Monday, April 9, 2018

Up, down, go around

Plane: Cessna 182 RG 
Route: MGY, Local 
Instructor: Matt
Weather: Overcast, 33 degrees, wind 110 degrees at 5 knots

This morning I continued my march towards satisfying the insurance company's requirements. Specifically, we spent a while in the pattern. It's not the optimal way to build hours but I do need more practice and familiarity with the more complex airplane. It's also a bit of a necessity with haze and 1500 foot ceilings.

The less-than-ideal weather meant nobody else was doing much flying. With a very light wind blowing directly across the runway, we were able to depart and land in both directions. One jet departed about halfway through the flying but otherwise the airport was totally quiet. We did flirt with the idea of flying to Clinton County Airport about 20 miles away but quickly abandoned it and turned around when the clouds began dropping about a mile out of the pattern.

It's nice to have the airport to yourself sometimes

I arrived at the hangar early to complete my preflight, so we pulled the plane out, climbed in, and had the propeller turning not long after Matt arrived. The plan was simple - every variation of takeoff and landing we could muster, with a few other tidbits thrown in along the way. We started with a basic takeoff and landing, then added in the short and soft field varieties.

Taxiing back for departure after one of the landings, Matt asked where I would go if I couldn't extend the landing gear. I said I'd find the nearest big airport (e.g. Dayton International) where they have emergency equipment on-site, just in case. He said that was a great idea.

Assuming such an airport isn't an option, we also discussed the merits of pavement versus turf. After some good discussion I think it was clear pavement is nearly always the best choice. Sure, you'll scrape the hell out of the bottom of the plane, but pavement is, well, solid. The plane is far more likely to scrape along while remaining upright whereas there's a chance it could catch something on uneven turf and next thing you know you're upside down.

Left base for Runway 20 at Wright Brothers

As we continued flying, I could feel things becoming more habitual. There are many new things to me in this plane - propeller control, landing gear, and cowl flaps in particular - that simply haven't been available to me before in the cockpit. Accordingly, I'm well aware I need to get better at making them part of my checks and flows.

Having spent many years flying simple Cubs and fixed-gear 150s and 172s, things as common as the GUMPs check (a popular pilot mnemonic for gas, undercarriage, mixture, and propeller) are simply not yet a normal habit. Some pilots are taught GUMPs from the beginning of their training and I can certainly see why - even if your gear is always down, it's a very good habit to engrain beginning on day one. Alas, I haven't really used it until now so I need to quickly burn it into my brain. I'll freely admit I am still forgetting it at times. However, my intention is to always run my GUMPs check on base.

Matt warned me we'd go around on one approach so I wasn't totally surprised - and also so he could brief me on the procedure. Basically, it's full throttle, flaps to 20 degrees, positive rate of climb, gear up, and then slowly retract your remaining flaps while climbing. Except he did add a surprise by grabbing the flaps switch and telling me they were stuck in position at 20 degrees so we'd have to circle back around to land with flaps extended.

I thought that was a great practice scenario. Unlike a 150 in August on a short runway, the 182 still climbed reasonably well with the flaps extended and gear retracted. I certainly needed to use more power to maintain airspeed and we flew a little slower once I leveled off at pattern altitude (you can't exceed 95 knots with flaps extended beyond 10 degrees) but the airplane flew just fine. The biggest effect was the amount of additional forward pressure I had to apply on the yoke at the beginning of the go around before I was able to re-trim.

There really isn't anything earth-shattering to report about a bunch (10, to be precise) of takeoffs and landings. The key thing for me is I feel more comfortable than last week even though I still have plenty to polish. In particular, between the new airplane and having not flown for over seven months, my sight picture on landing is somewhat rusty; I'm having to adjust and/or add power on final far more than I would like. Still, things are moving along and I'm really enjoying my time behind the controls of this highly-capable new bird.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 381.1 hours


  1. It takes time to settle in, especially with the additional items of a high performance aircraft. Looking forward to your updates on travel with the increased utility and speeds.

    1. For sure - making the new items completely habitual will take some time.