Monday, March 24, 2014

A Different Perspective

Conditions were favorable this afternoon for a quick flight over to MadCo to fill the tank, and the idea struck me that this would be an advantageous time to practice flying from the right seat. I didn't think it would be all that difficult, but I was not under any illusion that it wouldn't be inconvenient in a number of ways. I was right on both.

It didn't take long to learn to delay the tightening of my shoulder belts until ready to taxi. The master switch and the two ignition switches are a pretty long reach away and a tightened shoulder strap doesn't provide the freedom to allow it.

It felt more than a little weird seeing my usual seat empty doing the run-up be

The other problem I had was reaching up to the panel with my left hand to tune the radio, or all the way across the panel to do stuff with the Dynon. My left hand doesn't have the sea legs of my right hand - it can't compensate for the chop as well, and choppy it was! That won't be a problem with someone else sitting over there to push the buttons, though.

Besides being choppy, it was quite cold. I learned that I need to do something more to block the air blowing in from the front of the canopy. I figured it was worth a Lincoln to block some of the breeze:

The first landing at MadCo was not very good. I'll spare you the suspense: neither were the other two. Climbing out after the first attempt, I made my left turn onto the crosswind leg. This is when the lady that lives in the Skyview tells me that there is another plane nearby with a gentle "Traffic."  I look at the screen and see a plane right where I am, at zero altitude difference! This happens now and then in just this situation - it was only shocking the first couple times, now I'm used to it.

I continued on into the downwind. At about midfield, the lady again said "Traffic." I dutifully looked at the screen and sure enough, there was a plane indicated on the screen just behind and to the right of me, and at equal altitude. Being on the right side of the plane, I was able to look over my shoulder and take a look. And there it was! There was a plane making a wide arching right turn to enter the downwind, and he was catching up to me fast.

I hadn't heard any radio calls, so I thought he might not be using his radio, or was maybe on the wrong frequency. I decided that I couldn't be sure he had me in sight, so I started a turn to the right, planning on making a 360 degree turn and re-enter the pattern behind him. Just as I was starting the turn, he transmitted that he was entering a midfield downwind and had traffic (me) in sight.

Ah, good.

I decided that having started the turn, I ought to just keep on going. I keyed the mic and said, "I was starting to wonder if you saw me. Two eighty four delta golf number two to land."

I don't know if he recognized the tail number or the paint job, but he responded with "Hi Dave."

That...... gave me pause. This is not all that common in aviation.

It turned out to be the guy that hangars directly across from me. He was in a plane unfamiliar to me, so it took me a couple of moments to figure out who he was. We were both stopping for gas so we had a chat will filling our planes. His new plane is a Piper Arrow, a four-seat, retractable landing gear plane with a 180-200 hp four cylinder engine and a constant-speed prop. I figure they cruise in the 130-135 knot range, and burn 12 - 14 gallons per hour doing it. Those are just guesses, mind you, which as good as you're going to get tonight; I'm bushed.

No matter what the exact numbers are, the fact is that he beat me back by a few minutes. I used to win races like that with the RV-6, but speed isn't the 12's game. He burned twice the gas that I did.

No comments:

Post a Comment