Rich's Quest For Flight

My father was a pilot. He died doing what he loved to do. It has been a goal of my life to become a pilot. Now I have chance to do so. Follow me as I pursue my dream.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Long Time Between

KRYV 241335Z AUTO 09007KT 10SM CLR 13/08 A3024 RMK AO2

Today I made re-acquaintance with an old friend.

Since my checkride in January of last year, I had been flying only the Cessna 152 planes of the fleet at the FBO. My budget for flight training was used up, and flying the smaller 152s was considerably cheaper. And since I can't seem to attract passengers, there was no sense flying a 4 seat plane with 3 empty seats.

But today was the beginning of the execution of what I hope is a wisely devised plan. On November 8, Penn State plays a road football game at Iowa. Depending on what time it starts, it would be a perfect reason to fly a medium length cross country just to see the game. I would love to take the wife with me, but she's still pretty skittish about flying in a small plane. And after taking her up last year in a C152, there's no way she's going up in anything smaller than a C172. Now I know it's not smart to just wait until November and expect she's going to make it 90 minutes each way. So we need to work up to it. So the objective today was to do some airwork with N9002E and shake off the rust. Next month, I'm going to take her to a pancake breakfast 50 nm from here. One longer cross country later on, and she'll know for sure if she can make the game in November. So that's the plan.

The weather is absolutely brilliant today. Opening the door to 02E quickly reminded me just how different the 172 is to the 152. The taller seats, higher step up, larger instrument panel, and of course the back seat. I finished up the preflight, took another long look at the procedures checklists, and started up the plane. As I started my takeoff roll, it took just a moment to recall that this plane was all about rudder, rudder, rudder. Where in the 152 you could forget to use rudder and still have minimal slip, the 172 is not so forgiving.

I climbed up to 3500' and performed my clearing turns in the maneuver area, and I did a set of steeps turns, some flow flight clean and slow flight dirty. I even felt bold enough to stall and, where the 152 barely breaks, the 172 takes your over the top like a roller coaster. I was nearing the end of my allotted time, so I headed back to the airport. Things got a bit interesting as I turned final for Runway 11. Since that was the short runway at the field, I decided in advance that I would make the first landing a full stop with a taxi back for another takeoff. But as I descended during downwind, base, and final, nothing felt right. I was still too high and too fast 200 yards from the threshold, so I aborted the approach and called a go around. Maybe it was a flashback from the checkride, when I damn near crashed the thing making a bad approach to 11. So it was another time around, with much better results. I still did a full stop, and with the taxi back and the go around eating up time, I needed to park it for the next guy. But it was a fun flight, a much richer experience than flying the 152.

I promise I won't wait 16 months before the next time.


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