With Spring well underway it is light out into the evening and I can get some good practice in after work. Sunset is at 7:45 and getting later every day. So last Thursday and today I went up to Nashua to fly after work.
On Thursday I started by heading out to the practice area. It has been a while since I have done maneuvers in the Cardinal so I wanted to start with that before doing any landings. I did some turns medium (30 degree) and steep (45 degree) bank. Then I set up for some slow flight, bringing out the flaps and gear.
The purpose of practicing slow flight is to gain additional practice with the regime of flight you are in near the landing and takeoff phases. The control feel is significantly more “sloppy” as the airplane gets slow and simultaneously less pressure is required on the controls and you need to move them further to get the same effect. This is because at slower airspeeds less air is moving over the control surfaces themselves.
I’m a big believer in practicing slow flight right down to the stall. To maintain level flight at slower airspeeds you need to add a lot more power because at slow airspeeds the wing angle of attack is a high drag configuration (gear and flaps add even more drag). So eventually things are nicely stabilized, level flight, and the stall warning horn is right at the point where it bounces on and off. With fingertip control the goal is to fly around and turn to various headings right at the edge of the stall.
From this point I brought the power out and maintained altitude bringing the airplane into a full power off stall. The recovery procedure is simple: release control pressure to lower the angle of attack and add full power. From the stall recovery I set up for a power off glide to simulate the landing approach then finally went to full power and climbed pulling up the flaps and gear simulating a go-around. One trick is that the power off glide (and final landing approach) want full nose up or almost all the way nose up trim. When you apply full power for the go around you need to be ready to PUSH on the yoke hard to keep the nose down (and keep from stalling) until you can roll the trim forward with your right hand.
The weather was looking cloudier and dark by the time I got back to Nashua so on Thursday I only did two landings. They were both on Runway 14 which is landing opposite the typical prevailing winds. Due to construction the visual glidepath aid is also not present which did not present a big problem. Total time was 0.7.
Today I wanted to concentrate on landings. The wind was once again favoring runway 14 with winds of 10-12 knots almost straight down the runway and steady. With a high overcast and evening approaching the air was very smooth.
During my preflight I discovered some brake fluid near the left gear well. I was able to get the left brake fluid reservoir topped off and a mechanic will be looking for the leak later this week. The right gear swivel was replaced by the seller when we bought N52667 so it was not a great surprise to see the left one seeping a bit as well. Since the airplane had likely sat for a month or two plus experienced a drastic temperature change I was really not surprised.
With the brake issue fixed at least temporarily I decided to stay in the pattern and just do landings. I was in the zone. They were all very nice, I focused on everything I needed to do, I was nicely on pattern altitude with every level off, and the approaches were right where I wanted them to be. I ended up doing 7 touch and goes.
The pattern was busy, with several interesting types departing. A Cessna Skymaster (twin with engines mounted back and front instead of on each wing). A Gulfstream business jet. What looked to me to be a Cessna 421 (piston engine pressurized twin). And also some aircraft practicing the ILS instrument approach into runway 14 at Nashua. Total time ended up being 0.9 hours.
Admittedly conditions were very favorable but I was very happy with the landings. These were all squeakers with flaps 20 and 30 degrees. The next challenge will be to seek out a day with a nice steady crosswind and do the same thing!