Finally Got To Fly Again
So for three months I have been unable to fly. It was just the bad combination of availability, weather (mostly weather), and maintenance. On Saturday all the stars had finally aligned and I got a very good flight in from KATW - KAUW - KSTW -KATW in my club's RV-12. I have some thoughts on things that went wrong, what I did to fix them, and what I would do differently next time but first, I recorded some video and audio of the first leg of my flight and cut together a youtube video!
So, the first issue I ran into shortly before takeoff was that my oil temperature was too low. It was -11ºC outside and I suspect (although didn't confirm) that the RV-12 has a winterization kit that wasn't installed. I checked that the oil cooler was in good shape on the pre-flight but that is my bad for sure if it didn't have any winterization on it and I took it. So I managed to warm up the oil enough to take off and it was fine at high power the whole flight. Interesting part about descent though is you reduce power and in the video you can hear ENGINE SPEED announced a few times as my oil temperature dropped too low for the RPMs I had the throttle set for.
Check out my track log in ForeFlight!
Enroute to Wausau I saw an airplane in the air that I didn't have on my ForeFlight app. I have a Sentry so I should have seen the ADS-B output but it wasn't there. I then noticed that I had no traffic at all, anywhere. While it isn't required, I always like the extra set of digital eyes just for safety. So shortly outside of KATW's class D airspace I called Minneapolis center and asked for radar services so that I wouldn't get surprised by anyone else enjoying the nice weather (and there was one airplane on the way they pointed out. I'm always so grateful for Air Traffic Control).
My first landing (and the only in the video) was not great. I floated for about 2000 feet down the runway due to having too much speed and flying a bit too tight of a pattern with a lot of distractions. I had the oil temp thing bothering me which wasn't fun. Next up, I was cold. The cabin heat just does not appear to work in that aircraft. My soda bottle decided to make a loud thump to try and scare me. Add to that, my glove was getting stuck to Velcro on my kneeboard. Then my avionics were going on about minimums which doesn't even make sense in a VFR only aircraft; not sure who set those. Then I was fast on top of everything but the landing was not bad, just long. This is when I turned off the GoPro because I just didn't want the distraction for my next two landings.
Something I love about technology is I can look at my data on Google Earth. Check it out below!
I modified my engine power strategy after waiting on the ground for the engine oil to warm up a bit. I would keep it at higher power and descend more shallow. My landing at Steven's Point was directly into the wind and felt really good. It feels like a fisherman's tale because I have no proof but I was there. What I did notice about landing on Runway 30 there is the trees look really REALLY close. It is really cool but something I am not used to at all. Anyway the landing went great, I didn't chew up a bunch of the runway, and I taxied back to the beginning. I again had to sit and warm up the engine before departing but it didn't take that long.
My flight back to KATW was pretty and uneventful. I went up to 7,500' just because I could and I was curious if the high power and thinner air while climbing would heat the oil up more. It did a tiny bit but not enough to write home about I think. Tower gave me 03 for landing which meant a direct crosswind of 8 knots but honestly it was quite fun to bring it in. I hadn't done a proper crosswind landing in quite a while and nailing it was awesome. This did bring up the final issue I noticed and that is my audio was gone after I landed. I think my splitter I use to record audio is damaged or just not great because moving some cords around fixed it. Then once the tower and I confirmed we could talk again I taxied back in and just sat in the bubble dome mentally running through the things that happened and what my learning opportunities were.
Also, my toes hurt at this point from being so cold.