Sunday was the day after the big snow storm. While Boston got pounded, we only got about 3" and that was rapidly melting. The winter weather was finally perfect for Light Sport flying!
As I entered the airport I was disappointed to see snow still on the runway. The turf taxiway was also covered although it was hard to tell how deep the snow was. I drove through the parking lot and over to the hangar. Situated between two buildings, that concrete taxiway was still covered with the 3" of wet, melting snow. I parked the car and walked the path I would take to get to the runway. A little slippery. That turn at the silo could be interesting. And then the trip across the sod, which might be too soft for Sally and me. And the runway with partial snow, no winds now but what about the return trip. Consider a crosswind landing on a narrow strip with partial snow and possible ice. Very reluctantly I decided No Go. (Perhaps too conservative, perhaps not. Remember, I'm doing this for fun.) argh.
Thursday was the day after another snow storm. Around lunchtime I decided to venture out to the airport to look at the conditions again. This time I was pleased to find that the snow was gone except for a few patches in shady areas. I walked the taxiway and cleared it of a few sticks and stones and came back and pulled Sally out of the hangar. It had been awhile and I found myself a bit rusty so I pulled the checklist out of the side pocket and took my time looking at each item. Once I sat down and buckled in I felt at home again. Sally started easily and it was a joy to sit there with the engine humming while the oil warmed up.
No wind to speak of, we chose runway 34 and departed to the east. The Pennsylvania countryside was still mostly white and much of the lakes were iced over. We turned south toward the power plant and continued to climb up to 2500'. All checks were good, Sally was running nicely. Satisfied with all engine system checks, we re-entered the pattern at Butter Valley to see if I still remembered how to land. A little fast but not bad. So we stayed in the pattern for another. A bit high and close this time, I needed to slip to get back down to the proper glide slope. I salvaged a nice landing from a crummy pattern.
We departed and headed towards KLOM. A light scattered layer at 3500' was a little choppy so I let the autopilot continue the climb to 4500'. Very smooth there and all the navigation systems were performing well. After a few minutes I went to the FPL button, selected 7N8 and hit direct/enter/enter. Sally made a nice turn to the left and started heading towards home. I disengaged the NAV button and went to HDG mode, twisted the knob to the left and once again headed toward the power plant. Another push of the knob, selected 2500' and let Sally start the descent. The RPM crept up to 5400 and TAS read 123 kts. Nice.
I thanked Sally for her help and told her I would take it from here, so I pushed the red "Autopilot Disengage" button and swung back to the north. Runway 34 was directly in front of me at about 8 miles. I made my radio call planning a straight in. No one else was flying today so I continued as planned. Another call at 3 miles and I committed to the straight in approach. Without the standard checkpoints a straight in can be a bit challenging. Getting on speed, on glide path configured properly takes a good eye and a bit of planning. As it happens a nice breeze from the west gave me the opportunity to practice with a crosswind. What a sweet landing.
Back to the barn. Less than an hour, but it felt soooo good.