Monday, September 13, 2010

High winds + light airplane = short field fun

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Scattered clouds, 86 degrees, wind 270 degrees at 11 knots gusting to 20

This afternoon I skipped out of work around 4:30 so I could head down to Stewart. Fellow pilot blogger Ben was spending a few hours in Waynesville going up in a Cub with CFI Joe before continuing down to Hamilton to pick up some friends for dinner. We hadn't yet met in person so it was a great chance for me to meet up with him and say hello.

It was quite windy all afternoon and it was still howling across the open field when I pulled into the airport. Ben had just finished his lesson so we sat down outside and talked for about a half hour. Nothing like talking airplanes and flying while sitting outside Stewart in their comfy Adirondack chairs.

Time passed by quickly and soon it was time for Ben to head back to the 182 he rented for the flight over from Eagle Creek in Indianapolis. I walked over and took a look inside - lots of nice glass in the G1000-equipped Skylane. We said goodbye and I headed back to the office. Since I was already at the airport, I had to at least go up for a few minutes!

Landing within one set of cones in a 150 is way too much fun!

Given the strong winds that were essentially right down the runway (we don't see days like this too often) I wanted to take the opportunity to get in some seriously short field landings. I checked the fuel in the 150 and there were about 9 gallons as measured by the stick. From experience, I know that it always measures about 5-7 gallons lower than are actually in the tank but even without that knowledge I knew I had more than enough fuel for three quick laps around the pattern.

I started up the engine, ran through my checks, and taxied all the way to the end of the runway for a short field takeoff. Full throttle, release the brakes, and I kept the nose wheel on the ground until pulling free at around 45-50 knots. It was somewhat bumpy as I expected but I sure was climbing quickly relative to the movement across the ground. I flew an extended downwind to set up for a longer final. Due to the strong and somewhat gusty winds I only used 30 degrees of flaps and approached at about 55 knots, whereas 40 degrees and 50 knots are the short field configuration.

My first and third landings were the best. I touched down just past the first set of cones lining the runway and was turning off by the second set both times. The distance between sets is about 200 feet so those were some real short landings! My second landing was still good, but I figure I went closer to 300 feet. All were still great, especially when you consider that the book landing distance over a 50 foot obstacle (there are trees and power lines at the end of the runway) is just over 1000 feet!

The major negative of the day was realized after I parked the plane and went back to the office to pay my bill. Ben was walking back over and I figured that wasn't good since he was supposed to be enroute to meet his friends. Turns out the starter on the 182 gave out and I spent a little while helping them unscrew the cowling to check things over. Check his blog out for further details in the future - he told me he'd write about it once he returns from a business trip.

It's always fun to fly on days like this. I'm glad I had the chance to quickly go up and knock out three trips around the pattern. Plus, the lack of traffic and convenience of the "wherever you want it to be" grass taxiway meant I only logged 0.3 on the Hobbs - a new personal shortest flight record.

Today's Flight: 0.3 hours
Total Time: 176.1 hours