Friday, January 11, 2013

Slow Flight

Winter does allow the time to review magazines, blogs and forums. One of the common topics lately has been high work, discussing stalls, steep turns and ground reference maneuvers and how glass panels and advanced avionics have distracted pilots from practicing basic skills.

Yesterday was a rare winter's day. The Sun was out, winds were mild and temperatures were 'moderate' (above freezing). Planning indicated it would be a good day to fly so I finished work a bit early and headed out to the airport. Kathy had surprised me by putting some decorations on the prop (my Christmas present this year). Less than ten pulls to get the burp. The ten gallons of gas I put in last week week sumped clean and Sally's condition looked great. She started easily. I moved her up past the old silo to get out of the shade and we sat on the concrete apron as the oil warmed up.

Butter Valley was busy! David had his Rans Airaile up doing some pattern work and a Cessna stopped by to try our little airfield out for size. It was fun sitting in my airplane, warmed by the sun, just watching the show. Just as David had finished my Rotax reached 122F so I taxied out to take his place. After my run up the Cessna was ready for his takeoff so I waited while he was on the roll, then announced my intent to 'line up and wait'. (Don't get to say that very often at this airport.)

We took off and departed to the east, climbed to 3500' and trimmed for level flight at about 5 gal/hr. The steep turn to the left was easy and I was pleased with my control. I rolled out 5 degrees late and decided to account for that for the turn to the right. The point of reference is very different for right turns and it took me awhile to stabilize. Within the PTS but not at all pleased, I decided to do the series again. I got that satisfying burble when I passed through my own wake.

Next I lined up on a cardinal heading and transitioned to slow flight. My feet danced a bit but I was happy with heading and altitude control. Once trimmed I brought the power to idle and waited for the stall. Sally flies slow! Right around 32 knots she broke clean ahead, recovery was easy and adding power was very effective. We did that exercise one more time and I'm comfortable with the exercise. Time to go home.

I made my radio calls but I was the only one in the pattern now. A normal landing (very nice) in almost zero wind conditions. We back taxied, took off and departed again to the east, and I gave myself an engine failure. I extended the turn to final, lined up and dropped the flaps when the field was made. Nice.

Two more turns in the pattern and I was done for the day. Just over an hour of Fun.

Back in the barn I did a brief post flight and burped her again. (Less than 30 pulls). Covers and chocks, and I pulled the hangar doors closed. I don't know when the weather will let me do this again.

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