Solo practice

Today I made another attempt at a flight after work to finish up my insurance required solo hours. The conditions were a bit gusty this afternoon but things had calmed down by the time I got to the airport around 17:30. Since I’d only flown 1.1 back from refueling in Danbury I didn’t need additional fuel and my preflight oil check showed right around 6 quarts. I will probably be adding oil for the next flight but for a local flight this fine. At 7 quarts the engine will blow a bunch of it out the crankcase breather pretty quick. So far it likes to stabilize around 6.5. The fuel tank samples were nice and dry which is a sign that the cap seals are in good shape.

I decided that I would fly to Keene, NH and do a landing there rather than just practicing landings at Nashua. Keene is about a 15 minute flight from Nashua with some cool views of Mount Monadnock as you fly past. While I taxied to the run-up area in Nashua I got to see a Pitts Special biplane landing on the runway just to my left. Very cool.

The worst part about flying to Keene is that the sun was directly ahead. I weaved a bit along the route to keep the sun out of my eyes. One area that 52667 is definitely lacking is in the area of sun visors. The current one is basically useless. Some day I would really like to upgrade to the Rosen Sunvisors which are 10×12″ darkly shaded panels which can be positioned at various points on the windshield.

Initially I was going to try making a straight in approach to Runway 32 at Keene which winds were favoring. Approaching the airport after passing Mt. Monadnock there was a Hawker business jet ready to take off from the longer Runway 2 and I decided to overfly the airport above pattern altitude and make a full pattern approach rather than delay them. The approach was good. I was bang on my level off at pattern altitude despite juggling the flaps, gear, and descending in the turn. The good approach turned into an excellent landing with flaps 30. My flare was a lot more shallow than some of my past landings where I ballooned a bunch. The landing was a squeaker. Runway 32 also features a displaced threshold due to terrain which means that the available distance for landing was only 2,900 feet – plenty to land the Cardinal.

After landing I taxied back to runway 32 for departure (for takeoff, the full length of 4000 feet can be used). Some day I will explore the self service Avgas here since they have a cheaper price than Nashua. The takeoff was uneventful and this time I went around Monadnock to the south heading back towards Nashua.

While in the old “practice area” between the Pack Monadnock ridgeline and Lake Potanipo I did some maneuvering, exploring the handling of the airplane some more and checking out some spots on the ground. The Cardinal handles very nicely and the ground visibility is unparalleled. Coming back into Nashua the tower controller calls out as traffic the first Cessna I ever flew and the one I took my private pilot checkride in – N7242G – departing Nashua.

The pattern entry and first landing was very nice. This time the approach was a bit slower, I was right on the centerline, and my flare was good. The mains kissed with the nosewheel held off perfectly. I tell the Tower controller I’d like to taxi back for some touch and goes (they always end up telling me to taxi to parking first…). I did three more good landings until I decided to head back to the tie-down.

Total logged time was 1.3 with 4 landings. The landings are looking very nice. As of now I have 15.4 Cardinal hours (including 5.4 solo) which means I can carry passengers. Sadly, my wife is about to head off to Chicago for a conference and I’d really like her to be first so I will probably be doing a bit more solo flying first. Oh well, more time to practice those landings!