Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First Timer, In A Long Time

The rest of the story...

After returning home from one of my flights earlier this month I asked the car rental guy at the Ocean City Terminal where he gets his cars worked on.  Don pointed me to Bridge Auto and Rob Perry. The garage is on the way home from the airport and on the same side, that works.  I wheeled the Mercedes SUV in, parked out front, and went in to look for Rob.  Rob came out and I let him know Don sent me his way...he laughed and said then you have money cause all Don's friends have money. I said I missed that memo...about having money.

We discussed the symptoms my ML320 was having and that I thought it might be as simple as trans fluid. FYI, The Mercedes does not come with a trans dip stick, I kid you not. I went on to explain I recently had it serviced when I moved to Maryland full time and soon there after it started to slip.  Just a bit at first then the last week it got worse.  No leaks anywhere, the garage floor is spotless.

Bridge Auto
Rob went in the garage and came back out with a MB dip stick. Sure enough, 2 quarts low on fluid. He topped me off, I took it for a test drive and it was good to go. I'm sure you're wondering where the heck this is all going and how does it relate to flying. Rob asked how I knew Don and I explained I used to rent cars from him when we flew into the airport on weekends. He asked if I had a plane and from there flying dominated the conversation.
Rob always wanted to fly, even gave some thought to taking lessons but never followed through. When we walked into the office so I could pay for the service he said I was good to go, I didn't owe him anything. What? I said your time and materials are worth something...he said take me for a ride sometime in your plane. We shook hands, done deal.
Rob at the control turning out over Cape Henlopen
The Flight...

This morning I collected or maybe he collected on that deal. We did a detailed preflight and I answered  many questions. Rob was really into every aspect of the plane, having me go into detail about control surfaces, pitot tube and static ports. Heck, I'm ready for my commercial test now!
The plan was to fly up the Maryland coastline into Delaware and follow the coast to Cape Henlopen. There we would turn back and fly south over the water so he could see the beach from a different perspective, he was all smiles. Rob gave flying a shot and made a perfect standard rate turn holding altitude perfect until we were pointed back down the beach. I think he was surprised how responsive the plane was and how easy the control inputs move the plane around.
Bridge Auto center of picture
We headed out to overfly his business along RT50 and then off to take a few pictures of his home. With a first flight in the book and I think mission accomplished we pointed for home. Winds had picked up and I advised it could be bumpy as we entered the pattern. The winds were twenty knots and gusting, seventy degrees off the nose. My base turn really pushed me out of position but I had turned early for the winds. I was centered up nice and added the last notch of flaps...wish I had not added them in.
getting the crab in on final!
I was now short final floating high and fast, then the winds shifted and I really had to dip the wing. I held it in line and touched left main down then the right. Right at that moment I felt the plane lurch forward and the mains came up blowing us to the right and what felt like wheel barrowing on the nose.  I went full power, kept the left wing down into the wind and climbed back into the air.  With positive rate of climb I took out each notch of flaps and searched for my seat cushion.  Rob asked was that what they call a touch and go? Once on the ground I explained what happened with the gusting winds.

Round two was much better with only a second notch of flaps for this approach to land. Again a noticeable dip into the wind and more side load push but when I felt the right main plant I quickly raised the flaps and felt 08Romeo stick to the runway.

Some excitement but Rob was still very happy he took the ride.  It was fun to see that perma-grin on a first timers face, brought back good memories of my first flights. I now have a new name for the ride list, I hope we can get back out and fly a bit longer.


Jim and Sandie said...

My stomach left me when I read about your landing but Rob is made of much sterner stuff. And Jim would have enjoyed every minute of it.

Gary said... was a moment, that's for sure. You never force the issue when you can power up and come back around for another try.