Thursday, July 26, 2007

Having fun again

Fun has been eluding me lately on my Flying Nights. Flying Night is my weekly dedicated night to fly, occurring each Wednesday when my wife works an evening shift. Lately, these nights have been less than satisfying. I think this is due to too much tweaking and twiddling, combined with the pressure to wring the most out of this all too limited window of time.

So, last night I decided to keep my ambitions modest, and spend the evening in good ol' Glacier Bay (FS9). I decided to do some plane hopping, which can be dangerous in the sense that you don't allow enough time in any one plane for a sense immersion to develop. However, this time it paid off, probably because I was sticking to old favorites.

The first leg of the journey was from Hoonah into Juneau in the freeware Cessna 150. I didn't get any pictures, but it was a nice relaxing and uneventful trip. I had some time to play with the VOR and ADF. These were not necessary since, as usual, I was flying by pilotage, but it made me realize I should use those things more often--you never know when you might get lost or confused if you are just using the chart and looking out the window. The long approach into Juneau Int'l was magical.

In Juneau, I hopped over to the classic Beech 18 by Shupe and co. I really should spend more time in this one--its so gorgeous to watch. I think I'm finally getting the hang of taxiing this one. It's a bit difficult without a steerable tail wheel. The trick is to dance on the toe brakes. Differential throttles would help a lot, but I don't have those.
From Juneau, I flew the Beech to Gustavus. En route the real-world weather started to get more interesting. I had to reduce altitude to stay out of the clouds. I finally figured out the ADF on this one, which helped a lot, since there is a transmitter at the airport. This model has lovely vintage radio controls which take a little time to figure out (unfortunately they are not visible in the screenshot below). I made a nice landing in spite of having not flown this one in quite a while. My approach was a little sloppy though- I underestimated the drag of the lowered gear and had to pour on the power to get back on a good glide slope.
In Gustavus, I switched over to the Long Island Classics Aeronca (sorry, model number escapes me right now). This is the more powerful model, which is rated for light aerobatics. I find it to be a real blast doing loops and rolls in this old ragwing. I also practiced stalls a bit, yet another thing I should be doing more often.

I tried to emulate something I saw on an old video about Duane Cole. He would end his routine by cutting the engine and doing the final part 'dead stick' (this was before Bob Hoover). I cut the engine at 3000 feet, but could only manage one loop and one roll before I ran out of altitude. I did make it to the runway, though!

So go dust off some of your old favorites and take 'em for a spin. Happy flying!

No comments: