Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sunset Landing Cessna 172

Last week I was fortunate to be able to take a ride in a Cessna 172. This was part 2 in my quest to know what is it like to fly in a general aviation airplane and also my 2nd pass at answering the question every man struggles with at some time in his life, "should I earn my wings?"

A colleague from work (I'll call him Steve) offered to take me up with him and he proved to be most gracious in the care he took to explain the workings of the airplane as well as everything that lead up to and occurred during the flight.

We departed from KANE in Anoka, MN. The weather and the evening was perfect for flying. The near-full moon was watching over us. The wind was calm and the temperature around 50 degrees. In MN we call it "spring" whereas everywhere else it is just called the end of winter.

Prior to departure Steve took me through the pre-flight checklist. He encouraged me to do the checklist with him. I tested the fuel and various other parts of the airplane. For the last step, I double checked that the engine was still there through the peak hole in the front cowel- it was! We did a quick weather check at the FBO and then we were off.

I did get a feel for a few uniquenesses in aircraft control. The whole steering with you feet in and of itself isn't too much of a stretch. However I will need to get it in my brain that I am not piloting a wagon. That is, you don't push with the right foot to go left. You push with the right foot to go right.

We taxied to runway 27, did the run-up and took to the skies. What a surreal feeling to lift off the ground in a 1600 pound aluminum can with wings. We climbed out to the north at around 80 Knts to 3,000 feet.

The air was smooth. I enjoyed flying in the 172 about as much as the DA20. While the DA20 does have an incredible unobstructed view, the 172 was not bad either!

It feels more stable to be to be climbing. When the plane is leveled out I get that “top of the roller coaster feeling” like we are about to take a dive. After a while I was getting used to it.

Steve allowed me to take the yoke and I made a some turns. For me it was actually just fantastic to get a taste of how the plane flies. Not only did he allow me to try out the controls, he explained everything very well- so I actually learned something!

We passed over the Saint Croix river and landed on runway 28 at the Osceola Airport just inside of Wisconsin. This is an uncontrolled airport, so I was able to see the differences in the radio communication and approach. Steve took a very deliberate downwind, base and final approach- of course calling out position as one does. The landing was nice.

We soon took off from Osceola and then headed back to Anoka. On the way back you could see the Twin Cities in the background and the sun was on its way to the other side of the earth. I had a great time flying through the air and seeing the world around me from a totally different vantage point. MN is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, once airborne I could see why. Little pools of water are everywhere. The sunset landing at Anoka was exceptional putting an exclamation point on a perfect flight experience.

I have done a lot of on-line reading to ascertain the ideal trainer airplane for someone interested in learning to fly- just in case. What my first two flights have taught me is that it is not that important what plane you learn to fly in- taking as an assumption that it is a well maintained safe airplane. What is most important is who is sitting beside you while you are learning! This also is not just about skill, but about the repore and style of the person and how they fit with what you are looking for. I am sure it works the other way as well.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you are lucky! I have been up in one flight like this in college with a friend. Very exciting!