Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday's first flight

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Clear, 80 degrees, wind 110 degrees at 4 knots

Ted, a coworker of mine, asked me about getting his nephew an airplane ride earlier this week. He lives down near Stewart and was curious how much they charged. Of course, no pilot would let someone pay for a ride when one of our favorite things to do is take new people flying! Ted's actually a Private Pilot but hasn't flown in many years. I told him I'd be happy to take him, his wife Donna, and his nephew Aaron (as a Young Eagle) up in the 172.

I arrived at the airport an hour before they were set to meet me. After thoroughly preflighting the Skyhawk, I took it around the pattern three times. I haven't knocked out a bunch of takeoffs and landings in it since last year so it was a good chance to brush up on my short and soft field skills. Three trips around the pattern later, I felt sharper and better for the practice.

Highlights of the Young Eagle flight and some of my later T&L practice

Ted pulled into the parking lot around with 6 pm and Aaron hopped out, excited and wanting to head straight to the airplane. We got his booster seat securely into the front seat and Ted and Donna got situated in the back. After getting Aaron's seat in place and buckling his belt, I walked around, hopped in, and started the engine. I explained a little bit about what I was checking during the runup, then waited for a Cub to land before taxiing to the very end of the runway.

Aaron was ready to hop in the plane the moment he got to the airport!

Getting Ted's headsets set to hook into the intercom

Comfortably sitting in the right seat while taxiing for takeoff

I pushed in the throttle, waited for the RPMs to stabilize, then released the brakes for a short field departure. We had plenty of runway (I had done a thorough weight and balance and calculated our takeoff distance) but I still wanted to be off the grass as quickly as possible. Within a few seconds, Aaron asked if we were flying - I told him no, not yet! As soon as we did lift off, I said so and heard a distinct "yaaay!" over the intercom.

Gazing down at the airport just after takeoff

Ted pointed out the golf course next to Stewart as we climbed straight out. Leveling off at 2,500 feet, I pointed out Caesar Creek Lake straight ahead. We flew straight for another minute or so before I made a shallow, 10-15 degree turn to the right. Aaron did not like that. At all. In hindsight, I should've warned him that we were about to turn.

He decided then and there that he'd had enough with flying for the evening. While the view was awesome, the whole turning thing wasn't so much his cup of tea. I very gently flew us back towards the airport (again using no more then 10-15 degrees of bank) while informing him every time prior to a turn. I told Aaron to try looking straight ahead when we turned to see if that would help. He wasn't sick or anything, just didn't like the turning sensation.

Aaron leaned all the way into me the instant I turned to the right

The pattern was clear as I re-entered on a 45 to the downwind for Runway 8. I announced every power change and turn as I brought us down to final. We touched down gently a few hundred feet down the runway, at which point Aaron exclaimed that landing was a lot of fun. Go figure. Thus ended our 15 minutes in the sky.

He loved takeoff and landing. I explained to him that they're a lot of fun, but unfortunately you have to turn if you want to experience those parts of flying. Aaron wasn't ready to hop back in an airplane right away but Ted and I both think he might want to go up again in the distant future. He's only seven, after all - there's plenty of time for him to decide he wants to fly again.

Our quick route out over Caesar Creek Lake and back to Stewart

As always, I'm glad I had a chance to take someone up on their first flight. While he may not have had the best experience, he still enjoyed parts of it and was smiling when he got in the car to leave. He was my first Young Eagle for the year as well. I'm hoping to hit 10 this year for the first time!

After we landed - he's still got a smile on his face!

After they left, I still had the itch to fly. I really wanted to buzz around the patch in a Cub for an hour but they weren't open. That left me with the 172. It's not nearly as much fun as the Cub but I still wanted to fly and, heck, it's still an airplane! So I flew two more times around the patch - one normal T&L and then a simulated engine-out. I always enjoy practicing the latter; you can never run through emergency situations often enough. All in all, it was a fun summer evening of flying and a great way to end the work week!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Total Time: 189.7 hours


  1. Steve, thanks again for the ride. I had a blast. Donna enjoyed it. And Aaron, he'll stick to taxiing and takoffs and landings for now! Your mixture of professionalism, safety and fun were very much appreciated!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, it was a lot of fun!