Sunday, April 16, 2006

Back to Sammie's

It was a clear but windy Saturday, the day before Easter. The Flight School had arranged for a speaker to discuss his frequent trips to the Bahamas. I figured it would be something good for Kathy to hear, and I could top it off by a late lunch at Sammie's.

The objectives of the flight: get Kathy in the Tiger and go somewhere.

Absolutely beautiful skies with winds gusting to 18kts right down the runway. We got the dispatch kit and went out to the airplane. She helped me take the cover off, loaded her gear inside and did the walk around with me. We climbed in, adjusted seats and belts, although she couldn't get quite comfortable with the shoulder harness. Normal start and taxi, and I left the canopy cracked for air on our way to the runup area. She was nervous, worried about getting airsick.

Runup was normal, and no clearance since I decided VFR would get me maximum flexibility should we need to alter our plans. Takeoff was fine, although the gusty winds made her a bit uncomfortable. Passing 1000ft I gave her the airplane, pointed at a prominent landmark and told her to continue to climb to 4500ft as I completed the checklists. She did well, and although I didn't notice it, we were still in some little "bumps" at level off. I figured it out after a bit, and climbed to 6500ft where it was glass. However, you pay a price, indicated 140mph was just over 100mph groundspeed on the handheld GPS. We flew southwest, intercepted Interstate 20 and flew west. Outbound would take a bit longer then planned.

"I'm glad you like this, but it just seems like too much work." Well, at least she wasn't sick.

We flew just south of KANB (staying away from R2102A) and over Talladega Raceway. The VOR is located just east of the airport, and I flew approximately 260 outbound from there looking for KPLR. I spotted the airport early, but it was nice to have confirmation on the GPS. Initial CTAF said that they were landing on 02, but later I heard departing on 20. I decided to overfly the airport and enter on an upwind leg for a RWY 20 left hand pattern. That worked out well. Normal landing (floated a bit and corrected for x-wind) and taxied over to the restaurant.

We landed about 20 mins late due to the headwinds, and met another couple for another great Sammies Hamburger. Kathy's friend was kind enough to give a mini tour of the airport, including a peek at his fine Cherokee hangered there. Just a wonderful afternoon.

But now we had to get back. I did a mini-preflight, carefully taxied around a C182 that had parked on the grass next to us, and made my way out to the runway. Thorough run up and a nice take off, I extended it just a bit to fly over the lake. This is very pretty country.

I flew back the way we came, 5,500ft wasn't too bad, but not glass either. Since she seemed to be doing well, I decided to ask for vectors for an ILS, just to show her the ATC side of things. This was a mistake. Leaving 5,500 for 3,000 started to get bumpy, and the vectors took us too far east. While she enjoyed listening to the radio calls, and got some appreciation for an approach, she was also tired after a long day and a big meal. "I'm glad I didn't eat the whole hamburger." Once on final we were back fighting the headwinds, which made for a rather long approach. She did well with all of this, but I should not have imposed the extra 25 mins just to show her what an approach was like. A little burble on short final had her ask if I was OK, but a smooth landing calmed her down. Cracked the canopy before clearing the active to get some air.

This was a great day for me. She enjoyed it too (but not quite as much.) We traveled over 250 miles, got up to 7023ft, and reached 183mph.

Time = 2.8

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