Sunday, November 5, 2017

N712MF 2.0 Flight to Byron with Caryn

I took my friend Caryn on a flight today.

I was watching the Wx all week and there was a cold front that predictably passed over us leaving some high clouds by last night. This morning they were gone, but in their place a surprising amount of cumulus clouds, as much as a broken ceiling in some places, around 4,000' MSL. It seemed like a bad day to try to go to the coast, so I planned a trip to Byron instead.

We took off and snuck under the clouds, remaining well clear, up to and through the Altamont Pass. The day was bumpy, but Caryn was a good sport. Then I curved over to make my landing at Byron.

That's where I realized that I'm way out of practice in xwind operations, because there is hardly ever an xwind at KRHV!

My first landing was an attempt at a power-off 180. I was flying a right pattern with a 9-ish knot left crosswind, so I ended up misjudging and having way less energy at the end than I expected. I ended up adding power towards the end. But meanwhile I'd forgotten my xwind landing technique and ended up being blown aside and landing with a bump. I should really have gone around. Lesson 1: Learn to go around more often when things are iffy.

We stopped and used the bathroom, then took off again. My takeoff was really weird because, again, I had apparently forgotten what I knew as a 30 hour pre-solo student. :) My landing was a bit better, but still rather shuddery.

Finally, I took off again with real crosswind technique, and came around and did one more landing which was a bit of a bump-down but I did land in proper configuration, putting down one wheel before the other. It was not beautiful, but it was workmanlike. That said, I almost ran out of right rudder -- I've been told about that regarding the SportStar, but never experienced it till today!

While in the pattern there were two interesting things.

First there was someone on final, looking like they were quite a ways away. I took the active to take off, and he was like, "Blue and white SportStar, I'm on final!" I had already taken the active so decided I should just take off and get out of his way, and I apologized to him over the radio. He didn't answer, and I felt a bit bad about tht. But really I don't know that I was that close. It's a judgement thing I guess. He had just turned final seemingly quite some distance away. But I certainly don't want any other pilots to feel like I'm cutting them off, and would happily have waited had I known he'd want me to.

Second, there was a jump plane, "Elevator One", that called in with a "high downwind" and"high base". He was way above pattern altitude and I honestly had no idea where he was. I turned final but it turns out I turned inside him and he called me on that. I was like, wait are you the Cessna? (I expected a twin.) He was like yeah. So I asked if he'd be willing to make a 360 for me, and he was, and later I thanked him and he said "You're welcome", so no hard feelings. I wonder how I could have dealt with that better. With all the workload of trying to land and making sure not to crash into anything, someone flying a "high" pattern was a bit hard. On the other hand, these folks are finding ways to make GA pay, so I have no problem getting out of their way ... if I see them.

We came back the same way we went, and this time I opted to call into Norcal and get flight following starting from Altamont. They did warn me about this Bonanza that was coming straight at me about 500 feet above me, so I guess that was a good thing.

My landing at KRHV was a total greaser. I slid onto the runway and had the nosewheel off the pavement until the last possible moment, when it plopped down ever so gently. No crosswind, good landings.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

N188EV 2.4 Flight to Byron with Aden

Quick flight to Byron and back with Aden.

I got VFR flight following there and back all the way to the Altamont Pass.

I did a total of 2 landings -- a short approach full stop and shutdown to use the bathroom, then another long downwind for traffic.

My landing at KRHV was another short approach, which went well except that I flared too early (too twitchy on the stick), bumped a bit, and bounced.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

N188EV 1.7 Flight to KLVK with Torsten

Flew from KRHV to KLVK and back with my friend Torsten. At KLVK I did 2 or 3 landings.

One lowlight ;) -- I overflew the Del Valle dam and called into KLVK. All good so far. They gave me left traffic runway 25 left. I for some reason got confused about which direction 250 magnetic was, and instead started making this really weird maneuver to get into position for what would have been left traffic runway 7 left. Torsten was like, what are you doing? :) This sort of rattled me and my landings were far from perfect (but completely safe).

Sunday, July 23, 2017

N188EV 1.8 Sightseeing flight with Aden

After working really hard on Airball for the past few weeks it was time to have some fun. I went out with Aden for a flight to sightsee over the hills South of San Jose, and do a few landings at E16.

We took off uneventfully and flew over Anderson Lake and Coyote Lake. I did some steeply banked turns with the excuse of having Aden check out some of the scenery below; little did he know that I was actually practicing my 45-degree steep turns! :)

We then turned towards E16. The AWOS was not working so I waited while another pilot flew in tentatively to check what direction the pattern was. It ended up being Rwy 14, so from 3500' over the Southern tip of Coyote Lake, I barreled down in a slip and ended up at pattern altitude in plenty of time to come in on the 45.

I did one landing which my compatriot called "smooth". It was a power-off 180.

I then did two low passes, to get the feel of moving around the runway. On my first pass I was a bit wobbly because I was trying to practice sliding left and right over the runway while keeping the nose pointed forward, and I slid a little too much to the left. On my next pass I just concentrated on staying straight and centered and it went fine.

I then did one more landing, also a power-off 180, and there I landed a little flat but it was ok.

We took off again and headed for the hills once more, then from there back to KRHV.

I was given straight in Rwy 31R while a Cessna was given a parallel straight in on Rwy 31L, and ADS-B showed them to be a few hundred feet lower than me! I had visions in my mind of my low wing airplane settling on top of their high wing one, so I offset waaaay out till I could see them, and then kept them in my sight. All went well.

For my landing, I again judged when to start my approach, then cut my engine and did the rest of it power off. It went well but again my landing was a bit too flat with a bit too much energy. Better than too little energy, I guess, but still. I would like to acquire the skill of better judgement.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

N188EV 2.0 50th birthday flight to coast with Melissa

It's my 50th birthday today! :) I decided to go for a flight with my lovely wife Melissa. We were a little bit squished for time because our son Aden was in camp and we had to drop him off and pick him up, so we opted for a short flight from KRHV to the coast.

During climbout, I wanted to look at the map and asked Melissa where the iPad was. Neither of us could find it. Then all of a sudden I was like, wait. Here it is on the left wing walk, where I had forgotten it. It was sitting there on top of the wing, plastered down by the airflow, just fine and dandy.

So this was a practice "emergency" drill. What to do?

I grabbed my Android phone, which has a freeware EFB app that I use as my backup to iPad Foreflight. We figured out the frequencies for E16 and planned a landing there. It was very turbulent, and on my first try, I did a go-around. The second time around, I ballooned back up a bit during my flare and the result was a gentle bump down and, I'm sure, an unworkmanlike appearance. I'll chalk that up to the really challenging gusts, but I would like to do better next time.

We brought the iPad in and took off again.

We flew basically to the Elkhorn Slough, then up the coast as far as the Southern-most reaches of Santa Cruz, then retraced our route back to KRHV. There was of course lots of pretty scenery. And we identified the Monterey Bay Academy airport and Frasier Lake Airpark, two fun dirt/grass fields where unfortunately, due to FBO's rules, I can't land the plane.

Our return was uneventful. I got a straight in landing on 31L. I flew to a point where I believed I was within glide range, then cut the engine and glided down all the way, adding flaps as necessary. I ended up under-estimating my energy so I had to slip quite a bit on short final (Melissa said the nose-down angle was scary and she closed her eyes! I did not mean to scare her!). But the landing was soft.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

N188EV 2.0 Flight with Bill

Took my friend Bill for a flight. Flew over KSJC, and tried to go towards the coast through OSI, but found it too cloudy. Came back and flew into E16, did a couple takeoffs and landings, and came home to KRHV.