Stranded In The Southland

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pwhew, Back in the Air!

After getting about five hours of sleep last night, I wasn't too enthusiastic about getting out of bed, let alone going flying, but it was a little late to cancel, and I was anxious to get into the air, anyway.

After all of this crappy weather, the sky was finally clear and blue. I hustled down to Chino Airport, borrowed a kneeboard and headset, and learned how to pre-flight the Cessna 172. The Cessna has a high wing, necessitating funky electric flaps (presumably it'd be tough to have a mechanical linkage to a lever in the cabin) and gas caps that are up on top of the wing, reached by a couple narrow steps. It also has a strange throttle -- you just pull out and push in on a knob.

Within five minutes I'd managed to bash my head on the wing strut, and nearly fell off of the little steps while checking the fuel. I think maybe I'll stick with the (cheaper) Piper Warrior for future flights.

I was just delighted to get a chance to fly again, finally. C. turned out to be an okay instructor in the air, although he didn't let me use the controls as much as K. did. Of course, Chino is a bit busier than Brackett -- while waiting to start, we saw a P-51 and a P-40 take off and circle around, along with some sort of Albatross jet.

Anyway, we headed out to the practice area, identified the other planes out there, and practiced the basic maneuvers. C. always emphasized watching for other traffic, which I found reassuring, and was generally pretty good. We had to do a quick 360 when we found a little experimental jet crossing our path (to avoid the wake turbulence), and almost immediately afterwards, C. dove, err, descended quickly to get some extra separation between us and a plane coming at us head-on, just 300 feet above us.

Fortunately, there was a trick-ass Garmin traffic detecting device in the dash of the Cessna. The Piper doesn't have one, but hopefully I'll learn how to look out for traffic, since it is unlikely I'm going to be able to afford one.

All in all, it was an okay flight, and I'm enthusiastic about going up Wednesday. Hopefully I'll be feelin' better by then -- when I finished the flight I was already feeling lousy enough that I just went home and spent the day resting.