Saturday, June 18, 2016

Private Pilot License and My First Passenger

     Since my last update, I have finally achieved my goal of earning my Private Pilot License. On February 7th I flew down to Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport(KLUK) in N2814L, a 1967 Cessna 172H, to take my check ride. I flew with he esteemed and famous FAA examiner Martha Lunken and successfully passed with ease. She was fantastic and made the experience feel more like a normal flight lesson than a strict exam. After a hug and congratulations, I headed back to Red Stewart Airfield in the ol' 172.

     I attend the University of Dayton, so it is difficult to find time to fly during the year. So, I had to wait until the summer to go flying again. On May 22nd I went up with my instructor Joe in N98286, an 85hp 1946 Piper Cub, in order to officially get my tailwheel endorsement and get checked out in the airplane. We did a few stalls and eventually flew back to Red Stewart to do a few landings. With a slight crosswind and a hangar party full of people watching me, we went around the pattern six times before calling it a day. Although my landings were on par, those darn bumps in the grass runway did not do much to complement them--making for a few bounces on rollout.

     After getting signed off and logging some solo time, I was ready to take my first passenger up flying since earning my license. My dad and I had always looked forward to going flying together, so who better than him! On June 12th we drove to Red Stewart and rented the Cub. We borrowed a headset for him, signed out the portable intercom, and went out to the hangar. He helped me pull the plane out, and I showed him how a preflight is done and took him along as I walked around the aircraft. All was well, and after filling up on fuel, we were ready to take to the skies.

     There was a light breeze out of the northwest, so I chose to depart on runway 26. Before pulling onto the runway I was excited to have my first passenger with me, but I did feel the responsibility I had. With a little right aileron into the wind I advanced the throttle and we were airborne by 7:00pm in the evening. Once airborne my dad looked back with a smile on his face a thumbs up! After a left downwind departure, were stayed at 2,000ft MSL and took a loop around Caesar's Creek, a popular lake nearby where we used to take our boat very often. We checked out the lake from an aerial perspective and then headed towards our house. Without going into tremendous detail, I took us west to I-71 and headed south before breaking off further westbound. After two turns around a point around our home, we decided to head back up to Caesar's creek for another look. Along the way my dad pointed out familiar places that he spotted, and it really was a fun experience.

     During my flight training, my father was always so interested by the various maneuvers I would tell him about. Stalls, steep turns, steep spirals and the like all sounded exciting to him, so he asked if we could do some--a brave passenger! After climbing to 3,500ft MSL, I talked him through exactly what I was going to do to avoid any surprises. As a warm up, we did a steep turn to the left and right. Thankfully he was not scared off, so next I prepared to do some power-off stalls. Again, I made sure he knew exactly what I was going to do and what is happening during a stall. After cutting the throttle I slowly pulled back the stick until stalling right as the stick reached the stop. Slowly I eased the pressure off and the airplane began to fly again. He loved it! After a few more, we headed back to Red Stewart airfield before making a nice landing with a little crosswind from the right on 26.

     All in all, my dad thoroughly enjoyed the flight. Despite being 6'3'', he was a champ and squeezed in the tiny front seat of the Cub without a single complaint. Since it was a nice summer night, we flew the whole flight with the window and door open. He was surprised how smooth the old World War II era airplane was and how calm the air was. After landing my dad said to me, "I have a whole new respect for what you do, and was never nervous about flying with you." I really appreciated this, and am looking forward to taking my next passenger. Next time, I think a destination with a good airport restaurant is in order. Lunken?