Date: Mon, 17 Jun 1996
I hadn't intended it as a father's day thing, but my parents were coming to town this weekend and I got my dad up in my plane. Oh what a feeling!
My dad has maybe about 1200 hrs, most of it 40 years ago in B-25s. He's now current in the low-end Cessnas and flies maybe 2 hours a month. He also took about 4 hours in USUA training 2 years ago. So anyway, I figure he's maybe a little rusty in type. I made him stop by on the way up from So. Cal and get a couple times around the pattern with my old BFI. Hearing about how that went, I'm glad I did require the familiarization. He related that the instructor said after the 4th landing ..."well, you had that one pretty much the whole way in." (gulp)
Getting into my Firestar, my dad did a little bit of taxiing, one higher speed taxi down the runway, then said he'd go for it. I had given him all the particulars and suggested his first pass be an approach and 5-10' agl pass. He couldn't get the darn thing down and passed over at 100'. He told me later he couldn't see the altimeter either, and that's why he climbed to what looked like a 1200'agl pattern. He was also "used to" the Quicksilver w/ 2 aboard, which sinks badly compared to our fine Kolbs. So, he came back around with a real 5 ft pass, although bobbling a little w/ over-control. Then he came around again and flared out to stall speed -- but still with 20' of altitude left! This in spite of my major warnings over everything else -- i didn't crowd his brain w/ a lot of fluff, honest. I bit my lip and the plane hung on till about 5-6' and dropped in. The landing gear sucked up the drop and he went around and did it again. ...ouch, but successful in the traditional sense (he walked away).
We went home for some mid-day family obligations and returned later to see if maybe he had thought thru the correct method enf to pull it off a little nicer. Much to my relief, and mutual satisfaction, he had. He went around 4 or 5 times and made perfect landings each time. Yahoo!
In all, with everything my dad has helped me with and inspired in me, it was one of the most gratifying moments I've ever experienced. Ever.
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 1996
A couple weeks ago I went flying for a good part of Saturday and Sunday. On the way back into my home area I saw a large disked field with 3 dust devils churning up in the afternoon heat. I'm in the Sacramento valley, and this afternoon was about 105, which is not uncommon. Having toyed w/ thermals a little in the past, i headed right for the biggest of the dust devils. I entered it at 1000'AGL and backed off to 3400 rpm, and circled at 35-40mph. I stayed here quite awhile, maybe about 5-8 minutes. Although not spectacular, i continually gained altitude, and decided i'd had enough at 3000'. Interestingly, I noticed that there were a lot of swallows that seemed to be riding the thermal as well.
Another fun thing I did was a variation on an exercise given to me during my early UL training. That is, to fly the plane at minimum flying speed right along the runway, usually with wheels skipping about half the time. The challenge exercises all 4 control inputs: rudder,elevator,aileron, and throttle. The variation, which was partly just luck, was that I got the tailwheel to ride smoothly along the strip for several seconds without the mains touching. This is impossible if it is a little gusty, because you obviously can't predict the changing wind. But it's possible in steady air and nets the same satisfaction as doing a tight 360 turn and hitting your prop wash as you come around.