Monday, October 22, 2012

Aerial footage of Endeavour's flight over Los Angeles

This is too awesome not to share. Any aviation or space enthusiast should appreciate the unique perspective. One of two F-18s escorting the SCA captured some incredible footage of the Pacific coast, Los Angeles, and LAX prior to landing last week.

It's sad that the Shuttle program is over, but at least NASA has done an incredible job delivering the spacecraft to their new homes!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Foliage in the autumn twilight

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 59 degrees, wind 160 degrees at 6 knots

After last Thursday's flight, I made sure to reserve the Cub again - soon. It was obvious that we were quite close to peak colors and I didn't want to miss out. I haven't timed our fall sightseeing flights very well the past couple of years; I've been determined to do better in 2012!

Gina and I took off into the crisp evening air, leveling off a little more than 500 feet above the sparse farmland and rolling hills. She handled the camera and took all the great shots you can see below. I flew a random, meandering path... pointing the nose towards whichever bright colors caught my eye.

Eventually, I entered the pattern at Wright Brothers. Not to land but simply because Gina wanted to see some foliage near the airport and it was the safest way to fly over the area. I made a low approach and then we climbed up to around 3,000 feet while flying back to Stewart.

I did a couple steep turns for a little practice and then, after allowing a 182 in the pattern below us to land, steep spiraled down for the landing. Unfortunately, I tightened up my spiral a bit too much. Combined with the strong southerly winds (at pattern altitude) it left me in too tight on short final. In went the throttle for a go-around as I set up in a wider pattern. The second approach was much more stabilized and resulted in a decent landing.

Normally I'd land in the other direction with a direct crosswind; a headwind on base helps reduce the tendency to overshoot. However, the 182 was landing Runway 26 and I followed suit. So, mental note for next time... widen up that spiral or even offset it slightly south of the airport in a similar wind situation.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.9 hours
Total Time: 246.8 hours

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Back in the big Cub

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 55 degrees, wind 200 degrees at 3 knots

My favorite Cub returned to service a few weeks ago but I didn't have a chance to take her up until tonight. She has two brand-new metal wings, topped with yellow fabric done in Cathy's impeccable-as-usual handiwork. Gina and I headed down to Stewart after work for a short sightseeing flight. You've got to enjoy our short fall color season when Mother Nature allows!

 The leaves, basking in the dwindling twilight, were beautiful from above...

This red tree stood alone in a vast, open field

We didn't have time to take advantage of the extra 20 hp to climb up for any fun with streamer cutting. Instead, we circled over the area for a few minutes before heading back towards the airport. I made a low pass and saw Tommy standing on the fuel pad, topping off the Fly Baby's small fuel tank. He quickly launched into the air and joined up with us, just long enough for Gina to take the awesome photos you can see below.

Turning in behind us as the sun nears the horizon

Pulling up on our right wing

A great close-up shot before breaking off to land

It was chilly and the sun was crossing the horizon as I circled on the north side of the airport. With a clear pattern and a now nearly-calm wind, I elected to land on Runway 8. No sense in landing directly into the sun if you don't have to. We touched down softly on the slightly damp grass, rolling off between the cones and shutting down next to the hangar.

Just another fun day in Waynesville...

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.4 hours
Total Time: 245.9 hours

Monday, October 8, 2012

A little 1940s-era flying

Plane: Cub, 65 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Partly cloudy, 51 degrees, wind light and variable

Mike sent me a message this afternoon and said he was going up in the big Cub after work. He said to see if another aeroplane was available so I could tag along. I'm not current in the Champ (it's all that was available when I called Stewart) so I was planning on a quick re-checkout with Emerson. However, the little Cub opened up when I got there so I grabbed the J-3's keys instead.

I propped Mike (which took a while - nothing like a slightly flooded C-85 to make hand-propping a fun process...) and he took off, heading south along the valley. Tommy had just pulled into the airport and decided to join along in the T-Craft. He propped me and then the two of us took off together in loose formation about fifteen minutes after Mike had launched.

Vintage aviating - thanks to Elizabeth for the great photo!

Tommy turned east out of the pattern and I flew off his right wing as we headed towards the lake. We traded positions and he slid in off my left wing as I slowly turned back towards the airport. I spotted Mike in the other Cub at that point and the two of us joined up on him. You can see how that turned out above.

We followed Mike into the pattern, flew an extended downwind while he landed, and then made a pass over the runway together. A couple solo passes later, the sun was sitting just below the horizon. I slipped over the power lines for a near-greaser and Tommy followed behind me.

The air was about as smooth as you'll ever find tonight. Just a perfect evening for this kind of flying. The fall colors are getting good around here, too - though I didn't get to spend too much time looking at them today. All in all, it was definitely an awesome night for any pilot!

Today's Flight: 0.5 hours
Total Time: 245.5 hours