Friday, December 27, 2013

Sweeping off the rust with some stick and rudder

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear cloudy, 39 degrees, wind 240 degrees at 8 knots

I hadn't flown in nearly two months. Today's weather was gorgeous. That's a darn good combination for booking a little time in the Cub, if you ask me.

The sky was a perfect blue with just a tiny bit of haze. The wind was almost directly down the runway and the air crisp. Full throttle, rolling down the somewhat-still-frozen grass, and the venerable J-3 was off the ground in less than 250 feet.

First up were a few laps around the pattern. I made three circuits, practicing every variety of takeoff and landing. Greased one and the others were perfectly acceptable. In short field mode, the little yellow airplane was off the ground in half the distance between a set of cones - under 150 feet. Guess the cool air and that weight loss paid off, eh? :)

Over Caesar Creek Lake at about 4,000 feet

Flying north, just east of US-42 after practicing stalls

I left the pattern and climbed over the lake. Within minutes, the plane was level at 4,000 feet. I did some clearing turns, then launched into a series of Dutch Rolls, followed by steep turns. The winds were stronger up there - look at the GPS track and you can see me getting pushed east with each turn. Never hit my wake due to the wind but I held my altitude and airspeed spot-on.

Steep turns and my steep spiral as logged by my GPS

Next, I put the airplane into slow flight. Couldn't quite manage to fly backwards but I wasn't moving across the ground very fast. Pulling the throttle to idle, I did a series of gentle stalls. Then I held the stick all the way back and did a falling leaf, losing about 500 feet.

Full throttle in, I pulled the nose up, up, up... man, the airplane wanted to fly today! Eventually, with the airspeed indicator hovering over 30 MPH (stall speed at gross is 38 MPH) and the stick most of the way back, I managed a healthy break without any roll. I followed with a couple more power-on stalls. Feeling good with my performance, I rolled the Cub into a steep spiral to lose 2,500 feet in just under a minute.

Looking back towards the lake on my way back to Stewart

Flooded fields from all the rain last week

More flooded fields along the Little Miami River

As I flew back to the airport, I looked down on remnants of the flooding from the 4+ inches of rain that fell last week. We were in Michigan enjoying a white Christmas, thankfully. Both the lake (which I had noticed earlier) and river were high and low-lying fields still held standing water.

I made a halfway decent landing then went back around the pattern for one final lap. Pulling the power abeam the numbers I set up for a simulated engine-out. Turning in over the golf course I was in a full slip before crossing US-42, rolling wings-level just before flaring. Greased it right onto the turf with a short rollout.

Guess I wasn't as rusty as I thought.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.1 hours
Total Time: 296.3 hours


  1. Sounds like a heck of a work out. I was getting dizzy just following that flight path :) I'd say there is no rust left to speak of.

    I love flying in the winter, great HP makes excellent climb rates and visibility is usually pretty darn good too.

    1. It's always fun to see how much I can cram into an hour. One of the many advantages of a Cub and a grass strip!