Saturday, December 03, 2005

Breakfast Flight

The forecast for the weekend was for "good enough" early in the day, degrading to "oh crap, I don't even want to drive" throughout Saturday. I really wanted to get some flying in since it's been a few weeks, and that kind of lay-off isn't good for the plane or for the pilot. The forecast for degrading weather also triggered a promise to Co-pilot Egg that we'd go to the new Harry Potter movie on the next cruddy day, so an early morning breakfast mission to Urbana-Grimes seemed a great idea for getting some flying in early.

Co-pilot Egg was saddled with a ton of homework that she had to have done as a precondition to the HP movie, so I asked Rick if he'd like to ride along. Surprisingly he agreed, apparently thinking that by now my landings would have improved. That worked out well because this was my first chance to get into the air with my new camera and he surely wouldn't decline my request to drive the plane for awhile.

By the way, here's how the new cowl hinge pins look:

It really isn't as clean looking as it was, but getting rid of the dread I used to feel when I had to take the cowls off made it worth the price.

I plugged in the pre-heater last week when I saw we were going to get prolonged cold weather, so the engine cranked right up. It started on the first blade, which is actually half a rotation better than usual. Man, I LOVE a 200 hour engine! I also immediately noticed that I've gained another inch in height. I know that's hard to believe, but I was back to bumping my head on the canopy again. I was wearing a pretty bulky coat (it was only 24 deg. out, after all, and I didn't know how well the heat worked in the plane when it's that cold), so that may have been the reason, I suppose. Anyway, it reminded me that I really want to do something about the seat cushions. They're beautifully made, but they're just too darned over-stuffed for me. I don't want to spend $800 to have a set made, either. It seems to me that it would be pretty easy to cut out the foam pieces I need to make the seat, but I'd have zero idea as to how to make the fabric covering. I suppose I could just take the cushions to an upholstery shop for an estimate and see if it comes in below $800 or not.

Once we got to a decent altitude, I asked Rick to drive for awhile while I played with the new camera. A lot of my shots are one-handed hail mary's, so even though I could use both hands I left the camera in the full Auto mode and took a couple of quick shots out the window.

You can see from the lighting that the sun was rising behind us, and you can almost feel the bite of the cold air when you see the white frost tint on the fields. Also of note is the airspeed, which is indicating just shy of 150 mph, with the engine practically loafing at 2250 rpm:

Off to the south you can see the remnants of yesterday's bluer skies:

Now that I have 8 megapixels, I'd thought I'd see what I can get out of a really tight crop:

While eating breakfast, I decided to humor my fetish for pictures of my plane taken though interior windows:

I'm sure there's some deeply rooted psychological reason for why I'm intrigued by that particular framing, but I fear what else I would find if I were to start self-analysis. You never know what's down that slippery slope.

It's been a few weeks since I've flown, so a takeoff and landing quality report might be justified. The departure from Bolton was pretty good, but then again there was very little wind. The landing at Urbana also went well, with just a few of the baby bounces I get if I let it touch down at anything over 60mph. I considered it a good landing. You know, the kind I don't get when Rick has his video camera. The takeoff from Urbana was ok, but I think that's the one where I got a little of the tire chatter I get when there's a crosswind and the plane is trying to convince me that it's ready to fly before I'm convinced that I agree. I just take a quick look down at the airspeed (which used to really screw me up when I did it back in my transition training, but doesn't anymore) at if it's 60mph or more, I'll go ahead and let it fly up into the ground effect cushion. The ground effect is a region of air right over the runway where the air flowing across the bottom of the wing is close enough to runway to add a little more lift. The height of the ground effect is related to the wingspan of the plane. With the relatively stubby wings of the RV, that's a pretty short ground effect, so I have to keep it relatively low to the runway until I get up to at least 70mph. That only takes a couple of seconds, though, so the whole process is hardly noticable. I think I had a few bounces at Madison Co., where stopped to gas up. The takeoff from Madison was noteworthy in that it was a case where the right rudder needed to counteract the torque of the engine was completely negated by the left rudder that would have been needed to resist the right turning tendancy arising from the right crosswind. Purty cool. Landing back at Bolton was pretty bad - it was one of those where for some reason I don't get the throttle fully closed in the flare. Even 100 extra rpm makes a big difference with a light plane like the RV. It usually causes a big bounce, and it did again today.

At least that's the way I remember it. I'm usually concentrating so much during a landing that there's no extra brain capacity left for making notes.

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