Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hooded and Champin'

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
2 May 2015 N21481 SDC (Sodus, NY) - ROC (Rochester, NY) - 5G0 (Le Roy, NY) - SDC 2.3 1403.2

"November Four Eight One, cleared for the RNAV two five approach, maintain VFR, contact tower on one one eight point three."

I "squandered" a beautiful morning in clear air under cerulean heavens to drone around Greater Rochester International Airport under the hood for simulated instrument practice. Serving as safety pilot was Dave, another club member currently working on his instrument rating. It was our first time flying together.

We departed Williamson-Sodus (KSDC) on a west heading and flew the RNAV (GPS) 25 approach into Rochester. This went exactly by the numbers. Pleased, I climbed away from the runway and set up for the ILS-28 approach. Rochester switched us from Approach to tower just as we intercepted the localizer. Distracted, I went right through it and almost kept on going, but I saw the deviation in time to turn back and capture the beam. This is evident in the above map as a little bump in our track near the "o" in "ROC: ILS-28"; explicitly shown by the impartial and unblinking eye of GPS.

They did that on purpose, I thought to myself. Then, good for them. I need to be kept on my toes.

The rest of the approach went well. Next, I flew the ILS-22. My performance here was passable, but I did not hold the needles as centered as I would have liked. I requested and flew the published missed approach procedure south to the Geneseo VOR (GEE). Rather than navigate or monitor this by GPS (valid, but too easy), I flew strictly by VOR. Tracking was good, but my holding pattern at the VOR was a bit of a train wreck (i.e., it went off the rails). From there, I set up to fly the VOR alpha approach into Le Roy.

On the missed approach out of Le Roy, I redeemed myself by flying that hold well (also, VOR only). Clearly, I need more practice with holding. Leaving the hold for a return to Sodus, I covered the directional gyro and attitude indicator and flew the remaining flight and subsequent RNAV-28 approach partial panel. I suppose that I could have used the AHRS capability of Stratus/ForeFlight for additional attitude reference, but I chose not to. I contemplated "failing" the GPS too, but decided that was counter-productive considering my plan to fly the RNAV approach back into Sodus. Though it was my first time partial panel in over a year, it went very smoothly.

I am happy to report that I remembered the timer on all ILS and VOR approaches!

With 2.1 hours under the hood, it was a great work out and a pleasure to fly with Dave. As he progresses in his training, I hope to be able to return the favor. With such an accomplishment, one might think that the day's aeronautical adventures would be complete.

Ah, but think again!

Enter Mike. Mike flies a 1946 Aeronca Champ that he helped restore. Sitting on the ramp with the engine idling as I rode by on my bike, he gestured wildly at me and offered me a ride.

My good friend Steve loves taking friends flying in a Piper Cub, an endeavor he refers to as Cubbin'. So, evidently, Mike and I were Champin' that morning.

Flying in a 65 HP fabric covered Champ without an electrical system is the antithesis to flying WAAS approaches in the Warrior. In fact, the most sophisticated avionics on board comprised a handheld radio patched into a portable intercom box. Even the passive David Clark headset I wore was a distinct difference from the digitally processed serenity of my usual Zulu headset.

There is no doubt in my mind that this was the proper way to enjoy a beautiful morning.

With me in back, Mike and I flew around the Sodus Bay area at 1500 to 1900 feet. I tried my hand (and feet) at flying the Champ. While my hands did fine, my feet were not quite up to the task. Rather than the gentle rudder pressures I use in the Warrior, I found that I needed to apply much greater pressure to remedy uncoordinated sloppiness in my turns. Fortunately, I did not make Mike sick with my "ham footed" rudder work (or at least he claimed that I didn't - perhaps he was just being polite).

But it was a beautiful morning and I was glad that my iPhone happened to be in my pocket to capture the moment.

Over Sodus Bay, this narrow island with its multitude of jutting piers reminded me of Manhattan in miniature.

Flying low in a Champ, it is impossible to forget that this is apple country.

From the pattern at Williamson-Sodus, I realized that I had left my hangar door open before hopping in the Champ.

The Champ does not have a wooden scimitar prop - gotta love iPhone artifacts

Mike squeaked the Champ onto runway 28. I had a great time! Thanks again, Mike.

After my flight with Mike, I photographed this beautiful Stinson visiting from Andover Aeroflex in New Jersey.

After lunch, the real work began. Warrior 481 was filthy. This was partly from leftover winter crud and partly from time spent in the shop during the annual inspection. When I was done, she positively gleamed.

I do enjoy washing the airplane, but poring over the aluminum skin in detail always reminds me of my "Kennesaw Speed Mods" (light hail damage from an overnight stay in Kennesaw, GA). Though that frustrates me, I suppose it gives the airplane character.

Ten hours after I first arrived at the airport, I drove home. It was the longest and most varied day I have devoted to my aeronautical predilection in a long time. It was both productive and enjoyable. Life is good.

Thanks again to Dave and Mike for making a such a great day possible!


  1. Considering your fun with timers while training, I think any practice session that ends with full, proper use of the chronometric devices should be labeled a success!

    And no, even though I have a special spot in my heart for Champs (my first solo was in one, after all) I'm pretty sure it's Cubbin' and Cubbin' only. ;-)

    1. Let's be clear: "fun" and "timer" do not belong in the same sentence with this context.

      As for "Champin'", you're too late. Blog published. It's out there. *Folds arms across chest in self-satisfied manner*

    2. Heh. You were in a taildragger, so I really have no complaints to offer. Time to learn to properlyuse those feet, though!

    3. feet need work.