Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sporty's and the $200 cockpit poster

Well I finally made my cross-country down to Sporty's at Clermont County (I69) and it was pretty awesome! Flying down to Sporty's was a plan of mine ever since I learned they were based in Ohio. The pilot shop was great; it was pretty cool seeing things you'd normally find in the catalog. I really enjoyed the aviation posters and I picked up a free cockpit poster of the new Cessna 182T with the flat panel displays (okay, it was free if you didn't count the $200 bucks spent just getting there).

I also bought this recreation of the Phillips 66 "Airplane pilot on Duty" sign (I’ve always wanted one). Now my question is, do I hang it up in my cubicle at work, or keep it at home? I'm leaning towards work.

The flight itself was pretty good too; it was extremely clear out, unfortunately there was a lot of turbulence. It was pretty bumpy up there at times, one jolt knocked me an inch up out of my seat (thank god for seat belts). I did get an opportunity when it was smoother to practice flying hands-off (keeping a heading and altitude with just the rudder and trim), which is a great technique when you have to swap radios and manage maps. It’s also something you need for IFR flying if you don’t have an autopilot.

The Ryan International TAS is excellent! This was the first opportunity to really use it and appreciate what it was capable of. The traffic enroute was very light, but I was able to keep an eye on the few planes that were around, as I got closer to Clermont I was able to see the traffic in the pattern and spot the traffic leaving the airport. It only gave me the voice warning alert once, and that was for a plane I had not previously spotted that intersected my path about 500 feet below me.

The only problem I had that put a damper on the flight was at the end, landing back at OSU. I was assigned runway 32, which isn't a runway they often use and I don’t think I’ve ever landed on before. Needless to say I wasn't thinking straight (I was in a rush to get home since I was almost overdue to have the plane back) and I got confused at where the runway was (I didn't have an airport diagram print out of OSU either). I could have worked it out though if I had been thinking and if I had asked for help from the controller. Well I didn't and I lined up for the wrong runway (5), the tower caught it (and so did I when I saw the big white 5 on the concrete). I tried to get back to 32, however I was still unsure where it was and I overshot it. Finally the tower took me out West and had me turn a 180 back to 27L.

It was embarrassing, and unsafe (thankfully there wasn't any traffic at the time) and it really was a poor ending to an overall great flight. Fortunately I wasn't asked to call the tower and I didn't get an earful (even though I know I deserved one).

Flying is a learning process, so here are some things that I learned:
A) ALWAYS carry an airport diagram, even if it's your home base, one look at a diagram or even a drawing of the airport would have prevented the whole mess.
B) If you're unsure at what the controller wants you to do, ASK ASK ASK! I could have told the tower "I'm unfamiliar with 32, I don't have it in sight, can you tell me when to turn onto final?" Or I could have simply requested 27L (a runway I was far more comfortable with).
C) Finally, don't let the rush to get to the ground cloud your judgment. I was running late and I was letting that extra pressure keeping me from thinking clearly.

That's all for now, if you find yourself in Ohio, definitely check out Sporty's (I69).

Clear skies!

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