Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Taking the Skylane to the sky and going places

Plane: Cessna 182 RG
Route: 40I, Local 
Instructor: Matt
Weather: Scattered clouds and haze, 38 degrees, wind 330 degrees at 5 knots

After yesterday's time in the pattern, I was more than ready to go somewhere. The weather was much improved this morning with just some typical morning haze and scattered clouds. Matt again met me at the hangar; I'd already nearly completed my pre-flight when he pulled up. Within a couple minutes, we had the engine turning and I was taxiing to Runway 02.

We popped into a few airports I haven't visited in a long time today

I took off and quickly turned southeast towards Clinton County Airport in Wilmington. I've landed there before, though it had been a long time - the logbook says it was in August 2009! We were level at 3,500 feet in no time and I leaned the mixture and reduced the RPMs for cruise. Reviewing the GPS track, our ground speed was nearly 160 knots.

Have I mentioned I love the Skylane's power? :)

That speed also means it only takes a few minutes to go relatively far. I anticipated this, of course, but I still had the airport in sight in seemingly no time. We weren't quite down to pattern altitude when only a few miles out, so I opted to continue the descent in a gentle 360 degree turn. By the time the circle was complete, I'd leveled off and we entered the pattern.

My first landing and subsequent takeoff were of the regular variety and acceptable. The second time we came around I decided to try my best at a short field configuration. I extended my downwind and lowered full flaps on final, maintaining about 65 knots. I was too high so I brought the power to idle to hasten the descent. The main wheels touched shortly past the threshold and I applied the brakes. We turned off at the first taxiway, which means we landed and stopped in no more than 1,200 feet. Not bad.

It really was a beautiful morning to be in the sky

Next we headed to Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. Traffic there has been declining for years since they lost their Air National Guard F-16 squadron, but I didn't realize their part-time control tower was totally gone until I looked at the chart. Apparently that occurred sometime between my last landing there in 2013 and now.

Despite the 9,000 foot runway, I still approached too low and had to add power on final. Matt gave me some well-deserved crap for that, especially considering I'd just (intentionally) come in way too high on my final short field approach at Clinton County. Needless to say, I haven't quite got a feel for the Skylane's sink rate, nor am I consistently flying a stabilized approach. My landing was at least good and, given the excessive remaining available runway, we stopped and then took right back off continuing west towards Dayton.

Flying below the scattered clouds between Springfield and Moraine

Our final stop before returning to Wright Brothers was Moraine Airpark. It's another great local airport, probably the one with the best atmosphere and collection of aircraft owners who all love to hang out at the airport and spend time together. I've been there numerous times, most recently just last summer.

The airport is along a bend in the Great Miami River, with a levee just at the end of the runway you have to watch out for on short final. I ended up a bit high on final but the sink rate and full flaps brought me in over the levee into a smooth flare and touchdown not far beyond the end of the runway. Things were finally starting to feel a bit more habitual and fluid.

It was nearing time for me to get to work so we taxied back and departed again on Runway 26. Seven minutes later, we were back on the ground at Wright Brothers. My approach and landing there had probably my best flow yet - while I may not yet be ahead of the airplane, I certainly wasn't behind it.

There is still much to learn with the new airplane. Adjusting to the increased speed and power isn't something that happens overnight. I just need more time in more situations to feel fully comfortable and really get into a rhythm. That said, I'm already confident in my ability to fly it and keep the plane in airworthy condition!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Total Time: 382.3 hours


  1. Sounds like steady progress getting to learn the HP and complex aircraft. I hope to be taking that same path in the next week or two when I saddled up in our Debonair.

    1. For sure. Maybe that long-discussed-but-never-realized pilot meetup shall finally materialize. It'll be much easier with quicker airplanes!