Had a great day today. Got up at 8:00 and headed to the airport. It was still really cold outside, maybe 45 F. When I got there, there were already about eight people there - ready for the weekly breakfast run to Portsmouth. A group goes every weekend, and the plan today was for me to act as safety pilot for Hank so that he could practice his instrument work for a coming flight test. Sounded good to me, as I love flying in Mooneys (he has a C-model). While we were all standing around, the flight school owner told me to write down my certificate number, total time, Cessna-172 time, and a few other items. He is going to call the insurance co. and get me on the policy as a flight instructor (the open-CFI clause requires 350 hours total time, but I only have about 300).
We got the plane out, did the pre-flight, and took off headed west. There was a ton of other traffic in the air, and the view was amazing. Today it was completely clear skies with visibility clear to the horizon.
GPS 18 approach, landed, and grabbed coffee and an omelette to eat. The flight school owner had flown a Cessna 310 (a twin-engine plane that is really, really cool-looking), and we watched him take off. Back in the Mooney, and headed over to Huntington so Hank could practice a couple ILS approaches to runway 30. At one point I noticed the circuit breaker had popped out for the Scormscope. We just left it out, for someone else to look at later - on the ground. Hank just had some electrical gremlins worked out of his plane along with some other problems they had to fix after the annual inspection, I hope this doesn't turn into another big problem. It was still busy, but approach control was accommodating and in short order we were back on the ground with 2 practice approaches satisfactorily completed and 2 more hours of flight time in our books. I helped fuel the plane, and we talked about the flight for a few minutes. I really enjoyed flying with Hank, and I hope he enjoyed having me along as well. I'm pretty sure we're planning on flying again, especially after he gets his instrument rating. He can use me as insurance while he gets more comfortable flying in actual conditions.
By not (almost noon) it was very warm out, likely the most beautiful day of the year so far. As I was getting ready to head home, Russ comes over and mentions that he has to take the 310 back to its hangar at Huntington (about 5 miles away), and since Dola was out with a student (she would normally have first dibs), he wanted to know if I'd like to come along. Sure! It was the same 310 the school owner had flown earlier, and was way more fun to fly than to look at (if thats believable). A quick briefing on systems and appropriate airspeeds during the takeoff procedure, and we were on our way. Everything was going really fast, but I was happy with how I was doing. One thing that surprised me was how heavy the controls are, it really took a lot of strength to haul the yolk back. In flight though, it was light and responsive, very nice! Huntington was busy and let us sweep east of the field so they could clear the traffic out a bit, so we did a steep turn or two to take advantage of the time, and then started the descent into Huntington. From startup to shutdown took about 24 minutes, but since the plane moves so fast, we got a lot packed in there.
Overall, excellent day. Learned a lot, had a ton of fun, and got to fly without burning hundreds of dollars.