Wind, rain, fog, more wind, sleet more wind, snow and more wind has been the winter time pattern so far this year. Fortunately we haven't had the brutal cold or deep snow like past years but still the weather hasn't been good for LSA flying. So I was surprised yesterday when the weather actually turned out better than forecast. The low overcast burned off by late afternoon to reveal blue sky with light winds, visibilty not great but definitely VFR. I text-ed my wife: "Sally called to ask if I could come out to play. Dinner will be late."
I got to N47 about 4:00PM and did a rigorous preflight. Just over 60 pulls to get the burp, Fuel was dry, oil was good (just above the flat...just had her oil changed) water in the bottle and the cap was tight, and the nose gear was inflated. All of the lights worked and the controls were free and correct. I climbed into the left seat anticipating I would like the little heat I could get and buckled in. I looked up to see two guys sprinting across the ramp toward us. Gulp.
"We wanted to take a look at your plane!" I gave them the 20 minute tour, answered questions about LSA as well as providing performance numbers for the PiperSport. I gave them my card just in case they had any additional questions. Sally does get attention.
Ground operations were normal, I decided just to stay in the pattern for landing practice. While not for everyone, I love pattern work and get a lot of joy just flying around in circles. I was joined by a Cessna 172 and after a while he suggested we switch from RWY 26 to RWY 08. The setting sun and the haze were making the visibility on final challenging. I had never landed on the opposing runway so liked the idea immediately. Great for visibility but landing with a tailwind, even though slight, requires a good deal of respect. My first attempt yielded a high final and full length of the runway. The next one afforded the opportunity to use a full slip (Sally yelped at me about the high rate of descent), and the next I extended my downwind to make correction for the wind.
The sky turned to a pretty red and purple diminishing the glare problem, so we switched back to RWY 26. We were joined by a Cessna Cardinal, and for a short time with a Piper Warrior. The Warrior departed and I heard her making calls at Butter Valley. Soon the Cardinal called it a day and then the other Cessna called it quits. I had the field to myself. It was about 5:30, sunset occurred at 5:11 PM.
I took a bit of extra time at the hold short line to adjust the lights. I pulled out my flashlight and turned it on and sat on it. Changed my glasses. The Dynon avionics all have light sensors and adjust well. The 696 was bright and I found the menu item to manually dim the display. (and I was pleasantly surprised to see it had switched to the nighttime mode.) I'll check to see if there is an automatic setting for brightness. My newly installed panel lights are great with the fiber optic labels providing just the right amount of light.
My landing light works well. I got a thrill lining up on the center-line, edge lights on either side as I added takeoff power. I'm very please with the visibility to all of the instruments. I enjoyed looking at the runway all lit up as I turned downwind. Boyertown and Gilbertsville looked nice. Somebody was being pulled over on RT100 and the blue light from the police car was very easy to spot. Four landings to a full stop and I was done. It felt great.