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Flight: 2013-0129-1 in N12556 (Penny) for $
KCNI - KVPC (flying time 0:46)
After being thwarted by a weak battery last week, today I finally get to deliver Penny for her paint job.
From KCNI (Cherokee County Municipal Airport) 2013-01-29 22:41:42 to KVPC (Cartersville Airport) 2013-01-29 23:27:46 [00:46:00] with 3 day and 0 night landings.
David Thorburn-Gundlach (pilot-R) / Quin Thorburn-Gundlach (passenger) /
Our first order of business was to get the battery reinstalled and then test to see if it would actually start the plane, since the voltage after our failed attempt didn't look bad (but I had charged it anyway, topping it up only a third of a volt but perhaps helping its reserves level or some such). It did, yay, but then I had to leave her running to top up the battery plus put back the starting charge I had just drawn. Meanwhile, Laura & Madi needed to leave ASAP because their trip was twice as long as mine, so after a typically thorough engine/nose but otherwise very brief gross-level preflight we had gone immediately to the battery work to give them the green light (or not). That means... Yes, I had the interesting experience of doing the rest of my preflight with the engine running! With due caution, all went well as expected, although interestingly I did appear to get some fuel 'suck' from the prop wash when checking the levels; interesting. And that's how 45 minutes of flying turned into a full hour of clock time.
So, then, off we finally went to KVPC. I flew right seat again while Quin got to fly left -- and this time she could reach the pedals (which is what she had been doing as roll monitor and cutoff girl all the time that I wasn't in the plane, BTW). She even tested the brakes on her side before takeoff; woo hoo!
Quin got to do the takeoffs, too, as well as some flying and most of the radio work. I told her that I'd shadow her, and I laid quite a bit of foot on the rudder, and off we went; her timing was good and her rotation was smooth and she was flying again! Even though she asked, though, I didn't let her land :-)
Our flight over was smooth, with her practicing turning to and then holding a heading and keeping an eye out for clouds and traffic (and mountains and towers, but she still couldn't see ahead/down too well). She really got me once by announcing that she saw a plane and gesturing vaguely ahead of us. Another plane?!? And I had even been looking! It was a few thousand feet above us and right at the top of the windscreen, in her view but out of mine, and good for a laugh :-)
Back to landings, though... You're wondering why the weird doodling on our first approach, right? Well, I had forgotten that Cartersville has a ridge on the north side, and so I was figuring out how to set up high since I'd already planned on coming in at the top and making a long final. Then there was another guy to the southeast about the same distance out, but faster, so he was at the pattern first. [We had to look for him, too, but at least I got to spot him before Quin did ;-] In the end, I opted to break off to the right to give him more room -- and I should have simply kept going all the way around to set up for a left base leg, but instead I turned left to stay close in but then still needed to burn off some time and altitude, so I doodled around toward a base leg approach. By the time he was down and clearing and I turned to head in, I was WAY too close to the centerline and would have WAY overshot my turn to final, so I just made that right 360 after all and put on a much better approach my second time around.
Of course, I was still eyeing that ridge, not to mention being rusty, and so I came in a little hot and then got a little cold and in general was not bang-on -- and so I flared early and started to drop and caught it and settled down to a solid bounce (but just one). Arrrrgh! It's been a looooong time since I've done that; ew. I think Quin was fairly generous when, as we were clearing the runway, she merely commented 'Not one of your best landings'. Ah, well... I was pointing toward the runway twice, and I touched wheels twice, so it balances out, right?
After rolling down to RMZ and confirming that our car had not yet arrived, I decided to go and get another landing or two, so we taxied out and Quin got to take off and work the pattern and I got to land. The second landing was good; the third landing was very nice (although still not quite perfect). In all cases I was still wrestling with centerline alignment, but the third time I by-God-put her where I wanted and was much better for it.
The clear lesson, of course, is to not let myself get so rusty. The less obvious but equally important lesson is to know more about my airport before landing, whether through research in advance or the ever-popular midfield pass. Oh, and both being more quickly willing to change the plan and committing to doing so solidly would have been helpful, too!