Sunday, October 19, 2014

Colors and currency in the Cub

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 54 degrees, wind 250 degrees at 8 knots

We were blessed with a gorgeous fall afternoon. Gina was working at the airport in the morning and I drove down to meet her near the end of her shift. With a Cub open and peak colors all around, the only logical way thing to do was to take it all in from above!

First, however, I took the venerable taildragger around the pattern solo. I originally planned to make two trips but Gina was still finishing up in the office and two became four. With a strong wind almost directly down the runway, I was off and climbing quickly every takeoff. Due to the skydivers sharing the pattern, I climbed straight out and leveled off at pattern altitude just past the end of the runway before turning crosswind and downwind.

It didn't take long to run through the full gamut - normal, short, and soft field takeoffs and landings, plus a couple power-off 180s for good measure. I was really feeling it this afternoon; the first landing was a perfect greaser and the next three were nearly as good. Holding the brakes on takeoff, I was off the ground in less than the distance between two sets of cones. Flying solo in a Cub with a healthy wind down the runway never gets old.

Gina wandered over and climbed in the front after my fourth landing. Once she was buckled, I handed her the camera and rolled back onto Runway 26. I climbed west before turning north, slowly making our way past Waynesville before turning towards Caesar Creek Lake. I opened the window (a chilly proposition!) so she could get some unobstructed shots of the great scenery.

OH-73 heading east towards Waynesville

Not a foliage shot - I just like Cub strut photos!

US-42 winds south past Waynesville towards Lebanon

We flew low and slow, making our way south with a detour east around Harveysburg to peek at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. It seems like the trees surrounding the lake are full of color every fall and this year was no exception. Numerous boaters were out enjoying the CAVU day, too.

The southwest end of Caesar Creek Lake and the dam that created it

The colors on these trees next to Caesar Creek Lake were spectacular

We flew past the Ohio Renaissance Festival in Harveysburg - it was packed!

Crossing I-71 we spotted some vivid patches of color a few miles further south; I pointed the nose in that direction and Gina snapped more photos. Before long, it was quarter of three and I had to head towards Stewart to return the plane in time for the next lesson. We flew up the Little Miami River valley - another wonderfully scenic area, year after year.

I-71 just east of the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge between Cincinnati and Columbus

I've come to the conclusion that I land the Cub better solo. Every landing before Gina climbed on board was great. Feeling good, I elected to make one more power-off 180 upon our return. Rolling out of a full forward slip about 50 feet up, I flared a tad too high. The mains touched and we bounced off the grass. Not very high, but it just didn't feel right, so I immediately firewalled the throttle and went around. We came back around, power off again, and this time touched down safely... but still with far less finesse than my first four of the day.

A friend was doing spin training in the Champ - he landed just after we tied down

Still, it was a perfect day for an aerial color tour. Gina and I both enjoyed the view; the near-constant bumps didn't ruin it one bit. Given how much I've been traveling lately, I'm quite glad we managed to squeeze in our annual foliage flight before the trees went bare!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Total Time: 322.6 hours

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cruising home and crossing 100 hours in the Skyhawk

Plane: Cessna 172 
Route: OZW-40I 
Weather - OZW: Broken clouds, 63 degrees, wind 180 degrees at 11 knots
Weather - 40I: Clear, 63 degrees, wind calm

After a couple more days in Michigan tending to some family business, it was time to head home. I originally thought we might be able to head home yesterday but low clouds hung around longer than originally forecast. But things finally improved today and by lunchtime the forecasts made it clear we could safely fly home mid-afternoon.

My dad's neighbor very kindly drove us to the airport. She's never flown in a small airplane and was curious; I showed her around and answered her questions while doing my preflight. I owe her a flight! I settled the fuel bill at the FBO (making a phone call to have your tanks topped off with 100LL never gets old!) and we said goodbye. We had to back-taxi down the runway due to some paving activity on the taxiway. A few minutes later, we were airborne off Runway 13 and I waved the wings to say goodbye as we climbed straight out before turning south on course.

Proof that, while clearly rusty, I still know how to call FSS and give a PIREP!

A final pre-takeoff check of the METARs and TAFs enroute indicated broken clouds remained near home. So I leveled off at 2,500 feet and contacted Detroit Approach for flight following. About a half hour in, after a handoff to Toledo Approach, it became clear the weather was quickly changing. I pulled up the METARs again on my phone and, low and behold, everything ahead was in the clear. I told Toledo we were climbing and went on up to 6,500 feet. Once I leveled off, we'd gained 10-15 knots thanks to a slight tailwind. I even did my pilot's civic duty and called Cleveland Radio with a PIREP confirming the sudden clear skies near Findlay.

Everything smoothed out above the (former) cloud tops and we had a very comfortable remainder of the trip. We were making 115-125 knots across the ground and quickly ticked off the remaining miles. Columbus Approach stepped me down as we neared Dayton and I essentially maintained a constant descent all the way to pattern altitude. After a very minor deviation over Kettering so Gina could take a photo of the high school where she teaches, I entered the pattern at Stewart. We touched down softly on Runway 26 under clear blue skies.

Our full trip up and back, which consumed just under two calendar days

The trip home today also included a new logbook milestone. I crossed 100 hours in a single airframe for the first time! As of today, I have in 101.9 hours N2814L. We came quite close on the way up; when I shut down Monday night the Hobbs had me sitting at 99.9 hours. It used to seem certain that I'd first cross the milestone in N60338, but I just don't fly the 150 that often anymore. I'll likely check it off before too long, however, since I'm only 5.1 hours away in her.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 2.0 hours
Total Time: 321.4 hours