Sunday, March 15, 2015

Welcoming spring with some soft field practice

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 47 degrees, wind 330 degrees at 7 knots

Flying time is always hard to come by in the winter and my weekly agenda thus far in 2015 hasn't made it easier than usual. I was finally home with time to spare this morning and the springlike air was reason enough to brave mushy grass for some stick time. Emerson and I chatted about the field conditions upon my arrival, which were typical for March at Stewart - land a few hundred feet past the marked threshold, hug the south side of the runway next to the cones, and avoid the west end of the field.

He propped me and I launched into true soft field mode; once moving, I never stopped while I was on the soft, muddy turf. I did my run-up while taxiing to the runway and soon pushed in full throttle and launched skyward. With a decent wind nearly on the nose, cool temperatures, and being solo in the rear seat, the big Cub climbed fast. I leveled off at pattern altitude (1,800 feet) before turning crosswind each time around.

I had to knock off a little rust but I was satisfied with every landing. I made three laps around the pattern before flying east over the lake for a little sightseeing. Even with the snow melt, the water was still low and you could see some old foundations like we spotted in January. I climbed up to about 2,500 feet and did some steep turns, then flew back north of the airport and quickly descended back to pattern altitude with a steep spiral.

Wanting to check the other end of the field, I made a low pass and circled back around for my final landing. Coming in over the trees with a bit of power, I flared and touched extremely softly for a perfect three-pointer. That sure felt good.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.8 hours
Total Time: 326.1 hours

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cub vs Champ

As someone who has spent significant time behind the sticks of both Cubs and Champs, this video really piqued my interest. It's a great comparison of the two classic trainers, both of which qualify under the Light Sport category. If you're new to flying or simply haven't had the opportunity to fly an old taildragger this is a perfect, quick way to learn more about the venerable J-3 and 7AC.

From my own perspective, the differences between the two planes are most apparent on takeoff and landing. Champs love to float and you need to manage your airspeed to avoid scooting well down the runway in ground effect; the Cub's boxier fuselage seems to bleed airspeed more quickly. On takeoff, they're spot-on in the video about how fast you can bring the Cub's tail up with moderate forward stick. I think the Champ spins a tad easier, too, but that's not exactly a standard (intentional) maneuver for most pilots...

Apologies for the lack of, well, anything on here in quite some time. I've been on the road for work a ton - the better part of three weeks and over 17,000 miles via the airlines since I last flew the Cub myself in January! With the return of Daylight Savings Time this weekend I hope my schedule will again permit regular stick time soon.