Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Date: Wednesday May 13
Dual: 1.1
Landings: 3

After not flying since January, on Tuesday I had enough of the absence. Time to get back at it.

So I phoned one of the local flying schools and booked a flight. I chose Ottawa Aviation Services, primarily because they fly the Katana, and I am so close to PPL that I did not want a drastic change of aircraft from the Eclipse. One of my instructors went to OAS, and others have had good words to say. I'll get my Cessna type-certification later.

This was a flight with several firsts:
  • First time flying an aircraft other than an Eclipse,
  • First time flying in a control zone (CZ),
  • First time flying to/from CYOW,
  • First time flying without a GPS,
  • First time flying with OSA,
  • First time flying with a carburetor instead of fuel injection,
  • First time flying an aircraft with a constant-speed propeller,
  • First time flying in 4 months.

Original plan for the flight was to depart Ottawa, fly to the practice area, do some upper air work, return. Along the way we decided to divert to CYRP to do some T&G, as I was still thinking about whether I want to fly this aircraft.

Flying went fine. W&B was done (we were at the max weight). Pre-flight was straight-forward. Checking the oil in a Rotax engine is a PITA, since you need to hand-rotate the prop to pump out the dry sump, to get an accurate reading on the dipstick. There is also coolant to check.

Phoned FSS to get a transponder code (they answered on the second ring), new checklist so I needed to be very methodical and not allow the checklist get corrupted by my memory, engine start was clean, taxi was easy. I had to think carefully about each radio call before making it, and stumbled the phonetic alphabet. I certainly didn't pick up the information from the controllers quickly. I also need to get a notebook and create some quick-reference sheets - the whole dynamic of receiving instructions from ATC is new, I will forget them. It was tough enough to be listening to every message to key on our call sign.

We briefed our departure. Rotate is 51kt in the Katana (Eclipse was 44). After take-off we turn right 30 degrees and increase pitch to drop the engine RPMs, because some folks who live at the end of the runway don't like the noise.

Over Bell's Corners we banked and headed north towards Constance Lake, then turned west and flew the approach into CYRP. The first time I landed the Katana I wanted it to be at a quiet airport. Good stabilized approach, decent rotation but I got the nose a little bit high (I wonder if it is because the engine is lighter, or because it is a lighter aircraft and so the control surfaces are more effective. Or if I am just rusty). Anyway, we ballooned, so I added a touch of power and got it on the ground. Not pretty, but not ugly.

Hit the throttle, retracted the flaps, got airborne and took a lap.

On the second approach I was high, so I carefully put in a forward slip (it has been 4 months, and we were low and slow - not a good place to stall), kept the speed at 60kt, straightened out at about 200 feet. Landing was OK except that I had to be reminded to remove the yaw - which I kicked out as we settled.

Throttle forward, flaps to take-off, get airborne, swing south, get ATIS, switch to Ottawa Terminal and say hello.

Orienting myself to CYOW from the air was different. I had only seen that airport from the ground as a passenger.

Final landing was not smooth, but I had the yaw corrected and I was doing fundamentally the right things.

Afterwards, we reviewed the OAS syllabus, determined where I would restart, and did the paperwork.

Now I need to book some vacation time, and get this thing finished.