Sunday, September 22, 2013

Up in the air with the in-laws

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-MGY-40I
Weather: Scattered clouds, 60 degrees, wind 010 degrees at 7 knots

Gina's parents came down to visit for the weekend and, ultimately, I ended up taking them flying for the first time. Well, I took Linda, my mother-in-law, up for the first time; I took Gerry, her other half, up in the Cub over four years ago. Plans changed numerous times this weekend (originally I was going to fly up to Michigan for a fly-in but the weather didn't cooperate, then we were going to fly to Urbana for a $100 breakfast) but in the end we squeezed in a nice sightseeing flight.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day to fly, with visibilities of 50+ miles

I drove down to Stewart, preflighted, added fuel to one tank to bring the plane to about 27 gallons (3 hours) total, and then flew over to Wright Brothers to pick them up. Linda had flown in some small planes before but never one as small as a 172. After figuring out the best way to climb aboard, we all got situated, buckled our belts, and I started the engine.

About to take the mother-in-law flying for the first time!

The winds were quite gusty as we waited in line for takeoff; you could feel it in the yoke, pushing against all the control surfaces. Looking at the weather reports after the fact it was very momentary. Regardless, I paid close attention to the windsock and the controls as we lined up on Runway 2. We were soon rolling and, once in the air and clear of the tree line, everything smoothed out.

I pointed out all the usual sites - downtown Dayton, WPAFB, Caesar Creek Lake, and other towns and cities below. The visibility was excellent and I was able to point out both the Cincinnati (35-40 miles away) and Columbus (55-60 miles!) skylines as we cruised at 3,000 feet. At one point, Linda took the controls and made a couple gentle turns. She quickly relinquished them back to me but she can still say she's flown an airplane now!

She briefly - and I mean briefly, for like 10 seconds - took the controls! :)

After passing over the lake and flying over King's Island (people always love seeing the amusement park from the air - they were no exception today) I flew north towards the airport. We circled over what first looked like an equestrian competition area but turned out to be a massive soccer complex. If at first you're not sure what something is, fly overhead to check it out! The joys of aviation, right?

We crossed midfield to enter the pattern and I made a low pass to check the winds before circling back around to land on Runway 8. I touched down softly in the light crosswind and we taxied back to the tiedown. Then we headed off to lunch with Gina, who was just finishing up her shift in the office at Stewart. Most importantly, both the in-laws really enjoyed the flight, which is what I always like to hear!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 291.1 hours

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Safety piloting and short field landings

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, wind 010 degrees at 4 knots

Jamie needed to shoot some approaches again and it was a gorgeous day out. As if I ever need any extra incentives to hop into the left - or rear, as it may be - seat of an airplane! We met at Stewart after work and I took off on Runway 26 as he donned the stylish IFR hood.

Today's work - approaches at Greene County and Wright Brothers

He shot the first approach into Green County (I19) and then we continued northeast towards Springfield Municipal (SGH) intending to hold over the VOR. We weren't the only folks with that idea. I spotted a C-17 behind us leaving WPAFB's airspace and there was a student down below in the pattern... and then we heard another 172 call entering the hold. Head on a swivel and I spotted them a mile or two away. Jamie wisely decided we'd be safer to bug out than try and coordinate all that so we headed back towards I19 for approach number two.

After Jamie shot his third and final approach at Wright Brothers I flew us back to Stewart. We decided to have a little short field landing contest. I maintained the airspeed pretty slow, around 60 knots, on final but touched down a bit long - it's amazing how much stall/landing speeds are reduced by being a few hundred pounds under gross. Jamie had a go the next time around. With the stall horn blaring, he touched down, uh, firmly, although still a tad long. I don't think we left any parts on the runway. I brought the plane around for the third and final landing, chopping the power over the trees and dropping the 172 in with all 40 degrees of flaps, and was turning off abeam the end of the hangars - or in about 650 feet. Good times.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 289.6 hours

Sunday, September 1, 2013

To fly like a Young Eagle kids like

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Scattered clouds, 75 degrees, wind 240 degrees at 6 knots

I'm a bit ashamed to admit it's been over two years since my last Young Eagle flight. Not that I haven't taken any kids flying - I brought my cousins up in the 172 last summer, in fact. Still, it had been far too long and I'm glad I had the opportunity to fly two more this morning!

As part of the annual Labor Day Weekend airshow and fly-in at Stewart, the local EAA chapter coordinates Young Eagle flights once the pancake breakfast is dying down. I got to the airport around 10:00, preflighted the Cub, got a hand from Jamie to push it out between the mess of airplanes lining the runway, and taxied down to the fuel pumps to top the tank off.

My first passenger was Dawson, a local kid who lives just around the corner from the airport. He was excited for the flight and we chatted about the Cub for a couple minutes while I waited for someone to come over and prop us. He asked a few questions, which I answered, and I explained some of the very extensive instrumentation inside the J-3's cockpit.

Taking Dawson, my first Young Eagle of the day, flying

Engine running, I went through my pre-takeoff checks, explaining what I was doing. Then we took off and headed out over Caesar Creek Lake. He thought it was really interesting when I pointed out how you can see where a road is submerged underwater - it's the old alignment of Route 73 that was flooded when the Little Miami River was dammed to create the lake back in the 1970s.

Before long, we were back in the pattern, and I touched down softly on Runway 26. Dawson had a big smile on his face as he climbed out of the plane and I'm glad his first small airplane ride was such a great experience. Hopefully we inspired another future pilot in the making!

After filling out his logbook and saying our goodbyes I met my next passenger, Chaston. This wasn't his first flight - in fact, he's got me beat. He went on an aerobatic ride in the Citabria with Emerson a couple years ago! Still, he's a high school kid who hopes to become a pilot and make a career out of it. And he'd never flown in a Cub before. I was glad to do my part to help out!

Chaston is in high school and hopes to become a pilot

We talked about airplanes and aviation as I waited for takeoff; the pattern was packed all morning with fly-in guests, local traffic, and us Young Eagle guys. Climbing out into the morning air I noted how you can see the miles upon miles of straight dirt lines where the recently-installed pipeline now sits beneath the ground.

Heading towards the lake, Chaston spotted his neighborhood and house. He pointed it out to me and I circled around so he could get the full 360 degree view. Then we continued on to the lake before turning back towards Stewart.

Briefly chatting after Chaston had climbed on board

Pointing out some of that previously-mentioned extensive instrumentation

Engine started and ready for takeoff

Departing on Runway 26

I spotted skydivers and pointed them out to Chaston as we were approaching the airport. I think he got a kick out of seeing them from the air at our altitude. To stay out of their way, I flew a long upwind north of the runway then turned back.

We landed - twice (hey, we all bounce sometimes, right?) - back on the grass. Chaston waved hello to his parents, who were busy snapping photos, as we taxied back. Thanks to his mom, Sheraine, for letting me share a couple of those great photos on the blog!

Back on the ground after a great Cub flight!

I shut the engine down and we talked about his flying aspirations for a little bit. I pointed out to him and his mom that he's already old enough to solo a glider, should he want to go that route. I really hope he's able to pursue an aviation career! He was my second and final Young Eagle for the day, as our assortment of pilots knocked out all of today's free rides in short order.

P.S. Apologies to both Steve Miller Band and Yoda for the title of this post. I simply couldn't resist the urge... ;-)

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.7 hours
Total Time: 288.6 hours