Monday, April 21, 2014

Door open, low and slow

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: High overcast, 73 degrees, wind 240 degrees at 3 knots

Summer is here. Or, if we want to be technical, it's certainly right around the corner. To me, it's summer anytime I can fly the J-3 with the door hanging open!

I put out a request on Facebook this afternoon after I booked the plane, hoping that someone would want to occupy the front seat. My friend Mike called dibs and met me down at Stewart. It's been a while since we last flew together - August 2010 in the Cub, in fact.

Low and slow with the door open - how a Cub is meant to be flown!

He's taken lots of lessons and soloed but life's gotten in the way so he hasn't finished his Private yet. I did my part this evening - he said he had the itch back by the time we landed! Hopefully he can finish up and pass his checkride just as soon as he's able to start taking lessons again.

Since he's well-versed in Cub operations, I had him on the controls in the cockpit while I hand-propped the 85 hp Continental. After a couple blades "off and closed" the engine roared to life on the second blade after I yelled, "contact!" I walked around the wing and strapped myself into the back seat.

We flew a leisurely, scenic route... north of the airport, then east over Caesar Creek Lake. I think I spotted a few folks in boats down below waving to us; I rocked the wings to return the hello. Then I made a low approach at the gliderport, enjoying the always-gorgeous view of the rolling landscape dropping out below us as we climbed out west.

I re-entered the pattern at Stewart about 20 minutes after we took off. Throttle at 1500 RPM, I backed it off slowly as we crossed the power lines and touched down extremely softly on the grass, just past the displaced threshold. Total greaser, which Mike confirmed. I really felt like one with the airplane tonight and, to top it off, I was able to get a friend back in the sky.

Felt like a summer evening, indeed.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.5 hours
Total Time: 305.5 hours

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Night flight and an FAA seminar

Plane: Cessna 172
Instructor: Jamie
Weather: Broken clouds, 55 degrees, wind 330 degrees at 6 knots

I'm not sure why but there were a few different FAA Safety Team seminars in the area tonight. Jamie sent me a message a few days ago asking if I wanted to go to one in Piqua and I mentioned that I was planning on driving down to one in Cincinnati. We bounced our schedules back and forth until deciding we'd fly down to Lunken in the 172 this evening.

Safety seminar (including WINGS credit) plus regaining night currency? Sign me up!

The flight line at Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport

We met at Wright Brothers around 6:15. The runway's still quite soft at Stewart so 2814L's been tied down at MGY this week. We'd have to return there anyway after dark (no lights) so it worked out quite well. Jamie was just completing his preflight as I walked up to the airplane so I hopped into the left seat and got situated; I had the propeller turning a few minutes later.

I turned onto Runway 2 at 6:30 and we were quickly off the ground and on our way to Lunken. It's only 35 miles (about 20 minutes) by air down to Cincinnati. I tuned in the ATIS and didn't bother calling approach; I called Lunken Tower 10-15 miles north and was told to report a two-mile final for Runway 21R.

Hour drive or twenty minute flight? I'll go by air, thank you very much.

Kings Island from a couple miles away

The image stabilizer on my new lens does a pretty good job, eh?

There was a jet off our left landing 21L, which I spotted and reported. Once I had him in sight, tower cleared us to land when we were still about five miles out. I landed long and turned right onto Taxiway C, then taxiied to the old terminal at the southwest end of the field.

We arrived just in time as the seminar started roughly the second we walked into the Greater Cincinnati Airmen Club on the second floor of the terminal building. It was a great seminar - controllers from Cincinnati Approach gave a really nice overview of the local airspace and procedures, followed by a Q&A with a bunch of folks who work for the Cincinnati FSDO.

It's always nice to meet the local controllers/feds and tonight was no exception. Everyone was enthusiastic about aviation and lots of helpful information was exchanged. It was also a nice reminder that I need to fly down to CVG and log some Class B takeoffs and landings while I can since they're not too busy down there these days!

There was a trio of Blackhawks parked on the ramp at Lunken

The seminar wrapped up around 9:00 and we headed back down to the dark tarmac to preflight the airplane. I was back in the left seat but Jamie taxied to the runway and made the takeoff, flying us back to Wright Brothers while I handled the radio comms. Tower cleared us onto 3L for takeoff but didn't turn the lights on. A quick, "tower, 2814L on 3L, can you please turn the lights on for us?" call over the radio took care of the black hole! :)

Visibility wasn't great on the way home, though it was still thoroughly VFR. I'd estimate it at 10-15 miles based on when I finally saw the antenna farm southwest of Dayton come into view. Jamie flew an approach to Runway 2 and landed, with two airplanes in the pattern behind us.

We took turns at this point, alternating each time around the pattern until we got in our three takeoffs and landings to extend our night currency for another 90 days. I never really nailed one (last July's solo night flight was much better) but all were acceptable. The winds were squirrely on final and I was quite active on the controls all the way down. Jamie certainly won this round!

Still, I'm night current again and I have a feeling that might come in handy at some point over these next three months. At this point, I think I've been night current more in the past year than in the previous five years since I passed my checkride. Not too shabby, huh?

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.9 hours
Total Time: 305.0 hours

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's finally not winter

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 47 degrees, wind 100 degrees at 10 knots

I was going to title this post "spring has sprung" but a) I've done that before and b) the lack of winter seems more noteworthy following past few frigid months. Semantics aside, it was a great day to hop in the Cub. Gina was working this morning so I went up solo to get my air legs back.

The field was quite soft following a bunch of rain so the western 500' or so at the top of the hill were unusable. The grass was mushy and you have to watch while turning onto the runway to keep moving and not cut it too tight and dig in. Typical spring procedures at Stewart!

Standing water in the fields along the Little Miami River

My first order of business was to fly north of town. Friends of ours live up that way and they had texted me earlier this morning asking if I was up flying - they saw a Cub overhead. I replied that I would be shortly. So I circled over their house, took a couple photos, then did a steep spiral down to pattern altitude and headed back to the airport.

Fields along US-42 just east of downtown Waynesville

You can certainly tell we got a few inches of rain this week

The winds were a solid 10 knots and slightly gusty and variable all the way down to the ground. I think there may have been slight wind shear a few hundred feet up as well - you could feel the winds shift a little on final and I got kicked around a bit. Definitely good weather to get back in shape and keep me on my toes - literally... it's a taildragger, after all!

I spent quite a bit of time in the pattern today

Another guy was flying the other Cub and we followed each other around the pattern for a while. Every takeoff and landing was of the soft field variety (per the conditions I mentioned earlier) but I did change things up here and there. I made a couple with extra power in, at least one simulated engine-out, and two power-off 180s.

Turning base-to-final for Runway 8

Lined up for landing on Runway 8 at Stewart

All told, I'd rate it as a good day of flying with a thoroughly average performance on the landings. I had one with a good bounce, a few just-decent ones, and two or three total greasers. Pretty much the whole gamut to go along with the winds and field conditions. Great workout!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.1 hours
Total Time: 303.1 hours