Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A nice August weekend

Well, yes, I do know that it's still May, but the thermometer doesn't! We had a string of hot, humid, hazy 90 degree days for the long Memorial Day weekend, and while the weather was adequate for flying, it wasn't exactly comfortable. Van's will sell you on the "RV Grin," but they don't mention its antonym: the RV Grimace. Fortunately, you'll get the RV Grin year-round, and the RV Grimace is reserved for those days when you return to a plane that has been parked in the baking (I guess broiling is more accurate) sun and jump in wearing shorts, forgetting that the seats are at roughly the temperature at which eggs cook and titanium melts.

Still, three days in a row flying is pretty darn nice. I started out pretty easy on Saturday with a quick hop to Urbana Grimes for breakfast. I was joined by an RV-9A builder, and over breakfast I think I managed to find a way to get more experience with actual building than could be offered by the A&P program. You see, there comes a time in the build process where two people are required. It's a matter of riveting parts that don't offer the opportunity for the guy riveting to also be the guy holding the bucking bar, and that's where this particular project is. I figure I'm already budgeted for a couple evenings a week since I've been doing that for school for the last six months, so I can re-purpose that time (until Fall, anyway) to helping out with the -9A.

Sunday I made one of my more routine trips to Darke Co./Versailles airport. This is a nice little airport, seldom used and therefore never crowded, but it does have one problem: I can't get a good landing there. Saturday was no different, except in the severity of my landing. As I remember it, I picked up a huge lift on very short final as I passed over a dark field that had already been heated by the sun. It was as if someone had pushed the Penthouse button in an express elevator - my nice established glide fell apart as I was thrown 50 ft. or so higher than I wanted to be. Of course, once past the dark field I picked up a nice sinkhole and ended up dropping back down to below where I wanted to be. Couple this with the perennial crosswind bubbling over a stand of trees off to the left of the runway, and you might be able to imagine the uncommanded rolls and pitch excursions I had to wrestle with. It all culminated in me floating along about 8 - 10 ft. above the runway, with a quick glance at the airspeed indicator showing that I was at the speed referred to as "fall like a brick speed." An RV does not have the overly robust landing gear that a family hauler, renter-friendly Cessna would have, so it is a very poor idea to just let it drop in from that height. A Cessna would absorb that kind of impact with nary a complaint, but an RV would be very likely to splay the gear out and slam the prop blades into the runway. A very expensive proposition indeed! The correct response in this situation is a quick blast of power sufficient to stretch the glide a wee bit and soften the arrival. Fortunately, there were no witnesses to this debacle. I wouldn't be nearly as lucky back at Bolton where I got another big balloon in the flare over the very hot runway and had the same inglorious result, fully in view of the critical observer in the control tower. But again, it was an enjoyable visit and the flying conditions only marginally affect the overall fun. That said, after rushing home in time to get my yard mowed, only to wreck my mower within the first 5 minutes of a two hour mow didn't really make my day. I'm sure I'm going to be even more upset when I find out how much an entirely new 48", 3 blade mower deck costs. Ugh.

Sunday I was flying up to Allen Co. to give a ride to the CFO of a guy that's considering buying an RV-6 or similar. Same muggy weather, so on the way out the door I decided to ignore the never-fly-without-a-camera rule, figuring that the haze would negate any viable photographic opportunities. Sigh. When will I learn? I landed at Allen Co (reasonably well, to my vast relief!) and taxied in to park right next to a Mig 17! Yes, a Russian fighter jet! Gee, why would I want a picture of that? Sigh, again. The ride went well with a very willing (and brave!) passenger, and culminated in a greasy of a landing. If you only have a specific allotment of really good landings in your life, it's nice to spend them when accompanied by a passenger. You even get to make comments like "Whoa, that one really sucked" if you want to really show off, which of course I did. The flight back to Bolton was ok, although still muggy. At least it was too early for the bumps to really develop, so even though I stayed down at 3500', low enough to smell the hog farms as you fly over, I didn't have to suffer like a piece of granite in a rock tumbler.

Back in the barn I cleaned off the thick film of bugs, grabbed a cold one out of the fridge, and headed home to enjoy the remainder of a nice August weekend, in May.

Well, there actually was a camera at Allen Co., but it wasn't mine, so there are actually pictures of me and the RV:

1 comment:

  1. Those pictures are amazing!! The photographer should be awarded and commended from the highest of high in all the lands.

    Mike your heart out. :^)