Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Breakfast, PIREPs, blue skies, and a hood

Plane: Cessna 182 RG 
Instructor: Matt
Weather - MGY: Clear, 70 degrees, wind 220 degrees at 10 knots
Weather - PCW: Clear, 68 degrees, wind 240 degrees at 13 knots

We've spent a good bit of time tooling around the local area as I've been learning the new plane; today was an opportunity to let the Skylane take us where she really shines - covering lots of ground, quickly. Our plan this morning was to fly up to Port Clinton for breakfast at the Tin Goose Diner. I had never been, despite many recommendations from pilot friends and fellow bloggers. Both Dave and Chris have raved about it for years!

It truly was a spectacular morning to fly

I'd called the airport last night to have them top the plane off, so we had 88 gallons on board - more than enough to get there and back and then do it all over again had we wanted to. Sidenote here: being able to call someone and have the plane fueled and ready whenever I arrive at the hangar may be the best part of this whole club thing. Everything checked out during my preflight and we took off on Runway 20 shortly before 9:00.

The sky was totally clear, visibility unrestricted, and we had a mild tailwind. What more can you ask for? Once I'd leveled off and engaged the autopilot (perhaps the second-best part of the plane) Matt and I chatted about ADS-B for a bit. Then he suggested I file a PIREP. Long story short, the system still works and I remember how to negotiate it! It took a couple different frequencies and a little patience but eventually we had a clear connection with Cleveland Radio and I was able to provide the CAVU conditions along with the temperature and winds aloft.

Hey, my PIREP made it into the system!

This plane, as advertised, does a darn fine job moving one from Point A to Point B. It only took a few minutes over an hour to get from Wright Brothers to Port Clinton; to drive would have taken about three. As I descended from 5,500 feet to pattern altitude, we were scooting across the ground at over 220 mph even with the throttle pulled back.

163 knots = nearly 190 mph across the ground - that'll do!

Entering the downwind for Runway 27, I dropped the landing gear and kept slowing the plane. By the time I turned final I was at about 80 knots and I lowered the flaps to 30 degrees. The wind was blowing well about 30 degrees off the runway heading so I was active on the controls all the way down. I touched down just slightly skewed but overall it was a decent landing.

Breakfast was indeed quite tasty. Matt had eggs and French toast and I opted for the country fried steak, which hit the spot. We talked about instrument flying and filed an IFR flight plan for the trip home so I could get some experience in the system.

This place definitely notched a spot on my $100 hamburger list

Just after takeoff, I put on my hood while Matt called Cleveland Approach for the initial ATC check-in. I hand-flew through our turn on course and climb to 8,000 feet, then leveled off, trimmed the plane out, and leaned the mixture while making a few more radio calls and taking a handoff to Mansfield Approach. As expected, it's easy to get fixated on things and I caught my altitude and heading wandering a few times when I stopped constantly scanning the instruments. Still, within a few minutes, I wasn't doing terrible.

Wearing every pilot's favorite accessory

A bit later, Matt had me engage the autopilot again so we could talk through the approach plates. We discussed them in general, then loaded the anticipated approach into the GPS (this plane has a Garmin 430W) and continued discussing how everything would be used as we approached Dayton. I'm not completely unfamiliar with instrument procedures, having flown as a safety pilot numerous times, but I also haven't ever officially started my instrument training. In other words, it's all valiable learning and I'll soak up every bit of advice I can.

On that last point, I made a pretty boneheaded mistake not long after takeoff. In a very VFR habit, a couple minutes after takeoff I clicked the direct-to button on the GPS and re-selected MGY, then activated the route. Normally, that makes sense, as you want to go straight to your destination. But in IFR land, it's very bad to stray from your assigned route (in our case, direct PCW to MGY - not direct 3 miles SW of PCW to MGY) for obvious ATC-expects-planes-to-be-where-they're-cleared-to-be-especially-when-in-the-clouds reasons.

Approaching Dayton, the controllers gave us stepped descents, first to 6,000 feet then 4,000 and eventually 3,000 to the initial approach fix. I was back hand-flying at this point. Matt did a great job explaining how the CDI's needle sensitivity would increase as we got closer to the airport. We had both horizontal and vertical guidance as we were flying the LPV RNAV Runway 20 approach. I lowered the landing gear and 10 degrees of flaps, slowing the plane to about 90 knots after we passed the initial approach fix. By the final approach fix, I had 20 degrees of flaps in and was aiming for about 80 knots.

I don't yet have any speed/power settings memorized for the plane, which will certainly help during instrument training. That meant I was adjusting the power more than usual until I got everything stabilized. Matt continued to talk me through the approach and, despite starting to veer off course a few times, it worked out reasonably well. When we reached the missed approach point and he told me to look outside the runway was right in front of us. I pulled the power back and bled off my aispeed, landing a little long but otherwise well back on Runway 20.

In today's episode of "yep, that's an early instrument student's approach"

This was another great day of training and I continue to get more comfortable with the plane. Even with a headwind, it was still only about 1:10 on the return flight. This plane is going to be a wonderful tool for quickly getting lots of places with the family!

It was also a nice segway into a bit of instrument training. I still need 4 more hours in the plane to appease the club's insurance company, so I suspect some of that will be under the hood. While I'm not sure when I'll fully dive into the IR training to get the rating, that day is getting closer. To truly realize the utility of this plane on trips, I certainly need the rating.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 2.8 hours
Total Time: 385.1 hours


  1. The Instrument rating will really help the dispatch availability for taking trips.

    Good reminder, I have to work on the set it forget it list of speed/configuration for flying the Deb. Im scheduled for flight time with the owner tomorrow.

    Good to see you flying and having fun. Taking on a new plane presents a challenge and gets me excited about flying again.

    1. Totally agree. It's extra nice to be back in the saddle with something new to learn.