Sunday, February 26, 2006

Expanding the envelope

Today's weather was everything I had hoped yesterdays would be. The same blue skies, the same, uh, invigorating temperatures, but only half the wind. Still, it was blowing pretty good: 14 knots out of the northwest. Again, a pretty direct crosswind, slightly favoring runway 4, which would put it on the more difficult left side of the plane on takeoff. Between the torque of the engine and the effect on the tail feathers of the swirling air coming from the propellor, which both impart a left-turning tendency on the plane, it already requires a healthy amount of right rudder on takeoff. A left crosswind tries to "weathervane" the plane to the left, so the combination of all three factors indicated that there would be quite a bit of right rudder needed to keep her headed straight down the runway. It wasn't too bad while the tail was still down, but the was a definite lurch as the tailwheel lifted off the runway and authority for yaw control was ceded to the rudder.

Crosswind takeoff practice complete, I headed southwest and climbed to 10,500". It was pretty bumpy until I climbed through 5,500", but from there up to cruising altitude was glass smooth. Why such a high cruising altitude? Well, my plan for the day was to fly over downtown Cincinnati and see what kind of pictures I could get. Cincinnati International is a busy airport, though, and as such is positioned under Class B airspace. That means I can't just wander in and stooge around. I have to be invited in by the controllers, and they're way to busy to want to vector around a tourist. The Class B over Cincy tops out at 10,000", so the nearest VFR altitude to that was 10,000". The climb took about 15 - 20 minutes since I wasn't in any particular hurry to get up there, but once I did it was worth the effort. Beautiful blue sky and smooth air - great place to visit, even if you can't live there.

I grabbed a shot of Co-pilot Egg's favorite summer destination: Paramount's Kings Island:

As I passed along the north side of downtown in a big, gentle turn back to Bolton, I grabbed a few pictures of downtown:

Interestingly, I heard myself called out as traffic to approaching airliners on two separate occasions. I had always assumed that the airliners would be below the 10,000" ceiling by the time they got to the Class B. In fact, I've always thought that was the sole reason for having Class B.

On the way back to Bolton, I was monitoring the tower and heard a student/renter in a Cessna 172 call in for landing from the south. He was a little tentative on the radio, so I tagged him as either student solo or recently graduated pilot based at a non-tower controlled airport. Some of those guys go years without flying into a towered airport because dealing with air traffic controllers makes them nervous. He reported in at the position the tower had requested, so he was doing pretty well. Once landed, he was directed to exit the runway at Alpha 3.

Cessna: "I was wanting to just depart again."

Tower: "Well you should have told be that before I cleared you to land. Go ahead, take off."

I can't help thinking that I just witnessed the birth of a pilot that will forever be afraid of flying into a towered airport, and it was completely unnecessary. The scolding from the tower was completely unwarranted. Yes, as a courtesy to the controller a pilot will usually state his intentions upon initial contact with the tower. I always tell them, "466 papa golf, over Lilly Chapel (or Boutn, or wherever), inbound full stop." That let's them know that I'll be slowing to make a turn off on a taxiway so they won't get someone too close behind me in the pattern, but in the case today I was so far behind the guy in the 172 that I was no factor. A gentle reminder would have been plenty, and even then wouldn't really have been appropriate.

My landing was with the same 14 knot crosswind I had enjoyed on takeoff. It went pretty well, but I think I'm going to keep 15 knots as my personal limit for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment