 minutes. Joe also asked me to prop a student in the Champ, which I did and he went on to practice in the pattern while we took photos. Stewart is such a great place - one of those airports where you could easily waste away any day just watching the people and the planes. Couple that with the lush, early Spring grass and perfect weather and it's an aviation- and photo-enthusiast's dream!

Watching as a gorgeous Cessna 180 lines up for takeoff

The 65 hp Cub accelerates down the runway

I love the clean paint job on this Cessna 182

The Champ (my solo bird) zooming past on takeoff

Gently lifting off the grass

Descending over top of the trees and power lines on short final

Skirting along in ground effect just before touchdown

Champ climbing out after departing Runway 26

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.3 hours
Total Time: 145.8 hours

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