I’m going to do a Pilots ‘n Paws flight tomorrow and since the weather was IFR after I completed yesterday’s oil change I wanted to do a quick test flight today.

I spent some time before the flight cleaning off my nose gear strut. The piston of the strut had some ugly sticky gunk on it, dirt buildup basically. While it was on the area where the strut does not normally travel it seemed prudent to clean it off to avoid any possible movement of the gunk past the strut seal. The best solvent is just to use a bit of fuel from the preflight sample I take (usually I dump it from the GATS jar back into the tank). The fuel evaporates completely and left the strut piston completely clean.

It was quite hot and hazy today. Since this was the first flight after the oil change I remained in the pattern for one circuit. If the engine decides to loose all the oil suddenly I want to be close to the airport! But, no oil pressure fluctuations and the pattern at Nashua had several planes already in it – I was number 3 to land on a looong downwind – so I told Tower I’d be departing to the west landing.

The haze was already obvious from the 1000 feet above ground pattern altitude and as I climbed the visibility was really quite bad. This was still plenty legal VFR visibility but visibility around 7-10 miles looks quite soupy. I did some turns around the practice area but solo I was a bit nervous about spotting any maneuvering traffic and elected to return to the airport.

I certainly could not see the airport from 10 miles out and when I called the Tower I told him I’d enter on a 45 downwind if there really was an airport out there! When I reported that I’d entered the downwind he remarked “I see you found the airport!”

It ended up being 0.6 and 2 landings. I’d like to spend some more time in the haze soon. Today’s weather was perfectly suitable for a VFR XC flight but it takes some getting used to. Tomorrow’s flight might end up being similar. I also need to get serious about my instrument rating because if I had it I’d certainly be filing on a day like today. I did one first step and updated the database in my 430!