Monday, May 07, 2007

I was wrong, DDT is better

I thought that I should follow-up on the results of my recent insect control patrol with a reconnaissance of the local area tonight, and I'm afraid the results don't speak well for the efficacy of my application of the leading edge of a wing to the problem. Oh well, it was worth a try. And they clean off easily enough if you wipe them off after every flight. I don't like to wash the canopy that often though, me being in literal terror over the idea of introducing scratches to it's pristine finish, so I'll be looking past and through their little splattered remains for a few more flights.

This evening's recon flight had a secondary mission: refill the depleted fuel tanks over at MadCo. The winds were fairly calm, but tending to be from the East. That seemed a good opportunity to try my luck at one of my more nemesis-like runways. I've very rarely had a good landing on Runway 9 at MadCo, and I distinctly remember one of the worst being the landing on the way back from Oshkosh. My landings have been causing me a fair degree of angst lately, so I was anxious to get a little practice in while the prevailing weather conditions were so favorable.

The lighter winds would make me more comfortable with slowing the plane down enough on final to reduce the chance of a big bounce. When it's windy, or when I'm flying a heavy plane, I'm more reluctant to get the plane slowed down to below 70 mph. Having it down to 65 mph usually results in a better landing, but gusty weather or the increased stall speed resulting from a higher weight are important considerations as well, and the internal debate nearly always leads me to carry five or so extra miles per into the flare. The result is, of course, as predictable as a Disney horse race.

I'm also trying to address the issue of my premature or late flare (depending on the width of the runway) by looking further down the runway while in the flare. This reduces the optical effect that causes me to flare high on a wide runway and low (or not at all) on a narrow runway by lessening the influence of my peripheral vision. In other words, as you look further down the runway you gain more visual cues to determine your height over the ground. I'm not sure how I lapse into the habit of not focusing sufficiently far down the runway, but once I recognize that I have it's easy to fix. This is a long-winded way of saying that I went two for two on good landings at MadCo.

Back at Bolton the general consensus amongst the touch & go crowd was that runway 22 was best suited for the landing conditions, and being without a compelling argument to differ I slotted in (well, nearly overran) behind a 172 and in front of a Cherokee, while another 172 waited to depart, probably watching the Hobbs in annoyance as this late rush hour held him captive at the hold short line. I ended up extending my downwind to give room to the 172 in front of me, so I had a nice leisurely ride down final. The Cherokee wasn't particularly close so I was in no hurry, but rather than land on the numbers and taxi the remaining distance to the Alpha 3 turnoff, I opted to practice my precision landing skills a bit, what with island flying season hard upon us. It was a nice, smooth landing (but not a greaser) and I made the Alpha 3 turnoff perfectly.

A perfect evening, although I really wish I could remember to replenish my beer supply in the hangar fridge. A cold beer after flying really does lubricate the bug cleaner quite well.

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