Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Solo Time

I started working for a local company, just a few days a week. I'm learning new construction tracking software and doing strictly office work. This company is owned by two of our longest lasting friends and it's a very loose arrangement. They know I fly and that Mary and I want to get back to traveling, so it's a win for all involved.

Today I watched the weather roll through with showers and gusty winds, yes, from the comfort of my office chair looking out the window. I only had a few hours worth of work to get done so I completed the few tasks then high tailed it home. I sat and watched the weather, and somewhere between noon and one the sun decided to show.

Giddy up! I went in to give my bride a kiss goodbye, she was battling a migraine today. I grabbed my flight bag that was already on the counter near the door and ready to go. Mary said be safe, and with that I was heading out the door.

I completed my pre-flight and took on twenty-two gallons of fuel. I started using a fuel stick, it was calibrated by 3TC's previous owner. Well, the gradation chart was, I bought a new one for me. Bill kept his for his Commander 114.
I tugged the plane out and with the help of my step stool climbed aboard. The step stool is fastened to a rope leash that I lay up on the wing.  When I'm ready to board I climb up, then with the rope leash lift the small stool up and place it on one of the back seats. It's easy and it works.  FYI, the Commander steps sit way higher then the Sundowner and the Debonair.

METAR KOXB 111253Z AUTO 33012G22KT 10SM SCT070 SCT085 BKN110 19/17 A2994

Runway three-two it is.  With my start up complete I taxi out to three-two.  The little bit of activity as I taxied out was now clear so I turned towards the wind and completed my run up and checklist. I am going to use Bill's advice and let 3TC takeoff around 70 knots. With the correct trim she'll fly herself off and there will be less 'wallowing' as seen in the first training videos.
This flight was partially for autopilot familiarity and then the return trip for hand flying. The plan was to head to Wilmington (KILG), make a full stop, and then launch for home. Well, I made it north of Dover and got tired of the bumps and headwinds. I canceled flight following with Dover and pointed for home, circling out to the west side of the Dover AFB.

The tail winds were great! I saw speeds of 150 knots plus while dialing the power back to 21/2450.  I was saving fuel and enjoying the speed. I chased altitude for a bit and finally got settled in as I approached Delaware Coastal (KGED). Starting my descent I made my traffic call at ten north of Ocean City. When I reached 1,500 feet and almost ready to enter the downwind, I lowered the gear. I am retraining myself with GUMPS checks and still shedding rust. Once in the pattern, abeam the numbers, I added approach flaps, setting the sight picture and airspeed.
I added the second notch and turned base slowing to eighty knots. Everything felt stable despite the tail wind push. I made my turn to final, pointing for the numbers. Keep flying the plane to the surface, as Dick and Bills voices were on endless loop in my head.  More rudder control, less ailerons...I hear you Dick. I thought I would grease it on, but, right at the end, I added to much flare.  I quickly added a tad of power and flew it on. Not the best but not too bad at all.

I have to be honest, I was pretty nervous making my first solo landing. Not that the accident haunts me but the time off and trying to get comfortable with a new plane triggers those thoughts. Today was a giant stride for me feeling at home in the left seat.
Once the Air Show is over I'll get back in the air and knock out the last 3.7 hours.  After that I hope to hook up with Mike and knock out approaches, by hand, and with the autopilot.

I have never been one to just drag the plane out to go bore holes in the sky, I always needed a purpose. Flying off the solo hours is boring holes, yes, I'm learning and practicing. The mission is what I crave, new destinations, and flying away with my bride.


Anonymous said...

Looking good Gary, Charlie

Gary said...

Thanks! A work in progress...learning to multitask again and stay ahead.