July 4, 2005

Scenic Sturgeon Bay Flight

shipwreck_200.jpgHappy Fourth of July! I spent my Fourth of July weekend in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. This was my second weekend in a row up north. During my last visit, I took a check ride with Orion Flight Service in order to be able to rent planes from them over the summer.

On Saturday, I rented one of their two Cessna 172s. This was my first time flying without an instructor in over four flights, since I have been flying so many check rides. I was lucky to be joined by my wife on this adventure. I was excited for this flight as we would get to explore the northern part of the Door Peninsula that I missed on my previous flight and it would be my wife's first flight in the four place Cessna 172, having only joined me on flights in the Cessna 152 previously.

We had a great flight that started with a beautiful view of the Sturgeon Bay Coast Guard Station and lighthouse (see photos). From there, we flew up the shore of Lake Michigan where we looked down upon the "City of Glasgow" shipwreck. That delivered us at the northern tip of the Door Peninsula where we looked down on islands that included: Rock Island, Washington Island and Horseshoe Island. Off in the distance we could also see the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. During our return to Sturgeon Bay we flew along the bay side of the peninsula and even spotted a corn maze. This was the second time I have flown over a corn maze, which I recommend to all pilots as it is fun to see from above.

Besides the wonderful view I was encouraged to see how much my wife enjoyed the flight. In the past she had been a little uneasy flying in the cramped and at times bouncy Cessna 152. The Cessna 172 is much more stable in flight and made her feel much more comfortable. I think her days of flying in the cramped two seater are over.

Flights like these remind me that being a pilot has many benefits but none as special as being able to explore new places and to see old places from a new perspective.

Posted at 9:50 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

June 27, 2005

Cherryland Airport Checkride

DoorCounty.jpgI just returned from a three day weekend in Door County, Wisconsin. One of the highlights of the weekend was taking a flight out of Cherryland Airport (KSUE) in Sturgeon Bay, WI. Since I had never flown from there before I had to be checked out by the fixed based operator that rents planes from that airport, Orion Flight Services.

They had me take a brief written exam prior to the check out flight. The written exam consisted of questions that would prove I knew how to fly safely - questions about icing, weights and balances and emergency procedures. After passing that I went flying with Jason, a flight instructor with Orion. We did a basic checkride spending time covering the basic manuevers: 45° turns, stalls, simulated engine outage and some landings. I passed the checkride and am cleared to fly with Orion.

Sturgeon Bay is a beautiful place to fly as it is situated on the Door peninsula just north of Green Bay. The peninsula is a narrow swatch of land between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. It makes for a scenic flight. The folks at Orion pointed out some great places to fly next time I am up that included flying over a shipwreck that is visible from the sky, historic lighthouses and several islands.

I would also like to fly to the Ephraim airport in the northern part of Door County. Ephraim was featured in a 2004 issue of Pilot Getaways Magazine.

Posted at 6:49 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

June 10, 2005

Flying in the Comfort Zone

Over the past few months as I prepared for the move to Chicago and during the move I had to cut back my flight time. As a result when I would get out once every month and it would take me a while to feel perfectly comfortable in the plane again. It is not to say I ever felt unsafe because that is not the case but instead I felt like I needed to concentrate twice as hard and rely on checklists much more that when I was flying more regularly.

Today I had my first flight where I felt as comfortable again as I did when I was in the height of my training. It was one of those days where I really felt at one with the plane. I flew northwest to Lake in the Hills Airport. This is a nice little uncontrolled airport. I wonder if it was flying in an uncontrolled environment like I did for so much of my training that helped me feel so at home today. Lake in the Hills is a typical small field with a 50 foot wide runway and about 3000 feet in length. I loved it!

After completing three nice full stop landings I flew north to Campbell Airport in Gray Lake, IL. At Grays Lake I made a nice smooth landing only to have it be bounced around once on the ground by a runway that is in need of being flattened and resurfaced.

At that point it was time to return back to Palwaukee airport. As I prepared to turn my base leg for runway 34 I had a great view of O'Hare International Airport which was quite a site.

As usual it was wonderful spending a little over an hour in the air tonight and I look forward to my next flight.

Posted at 12:24 AM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

September 22, 2004

Ready for Passengers in the Cessna 172

For the past few days the weather has been absolutely beautiful. I was just hoping the weather would stay nice for my flight time tonight. When I left work I knew I was in for a great flight. The winds were light and variable and the skies were clear.

When I arrived at the airport, I noticed the Cessna 152 I had scheduled was booked after my flight so I would be limited to a short flight. So I instead decided to take the Cessna 172 which was free for the remainder of the night and would give me valuable practice time in this aircraft I was not 100% comfortable landing yet.

The airport was hopping, it seemed the nice weather had a tractor beam effect that pulled the pilots away from their other passions to the airport. I decided my time in the 172 would be best spent working on my landings and with Blue Ash being so busy I departed to the north to Lebanon-Warren Country Airport.

As I approached Lebanon-Warren County I noticed a hot air balloon off in the distance. I remembered from my studies that the balloon had right of way over my more maneuverable plane so I steered clear. I lined up my first landing approach and made the best landing I have ever made in the Cessna 172. I followed it up with two more great landings. I believe my previous landing problems in the 172 were caused by having too much speed during final approach. Using a slightly reduced speed I can now touch down softly and smoothly.

I next returned to Blue Ash where the traffic was starting to wind down as it was just me and two other planes. I made a landing there and decided I was having to much fun to call it quits for the night and flew the pattern again. I was sad to make the final landing of the night but was excited to have had such a successful flight.

I think I am finally comfortable with my abilities with the 172 and now feel comfortable bringing passengers along in this plane. Anyone ready, Bueller, Bueller...

Posted at 9:09 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Flight Time | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

September 11, 2004

Learning to Land the Cessna 172

Thanks to those who wrote and CAPblog for posting some suggestions for transitioning from the Cessna 152 to the Cessna 172. I went back out today to fly the Cessna 172 solo for the first time.

Today I was flying N162HB which is not the 172 I flew in my two previous flights. So, I took a few minutes to familiarize myself with the subtle difference between this 172 and N193JS. After getting comfortable in the cockpit and pre-flighting the airplane, I departed. My goal today was to stay in the pattern and continue to practice my landings.

The other day I was finding the plane to be heavy on landing and requiring more back pressure on the yoke during the flare than I was used to. Today, I felt like the plane wanted to float a bit. My first few landings were not up to my standards. I did a complete stop landing and taxied around. I then took a deep breath and thought about how I could improve my next and final landing for the day. I decided I had been flying the pattern too fast in my first few landings. So, I went back up and flew my best pattern of the day. When I turned final, I was on a perfect glide slope. I slowed the airplane down a bit and came in and made my best landing of the day.

I realize I still need more practice in the 172 but I am starting to feel much more confident in the plane. I spoke with one of the instructors after the flight and mentioned that the two 172s actually have different landing characteristics and that HB tends to want to float during landings while JS tends to want to land. I was glad to hear that the reason I had noticed such difference was not because I was flying inconsistently. I will now know in the future how to handle each of these planes and look forward to flying them again.

Posted at 3:52 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

September 9, 2004

Signed Off in the Cessna 172

My trip to Alaska kept me from flying for about two weeks. I returned to the air this evening. I scheduled a flight with my instructor knowing that I would be rusty, and also so I could finally get signed off in the Cessna 172.

I did all of my training for my license in the Cessna 152 and had flown the 172 just once prior to tonight's flight. Some people say there is little difference, I disagree. The 172 has much more power and feels much heavier than the smaller 152. My problem last flight and for the first part of tonight's flight was making good landings. I figured out midway through the lesson that I was flaring to early and the heavy plane was dropping a few feet for a rougher than preferable landing. By the end of the flight, I was making better landings but they still need practice.

Either way my instructor felt I was flying safely and has signed me off in the 172. So I now have two planes I am cleared to fly at Co-Op Aviation. I look forward to getting in some practice time in the 172 soon.

Posted at 10:01 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Flight Lesson | Save & Share This Story

August 9, 2004

Upgrading to the Cessna 172

Tonight I took my first flight in the Cessna 172. The 172 is a four passenger plane compared to the two person Cessna 152 that I trained in. An additional bonus to the 172 is the increased power, providing for better climb and cruise speeds.

Although I knew all that before the flight, I had no idea how obvious the extra power would be. I expected the extra power would evenly counter the extra weight of the plane and that it would perform somewhat similarly to the 152. I was wrong. The plane powered down the runway and into the air. I was at traffic pattern altitude much quicker than I expected. We immediatly left the pattern to go out to the practice area so I could get comfortable with the plane. We did some stalls and tight turns and after a few minutes I began to feel a little more in touch with the plane. But I was still having troubles keeping it in steady flight as it wanted to climb. I guess that is not all bad.

After flying for about a half hour, we returned to the field to practice landings. Here I noticed the biggest difference. The Cessna has three flap settings of 10°, 20° and 30°. The 172 has variable flaps that can be set at any degree between 0° and 40° and the gauge is not very accurate so you have to watch as the flaps retract and guesstimate when they are in the right location. That took some getting used too. The 172 handles at about 5 knots faster in the pattern than the 152 and the difference in speed was difficult to get used to. The other difference was this plane is much heavier during the flare to land. As I reduced power prior to touching down, I needed to apply a lot of back pressure on the yoke and even then came down in a less than soft manner.

My instructor and I plan on taking one more flight in the 172 before I will plan on renting it on my own. I think I will feel more confident in it with a few more landings under my belt. Although challenging, the 172 was a joy to fly.

Posted at 10:02 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Flight Lesson | Save & Share This Story