Winds 10 gust 20, winds 15 gust 25, winds just too **** high to enjoy flying! I would do it to go on a trip or something else important but not to just go out and get beat up. Gorgeous clear blue skies occasionally dotted with little puffy clouds but gale force winds kept me grounded for far too long. Yesterday it changed. Forecast at 5 to 10 kts it looked like a "go" so after work I hurried out to the airport. The windsock showed a little breeze but nothing that would keep me on the ground.
She burped after 60 pulls with the oil about midway on the flat now. A few more hours before an oil change. 100LL still in the tanks, enough for two hours with a reserve. Coolant is fine, hoses, engine mounts, propeller, tires, all look good. My first time pulling her out of the hangar. The carpenter has done a nice job on the hangar doors, even marking them with arrows so I know which way to pull them open. Sally rolls out easily, down the shallow grade until the wing tips are clear then an easy turn onto the taxi way. She's dusty. I should probably get some tarps to cover her wings. All of the mechanical connections look good and the gas is dry. I walked down the taxi way between the hangars to insure there were no surprises, then climbed in and enjoyed the feeling of being back in the saddle again. I made a new checklist (color coded!) and ran through the remaining items before shouting "CLEAR".
Don't hurry to get airborne, enjoy the moment.
We drove down around the old water tower, carefully out onto the grass and down the hill behind the planes parked on the line. Then onto a little asphalt square close to the runway where I could do a run-up. All good. I let a golf cart go by in front of me and waved as he passed. Stick in my gut as I rolled across the remaining turf before the runway. The windsock showed a little wind right down the runway. Final checks, full power, green gauges, 4900 rpm and 45 kts, I let her do the takeoff. I just guided her between the trees. Ahhh, the freedom rushed back through me.
My altitude bug was set at pattern altitude and Sally called 500' for the crosswind turn. I alerted Butter Valley traffic that we'd be staying in the pattern. A few gusty bumps, my offset was a bit close, 4200 rpm gave me about 75 kts, so I dropped full flaps as soon as I pulled the power to idle. 60 kts. Sally called 500' midway on base and I felt high as I turned final but remembered the sink hole over the grass just after the ugly tree. We sunk and I was tempted to add some throttle but speed was 55 kts so I tweaked the attitude just a bit. Wait for it. Just a touch of flare, wait. No squeak, no thump, the wheels just rolled onto the runway. And THAT is what got me hooked in the first place.
A couple more good (not AS good) landings and we left to play up a little higher. She stalls clean right at 35kts (we're light). S-turns at 60 degree angle of bank are comfortable (don't add too much back pressure and you MUST use your feet). Time to go home.
Descended too fast and cooled the oil below 122. I must remember that.
One more nice landing and back to the barn. Cautious taxi. Getting a better feel for where those wingtips are out there. I rolled past our door and shut her down, and sat and enjoyed it.
Easily maneuvered her back into her spot, no tow bar, just pressure on the spinner to push the nose in the right direction. Chocks, covers, and closed the doors. When can we do this again?