Saturday, April 11, 2015

Squishy solo time in the Skyhawk

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-MGY-40I
Weather: Clear, 58 degrees, wind light and variable

The grass was plenty mushy thanks to some hearty spring rains over the past week, but thankfully it was still firm enough to allow for a little aviating this evening. Gina was working in the office so I took the Skyhawk up solo for another practice session. Warm temperatures made for a quick start of the O-300 after two shots of primer. I ran through most of my pre-takeoff checks on the concrete pads; once I pushed the throttle and started rolling, I never stopped to avoid getting stuck in the soft, muddy turf.

Turning east while climbing to head north of the airport for practice

I climbed straight out to pattern altitude before turning east and climbing up to around 3,500 feet. First I did a couple steep turns in each direction at 45. and then 60 degrees of bank. I held all the numbers pretty well and was satisfied so on went the carb heat, throttle back, slow into the white arc, and gradually add in 30 degrees of flaps. Chugging along in slow flight with the stall horn chirping, I pulled the throttle to idle, yoke all the way back into my chest, and managed three or four clean power-off stall breaks.

Everything was going quite well as I cleaned the airplane up, then raised the nose and pushed in full power while climbing at about 80 MPH. Keep pulling the yoke back, back, back... this thing ends up pretty nose-high before it stalls with one occupant and light fuel! I got a pretty hefty break with a noticeable drop of the left wing. Hmm, try again with more rudder - same result. It was much the same on the third try. All perfectly within limits, but I think I need to go up and do a little more power-on stall work in the 172. Wanting to get in a few landings before sunset, I quickly steep spiraled the 1,500 or 2,000 feet down to pattern altitude.

Everything's greening up quite nicely these days!

Given the field conditions, I ventured over to Wright Brothers to touch the wheels to pavement. Both circuits around the pattern were thoroughly successful. Neither landing was a total greaser but the stall horn was blaring when the mains touched and everything felt nice and smooth. Calm winds led to two of those wonderfully smooth "have we even left the ground?" takeoffs, too.

The sun was nearing the horizon as I returned to Stewart

I went around on my first landing - not because anything was wrong but because Gina was driving a golf cart alongside the runway putting out lanterns for a night flight and I thought it would be nice to say hello. Coming back around, I set the plane down softly past the threshold with a little power left in and successfully avoided the ruts marked by cones off to the side. Lots of power was required to taxi through a few particularly squishy spots but the airplane and I made it back to the tiedown unscathed. It sure is nice to be flying on warm evenings again!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.9 hours
Total Time: 327.0 hours