Saturday, August 5, 2017

Currency, Part 2: Cub time is the best time

Plane: Cub, 65 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Scattered clouds 76 degrees, wind 270 degrees at 8 knots

After running myself through the ringer with takeoffs and landings in the 172, I opted for a bit more fun in the venerable Cub. With time to spare there was no reason to skip some fun in the air. She'd flown earlier so, after pulling the plane out of the hangar and completing my preflight, it only took one pull of the blade to hand-prop the old Continental to life.

I first headed off over the lake for a little practice. My steep turns were better than when I did them with Jamie last month; I think I even caught my wake once. Then I slowed down, pulled on the carb heat, and did a bit of slow flight to see how slow I could move across the ground. It's been too long since I did any stalls solo, so I brought the throttle to idle, pointed the nose higher, and held back on the stick as the nose broke earthward. I was actually a bit surprised how well the stalls went after such a long break; I must've been well-coordinated as the nose didn't roll at all.

You don't need much more than this to have a good time

Feeling comfortably current in my stick and rudder skills, it was time to put them to use attacking everyone's favorite sanitary substrate (old yet requisite disclaimer here). I climbed up to 5,500 feet, slowed down, tossed the roll out the door, and set up to begin my series of passes. At first, I was quite effective and cut the white streamer with ease. Then I somehow completely lost track of it; it took 45-60 seconds and a series of wide turns before I finally spotted it again. I pulled the throttle to idle, pointed the nose down, and clipped it again as my airspeed built up. With the target acquired, I made a couple more passes and caught the shortening streamer once more before I had to call it off due to altitude.

By this point, I'd been flying for about 30 minutes and I wanted to get in some takeoffs and landings before my time with the plane was up. It took roughly 10 minutes to get back into the pattern at Stewart. My plan, as usual, was to make three laps around the pattern to extend my tailwheel currency.

I made five laps.

My first, second, and fifth landings were great. However, I had to add power on the third after I flared too high. The next time around I pulled the stick back a touch too far in the flare and the tailwheel hit the ground before the mains. Neither landing was terrible but I really hate ending a practice flight on a bad note, so I kept going and nailed it on the fifth.

So, for the first time in essentially a year, I'm decently competent at flying both the Cub and the Skyhawk again. One can of course always practice and improve but I think I've removed most of the rust acquired over the past twelve months. Now I've just got to get the little one up for her first airplane ride!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Total Time: 377.6 hours

Currency, Part 1: Taking the 172 all over town

Plane: Cessna 172
Route: 40I-I73-I44-3I7-I62-MGY-40I
Weather: Scattered clouds, 75 degrees, wind 260 degrees at 8-12 knots

What do you do when mom and baby are out of town for the day? You fly, of course. Couple that with a list of local airports you've never landed at despite being a pilot for over eight years and you've got yourself a mission!

It's already been over a month since I last flew. Much better than earlier this year, but still more of a gap than I'd like. So this seemed like a good way break up the takeoff ans landing practice with a (tiny) bit of pilotage and navigation.

I popped into about half the airports around Dayton today

I departed Stewart and first landed at Moraine Airpark (I73) for the first time since 2009. Coming over the levee on very short final, the rising air caused me to briefly float down the runway before touching down relatively softly. Takeoff was smooth and I climbed straight out to 1,700 feet (per the A/FD and sign at the end of the runway) before turning north.

The first new airport was Dahio Trotwood (I44), a notably run down strip that's so desolate it's a tad hard to spot from the air at first. The runway is so cracked that I deemed it smart to first do a low approach and check for any obvious problems or obstructions. I didn't see anything that would preclude a landing so I circled back around and landed on Runway 22. It's an interesting place - corn rises up on both sides so you can't see much of anything once settled on the as-bumpy-as-expected runway. I back-taxied and departed on the same runway without ever seeing any signs of life.

Next up was Phillipsburg (3I7), which was acquired by a local business owner a few years ago to prevent closure of the airport. It's not the busiest place but here there were clear signs of life; a Cherokee called in 10 miles away when I was in the pattern and landed after me. The runway is pretty narrow (reminds me a little of 45G in Brighton, MI) and the shifting winds during my roundout led to probably the worst landing of the day. Again, I back-taxied after the Cherokee was clear and took off again on the shortest leg of the day.

My final new airport was Brookville Air-Park (I62) and it's only a very short 3.4 nm flight from Phillipsburg. This is another unique, lightly used local strip. The runway and airport are actually separated by a road; to cross you pull up to a gate that opens and there are stop signs to remind you to yield to the cars driving by. You also pass quite close to some tall trees off your left wing when landing on Runway 27. The pavement is somewhat bumpy but my touchdown was reasonably smooth; again, I back-taxied down the runway and took off to continue my little local adventure.

Since I'd be passing right by Wright Brothers (MGY) and haven't landed there in nearly a year, I planned it as my final stop on the way home. It's 19 nm from Brookville so I had a few minutes of level cruise to just enjoy the view and relax. The pattern was busy as usual; I crossed midfield behind two other planes in the pattern to land on Runway 20. I landed a tad firm in the slight crosswind. Seeing two or three other planes lined up on the taxiway while I was in the pattern, I'd decided not to wait in line. As soon as the flaps were raised up, I pushed full throttle back in and was soon flying the final leg back to Stewart.

Before long, I was back in Waynesville. I spotted one of the jump planes quickly descending and called him on the radio to say I had him in sight and would follow him in - they have a way of zooming thru the pattern like rockets. I turned slightly right, then circled back to enter a 45 for a left downwind to Runway 26. With the wind almost directly down the runway, my final approach was stable and smooth and I touched down smoothly a few hundred feet past the threshold.

This was a lot of fun. I've been meaning to pop into some of these airports for years and I'm glad to finally have done so. I still want to try out the road-crossing at Brookville so I'll have to land there again some day. Just as exciting and important, I could feel the rust coming off the more I threw myself into both new and familiar situations. I think I'm now current enough in the 172 that Mariella's first flight will soon be in the cards...

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.4 hours
Total Time: 376.4 hours