Saturday, November 21, 2015

N162HG 2.3 Flight over the coast with Alex

I have promised a flight to our son's outdoor ed instructor Alex since before I got my license. Now she's leaving to travel to South America, so we figured we'd better do it soon.

We started at 9am today at the flying club with an extensive "how airplanes fly" briefing. We talked about lift, parasite and induced drag, the power curve, balance, and stability -- the basic longitudinal dynamics of the aircraft. Starting from a set of pre-made foam model airplane wings and a cheesy arrow made out of some square dowel, cardstock fins and a weight taped to the front, we demonstrated their stability characteristics individually, then rubber banded them together to make an glider we could fly around the ramp.

I took Alex along on the pre-flight walk-around, then we buttoned in, got a pax briefing, and we were off.

We departed Left Dumbarton towards San Gregorio, then flew down and up the coast. We overflew KHAF (but did not land, due to a 10kt direct crosswind I didn't want to mess with). Instead, we flew over the Crystal Springs reservoir, down over Highway 280 almost to the Hwy 17 intersection, then back up. I called into KPAO from the intersection of Hwy 280 and Hwy 85, got a straight in, and did a normal landing. I then did one more lap around the pattern to show Alex a short field takeoff and landing, then we parked and were off.

During the flight, we did a lot of sight-seeing around the coast and the landmarks of Santa Cruz, and I performed some maneuvers to demonstrate to Alex the things we had learned about earlier. I had never done these "experiments" in such a controlled fashion before, and I developed a new-found respect for the Flycatcher. Trimmed for level flight at 95 kias, cutting power resulted in the least unsurprising thing possible -- a descent at 95 kias. Firewalling the throttle resulted in a gentle climb at -- guess what? -- 95 kias. Effing textbook! Pulling back the stick -- which as I noted was the "fast/slow" control not the "up/down" control -- slowed us down to 70 kias, and just as the power curve predicted, we climbed faster! Getting this performance of course requires that Cessna carefully design all the various and sundry second- and third-order effects to cancel out, but the result is very easily "explainable" via the first-order theory.

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