Friday, May 18, 2018

N712MF 1.5 Short practice flight

I've been very busy with my work on http://airball.aero/ (including data gathering flights with other folks) so -- ironically -- I've been too deeply embedded in the flying world to fly solo. Well that needs fixing. I went out solo today to just get some practice.

It was eventful.

First was the springus problem. The Rotax has two springs that go from the carbs to the rubber doohickeys that attach the manifold pressure equalization tube to the intake manifolds. It's not clear why they are there. But one was loose. The mechanics came over, said yeah, we have no idea why this thing is here either, but if it's there it oughta be on properly, and tightened the thing.

Next came the taxi debacle. KRHV is being resurfaced, so it was all orange cones and weird taxi instructions. At some point I ended up "lost" and asked for progressive instructions and was making U-turns all around the ramp. They were patient.

After that was the carb heat mystery. I added carb heat on runup but nothing happened, and the knob seemed surprisingly smooth. I taxied back and popped the cowl and the little mechanical things were indeed mechanicking, and the mechanics told me that if that's going on, then it's working. So I guess I just had a very low carb heat RPM drop day.

Off I launched. It was blowing 13 knots down the runway, so not much crosswind but bumpy. I bumped off to E16 and tried a landing, which went okay but was scary due to the bumps. I tried another one and decided to say screw it and go around.

I then came back to KRHV and had an uneventful landing.

All in all, my feeling is that I have allowed myself to get a bit rusty and therefore need quite a bit more serious training to get comfortable again.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

N188EV 1.6 Chickening out with Aden

Our FBO recently updated their rental rules such that we can land at up to 3,000' density altitude without a mountain checkout. I have been always wanting to go to Columbia (O22), which is just over 2,000' MSL, and previously out of reach without the checkout. So I decided today was the day to try and go.

We took off uneventfully into pretty icky turbulence, bumpety bumping along through the mountain passes out to the Altamont Pass and towards Stockton. Even in the Central Valley, it was really bumpy. The ceiling was somewhere around 4,500 scattered to broken, with lots of flat-bottomed clouds and lots of bumps underneath them.

I decided to chicken out, and we turned back and bumped back to KRHV, where we bumped up and down through the pattern. I selected 15 degrees of flaps and kept my speed up through the approach, and ended up making a pretty soft landing.

Once on the ground, I chatted with the local CFIs and got some words of wisdom.

1. What I was experiencing was mountain waves, not thermals. The flat bottomed clouds were that way for the same reasons that they look that way when they are due to thermals.

2. Everybody else was getting beaten around today.

3. The bumps in the SportStar were certainly way more severe than I would have experienced were I in a C172 or similar.

4. That said, it was not an unsafe day to fly; I could probably have continued up to Columbia to take a peek from a safe distance, had I wanted to keep bumpety-bumping along.

5. That said, there's no way a landing at Columbia would have been advisable.

It's good that I got out there with the assumption that I was going to abort if stuff didn't feel right at any point. Also thanks to my pax Aden for being cool about it and not pressuring for mission completion!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

N915L 1.7 Jasper

I went up with an AeroDynamic CFI today for a jaunt in a C172 to see how things go since I'm thinking of getting my medical (it's a long and sordid story). It was fun and amazing how much more stable the C172 is compared to the SportStar! It was a beautiful day and we flew over Los Banos!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

N188EV 2.9 Meander to KHAF with Melissa

Sightseeing trip with Melissa. Flew KRHV KHAF and made a landing, had lunch, took off and did 2 practice landings, returned to KRHV and did one go-around and one landing. Total 4 landings.

Departed KRHV downwind, flew on the East side of Hwy 101 to about Gilroy, then cut over the Coyote Valley. Returned Northward towards Mount Umunhum, climbing as we went to maintain terrain separation and safe gliding distance to hospitable terrain. Orbited a little to sight-see over the mountain and the Almaden park where we often hike. Did a cruise descent in the direction of Bonny Doon Airport, and continued up the coast to KHAF. Entered right traffic Rwy 30 on the 45 and made an uneventful power-off 180 -- landed a little bit long but was a good soft full-stall landing.

We parked at KHAF and went for something to eat.

Returned to closed traffic and 2 landings. Both were attempts at power-off 180s. One was okay. The other was iffy because I added flaps at the last minute; this made me float; and I sort of gave up on steering the plane while it was skimming a foot or so off the ground; when it finally touched down, there was a little bit of side load. Then flew via the Crystal Springs reservoir and KSJC class C transition to KRHV. Attempted one power-off 180 but ended up being bounced around and decided to go around. The second landing was a standard powered approach and was uneventful.

There were a bunch of fun cumulus clouds and interesting bumpiness underneath, and of course lots of lovely scenery, especially when we were at 9,500' over Mount Umunhum and could see the entire Bay Area from the Southern-most tip of Monterey Bay all the way to San Francisco laid out underneath us!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

N712MF 2.2 Practice flight to E16

I haven't flown since early last December, so it was time for a tough shakedown to get back in the saddle, and today was the appointed day.

I took off from KRHV departing downwind, and did a lot of air work over the lakes (Anderson and Coyote Lakes) which included:
  • Steep turns -- all within PTS, some more impressive than others
  • No flaps power off stalls -- doing well
  • Full flaps power of stalls -- also doing well
  • Deeper stalls with a bit of "falling leaf" recovery -- did ok, remembered to use rudder not stick
I also did a couple of pretend engine-outs where I just set up a descent, noted altitudes, and then got out of there. (I am hesitant to do any truly ambitious power-off practice solo at this point.) In retrospect, I did not remember to follow my checklist, which is very important. Next time.

I did a 3 full-stop landings at E16, all short approaches. I went around once because I seemed to be low on energy and was at risk of landing on the blast pad before the threshold, so I started picking the first taxiway as my aiming point, and with timing my flare properly, I was able to nail my landing spot quite consistently. Wind was 310@9-ish on rwy 32, so no xwind to speak of and no gusts, but still. This is reasonable progress towards my goal of true power-off 180 performance in any wind conditions.

On the way back to KRHV, I called in at 3,000 feet over UTC, and was told to make straight in rwy 31 (Left or Right, I don't recall). Just after that, someone in a Cessna called over UTC, didn't give their altitude, and was *also* asked to make straight in rwy 31 something-or-the-other. Yikes. I suspected I was higher than them and feared pancaking on top of them on approach. So I called in and they asked us for our positions, and the Cessna reported me in sight. Whew! :)