A couple weeks ago, Don asked if I could join him on a cross-country flight down to Austin, Minnesota on short notice. He had bought a part for a tractor of his and needed to pick it up. Greg, the guy he bought the part from had to be available and the weather had to be halfway decent.
This morning Don called to see if I was available… which I said yes. So we checked the weather and he called Greg. Weather was not excellent but was okay. We would have winds out of the north switching to out of the east at 8 mph, ceilings around 3,000 ft. MSL and 10 miles visibility. Greg was available… so it was a go.
Soon after Don arrived Greg called and told us he was running late. So we delayed our takeoff for an hour. If we were to be delayed much more, we would be running out of daylight. The Taylorcraft has no electrical system which means no lights and no radio. On top of it, our home airport has no runway lighting for night operations.
Thankfully there was no more delay and we took off at about 1:15 PM. Don wound up flying the leg down to Austin. The flight down there was a bit bumpy but not too bad. The landing was a bit interesting due to the trees off to the east side of the runway. We ended up landing on runway 17 for two reasons. #1 the wind slightly favored 17 and #2 other aircraft were using 17.
After landing, we taxied in and parked at the FBO. Greg was there to meet us. After the transaction and a restroom break, we headed back out to the airplane. We spun it around into the wind, chocked the wheels and hand-propped it. After a couple tries, it fired right up. After getting belted in and headsets on Don taxied out to take off.
After Don took off and we were out of the traffic pattern, Don let me fly the return leg. As many of you know, I will be working on my pilot’s license. So, I can never pass up an opportunity to get some time at the controls even if I can’t be logged. Yesterday, I watched Fly8MA’s video: How to not SUCK as a Pilot. The main takeaway of the video is not to get sloppy after you get your license. Keep practicing your stick and rudder skills. An example would be a cross-country flight is to hold your altitude and heading.
I held the altitude for most of the return leg within a tolerance of +or- 50 ft. except when passing by Owatonna and Faribault airports. I drifted up another couple hundred feet for some added clearance about the traffic patterns. For much of the return flight, I held 2,200 ft. MSL because I found just 200 ft. dramatically cut down on turbulence. I also tried using rudder to correct for the yawing from the turbulence instead of using ailerons.
As we approached our home airport, I entered the traffic pattern for runway 36 and flew the pattern until just after base. Don took over and finished things off with a smooth landing especially when considering how much we were batted around by the turbulence coming off the hangars, houses, and trees. Even though this wasn’t a “loggable” flight lesson for me, it was still a great learning experience!