Sunday, May 20, 2012

Four years later

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 81 degrees, wind 110 degrees at 3 knots

Another year has come and gone as I sit here writing about my annual birthday flight. It's hard to believe that I've already been flying at Stewart for four years; it's still as great as it was the first time I set foot there in 2008. Today there was a new twist to the annual fun - my friend Mike went flying in the other Cub at the same time.

Prior Years: 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

Before we get to that, however, this past year included:
Even though my logbook only totaled 28 hours, it wasn't a bad year at all!

Unlike last year, we've already had a ton of good weather. In fact, I've flown in a Cub four times in the past ten days! Still, I really enjoy this little tradition and was glad the weather cooperated this morning. Gina and I went to breakfast near our house (free meal on your birthday, wahoo!) and then headed down to the airport. Mike and Elizabeth were already pushing their Cub over to get fuel when we got out of the car.

We both took off on Runway 8; I trailed Mike by about 30 seconds. I had chatted with him before we started the engines to come up with a plan for flying in loose formation. That's definitely not something you want to do on a whim while in the air without a radio. Gina and I were in the bigger Cub so we slowly gained on them and I eventually settled into position a few hundred feet behind him and to the right.

That's us as seen from Mike's J-3

Mike and Elizabeth in their J-3 (yes, the lens was zoomed in a bit!)

For the next few minutes, we snapped some photos of each other while climbing up over the lake. I broke off and re-joined as they got close to leveling off. I wanted to slide into position because I knew he would soon be dropping a roll of toilet paper out the window and we wanted to capture that on video. Gina did a great job with the camera but the memory card unfortunately was nearly full. Still, you can check out the very brief clip below.

After breaking off, we flew further east to give them plenty of room in the sky to have fun. I had our own roll of toilet paper (usual disclaimer here) and launched it out the side at about 5,500 feet. We sliced through it a few times on the way down. Interestingly, it bunched up in a very neat-looking pattern after I sliced part off of the main roll. It actually formed into a shape that looked almost like a model airplane at one point.

The airflow forced this streaming piece of toilet paper into a neat formation

I stopped the streamer cutting higher than usual so we had some extra altitude to play with. After a couple steep turns and sightseeing, I used a steep spiral over the center of the lake to lose those 1,500 feet in a matter of seconds. It might be an important commercial maneuver for emergencies but it's also a lot of fun!

Another successful birthday flight for the two of us

We entered the pattern on a 45 to the downwind and I added a touch of power to remain in ground effect for an intentional long landing. The wheels touched ever-so-gently in a perfect three-pointer. That's two-for-two in my last two flights. A fitting birthday present, for sure! :)

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.8 hours
Total Time: 215.7 hours


  1. Happy birthday, Steve! I'd say you've packed some nice bucket list items into 28 hours!

    1. Thanks! I agree - I was actually quite surprised how many bullet points I pulled out of the past year of flying. Didn't get to fly as much as I'd like to but I certainly can't complain with the results.

  2. Happy Birthday and I love the birthday tradition of flight. Whats better than flying slow and low in a cub??? flying with another cub and taking nice shots for the blog!

    1. Indeed, it's a fun thing to keep going every year!

      Unfortunately, we won't be able to do it again soon - the big Cub had a landing mishap later that day... I briefly mentioned it at the end of my latest blog post. :(