N9478E

N9478E
My 1979 Cessna 172N

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Maintenance, Night Flying and Someone Gets The Flying Bug!

I really intended to post to this blog regularly when I set off on this adventure but life happens and I’ve not been consistent.  I’m going to try to post more frequently and sooner after my flying events so that I can capture feelings about my flights and the learning process.  This after all was my reason for the blog.

Since my last post in January, I have flown a total of 10.2 fantastic hours.  Lonnie and I took some time off in February on Kauai, our favorite vacation place and after our return we took the plane down to Richfield to have some maintenance done.  The windscreen has been abused or maintained improperly over the years (Plexiglas hates Windex!) and became foggy.  This was a problem when flying into the sun as vision became really poor.  We had the windscreen and tires replaced and some other needed minor work and maintenance done.  The maintenance however is not really to story of this posting. 

The only cool way to return from flying your airplane 100 miles to your mechanic is of course to fly home.  CFI Bob flew down with me to Richfield with a gorgeous passenger… Lonnie.  Come to find out however, Lonnie didn’t get to be just a passenger; she flew Bob’s Mooney M20E all the way to Richfield with the exception of the takeoff and landing.  She had a great experience at the expert hand of CFI Bob.  I flew the Mooney back and was very impressed with the flying characteristics of that aircraft.  It is much faster than my 172.

March was another turning point in Lonnie’s flying adventures.  On March 3rd, we flew back down to Richfield to pick up our 172 after completion of maintenance.  Notice I call it “our” 172 now.  You’ll understand why in a bit.

 We flew down to Richfield in a Piper Arrow, an airplane that Bob barrowed from a flying school he does some work for.  My 81 year old dad went with us and it was really fun to see him fly again after about 3 years of not being at the controls of an airplane.  Dad has more hours than I’ll ever amass and can still do a good job.

N9478E looked good with a new windscreen, fresh tires and oil and a copilot door that now closes better.  While preparing to depart, me in our 172 with Bob, Lonnie and Dad in the Arrow, I felt rushed and didn’t use my checklist like I have always done.  I started the engine and was about to taxi over to the run-up area when my engine died.  I had missed the fuel selector which the mechanic had turned to off and ran the engine out of gas.  I will never again do anything related to flying without a checklist.  I’m lucky it quit before I tried to takeoff.

I took off and the new windscreen was fantastic but before departing the traffic pattern to the north my radio started cutting out.  I was not able to transmit but could receive and hear other traffic.  What I could also hear was Lonnie making all the radio calls in the Arrow.  She sounded like she knew what she was doing… pretty cool!

Bob, Lonnie and Dad passed me up in short order with the faster Arrow an unbeknownst to me didn’t see me and were worried that I had returned to Richfield with radio problems.  I worked with the radio problem for about 30 minutes and finally got it to work but only if I lifted my right leg 7.47 inches and put my left index finger in my right ear.  In other words… it took a delicate touch for some reason.  I suspected another short in the pilot intercom jacks.  I was just about to get out my handheld but didn’t have to.  This entire time I had heard Lonnie making all the radio calls some of them trying to contact me.  Bob was really putting her to work on this flight.  Good!

With my comms problems somewhat resolved I brought our airplane home without incident.  Welcome back 78E!  She ran well.  What met me on the ground however was something I hadn’t expected; Lonnie had a smile on her face that would just not disappear and she was talking about the fantastic flight home which she had flown from taxi to takeoff and cruise up to the point where ATC at Provo instructed them to make a short approach to accommodate the high volume of traffic.  She flew the airplane the entire flight home and LOVED it!  Lonnie is now very excited about flying with me and can’t wait to get some more instruction from CFI Bob.  It is now very cool to talk about and consider the 172 as our airplane.

I’ve had two night flying sessions with Bob the most recent being Thursday, March 29th.  Flying at night will take some getting used to.  It can be very disorienting if not done with care and landings somehow a little different with a different view of just a piece of the runway.  I’ve made 12 night landings now and the first few were rough but I’m getting better at it.

I have well over 40 hours now but I’ve been enjoying flying solo cross country so much I don’t quite have enough training or “dual” time to meet my requirements.  Bob and I should be able to knock that out easily though on a cross country somewhere down south like Bryce Canyon (KBCE) again or maybe Moab (KCNY).  All I really need now is that time and a review before my check ride.  I’m nervous about the check ride but then I’m always nervous about tests.  I don’t like to fail and sometimes over prepare.

This has been a wonderful adventure so far and I’m almost at the very important milestone of getting my Private Pilot certificate.  I hope I can knock it out soon and then really start learning as Lonnie and I spend time flying around Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming.