Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Banana and The Bomber

On Friday, August 31 my children were both off and had not yet started school.  Of course, the Banana had been bugging me to go flying again and this seemed like the perfect excuse.  We had a fun day in store.

We arrived at KPWK and as usual did a diligent pre-flight of the DA-20 that would serve as our flying carpet for the day.  During the rituals, the Banana discovered the stall horn and was amused as she made it squeak a number of times.  "Don't suck in any bugs!" I warned her, but she was undeterred.  "If you want, I'll show you what that does while we fly."  Intrigued, she helped remove chalks and plug in her headset in order to expedite our process.

We departed KPWK, and maneuvered around the Chicago Bravo airspace to head west toward Rochelle (KRPJ).  Somewhere abeam DeKalb we came across a large open quarry, which served as a great spectacle for our steep turns and some nearby ground reference maneuvers.  These were "cool," I'm told.  On a personal note, my performance was adequate and probably to PTS but frankly I could have done better.  As we climbed back up to altitude I asked the Banana if we should see what that horn was all about.  She agreed, and I talked through a power-off and then power-on stall.  She squealed with delight and amusement.  After all of this play, it was topped off with the Banana getting a chance to keep the plane straight and level as well as making some turns.  She was much more game this time around.

Back on course for RPJ, we made all our appropriate radio calls as I overflew the field to be sure of the wind direction.  Two planes were there to take off; one had back taxied on 25 and the other decided to take it from the junction.  As I was trying to join the left downwind, these two turkeys began arguing about two planes on the runway at the same time.  I got pretty angry as they were causing a safety hazard while they argued over one.  The Banana got scared as she misread my anger for fear, and asked several times if we were going to die.  "No, honey.  It's just that these two guys want to argue about safety but are making our flight unsafe.  When you fly, don't do that."  I was able to get my base-turn call in, and was about to ask them to take it off frequency but they quieted down.
Our landing on 25 was very nice, and we shut down and went hunting for lunch.  Apparently, the restaurant on the field is not exactly open yet; a small fact that one would not have discerned from the website at the time.  Sigh.  Fortunately, the fine gentleman at the airport set us up with a crew car, and we headed over to Eddi's for some decent fair.  The Banana had a hotdog and some fries, and I took care of an Eddi burger.  On a positive note, we saw a group of skydivers returning to the field.  "would you do that, daddy?"  "No... I can't see the point of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane." 

We lit the fires and headed a little further west to circle over Dixon Correctional Center, which is where I completed my post-doctoral residency in order to obtain the required hours to sit for licensure as a clinical psychologist.  It was funny to see the X-house from 5500', and the Banana had lots of questions about the experience.

Turning back toward the east, we set course for Lewis University (KLOT) to see about a bomber.  The Experimental Aircraft Association had their B-17 Bomber "Aluminum Overcast" on display.  Listening to the CTAF I could hear that it was a fairly busy pattern, though it had quieted down as we approached.  The Banana got to fly over top of a cloud, which would have made her day if she had not decided to take a little snooze.  It was fairly breezy at this point, but we had a serviceable landing on 27.  This approach is a little strange for me since there is a pretty big cavern to the east that was dug by the river.  Just like the water hazard in golf... not in play.  But it was a little unnerving.

The B-17 was a BIG success with the Banana.  She was absolutely amazed by this machine and spent quite a bit of time exploring the various aspects of it.  We went through the inside of the plane four times, and she was amused at me squeezing through the bomb bay walk way.  It was tight for us pudgy Americans!  We made sure to look at the cockpit (I'm sure that Garmin 430 was not stock equipment!), the various stations and particularly the gun turrets.  There was a man there who had flown in the flying fortress, and talked about being in the belly turret.  He was tall and it looked tight, which he assured me it was.

On our way back to PWK, I had initially intended to thread the needle between KDPA's class Delta airspace and the limits of the 1900 shelf of the Bravo.  I had the chart open on the iPad, but unfortunately the DA-20's 530 was not showing those boundaries.  BAH!  What's a poor boy to do?!?  I lost altitude to 1700', turned northwest, and called up KDPA tower to request a transition to the north.  This helped me stay out of O'Hare's way (always a grand idea) and to get set up for our arrival to KPWK.

Sigh... winds.  We were getting ready to have a storm, and the winds were letting us know all about it.  The winds were 240@9G17 as I arrived, which was different than the ATIS information.  I was given a straight in for runway 16, which initially freaked me out a bit.  Naughty winds and 80 degrees off the runway.  I took a deep breath and said to myself, "You can always go around and ask for 24."  As you may recall from my last post, I really don't like 6-24 at PWK but it would have been better.

Not necessary.  I had a beautifully stable approach and a nice smooth touchdown on centerline.  I yelled, "OH YEAH!" and Banana protested that I hurt her ears.  Sorry, kiddo but you do know what I mean now when I tell you not to sing in the microphone.  As we were packing up, the DPE who administered by PPL checkride came in.  I had to share this because I needed to tell SOMEONE who'd appreciate this victory.

Ms. Dr. Flying Shrink enjoyed our pictures and hearing about the day... except I got the third degree about these "stalls" that the Banana mentioned.   Tee hee.

Plane: DA-20-C1 N399JA
Time: 2.8 hours.   

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