Friday, February 5, 2016

A squishy first flight of the year

Plane: Cessna 172 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 40 degrees, wind 200 degrees at 10 knots

Thus far the new year is much like 2015 in that I've been quite busy with work and travel. We've also had some rather windy days that kept me on the ground. So today, after a few long nights at work earlier in the week, I left work early to take advantage of a nice afternoon and climb back into the cockpit.

I had hoped to fly a Cub but both were booked solid; we pilots do think alike sometimes. The 172 was wide open, however. After a thorough preflight (I hadn't flown 2814L in a while!) I started the engine and prepared myself for some soft field work. It's certainly not unusual to find the field soggy early in the year but even I was surprised how much muck I encountered upon arrival.

I can still carve nice rectangles into the sky!

The turf was muddy enough that I knew this would be one of those constant-movement days; from the time I taxiied off the tiedown until I returned and shut down the engine the tires never stopped rolling. Surprisingly, all my takeoffs and landings were pretty damn good today. I held the yoke back against my chest to get the plane off the ground as quick as possible and accelerate in ground effect. I kept in a little power during the roundout and flare and the mains touched lightly on all three landings.

Where I could spot the rust was in my actions around the pattern. Not flying the rectangle itself but in how I went through the flow of everything from takeoff to landing. I wasn't behind the plane yet I certainly wasn't very ahead of the plane, either. Everything - leveling off, trimming, lowering the flaps, reducing power - just felt a bit jerky, not smooth like it is when humming along in full, comfortable currency.

Things improved by the third lap and I finished with a very soft and relatively short landing. All things considered it was a great, brief afternoon in the sky. Knocked off a little rust and kept my soft field skills sharp. With the days getting longer I hope to spend more time flying and less time simply hanging onto currency by a thin string in the coming months!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.6 hours
Total Time: 348.1 hours