Thursday, August 25, 2005

Put-in-Bay, the long way around

The weather was forecast to be pretty nice today, so I decided to burn one of the vacation days I would have spent flying the Tampico to California and fly somewhere with my dad. He'd expressed an interest in going to a waterfront restaurant to have seafood, and I couldn't think of an easier way of satisfying that than a trip back to Put-in-Bay, my third this year.

The morning weather was clear skies and 100 miles visibility, and the forecast for the rest of the day was the same. No significant winds were forecast either, so it looked like the perfect day. The first leg was to MadCo for gas. I had a nice landing there, a chat with the gas guy about RVs, and took off. Another 20 minutes or so of flying got me to Versailles/Darke Co. airport where I had arranged to pick him up. Another good landing there, a few minutes of familiarizing him with how to get in and buckle up, and off we went. It's actually easier to get into the RV-6 than it was the Tampico because the back of the wing sits so low. There's no step to climb up - you can just step onto the back of the wing. The seatbelts are a bit more effort, though, since it's a four belt system, as opposed to the car-like system in the Tampico.

En route to Put-in-Bay, we climbed to 5,500' and found it to be smooth sailing. Visibility was about what you'd expect in August: hazy. It took about 50 minutes to get up there with a cruise speed in the 150s. The airport people reported winds calm and runway 21 preferred, so we descended from cruise directly into a left downwind for 21. I've never landed on 21, and it turns out that I didn't like it. It has a displaced threshold (an area of runway you can use for takeoff, but cannot land on) for the first quarter of the length of an already short-ish runway, with a stand of trees at the end. The landing was very good, considering.

We spent a few hours walking around the island, and went back to the Boardwalk for more of their awesome lobster bisque. This time I went for the large size in the sourdough bread bowl. Yuummmm!

You gonna eat all that bisque?

While walking back to the airport, I noticed a plane sitting on the end of the runway. He just sat there and sat there, and didn't seem to be in any hurry to takeoff. Then I noticed the huge yellow X on the end of the runway. Click! The lightbulb went on over my head and I realized that the runway was closed because the plane sitting on it was skewed off to the side and had pieces laying around it. Sure enough, when we got to the terminal we were told that the runway was closed while the local police, the highway patrol, and who knows who else took statements from the pilot and his passenger. We were also told that the FAA was on the way from Cleveland, but that it would be awhile.

Runway Closed

A couple of other pilots sitting there waiting to leave told us that the plane had taken off, climbed to 100', had some kind of problem and was forced to land. No one was hurt, but the plane had a collapsed landing gear leg. They eventually gave up on the FAA guy showing up anytime soon and took a golf cart out to the stranded plane and dragged it off of the runway so we could leave.

The flight home was a little bumpier than it had been in the morning, but climbing to 6,500' got us out of the bumpy stuff. I had another nice landing back at Darke Co., bought some gas, and headed home. As I entered the pattern back at Bolton, I was cleared to land number two behind a student on a solo flight. I had trouble getting a visual on him, so I kept the plane at pattern altitude longer than I usually do. This left me way high on final, so I came down in a pretty steep descent. This is something the RV is particularly good at, but it seems to always screw up my landing. You guessed it: huge bounce. Just when I thought I had the bouncing problem beat, too. I think when I put my name on the side of the plane, I'm going to go with Pilot: Dave "Tigger" Gamble. Why? Well, because bouncing is what Tiggers do best!

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