Friday, June 21, 2013

Back in the sky after a trip across the pond

Plane: Cub, 65 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 81 degrees, wind 180 degrees at 6 knots

For those who didn't know, I spent almost two weeks in Europe earlier this month - Sweden primarily, with briefer stops in Denmark and the Netherlands. Then we were out of town for Father's Day. Before I knew it, nearly a month had passed since my last flight. Tonight was a perfect first evening of summer. Gina and I took advantage with some time in the little Cub.

Looking back towards Stewart while departing the pattern

Covered bridge over the Little Miami River

They're currently busy installing a new pipeline in the area, the ATEX Express Pipeline to be precise. It's not a rare occurrence in these parts. There's a major hub in Lebanon, near Stewart, and I actually flew over miles upon miles of pipeline being laid a few years ago when the Rockies Express Pipeline was expanded. This latest one will carry ethane or natural gas from Texas to Pennsylvania when complete.

I must say that watching them install literally hundreds of miles of pipeline in a few months is impressive - especially from the air. They had just started clearing the right-of-way the last couple times I flew and now there's a very deep trench with the large pipeline sitting next to it, ready to be buried. The very straight path being carved across the landscape stands in such stark contrast to natural features.

We flew over Caesar Creek Lake, which was as busy as you'd expect on the first Friday of summer.  Tons of boats and jet skis criss-crossed the lake as we circled over, enjoying the view. Then I turned south and climbed to 4,000 feet. Already slow with full throttle, I kept pulling back and did a couple power-on stalls. Then I did four steep turns and hit my wake every time. And this was after two laps around the pattern before immediately after takeoff that resulted in greasers! Who said anything about rust after a month off?

Lots of boats on the lake tonight

A local produce farm where Gina's shopped before

I crossed the airport heading north, then pulled on the carb heat, throttle to idle, did a power-off stall, and then rolled into a steep spiral and quickly descended from about 4,000 feet down to Stewart's 1,800 foot pattern altitude. As we entered the pattern from the north, we looked west and saw more hot air balloons than I've ever seen up at the same time. I counted eleven.

Hot air balloons off to the west of the airport, just above the horizon

The pipeline parallels the runway on the north side of the airport

One more shot of the pipeline from my base leg for Runway 8

Power to idle abeam the numbers, turn in towards the runway, right rudder to the stop, left aileron to keep the plane turning in a full-on slip. I rolled out about 25 feet up, kept the stick coming back, all the way, and kissed the soft grass in a perfect three-point landing. Talk about a rare treat of a day - three total greasers. Not gonna beat that for a while.

Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 270.1 hours

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