Friday, May 3, 2013

Gusty crosswinds, a new airport, and tasty food - with friends!

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-I17-AXV-40I
Weather - 40I: Scattered clouds, 73 degrees, wind 140 degrees at 11 knots gusting to 20
Weather - AXV: Clear, 76 degrees, wind 120 degrees at 13 knots gusting to 19

My friend Rob drove down yesterday with his girlfriend, Abby, to spend the weekend in Dayton. This tends to be an annual visit, and it's never complete without some time spent in the air. The plan was to take each of them up in the Cub before flying to dinner.

However, the gusty winds gave much pause to the idea of untying an 800 lb. yellow airplane. So we shelved that plan, loaded up the 172, and flew north with time to spare. Reverse phraseology, anyone? We were going by air with time to spare!

We're gettin' fancy up in here - video recaps, now a multi-angle camera production! ;-)

I figured we might as well do something fun as we had roughly 90 minutes to make a 30-minute flight. There's no need to be that fashionably early to dinner. So we circled over the lake, Abby took some photos, and then I turned towards Piqua. It was finally time to add I17 to my map.

This thing's always tearing up the acrobatic box over Stewart

Caesar Creek Dam

Requisite wing-meets-sky shot

Huffman Dam and Wright-Patterson AFB

Dayton International Airport

Piqua Airport - Hartzell Field

Yeah, it was windy. And blowing directly across the runway!

The pattern was empty and the gusty crosswind kept my arms and feet busy on final. Power to idle over the numbers and the right wheel touched down a second before the left main. Textbook crosswind landing - it was even relatively smooth. Not bad at all given the conditions. It was actually the best one I'd have all day.

We were back in the air a few minutes later, and entering the pattern at Neil Armstrong Airport less than 10 minutes after that. The AWOS was reporting 13G18 about 40 degrees off the nose. It's always windy as all get-out up there in flat farmville and the winds can be funky on short final, so I made a low approach to check them out. Satisfied that they were relatively stable, we circled back around and I managed a decent landing.

One row down, a couple hundred to go...

Abby seemed to be enjoying herself in the back

Rob + airplanes always results in a smile

Back-of-head shot for me... I was busy piloting, after all!

Turning towards Neil Armstrong Airport over the village of New Knoxville

Short final on my low approach - we landed the next time around

I think we spent about an hour and a half on the ground with Marty and friends. The food and company are always great; today was no exception. I enjoyed a tasty burger, brat, and grazed on the potluckish cornucopia of side dishes. Abby was designated official name tag maker. The best jobs always go to the new guests!

Sometime around 19:00, N2814L's wheels left the pavement and we immediately crabbed into the still-howling wind. Our ground speed hovered around 50 screaming knots during the climb to 3,500 feet. Speed demon, we were.

Russ, another pilot who had been at the BBQ, departed right behind us in his Cherokee. I thought he'd pass us by but we remained side-by-side, offset by 1/4 or 1/2 mile, for quite a while.

Our neighbor in the sky for 15-20 miles after we departed AXV

Russ returned the favor and sent me some aerial shots of us on our way home

Somewhere south of Wapakoneta, heading south

The rate of progress towards home picked up once we were in cruise flight. It still took a while to get there, though. I think we has a solid 20 knot headwind all the way.

Traffic was light - practically nonexistent, really. Right around the time we crossed over I-675, the friendly controller cut us loose and I dialed 1200 back into the transponder. It got a little bumpy as we descended down to 1,800 feet but the air was still remarkably smooth considering the surface winds. I flew at least 15 minutes of the return leg completely hands-off, just making the occasional correction with a light jab on the rudder.

Both my office and former apartment are in this photo - I miss that commute...

An absurdly massive house a few miles north of Stewart

Base-to-final for Runway 8

In what can best be described as my own let's-completely-ignore-the-recency-effect fashion, the final landing was the most... interesting. Watch my face on the video if you don't believe me! I ran out of lift about 8-12" above the ground and firmly planted the plane on the grass. Normally I'd probably have added power. But given the gusty winds, I just let gravity win. I actually thought it was a decent outcome - we certainly weren't going to balloon back up!

Rob and Abby both had a blast. She has about 70 hours in her logbook and was quite close to her checkride five years ago. I think today reminded her why she loves to fly and needs to finish that PPL! It was an all-around fun evening in the air for everyone. As for the Cub flying, we'll have to try again in a couple days.

P.S. Thanks to Rob & Abby for the great photos and for bringing an extra video camera!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 2.4 hours
Total Time: 263.3 hours


  1. Looked liked a fun time! Hope Abby finishes up the flight lessons.

    Liked the smile after that last crosswind feels good getting the gear on the surface. :)

    1. Yeah, no hiding how I felt about that one, huh? :)