Saturday, March 26, 2011

Currency plus some new stuff in the Cub

Plane: Cub, 65 hp
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Clear, 33 degrees, wind 040 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 17

I know, I know - this is a flying blog and I haven't had much to say about flying in what feels like forever. For that I apologize. Work and wedding planning and weather have either been taking up a lot of my time or preventing me from going up. And while I always want to fly, it's hard to justify going up for no reason when I'm trying to save money (can you say honeymoon?) and there's a chance I'll drop out of currency before I can fly again.

However, spring has mostly sprung around here. It was very cold this morning (below freezing, in fact) but the grass is rather green and it's that time of year again where there are some places I'd like to fly and people I'd like to take flying. So with that in mind - even though I was technically still current thanks to my last flight with CFI Dave in January - I decided it was a good day to go up with an instructor again.

Video from today using my new fisheye lens for my Zi8

We knocked off a couple things all at once today. I managed to get current in some slightly challenging conditions (it was quite windy, at least for a 65 hp Cub) and satisfied two different flight requirements for the FAA WINGS phase I'm currently working on. If you aren't familiar, WINGS is a pilot safety program that encourages additional, "more than required by the regulations" training. By completing a phase, you basically satisfy the FAA's flight review requirement. That means you can fly for another two calendar years before you are required to complete a Biennial Flight Review with a CFI.

I've had my Private certificate since November 2008 which means I would have needed to complete a BFR by November 30, 2010 had I not participated in the WINGS program. However, I last passed a phase in September 2009 and therefore I am legal to act as Pilot in Command until September 30, 2011. Once I complete a third flight activity - which I plan on doing with Dave in the 150 later next month - I'll have completed another phase in the program. So that will delay my BFR until mid-2013, though I expect to complete more WINGS phases before I ever reach that point.

Back to today, we ran through some usual tasks and I also had Dave teach me something new as I usually try to do when flying with an instructor. My takeoffs were all quite good (normal, short field, soft field) but the landings weren't great at first. The gusty crosswind made it more challenging but I had a slight mental lapse and set up incorrectly at first for a short field landing - forgetting I should be making the approach with power added. Once I sorted that out, my second and third short field landings were much better. I floated too much on the second landing but plopped the plane down just past my aiming point on the third and final landing.

We also ran through some maneuvers that are good practice for any pilot - steep turns, turns around a point, and s-turns. I held altitude reasonably well on the steep turns although I know I have done better in the past. That's something I'll work on solo in the near future. The strong and gusty winds made it a great day to practice ground reference maneuvers so the turns around a point (two water towers just outside Waynesville) and s-turns over a road were how we chose to tackle that portion of the flight. Considering I don't practice either nearly as frequently as I did when I was a student, I was quite satisfied with my performance on both tasks.

The new maneuver I wanted to learn with Dave today was the steep spiral. It's a requirement for the Commercial certificate, not something generally taught in Private training. However, since it's one of the primary ways to get an airplane on the ground in case of emergency like an in-flight fire, I wanted some practice!

Steep spirals are quite simple - you basically bring the throttle to idle, roll the airplane over into a 60 degree bank, and control your airspeed with back pressure on the stick/yoke. You're pulling 2 Gs at 60 degrees so you certainly feel the extra weight but that also means you're descending very quickly, about 15 or 20 seconds to lose 1,000 feet. Dave first demonstrated and then I gave it a whirl. I did reasonably well for a first-time student but, as you would expect, he was much smoother. It's definitely another maneuver we'll work on again soon, both in the Cub and the Cessna.

So there you go, I finally flew again! It's a clear start to getting back in flying shape for the year. Gina and I hope to take some smaller trips this summer, not on the scale of last summer's giant adventure around Lake Michigan but still overnight with a purpose. We'd like to fly up to Syracuse in June for a family graduation party - flying would thoroughly beat the 11-hour drive we made there last summer! My best friend Rob is also going to come down and visit soon and we'll go up and have some fun in the Cub like we usually do. I still have a crazy travel schedule for work in the upcoming weeks but hopefully I'm back to flying with more regularity!

Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Total Time: 183.1 hours


  1. Hey, great video! Looks like you finally got some spring weather. We're still waiting.

    What lens did you get for the Zi8?

  2. Well it was quite cold on Saturday but earlier last week things warmed up and greened up quite a bit.

    The fisheye definitely helps in the Cub - makes a huge difference being able to see to the side, especially on final when you can't see anything over the cowl.

    Here's the lens:
    Kodak Store - Fisheye Lens

  3. Really enjoyed your video. That spiral can come in real handy when you suddenly have the need to land on a long cross country and the airport is immediately below. I've used a gentle version when passengers need to get down. Takes a bit longer, but is easier on them.

  4. Thanks! I'm really looking forward to using the fisheye on all my flying videos this year. Once I get a handle on how best to use it I think it'll be a nice addition to my media gear - especially in the Cub.

    Spirals are definitely a great thing to know and be able to use. I've done them once or twice before with a CFI but never while trying to learn how to do them myself. I definitely want to get more practice to fully add them to my repertoire. As I said in the post, I really enjoy learning additional (post-PPL) maneuvers because a) it's always important to keep learning and building skills and b) it's nice to have some different things to practice solo from time to time!

  5. Looked like a good workout and fun! Always fun to knock off the rust and get some practice in too.