Friday, April 15, 2011

Currency and chow with the CFI

Plane: Cessna 172
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I-LUK-40I
Weather: Overcast, 68 degrees, wind 150 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 16

This was a particularly earthbound winter for me. Along with the usual weather that makes flying difficult, I have been traveling - a lot. Two weeks in Japan and South Korea back in January. Weekend trips to Michigan to take care of wedding stuff. Then I spent nearly four of the past five weeks on the road - Iowa and Wisconsin in March, then Spain and the UK the past two weeks. I love to travel and see the world so I'm not complaining, but it does make doing just about anything else difficult after a while.

The good news is the brunt of all that travel now appears to be behind me. That means I'm in catch-up mode back here at home, but at least I'll be around to take advantage of good flying days. Daylight is stretching back into the evenings and leaves are starting to grow on the trees. It finally feels like flying season again!

Since we hope to take at least one or two trips in an airplane this summer, I needed to get current in the 172. It's hard to believe but exactly six months have passed since I last flew the airplane! Instead of simply going up to knock out a few maneuvers, I thought I would add to today's mission. We'd still do the maneuvers but I also wanted to fly down to Lunken Field in Cincinnati for lunch at the Sky Galley... and CFI Dave (who had never been to the restaurant before) certainly didn't object to that proposal.

Video from today - I'm still figuring how to best use my new fisheye lens adapter

A low pressure system is barreling down on the region this weekend but I saw on the TAFs that the weather was forecast to remain clear until about 4 pm. That worked out nicely since I had booked the airplane from 11-2. I got a standard briefing about 10 am and decided all was well for the planned flight. It was going to be quite windy but the ceilings and visibility were good VFR.

We departed Runway 8 at Stewart and I climbed up to 3,000. Dave had me do a steep turn in each direction. I hit my wake on the first one to the left - it's always nice when I managed to do that. Then I configured the Skyhawk for slow flight and putzed along at about 60 mph indicated while making a descending, 360 degree turn. It struck me just how stable the airplane is (compared to smaller aircraft) while I was practicing the maneuvers. Students who learn to fly only in 172s don't know how easy they have it compared to those of us who flew 150s, Champs, and Cubs!

Even though it was a bit hazy on the horizon I spotted Lunken a good 15 miles out. After checking the ATIS, I called the Tower and they cleared us for a right downwind entry for landing Runway 3R. We were essentially already on a long, extended downwind so I continued straight ahead. In about 10 miles we reached the airport and I called Tower again and was cleared to land. My touchdown was pretty smooth but I left a little power in and, coupled with the gusty winds, that caused me to float before finally settling down for good.

Today's flight path overlaid on the Terminal Area Chart

Lunch was delicious - I had a barbeque burger and Dave had a club sandwich. This was my second meal at the Sky Galley and it's still high on my 'highly recommended' list of $100 burger destinations. You may recall that I took Joe, a coworker of mine, down there for dinner last June. The view from the restaurant/terminal is great and it's just an all-around neat airport to visit.

After a quick preflight, I started up and contacted Ground for taxi clearance. The wind shifted while we were eating and they were now taking off to the south. I was cleared to taxi to Runway 21R and called Tower for takeoff clearance after checking the engine on the runup pad. I was cleared for takeoff with a right turnout - possibly the best departure from Lunken. The view of downtown Cincinnati is incredible as you make the turn.

We had some help from the wind on the way home and I was entering the pattern at Stewart within 15-20 minutes. Nobody else was around as I crossed midfield and entered the downwind for Runway 8. The wind had picked up and was nearly a direct crosswind. My feet were dancing on the rudder pedals in coordination with my hand on the yoke to keep the nose pointed down the runway on short final. I didn't pull the yoke back as far as I should have and touched down in slightly too flat of an attitude, but I otherwise managed an acceptable landing. All that fresh, green, spring grass probably helped me out a little!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Total Time: 184.5 hours


  1. Jealous. I miss Sky Galley. Glad to see you back in the air. I was not to far from your neck of the woods today. I flew down to Oxford, OH with a fellow club member to pickp-up his Daughter. Safe flying!

  2. Always good to knock off the rust! Thankfully the days are getting longer, the grass greener and the sun a bit warmer....good flying is just around the corner.

  3. Todd - You were quite close indeed. I've only landed at OXD at night (back in '09 if I recall) but I flew over on my solo XC. Seems like a nice little airport.

    Gary - Definitely, it's about dang time. Looking forward to some shorter overnights this year and, maybe if the cards finally align, Windwood!

  4. Nothing like getting back in the air after time away, is there? Really appreciate your including identifiers, as I like to follow your routes on sectional. I too am anxious for flying season to get underway. Fly-out schedules are being set. A local back country strip is having their annual "clean up day" in two weeks. Ready, set - just waiting for GO!

  5. Glad you find the identifiers useful! Not sure if you've clicked on the links before, but I record GPS tracks on most of my flights (always except for when the batteries die basically) and there's a link at the bottom of the posts. Just click where it says Google Earth KMZ File to view the 3D track in Google Earth!