Saturday, December 02, 2006

Two Months to the Day

Well, it's been a while since the IFR Pilot has updated this little on-line journal. Worse yet, it's been two months since the IFR Pilot has actually done any flying. (The sim session at the local American Flyers doesn't count.) With the exception of last year's flying interrupting on account of the whole bleeding ulcer, this has been the longest that the IFR Pilot has gone without flying since obtaining his private ticket.

So, after hounding MS for ages, the IFR Pilot talked him into riding along while the IFR Pilot climbed back into the saddle. As befits any mid-Saturday flying adventure, this one involved food.

We blasted off from the Home Base experimenting with a more aggressive short-field takeoff technique than we had been using in the past, this one more closely tracking what's in the POH. An aggressive tug back on the yoke got us off the ground right at 60 knots. Then an almost-equally aggressive push forward kept us in ground effect. Wheels up, and we had an aggressive climb out at 80 knots. What was particularly impressive about this was that we were (according to MS, who was the official observer) off the ground before the Yellow Line -- the runway midpoint marker at the Home Base. Usually, we are several hundred feet past the yellow line before we see 70 knots and rotate. So, this may be our new takeoff technique.

Turning southeast, we headed for New Philly, home of the Perfect Landing restaurant. The trip was a total non-event, other than the spirited debate we had about how we were going to enter the pattern for runway 14. MS argued for a left base entry, whereas the IFR Pilot advocated for a short right-base entry based on our projected arrival path. It grew so spirited that MS put on his ersatz CFI hat and drew a picture. (I'd reproduce it here, but it got lost on the trip home....)

Anyway, the debate turned out to be for naught because the prevailing winds were favoring runway 32, and so we simply joined the downwind. Note that this allowed us to avoid overflying the graveyard that's on short final to runway 14 at PHD, which is always rather ominous! Somewhat surprisingly, the IFR Pilot made a nice landing, including having the stall horn go off just before the mains touched down. MS's criticism was that the IFR Pilot was moving the yoke back and forth too much during the flare. His patented and colorful criticism: "No masturbating with the yoke!" As if...

Lunch was a tasty spinach and artichoke dip for the both of us, with the IFR Pilot following up with 10 BBQ chicken wings and MS opting for the more-healthy grilled chicken wrap (hold the tomatoes and cheese) and rice pilaf.

Afterwards, we tried to locate Ben, the avionics guy at ProAv Aircraft, to pick his brain about why the brightness on the MS-20 was so-not-very-bright. He was up flying, so we had to settle for checking out a brand new Super King Air 200 that arrived while we were wandering around (N95LM). The airworthiness certificate was issued in late September, the leather still had that new million-dollar plane smell to it, and the aisle carpet still had its protective plastic in place. Oh, how the better half live. Despite our best pleas, we couldn't persuade the pilot to "take us around the patch just once."

Our departure from PHD had some excitement. The new short-field technique worked like a charm, but we both heard some what sounded like some strange surging from engine. The gauges seemed rock solid, so we simply climbed over the top of the airport while we troubleshot. Everything appeared normal, even after we reduced power, so we headed toward home.

We sidestepped to BJJ, which has a longer runway to do some further tests. We did a series of fast taxis, and came to two conclusions. First, the manifold pressure seemed somewhat higher than either of us could recall it being, around 28". Not sure if that assessment is accurate, and still need to do some research. Second, the surging appeared to dissipate if the throttle was very gradually increased to maximum, as opposed to a smooth, yet single step, movement to maximum. Not sure what this means, so we will continue to monitor.

MS flew us home, and made a nice landing in a fairly breezy crosswind.

Thursday, it's time for Boys Weekend, Part Deux: The Boys Hit New Orleans. We were there about six months before Katrina, so we figured it was a good place to go visit again. Hopefully, the local weather patterns will cooperate.

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