Thursday, April 28, 2016

N188EV 1.4 Frank

My family and I bought a house in San Jose, so I joined AeroDynamic Aviation at KRHV.

I also had a rather weird experience with colon cancer, for which I had surgery and am now getting chemo, so I didn't fly for quite a while. I'm considered treated -- no evidence of disease (NED) post surgery -- so I'm doing quite well.

While I do the chemo, which started about 3 weeks ago and lasts for 6 months, I may or may not be able to maintain what I consider adequate currency, so my time may be solely dual. But it's still nice to get in the air.

In any case, I needed dual to check out on a new plane, an Evektor SportStar. With that in mind, I scheduled a lesson with one of the CFIs at AeroDynamic.

The preflight was interesting primarily because of the differences of the Rotax from what I'm used to. Of course this was also interesting because I'm a big fan of experimental aircraft and hope to put a Rotax into something I build some day!

Per the instructions, since this was the first flight of the day, we undid a bunch of 1/4-turn fasteners and took off the top cowl, to check the coolant level and the general health of things. I've been reading the maintenance manuals for the Rotax 912, so I was happy to see all the little parts I'd been reading about. Nifty!

We took off towards E16, did a few takeoffs and landings, did some air work, then returned to KRHV.

I was definitely out of practice -- especially with the radio, where I felt like a 10-hour student again, having trouble keeping up the pace. I got better as the flight progressed.

Taxiing was way easier than the Flycatcher on account of the directly steered nosewheel and the lack of huge springs on the rudder pedals (!).

Takeoff was uneventful. During the trip to E16, Frank pointed out the local landmarks and their relation to the boundaries of the KSJC Class C. He also suggested I get myself Foreflight and an iPad! The SportStar does not have the fancy Garmin glass that the Flycatcher did; it has a tiny handheld GPS in a dock, but that's all but invisible in the sunlight.

I quickly learned that I had failed to fully brief my approach into E16 -- another thing that I would not have overlooked when I was more current. Fortunately Frank knew the frequencies and runways and talked me through it.

At E16, where I had to call out all my maneuvers, my radio green-ness was again very evident, with me confusing crosswind for base at some point, and sounding slow and unsure. Frank was not too worried though.

I had one drop-in landing; the others were fairly good. I got used to the huge drag that the SportStar's split flaps create!

On the way back, I did steep turns which Frank called "perfect". We also did slow flight with and without flaps, and stalls. All seemed fairly standard. I tried holding the plane in a stall with a "falling leaf" maneuver, but that just resulted in more and more pronounced rolls, which Frank said just get worse and worse. Otherwise, the plane really didn't have a stall "break" and was pretty docile. The stall horn -- bless its heart -- apparently goes on at some ridiculously high IAS, so it's basically useless and kept switched off.

On my landing back at KRHV, I was slipping against a very light crosswind, but as the wind changed when I was close to the ground, for some reason I got into a little yaw PIO and fishtailed across the runway in a most ungainly way. I will chalk that up to my rudder legs being a bit too violent, from all these hours of working against the springs in the Flycatcher -- but that's a habit I need to lose.

Overall, Frank said he liked that I did "attitude flying," asked me who my instructor was (that would be Bob), and said the instructor did a good job! :)

I did not consider today a completed type "checkout". Frank was ready to call it a checkout if I had filled out the form, but after the fishy landing, he seemed more skeptical. Good choice, I am too. I would like at least one more lesson of intense takeoffs and landings before being happy to solo in the thing.