Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Flying? What's that?

I intended to take a short flight today, so of course we are getting slammed with a nasty snow storm.  Such has been my luck since December.  So, I might as well talk about a few flights that I did manage to get in despite the weather. 

2013 opened with my first instrument training flight, which doubled as a transition to our club's Archer.  Since I had all of six tenths of an hour in any Piper as of that morning, this was an interesting challenge. 

First, some thoughts on the Archer.  As anyone who flies both Skyhawks and Archers will tell you, these planes just fly differently.  If the Skyhawk feels like a truck compared to the Diamond DA-20, the Archer is like a cement truck.  It just feels heavier and tighter in the cockpit.  Things just work a bit differently, and approach to landing just felt like I was going to slam it into the ground.  Flaps work pretty differently as well.  I don't like that lever. 

Instrument flying that day consisted of developing a good scan, being able to track navigation aids and compass turns.  Given that this was a new-to-me plane, I think I actually managed these tasks fairly well.  I felt like I was doing ok with these, and got a few challenges tossed at me as a result - like a simulated circling approach.  My first and second Archer landings were not so bad - it felt rough but it was still respectable. 

Then, a bunch of scrubbed flights ensued along with many of the club planes being down for upgrades, annuals, or a trip to the Bahamas (that is our club Arrow, so I'm not flying that one yet... soon.  Very soon).  I think if I could have 1 hour in the log book for every scrubbed flight, I'd have a solid 15 hours. 

Then, I took a little currency maintenance flight in a Skill plane from KUGN to KJVL.  You can see that my ground speed was awesome with an IAS of 118 kts on my way back to Waukegan, but you know what that means for my flight there. 

I was over the Illinois/Wisconsin border, and this is a shot of Lake Geneva looking from the south.  It's a nice little place that many Chicagoans sneak away to in order to relax.

It was bitter cold that day, and there is a restriction on pattern work when it's that cold.  I sneaked in an extra trip around the pattern at JVL.  Three greased landings. 

The following week, I took my children on a flight from KUGN to KMSN to the Jet Room.  Whether had been forecast to be marginal all week, and I was scheduled to fly in the G1000-equipped Skyhawk.  So, I decided that I would plan a flight to a familiar place to increase our chances of going.  But we had a BEAUTIFUL day.  The Jet Room was again a big hit - in the picture below I already lost my sausage

There was a sweet jet that taxied up as we were getting ready to depart, which increased my already pretty sexy curb appeal. 

The Banana enjoyed her time with "her airplane" on the way up to MSN, but the Boy chose to sleep.  He was asleep before takeoff, I think.  Things had been good, but about 20 feet AGL the Banana let out a blood-curdling squeal because her ears were hurting thanks to a cold.  Fly the plane.  Fly the plane.  Fly the plane.  We had a great day, but mine was not over. 

After taking my children home, I went and had my second flight of the day.  Only a month and a half later do I finally get to have my second instrument/Archer-transition lesson.  New plane, slow flight under the hood, stall recovery under the hood, a few flurries, long time since last flight, and night time all conspired to make it an interesting trip.  I did ok with my scan and tracking, and had some ok landings at DKB.  Most fun was on my last approach I was about to touch down and the instructor told me to go around.  But slow flight felt like a disaster... I simply could not hold altitude.  I know that I got so focused on holding altitude and not losing airspeed that I let everything else go to hell, and of course I could not hold altitude either.  I didn't like the power setting I was told, but what do I know?  I flew the ILS to runway 10 at KDPA, but then circled to land for 2L.  I was low on my glide path the whole time, which was really starting to agitate me.  Still had a nice landing despite this, so that's good.  Yeah, I'm a little focused on landings because I have struggled with them so much that I'm pleased that I feel like I'm improving in this area. 

So I have been trying to get out and do some solo flight in the Archer so that I could work on maneuvers, stalls, steep turns, and slow flight under VFR.  Landing practice would be good, too.  But here we are again back to complaints about the weather. 

Maybe Friday, or the fly-out to KMIE on Saturday.

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