Friday, February 28, 2014

Ending the week with a hop back into the saddle

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 34 degrees, wind 150 degrees at 7 knots

We've been luckier than many of our northern friends down here in Ohio; nearly all our snow has melted away. That still hasn't led directly to much flying. In fact, it's prevented it! The warmth resulted in mushy ground and puddles on the runway last weekend, closing the airport.

But today turned out to be perfect.

It's been hovering around freezing so the ground is solid again. The sky was clear and a 7 knot crosswind provided great conditions for hopping back behind the stick. I drove down after work, pulled the Cub out of the hangar, topped off the tanks, and taxied down to the end of Runway 8.

Doing my runup just before takeoff

With only my (lighter) self in the back seat, the 85 hp Continental had me quickly climbing into the evening sky. I was at 1,500 feet before I crossed the opposite end of the runway. I made three initial trips around the pattern to test out my stick and rudder skills.

Since the crosswind was off to my right I held in a bit of right aileron on final every time, touching down on the right main. The ground's a bit bumpy this time of year but every landing was good, if not completely smooth. I felt great after the third - gradually pulling back on the stick back, I ran out of elevator just as the mains touched down. Total greaser.

Only a few patches of snow are still visible

Everything felt in order so I headed off towards the lake. It turned out to be an awesome sight. For perhaps the first time in the nearly six years I've been flying at Stewart, it's almost completely frozen. That's what an extremely cold winter will do for you!

Approaching Caesar Creek Lake

Totally frozen around the dam

Looking east over the west end of the lake

Some ice was starting to break up along the shoreline

One more eastward view from this beautiful, CAVU day

You could probably walk to all the islands this winter!

More ice near the campground on the east side of the state park

Anyone familiar with my flying probably knows I tend to prefer more practice than what you get in the traffic pattern. Especially after a prolonged break. So I climbed up to 3,500 or 4,000 feet after my sightseeing run around the lake and got to work on it.

I only spent a few minutes but I ran through a bunch of maneuvers - Dutch Rolls, steep turns, power-on and power-off stalls. All felt good, other than gaining altitude on my steep turns to the right. I think I did those three times until I was satisfied. Normally I'd end with a steep spiral down to lose altitude but it was quite chilly up there! So I just screwed around for a couple more minutes to descend without shock cooling the engine.

Yankin' and bankin' is often best done solo. Gina's always a fun (and willing!) passenger but it's not something I do with most people. But today, up there all by myself, I enjoyed a few minutes of fun. Just me and the airplane, one with the controls, you know... pilot stuff.

Looking east towards Waynesville (and a little more remaining snow)

The sun was getting lower in the sky - and dragging the temperature down with it - so I turned back towards the airport after flying west of Waynesville. I entered the pattern and reduced the power to idle, setting up for a simulated engine-out landing. As I tend to do, I planned to land long to avoid a long taxi.

I rolled over to the right and put in left rudder to the stop. Holding the control inputs, I turned from downwind to final while in a healthy forward slip, rolling out just above the runway. I planted the wheels back on the turf, taxied between the hangars, shut down that Continental, and pushed N98286 back where I found her.

Truly the perfect way to start the weekend!

Daylight Savings Time starts next week, so you all know what that means...

Prime flying season is almost here again! :)

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 302.0 hours


  1. Good times! Always fun knocking off the rust and getting to enjoy that awesome view!

    1. Yeah it was a unique sight - who knows when I'll see that much ice on the lake from above again!