Last weekend I got a chance to fly again with Milton and Dan. Milton had a friend’s Archer and we all needed some instrument practice. Dan me Milton at Farmingdale (KFRG) and they did a couple of approaches into Bridgeport before landing to pick me up. Then we headed out to Chester so that Milton and I could do a few approaches. I flew from the right seat, which was interesting—tougher vantage point to be looking left while trying to fly straight!
The first approach I tackled was the GPS35 at Chester. Since we were approaching from the west, I did the procedure turn at FLIBB, turning away from the airport to fly outbound about 4 miles before making a 2-minute turn to the right to come back in on a 348-degree inbound course towards the airport. At the final approach fix, AKIJE, he made a slight right turn to 354-degrees and started my descent from 2000 feet to minimum descent altitude of 820 feet. At about 840 feet, I levelled off and flipped up my foggles to see the runway straight ahead.
We made a low approach over the field and then pulled up and then Dan, sitting in the backseat, started giving me vectors to set me up for the GPS 17 (opposite direction). As he routed me northeast of the airport, I pulled up the approach plate on my ipad and tried to get settled.
Dan popped me into the approach between the initial approach fix and the final approach fix, and I almost missed the turn inbound. I don’t know what it was, but I just could not get myself stabilized in the approach, wandering all over the place. I crossed the final approach fix, but then didn’t get a descent started right away (nor steep enough) and, with a stiff tailwind not helping me much, before I knew it, I was only a mile from the runway and still at 1500 feet (about 700 feet too high). So I broke off the approach and flew the runway heading before turning the plane over to Milton for his approaches.
Unfortunately, I didn’t even have the CloudAhoy tracking feature active on my ipad, so I couldn’t go back later to see just what I had done. It just never really came together at all. Dan noted that part of the approach, he and Milton were chatting away, and I wasn’t used to flying from the right seat in an Archer, but still---that’s just excuses. True, in a real world setting, the approach would be sterile cockpit rules with no talking. More importantly, if I’m going to go for a commercial and then instructor ratings someday, I’ve got to start learning to fly from the right seat more comfortably.
Anyway, Milton shot a nearly flawless GPS 35 with the procedure turn, even with Dan and I ribbing him about the slowness of the Archer and the length of time it was taking us to fly into the headwind on the approach. Good on him for being able to maintain his focus (and his sense of humor on our merciless jabs)!
On the way back in to Bridgeport, Milton also shot a great GPS 29 approach and we touched down very smoothly. Even Dan complemented him. It wasn’t a long day out for us, but always a lot of fun to fly with the guys!
This weekend, Michiko was in cookie-baking-hell, so I knew I could get some flying in. I had hoped to do some more instrument practice in my plane with Len, but he warned he was working to overcome a head cold and would be iffy. Sure enough, Saturday morning after finishing my Pilates, haircut and other errands, Len called to say he wasn’t going to be able to make it. Michiko had a great idea though and suggested I call my parents and see if they wanted to fly. So as I headed out to the airport, I gave them a call and, surprisingly they were game to meet me at New Haven in an hour.
With a little time to kill, I brought pastries from the patisserie for Nazia (front desk) and line crew folks. (Anyone can bring Dunkin Donuts—it takes class to bring the good stuff!) I also tried to stop in to see Jared, who had a spare GPS data card for me, but he wasn’t around. Instead, I got to chat with a couple of Stratford police officers working on Eagle One, the Huey that a number of local police departments manage and staff. The guys were working on installing a FLIR (forward looking infrared) system, which will really boost the search and rescue (and police manhunt) capabilities.
Eagle One is actually a pretty cool set-up. Day to day management is now overseen by the Stratford Police Department (Old Saybrook and then Fairfield have previously held oversight duties) and is staffed by volunteers 24/7, with no individuals or municipalities charged for services. https://www.eagle-1.org/index.html Instead, its run through a privately-funded nonprofit.
After getting a pre-heat on the engine while I pre-flighted, it was a VERY short hop over to New Haven and my parents showed up 5 minutes later. Soon we were off, under overcast skies, to Minute Man (I called ahead this time to make sure they were open!). The clouds were at about 2,500 overcast, but visibility was a crystal clear. We had a very smooth flight, seeing a couple flurries here and there.
We overflew the UCONN campus, with the distinctive Gampel Pavilion domed building. Dad wasn’t able to pick out his dorm there. When we got up near Worcester, he was able to pick out a couple of the buildings at Holy Cross, his other alma mater. He also did a good job spotting some of the traffic near our altitude. Since it was such a low cloud day, everyone was down low. Ironically, only about 20 miles to our west, there was beautiful sunshine—we were just under the edge of the overcast. The Boston skyline was in sharp relief off in the gloom to the east.
Finding Minuteman from 1500 feet is pretty tough. It’s almost hidden until the last minute when approaching from the south because of the small ridge line in front of Runway 3. I finally spotted the runway and we made a nice landing. Taxiing in, Don called cheerily, upgrading me from a Skylane RG to a Centurion (a Cessna 210). We pulled up to the fuel pumps and shut down. Mom and Dad headed inside to the warmth of the restaurant while I topped off the tanks and huffed and puffed to push the 182 into a parking spot—luckily Don came to my rescue for the last bit! Dad apologized that he hadn’t known I was going to have to move the plane. We had a great lunch, as usual, and Nancy came over to introduce herself and chat for a bit.
Heading home, the clouds were still not cooperating, so we stayed low again. I tuned in Bradley Approach to monitor for skydivers, but instead heard a couple calls from Air Canada flights coming in to Bradley and picking up some moderate ice in the clouds. We flew through a couple snow showers, but nothing was sticking and I steered around anything that looked thicker. None of the airports were reporting any precipitation at all, and I think most of what we were seeing just wasn’t hitting the ground.
Pretty soon, we were on downwind to Runway 2 at New Haven and I had Mom and Dad back on the ground. Then I was back up for the short hop back to Bridgeport. As soon as I got up to pattern altitude of about 1,000 feet, I started picking up some moisture and it was sticking on the windshield a bit. Luckily I had already had the windscreen defroster running full bore and it left a perfect clear hole for me to see. I was cleared to land after a Grumman Tiger and made a smooth landing. Whatever was stuck on the windshield was gone by the time I finished taxiing in to the ramp.
Tying down, I ran my hand over the leading edges and found a fine coat of ice or frost along the wing, elevator and the nose cone. It confirmed my thinking that if it had not been such a short hop from New Haven to Bridgeport, I would have just waited it out or parked the plane in New Haven. The 182 didn’t show any issue with the brief encounter, but it was a valuable first lesson on freezing drizzle and one that I won’t ignore!