Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Oh Dark Thirty

Well, it was really 6:30 am, which is my normal work day time to be out and about anyway, but it felt like oh-dark-thirty when I arrived at the hangar. The plan was for a quick flight to Urbana for an early breakfast (going in early, under the radar, to avoid running into the waitress I forgot to tip last time there) and straight back to Bolton in order to be home before the family got out of bed. The skies were clear, the winds were out of the north-ish at 5 to 7 knots, but it was chilly. I plugged in the pre-heater last night in preparation for the early morning temperature, so at least the plane wasn't feeling the effects of the low temperature.

It didn't take long for it to get light enough to take off, and the trip to Urbana was smooth and fast. I was a bit surprised to see 175 knots groundspeed on the GPS given how little wind I felt on takeoff.

The heat from the engine felt good after the chill of preflight, so I left it at nearly full throttle all the way there. I carried 150 knots into an nearly empty pattern (the only other plane in the pattern, an Archer, was really keeping the knots up too! I thought it was a Lear jet after watching it use the entire length of the runway to land) and had it bled off nicely by the time I was ready for the turn to left base. Flaps down, nice wheel landing, but I didn't make the first turnoff. There was a 4 knot quartering tailwind (probably more like 10 at pattern altitude) so I was carried down the runway just far enough that I would have needed aggressive braking to make my normal turnoff. That wouldn't have been worth the wear & tear on the airplane, nor would it have been worth the less likely but still extant risk of dropping her on her nose. Note that none of this was a surprise; I had heard reaports of up to 4 knot winds from the north on the automated weather system during my initial preparations for landing. With such a light wind, I figured it would be good practice for me to go ahead and land downwind since quartering tailwinds had always been a bugger for me in the Tampico. No problems at all in the 6. Go figure.

Coming back later in the morning provided an opportunity to try out the new lipstick camera. It's velcroed to my headset until I can build up a mount for it so the aim was off a bit, but some of the clips are good enough to get an idea for what it will do. I still don't have sound, though.

The landing back at Bolton was another race to the pattern with a 172 headed back down south from Hilliard, but he was no match for my easily managed 150 knots. Landing on runway 4 means a mile long taxi back to the hangar so I generally land long in order to catch the mid-runway taxiway. That lets me carry 80 mph well into the distance that I would have to taxi (or in the case of runway 4, roll out on the runway with a guy behind me wanting to land) if I landed on the numbers.

This is the perfect argument for having finally learned to perform good wheel landings since they don't seem as critical about airspeed as the 3-point landings I had been doing. I rolled this one on at 70 mph with no problems. Carrying 70 mph into the flare for a 3-point landing would have resulted in a tremendous bounce if I let it drop in too quickly, and the extra pitch authority would have caused me to over control in the flare. At least that's what my past experiences indicate.

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