Sunday, July 31, 2016

First flights for a former coworker's niece and nephews

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-I68-40I
Weather: Scattered clouds, 84 degrees, wind 280 degrees at 7 knots

Late last year Ted, a former coworker, reached out to me and asked if I'd be willing to take his nephews flying; he wanted to surprise them as a Christmas present. As I said five years ago when I took another one of his nephews flying, I think most pilots would jump at the opportunity! My crazy travel schedule and their own activities led to many months of figuring out when we'd all be in the same place at the same time. Turns out today was that day.

The video's long but I suspect they'll enjoy being able to re-watch much of the flight

We all met at Stewart a bit before 1 pm - I was already preflighting the 172 when they walked up and said hello. I topped off the tanks and we filled out the requisite Young Eagles forms, then I got Anthony situated onboard. Joe, the younger brother, is particularly into airplanes, so he hopped in front.

After taking off to the west, I orbited over their house; they were quite excited when they spotted it from above. I then flew down towards King's Island, which always seems to delight passengers from above. From there, I entered the pattern at John Lane Field / Lebanon-Warren County Airport (I68) so the boys could switch places.

We made two flights around the local area this afternoon

I departed I68 and we flew over Caesar Creek Lake, then returned to Stewart. Back on the ground, Anthony hopped out and their sister, Isabella, hopped in - she decided she wanted a ride prior to the original departure and I was glad to take her up! We didn't have as much time so we again circled over their house and school before flying north over I-675. I pointed out the local malls and some roads and then we again made our way back to Stewart.

Upon returning, all three kids certainly seemed to really enjoy the experience. We talked for a few minutes and I filled out their certificates and logbooks and said our goodbyes. While I obviously haven't flown too much this year, it's nice to make the most of the little bit I have - and taking kids on their first flights is a great way to do so!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 354.5 hours

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cubbin' with Garrett on his overnight layover

Plane: Cub, 85 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Few clouds, 83 degrees, wind light and variable

As seems typical of the aviation community, I know Garrett via numerous small-world connections. We met through my best friend Rob (who's an aviation fanatic and has flown with me many times) but he also graduated from WMU with us. On top of that, he also knows pilot friend Chris from growing up near Kalamazoo and volunteering at the Air Zoo. Today he flies CRJs for a regional airline and occasionally manages to schedule overnights at DAY so we can say hello. This time he was in town long enough for a Cub flight, so that's what we did. Obviously.

Everyone's always smiling in a Cub

To back up a little bit, we went out for a beer last night shortly after he got into town. Their brews speak for themselves (sidenote - Dayton has quite a number of really good local breweries these days) and I love their location, but I partially took him to Warped Wing just for the great aviation references. It was nice to catch up and, well, mostly talk aviation and airplanes.

Back to this morning... I drove downtown, picked him up from his hotel, and we arrived at Stewart around 9:00. Summer is out in force and it was already quite muggy. But we were about to climb into a Cub. And fly around with the door open. Problem solved.

Preflight complete, he performed the necessary contortions to climb in front, I slid into the back seat, and we got the requisite hand-prop to start the fan turning. I departed on Runway 26 and turned south, pointing out the river, valley, kayakers, and bike trail below. Eventually we made our way over towards Kings Island before turning around and following I-71 back northeast.

Flying over the eastern edge of Caesar Creek Lake

I flew over the lake as I often do while sightseeing and, even at this relatively early hour, it was replete with boaters out avoiding the humidity in their own preferred fashion. We then headed north past Waynesville and circled around one of the more ridiculously large estates in the area. Not sure why, but it seems like half the time I forget exactly where to find it. I suppose that may be why they built it there!

No doubt we could've spent all day flying low and slow but Mr. Airline Pilot did have a job to get to on time. So I entered the pattern on a crosswind entry from the north to land back on Runway 26. The touchdown wasn't my absolute best (pro pilot pressure?!) but Garrett seemed satisfied.

We headed back downtown, grabbing Gina on the way, in search of a quick bite for breakfast. Tank's - a local institution - was the plan but they were busy as usual, so we ended up with a nice light meal at differently, but equally, delicious Ghostlight Coffee. Then we dropped him back at his hotel, in time for work and everything! While I'm usually the one visiting pilot friends while traveling, it's just as nice spending the morning committing aviation with friends in my town.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 353.0 hours

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cubs with the door open are the best air conditioners

Plane: Cub, 65 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Few clouds, 85 degrees, wind 180 degrees at 11 knots

After reminding myself why so much time off is not good for one's skills in the Skyhawk, I figured I might as well get in a little Cub practice while already at the airport. I was honestly a tad nervous considering the J-3 can be a little less forgiving if you misjudge your flare height by a foot or two. On the other hand, I had just done ten laps in the biggun' so it couldn't be that bad, right?

Turns out I was right! While they certainly weren't all greased-in three-pointers, even the first was respectable. I had to add a little power one time around but the Cub's truly awesome stall indicator (that's the bottom half of the open door, which floats up into a horizontal position just above stall speed) does help you visualize when you've got the right attitude in the flare.

More importantly, Cubbin' is still a bunch of fun. It was great to get in a little stick and rudder even though I never left the pattern. All in all, I definitely arrived home this afternoon much more aeronautically current than I departed.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.5 hours
Total Time: 352.0 hours

Bouncing the 172 back into currency

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Few clouds, 83 degrees, wind 200 degrees at 7 knots

When you haven't flown in months, a bit of rust is to be expected. This year has been even worse than normal on my logbook; those of you who still visit this blog and its resident cobwebs undoubtedly realize that! So it came as no surprise that I needed more than a few laps around the pattern to get my sight picture back into a semblance of shape.

It had been about five months since I last flew the 172. That sort of gap meant Tommy went up with me for the first two takeoffs and landings. The initial plan was one lap but he decided to make it two after my first landing, if that's any indication of the oxidation.

Much-needed circles around the familiar grass strip

Basically, as best as I can determine, my eyeballs needed a serious recalibration after spending so little time in the left seat. On the first landing I flared a good foot or two too high, brought the yoke back just as one should, and... bam! Thanks again for the hardy landing gear, Clyde. The second was far from perfect but Tommy seemed satisfied I wouldn't break the airplane, so he hopped out and I continued going in circles for about another hour.

Somewhere along the way everything came back together; I even greased a couple landings. My general smoothness and flow in flight and in moving through the pattern to landing weren't up to the usual standards - that sort of thing definitely comes with frequent flying - but all were safe.

I decided to make the final landing of the power-off variety and proceeded to essentially repeat my first of the afternoon. Tommy had just landed with a student in the Cub and was treated to a nice view. Of course. Not satisfied to end on that note, I went around one last time and managed a much better power-off approach and landing. Didn't grease it, but at least it didn't feel rusty.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.6 hours
Total Time: 351.5 hours