Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Flight Home - into KFTY

Actually, the trip down to close on the airplane started with a bit of a disappointment. A night lighting package is being developed for the PiperSport and I had expected it to be installed on our airplane before leaving Fort Pierce. It wasn't ready. I saw the prototype and think it WILL look great, but so far it isn't available.

Everything else was great. The opportunity to speak with experts, other owners and all of the folks associated with the PiperSport program was a wonderful experience. I'm so glad I decided to pick up the airplane there instead of having it delivered to a nearby location for assembly.

Thursday was my first flight, basic high work and landing pattern. That afternoon we went up again for avionics checkout and crosswind landing practice. Financial closing happened between the two flights.

Friday morning was my first solo. I played with all of the avionics to insure I had learned my lessons well and returned to KFPR for a full stop. I was ready to go.

Saturday was an "ODarkThirty" rise for an 0800 take off. Smooth flying past the Kennedy Space Center up to KSGJ for the first fuel stop. Left there after an hour or so to fly past KNIP (old stomping grounds) headed toward KAYS, but after calculating fuel decided that the winds might allow me to reach FTY nonstop. Over time the smooth air started to burble a bit and the winds shifted more to a headwind. I decided to stop at KDBN outside of Macon to top her off.

Wow, it was no longer just a burbles, the gusts had turned into moderate turbulence. Gusts to 24 right down the runway (which thankfully was long and wide). She bounced a lot on base and final, but smoothed out nicely for the round-out and flare. This would be the first time I ever used a self service gas pump. Yes, I know, nothing to it...but the first time for everything is...a learning experience.

A glitch. During run-up the tach read 4000 RPM as a max read-line. Normally over 5200, I checked to see if anything else was indicating a problem, and as I started to return to the FBO conditions went back to normal. A full run-up with my 'radar' on revealed nothing unusual so we proceeded on.

A bumpy takeoff into turbulent air bounced my head of the canopy, but smoothed a little as I climbed to 6500 ft. Unfortunately a layer was developing there, so we glided down to 4500 ft and put up with a light chop. XM weather didn't show anything significant with destination weather windy and 4500 overcast. So we stepped down again approaching the ATL Class B, and then again to 2400 ft when requested by ATC. Investing in the autopilot was a good decision. Stone Mountain off to our right, Hartsfield off to my left and a bumpy road all around, we cinched our harnesses a bit tighter and looked for the field. 'Light" Sport means something, like a small boat in a storm there simply isn't much inertia to keep it stable. I was glad when told to switch to tower for the final approach and chuckled a bit when traffic was called at my two-o'clock. The Goodyear blimp was out covering the SEC championship, a hard target to miss.

An uneventful landing followed.

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