Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A new record

If fescue was a cash crop, I would have more planes than Harrison Ford. It's not, though, so my periodic harvesting of this year's bumper crop from the estate grounds is nothing but a chore. And yes, it needed mowed again last night, but I decided instead to go flying. The winds had been gusting to over 18 knots all day, but the late-day calm had them down to the low teens. Good enough, especially since they were blowing right down the runway and those are the easiest to deal with.

I had no goal or destination in mind. I just wanted to take advantage of the last decent weather we are forecast to see for the next few days and get into the air. Rather than just fly around the local area seeing the same scenery that I've flown over countless times, I decided to climb through a hole between the scattered puffy cumulus clouds to get on top of them. This would be both the first time that I have taken the new plane over the tops of the clouds, and would more than likely set a new altitude record for it as well.

And so it did: 7,500' surpassed my old record of 5,500'.  This is by no means much of an accomplishment, mind you. The plane would easily climb past 10,000' as lightly loaded as it was.

I didn't stay up there much longer than it took to take a commemorative photo.  As I was right over Lilly Chapel, my usual reporting point for my initial call back to the tower for landing, I just spiraled back down though the same hole. The RV-12, unlike the RV-6, does not plummet.  In fact, even with the engine at idle and in a deep full-rudder slip, the best descent rate I could get was 2,000 feet per minute. While that isn't near as quickly as the 6 could do it, it was still rapid enough that it will take three days for my ears to finally pop.

Once low enough, I called the tower to tell them that I was coming back in to land. The controller quickly disabused me of the notion that the winds had tapered off - it was 15 knots, but still right down the runway. No biggie. All that meant was that I would be crabbing pretty heavily toward the runway while on right base for runway 22. I also got a somewhat different response from normal with regards to the pattern entry. The normal response would have been a request to report a midfield right downwind. Instead he just asked that I contact him when three miles out from the field. Odd, but easy enough.

I contacted him again at three miles and was immediately cleared to land. Wow, I thought, that's even stranger, What's the hurry?  Just as I was on short final and about thirty seconds from touching down, the radio lit up with the lengthy spiel they go through when the tower is closing for the night. Ah, that explained the hurry. It makes me wonder if there is any significance to the three mile reporting point that he had asked for. Either way, it was only a mild distraction and had no effect on what turned out to be a fairly good landing.

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