Thursday, April 22, 2010

You know, getting paid to fly just doesn't seem right...

Wow, what a busy week. I haven't had time to do much of anything except keep after school, work, and airport stuff. I had a 10 page film analysis due Monday, senior research due today, 30 minute presentation to give today, paper due Wednesday, and homework in all three classes Tuesday. In addition, I spend almost nine hours between Tuesday and Wednesday meticulously detailing a Cessna 182. Then tonight I had a flight at Ashland scheduled with some very nice people. Let me back up and take things one at a time...

This thing is 9' tall at the tail, 28' long, 38' wingspan, with a wing area of 172 square feet. A typical car is about 60 square feet. Multiply the wing area by 2, because it has a top and a bottom (ever tried stooping a little while waxing the ceiling? Not the easiest thing in the world). Thats 350 square feet of wing that I meticulously rinsed, scrubbed bug puddles off of, hand dried, and waxed. Just the wing - there was a fuselage and tail surfaces to do as well. Thats a lot of scrubbing! Luckily, this plane was already pretty clean inside, so detailing the interior didn't take more than about 3 hours. I washed it outside at Lawrence County, then pushed it into the hangar for the interior and wax part of the job.

Man did it look good when it was done though, the owner was very happy with it. Now he wants cars detailed, so it looks like I'm in business. Well, a business. I'd rather be flying, but the checks all look the same, so...we'll see where it goes. The maintenance shop liked my work enough that they want me to detail and wash a Cessna 310 that will be there next week. Not sure I can tackle such a job by myself, a 310 is a pretty large, two-engine plane.

Which brings us to the second major aviation event in my life this week. On Monday I got a call from Dan, who wanted to know if I would fly with a man on Thursday. I said "absolutelyareyoukidding?," so Dan gave me the number and I called him. John is a really nice guy from Ashland who hasn't flown for about 8 years and would like to again. I was supposed to meet him and a friend of his from church at Ashland at 6. The plan was for me to take her for a ride with John in the back, and then we were to discuss getting John up to speed and signed off to fly again.

When I arrived at 5, they were already there. I was a little disappointed, because I was going to grab the plane and fly around the patch for ten minutes or so to shake out the cobwebs. No, the plane didn't have cobwebs, I did, I hadn't flown for a couple weeks. Well, they were there already, so we decided to go ahead and go. I got into the passenger seat and she got into the pilot seat. Only after we were strapped in and I reached across to start the engine did she realise that she was actually in the pilot's seat!

I settled into my role of explaining how to taxi, use the brakes, what to do for takeoff, etc. She didn't want to fly too much, but she did want to try and do the takeoff. Oh-K! Well, it was actually pretty decent. I'm glad that she picked up taxiing so quickly. A lot of people want to grab the control wheel and steer like a car - except that has absolutely no effect on the ground, you have to steer with the pedals under your feet (the throttle is a hand control). I told her to put one hand on her knee, the other on the throttle, and taxi with the feet. This worked great. Once she had to take the wheel for takeoff, however, we were back to steering like a car :). Thats ok, with just a little nudge here and there from me, we got off the ground pretty well. I could tell she was concentrating really hard flying, because when I took over about 500' up, she exclaimed "oh, we're in the air!"

This was especially nostalgic for me. We were flying in the plane I learned to fly in, from the airport I learned to fly at. I hadn't been in that plane for at least two years, and I forgot how nicely it flies. It doesn't have anything fancy in the avionics department, but they all work, and once the trim is set, it flys hands off for a long while with no roll or pitch oscillations. Sweet! This picture is what the plane looked like when I flew it, it has since been painted white with a metallic blue underneath, and the threadbare brown interion has been reupholstered with leather and new grey carpet.

Well, it was a good flight for me, but she couldn't find her house. John is going to mark it in his GPS, and we'll go out to try and find it another time. I was asked to do a touch and go, and since the passenger was loving the flight experience, I did. I wasn't sure what would happen, since I hadn't flown for a couple weeks and there was a fairly constant surface wind. About 6' above the ground, I could tell it felt alright, and was soon rewarded with the best sound a pilot can hear - a soft "chirp, chirp" from the wheels and a "nice landing" from the back-seat passenger. Flaps up, set trim for takeoff, carburettor heat off, full throttle, rotate, and back in the air we went. I was thinking that, after a landing like that, they would be disappointed on the next one, surely I couldn't do that twice in a row. I'm not sure how, but the second landing was perhaps even nicer than the first!

Back in the FBO, John paid for the plane, then me, and I filled out a logbook entry for his friend as a memento. Too bad Ashland didn't have any of the free, 5-page intro-flight-souvenir logbooks, John ended up buying her a big, $20 one like I have. We need to get a hold of some of those logbooks.

As soon as he gets a medical certificate we will go up again and start working on his Flight Review.

I can not figure out why people will sit with me in a tiny airplane, flying around aimlessly for fun while I talk their ear off about nothing but flying, and giving my opinion about every little procedure and practice. Hell, they don't just go with me, they pay me to be there. I just don't understand.....

1 comment:

  1. Obviously your passenger wasn't a Young Eagle, but it's worth mentioning that you can get free mini-logbooks thru EAA and the Young Eagles program.