Maneuvers after work

Today we wrapped up a big release at work. This meant that I wasn’t staying late and could actually bug out a bit early and head up to the airport! I was a bit concerned with thunderstorms in the forecast and some building cumulus as I left work but it turns out these were all well to the south of Nashua and staying that way. The weather was hot and hazy, but the air was smooth and no clouds at Nashua.

Since it has been a while since I’ve practiced maneuvers I decided that was what I would do. I found my way to runway 14 through the new taxiway from the run up area and was cleared to take off following a departing Cessna who was staying in the pattern. I turned right and headed west off to the old “practice area” (not charted, but an ideal spot for maneuvers west of the airport). Once clear of Nashua’s airspace over Brookline, NH I did a clearing turn to the left then started with some steep turns.

I kept the speed around maneuvering speed (around 105 knots) and rolled into several steep turns to the left and right. They were OK, but I need to practice some more. Today was not as good a day as I’d hoped mostly due to the waning daylight combined with the haze and visibility. It made the horizon not quite as clear as it could be and this made the steep turns a bit tougher. I will do some more practice soon.

Next I slowed it down further with flaps and gear and maintained level flight for a short while, made some turns left and right, and finally lined up on the setting sun. The glowing ball of sunlight was a perfect reference to keep the nose centered and wings level in power off stalls. Bringing the power all the way out I maintained altitude as the speed bled off and waited… and waited… The Cardinal does take a while to reach a fully developed stall! Finally the nose dropped and I recovered, bringing the speed back to 80 knots before reducing the power again for another power off stall. Both were nicely coordinated and the nose barely moved off of the reference point.

I turned back to the east and headed back to Nashua. With runway 14 in use returning from the practice area usually puts you on a right base approach. In this case the controller asked me to bring it around for a long straight in final to follow some traffic. I had already slowed it up with flaps 10 and gear by the time I spotted the traffic turning final in front of me and I was cleared to land behind them. Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture, Prop, Seatbelts… Check. I added flaps 20 after getting my landing clearance and descended for the runway. The first landing was very smooth and I rolled out to what is currently the only midfield taxiway (due to the remaining construction) without any braking.

I decided to taxi back and do two more landings in the pattern. The first features a slightly late clearance to land as the controller was busy with a takeoff, but when I rolled out on final I was bang on aligned with the runway. Not everything was perfect however and the flare was a bit high with a bumpier touchdown. No bounce though, and I was soon back in the air for another lap around the pattern.

The final landing was a bit sloppier on the alignment in the roll out but my pattern was tighter and the descent was perfect. I slowed the flare down a bit and the landing was smooth on the mains with the nose gear held up by the Cardinal’s powerful stabilator for a nice smooth touchdown and excellent aerodynamic braking to the taxiway.

I only flew 0.8 but it was all good practice and three landings. It is always nice to practice with the setting sun providing a nice view. As I was practicing landings you could see the waning sunset behind and occasional flashes way to the southeast from the thunderstorms slowly moving over Boston! A very cool sight.