Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Cub's Impossible Turn

This is glorious...

...and full of some always-good lessons!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Starting the new year off right

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-MWO-40I
Weather: Clear, 30 degrees, wind 200 degrees at 3-6 knots

It's a bit of a Stewart tradition, to begin with. I first became aware when we were down there to fly the 150 on New Year's Day in 2009. I heard a noise and looked up. What I saw was something uniquely Stewart - the Stearman, a Cub, the 150, maybe a Champ all in formation. For years, they've flown a bunch of their airplanes to breakfast before they open on January 1st.

So, morning person that I'm not, I thought it would be fun to take part when Tommy texted me the other day. We booked the 172 and met at the (very cold) airport just after sunrise this morning. They already had the preheater hooked up to the 172 but it still took me 20-30 minutes to clear the frost off the wings. For the non-pilots, a tiny bit of frost might seem like no big deal. It is. Even a small amount can reduce lift by 30% or more. So it has to get brushed off!

Our eclectic collection of airplanes on the ramp in Middletown

Wings clean, engine running warm, and everything checked, we took off and joined the other three planes in the sky. Tommy was flying the Fly Baby, Jamie the T-Craft, and Steve (and his wife) his own Cub. We flew in formation (ranging from loose to relatively close) to Middletown, where a Big Boy is conveniently located near the end of the runway. Part of the tradition, it is.

Enroute to breakfast after meeting up in the air

I followed Jamie and Tommy broke off and joined Steve as we neared MWO. They were all using the grass runway, or so I thought. I was on final for Runway 5 when I saw Tommy touching down on Runway 23. No biggie - I went around and made a short field landing on Runway 23 behind Steve. Hit the first turnoff (750 feet past the threshold), in fact - not bad for a 172!

We all enjoyed a tasty breakfast at Frisch's - I had eggs, hash browns, and toast - while chatting about (what else?) airplanes.

In loose formation with Jamie and Steve on the way home

Jamie snapped this shot of us from his vantage point

I stayed on Jamie's wing all the way back to the airport

We were back in the air around 10:00 for the short, 13-mile flight back to Stewart. I made a low pass as Jamie landed then circled back around the pattern. The winds had kicked up and there was a decent crosswind as I touched down on Runway 26.

Flying, friends, food, and family. I'd say that's a great start to 2014!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.8 hours
Total Time: 301.0 hours

Happy New Year!

I begin 2014 feeling quite thankful for a wonderful 2013. Throughout the year - truly, there were great moments nearly every month - I added things to a nice list of accomplishments, both in the air and on the ground. On the personal front, I lost about 35 lbs and completed an extremely challenging programming course in Python. We also did a lot of work around the house including a full bathroom remodel and a ton of new landscaping.

Prior Recaps: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

My flying life managed to involve a really nice variety of experiences. I crossed the 300-hour mark just this week, a bit over five years since passing my checkride. My hours reached their highest annual total since 2009. I was even night current for almost half the year!

Perhaps the only serious negative was the fact that I didn't start - let alone complete - my Instrument or Commercial ratings. That was a major goal of mine for 2013. Unfortunately, I just don't have enough money in the budget to afford it right now. As with my Private, I don't want to start until all the money's there. A significant pause in the middle of training is quite inefficient; it costs more in the end, too. So, although I really want to get the ratings (and, ultimately, my CFI) I can't help but keep things on hiatus for the time being.

Total Hours: 49.9 | Solo: 12.8 | XC: 18.8 | Dual: 5.7 | Night: 2.6 | Landings: 112

Aircraft Flown: C150, C172, C182 (Safety Pilot), Cub, Taylorcraft

New Airports: EVV, IMS, I17, BAK, VTA, CMH, DAY

New States: None

First Flights: 7 (Abby, Aunt Angela, GaryDawson + Chaston, Linda, and Dave)

People Flown: 15 (above, plus Rob, Lauren, Scott, RosaLia, Gerry, Jamie, John, and Gina)

$100 Burgers: 5 (Pizza in Evansville in February, Marty's BBQ in May with Rob + Abby and then again with Gina, breakfast at Hangar 5 in July, and Urbana in October)

Fly-Ins: 1 (MERFI in August)

Pilots N Paws Flights: 1 (April)

What I'll Remember: Another round of Cubbin' on skis at the gliderport. A bunch of great solo flights, practicing basic maneuvers and working myself hard, particularly in the Cub. Flying out to Evansville to visit one of Gina's friends for the day. Enjoying the best view of Chicago again. A fun little adventure involving a hitchhiker. Getting some stick time and a checkout in the Taylorcraft. Having the honor of being part of a formation flyover for a funeral and, later, more formation fun with the Stearman. Making my first solo night flight and solo night cross-country, plus night landings my first two Class C airports.

2013 Goals: Start and complete my Instrument and Commercial ratings. Yup, you read that right. Woo boy, I'm gonna be busy, eh? Here's the thing - I know I want to get them, I've put both off for far too long, and I sure as heck want them done before we have kids if at all possible. The ultimate goal is getting my CFI/II, but doing all of that this year would be extremely hard, if not impossible. Maybe in 2014. I'd also still like to log some Stearman time, get checked out in the Taylorcraft, and maybe finally take that elusive glider flight.

^ As I said earlier, some of that simply wasn't possible. Ratings aside, I actually did knock out most of the rest. Not too bad, all things considered.

2014 Goals: Glider lesson, glider lesson, glider lesson. Seriously, it's been on my to-do list since at least 2010! Meet up with fellow pilot bloggers somewhere this summer. Make more $100 hamburger flights and perhaps even an overnight airplane camping trip with some pilot friends.