Saturday, March 23, 2013

Two Laps in the Pattern

It's not Spring yet. "Ohio prosecutor seeks death penalty for Punxsutawney Phil after bad forecast"
As I looked at the weather it showed cold blustery winds in the afternoon, barely above freezing. If I had any chance at all it would have to be in the morning. It would be a narrow window of opportunity sandwiched between too cold in the early morning and too windy by early afternoon. I got to the airport about 9:00 and sat in the warm car for a few minutes watching the windsock. Nearly a direct cross wind from left to right. The sock and the flags on the golf course were already fluttering.

I checked Foreflight weather on my phone. All local reporting points still showed gusts less than 18 knots, my personal limit. (Maximum take off limit is 12 knots of cross wind, 24 knots down the runway.) I went to the hangar to start my preflight. It was cold. Sally burped in just a few turns and the rest of the checks all were satisfactory. I pulled her out into the sunshine as soon as possible, got in and closed the canopy to be out of the wind. I sat for a moment, concerned about starting knowing that I had a low voltage battery.  The prop spun a few extra turns but caught and stabilized quickly. So far so good.

Two Laps in the Pattern
Ground checks and run up were all good. The amperage fluctuated from +9 to -6 and the voltage started at 11 but quickly started sinking lower by the time we took the runway. The windsock showed a left quartering headwind nearly fully extended, winds were picking up. With over 5000 RPM I released the breaks and was airborne well before the dip and the hill. I danced on the rudder peddles to keep us between the trees. She climbed quickly but I was too busy to check the VSI. It was bumpy.

The first pattern was a bit tight and I corrected it downwind before my reference point. Sally was really bouncing in the breeze. I looked out of the right side of the canopy to get myself lined up on final and held the crab just prior to landing. No squeak, but no float either.  We were on the center line just short of my intended landing point.

On final at Butter Valley
The next pattern was easier because I knew what corrections were needed. Downwind checks were good, but I noticed that voltage was at the bottom of the scale. Base and final were a roller coaster ride and even more left crab was needed to stay lined up. As we crossed the field prior to the threshold she started sinking quickly. A little power, a little more power, right rudder and ....smooth. All things considered, I was satisfied. Back to the barn.

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