Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

As I write this its snowing, the first of the season. Most local airports are LIFR with Snow/Fog causing very limited visibility. Non-aviators tend to call it pretty, but it isn't. We are grounded.

The flight line at 7N8
It was interesting getting back into the routine of flying short local flights. Without a defined mission, or objective to be achieved I engaged in a more casual approach to each flight. Still checking weather and TFRs, but only for the afternoon. The weather system making its way across the Midwest has no interest, instead I focus on the local airports and primarily look for the winds. I've decided to keep my wind limit at 18kts for a No Go decision. Sally and I fly for fun, if it starts gusting over 18kts, well, its a lot less fun. I have found that I am using my Nexus tablet for planning. I'm starting to like Garmin Pilot, and as the updates continue to refresh and improve the code, I'm beginning to use it more often for preflight planning.

I really LIKE my new prop! Sally seems to leap off the runway now taking much less time to get up to 40kts. 65kts seems to have the nose a bit higher and I find I'm compensating by letting her get into a 'cruise climb' a bit earlier. Speed tests show about 5kts increase in TAS for level flight. She just feels more solid, substantial...smooth.

Nate and Stephanie were able to share Thanksgiving with us. When we got up on "Black Friday" the weather was...'iffy'. No TFRs and ceilings were good, but visibility was less than 5 miles and in many places IFR. Fortunately by mid morning the temperature (in the 50F range) had started to rise above the dew point and the local METARs indicated the improvement by most showing 5 to 7 miles. We left for Butter Valley about 10:00am.

Nate has spent a lot of time around airplanes. He jumped right in helping with the preflight. I took care of the Rotax, checking the oil (burp), water, and overall integrity while he did the walk-around. After I pulled her out of the barn I explained that it was very important to do a "F-O-D" walk down past the old silo to insure there was nothing that would get caught by my new prop. I usually find a golf ball or two, and routinely check to insure the ground maintenance crew hasn't stowed a bag of fertilizer on my taxiway. This time we found a bicycle from a visitor who had stopped by to visit with Harry.

I briefed that we would depart 7N8, climb to a safe altitude and do some stalls, then over to KUKT for a landing, then back home. Nate works on FMS at Honeywell and is interested in avionics, so I also briefed him on the Dynon glass and autopilot. He did very well with the high work and Sally showed him a nice clean stall with a straight ahead break. I emphasized that it is what it might feel like when trying to extend a glide on final. His pattern work was fine, even did the landing back home with out my hands on the controls (well, they were pretty close).

Stephanie had waited in the restaurant enjoying a hot cup of tea. She just wanted a local tour. I tried not to be too "talky" and let her enjoy the ride. Unfortunately the visibility wasn't great so we didn't see a lot. When she did take control she did well, turning the aircraft without any issues. All too soon it was time to go back to the barn.

Friday night a cold front came through. Winds were blustering. We were grounded.

It must have been a successful flight. Nate wanted to know what I thought about a SportStar. They rent one at KSDL.


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