Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sweet Freedom

I flew up to Frederick today, went around the pattern a couple times, then flew to the practice area southwest of Carroll County. What a gorgeous day to fly! The sky was clear of haze (rare in the mid-Atlantic), the leaves below are in various stages of changing color.... Blue above, reds, yellows, and greens below, and I can't imagine anything better than flying on a day like today. Sugarloaf Mountain was in sharp relief to my left as I flew to Frederick, I think for the first time ever. There was some wind, and a mild crosswind. I haven't had much experience with heavier crosswinds because my endorsement includes a limitation of a 5 knot crosswind, but I'm pretty much at a point where I correct for light crosswinds without having to really think about it.

My two landings in Frederick were good, not greasers but no real bumps either, although I did balloon slightly just after one touchdown. It wasn't really a bounce, because there was no impact, I just kind of touched down, then ballooned up a couple feet, then touched down again.

When I got to the practice area I decided I'd do some stalls, so I did. It's funny, my earliest blog entries are so full of fear about the stalls, and now they are just non-events. In between stalls I called for my ADIZ clearance, and continued practicing while I waited for ATC to recognize my transponder code. Climbing up, stalling down, blue skies, beautiful leaves.... I'm in awe of how wonderful this was. Then, when ATC called my code, I headed back for an uneventful late-afternoon landing on 32 with the sun in my eyes.

Another pilot walked over to help me push 35R back into the parking spot and introduced himself. It turned out he's also an attorney, with the DOJ's Civil Division. He said he mostly does constitutional violations, which I think means equitable remedies, injunctions, etc. Anyway, he's a member of another club at GAI that I've been considering joining in addition to my current club. I've been frustrated with the lack of available planes in my club, and his club has good rates and four planes, and is less populated. I'll think about it some more.

Anyway, great flight!

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Back in the game!

Seven weeks to the day since my last flight, I flew today with John. It was a short flight (I had a dentist appointment to go to), so we just went up to Frederick and back in trusty 35R. I've been slammed with work the last six weeks or so and have barely had time to stay acquainted with my wife and dog. Flying, being the solo hobby it is at the moment, took a back seat. But, I turned in a large project Monday night, and began aching to fly again. My 90-day solo endorsement had expired, so when I saw John at the flying club meeting on Tuesday I did my best to schedule some time, and today was it.

My landing in Frederick was one of the best I've ever done despite the 6-knot wind 70 degrees off the runway. In fact, after touchdown John said, "Better than I can do." I got to play with the new Garmin GPS that's in the plane, which is nice because it shows the ADIZ boundary, that imaginary line with a very real F16 on the other side. On our return to Gaithersburg, the wind was 12 knots, gusting to 15, but not far off the centerline.

So my solo endorsement is renewed, and I can now try to get back out there to fly. If I could just get John scheduled for some serious cross-country time.....

Oh! One other thing, a very important thing. Several clubs at my airport have gotten together to sponsor a PinchHitter course. For the uninitiated, this is a course that teaches non-flying spouses how to control and land a plane if the pilot they fly with somehow becomes incapacitated. Of course, Jodie said, "Give me a parachute and I KNOW what to do!" Nevertheless, she volunteered, and is taking the course in December. It takes place over two Saturdays, includes four hours of classroom time and four hours of flight time. I can't wait, but I hope and pray that it goes well and she doesn't get scared (er, more scared, I mean).

Labels: , ,