Showing posts from 2006

Where I went on Christmas vacation…

K and I just got back from a 5 day aerial tour of VA, NC, SC, and GA. After delaying the trip for a few days to wait out some rain clouds - we wanted to go VFR - we were able to take off early Sunday morning (after clearing the wings of a little frost). We couldn’t have had better weather for the 3 hour flight. It was severe clear with just a slight headwind down at 4,500 feet. The iPod was playing Bjork and Zero 7. Norfolk approach started us off with the flight following that had us talking to Raleigh, Washington Center, Greensboro, and finally Charlotte. Being Christmas Eve, many well wishes were, well, “wished” to the controllers by the various pilots, including us. A decent number of airline captains were earning their pay with just a few small general aviation craft on frequency. The lady controller in Charlotte was in such a festive mood she cleared us to transition their Bravo airspace without even being asked – that saved us a few minutes. Krista was left seat on this tr

Oil change #2

Talked to our local aviation mechanic (Kevin) recently and he suggested an early oil change since we didn't clean the oil screen last time. So at about 30 hours of tach time John and I went back out to the airport to remove the cowling and get started. Armed with the proper knowledge of how to clean the screen we drained the old oil (which went much faster this time since John had just flown over to PHF and back) and clipped off the safety wire from the oil screen nut. We backed out the nut and, with it, the tubular metal screen. A decent bit of oil came out as well, causing us to scramble to wipe it all up quickly. I took the small assembly over to Kevin so we could look at it together. The main goal is to make sure there are no metal pieces in the screen as that could indicate the engine is starting to eat itself. Kevin pulled the screen off the nut (it was just sitting loose in the nut) and started picking at it with his fingers. He found a bit of latex (how'd THAT g

BFR finished

Today Chuck and I finished up my BFR with a local flight. I flew from the right seat for the first time and received an intro to a few new maneuvers (new to me) including: Chandelles Lazy-8s Rolls on a heading Shortly after we cranked the engine I was running through the rest of the checklist when I noticed that the RPMs were lower than I had set them. I thought "hmm, that's weird" but figured the throttle had just slipped out a bit. I tightened the friction lock and re-set the RPMs. Moments later they were too low again. I paused, increased the throttle, and watched as they start dropping again. Mentioning this the Chuck he remarked that he'd never seen that before, not had I. My plan was to go out and do a run-up to see if we could clear it out. Chuck did a quick low RPM mag check which seemed fine. Then he had an idea - "let's try the carb heat". He turned it on and the engine RPMs jumped right up to where they were supposed to be. We had c

Hungry? Try a Cessna 150

This man spent 2 years eating a Cessna 150. Yes, EATING it. I'd rather fly it, but to each their own!

Ground portion of BFR finished

Every 24 months pilots have to take a BFR: Biennial Flight Review. This can be substituted for with a variety of other check-ups (such as passing an FAA practical test or participating in the Wings program) but for many of us general aviation pilots the BFR comes every other year. During the BFR an instructor gives you (at least) one hour of ground instruction and (at least) one hour of flight instruction. Used to be that there was no set time minimum for the test. That opened up the market for mail-in BFRs, where you never even had to see the instructor - just send him your logbook and a check and get your logbook returned with the BFR signed off. I think all that was before I was born though - certainly before I got my private ticket. The point of a BFR is not to test you, but to give you, the pilot who may have not flown with an instructor at all for the last 2 years, a chance to learn any new regulations and ask questions about the stuff you're rusty on. The flight time is

Test driving a unique airplane

The Velocity is an experimental kit airplane generally based on Burt Rutan's Long EZ . The particular one we test drove today was a fixed-gear, fixed-pitch prop, 200HP version of the Velocity Elite. Gary, the owner, is based out of Sanford, NC and was kind enough to come up for lunch to show it off. The first thing that is obvious about the plane is that its ramp appeal is through the roof. In just the short time it was on the ramp at JGG there were at least two groups of people that came by to ask about the plane and get a closer look. Gary gave us a nice walk around of the airplane and then we hopped in for a quick demo flight. I sat up front in the right seat as John was exceedingly kind (as he always is) in taking the back seats. Here are some of things I learned through the time we spent with the plane: Each of the winglets is nearly vertical and has a rudder surface that only moves outward. Each rudder is operated independent of the other, so you can actually put both

Multimedia trip to Luray, VA

The weather today was too good to pass up so K and I decided to take a flight over to Luray, VA. We grabbed up the cameras and a bit of picnic food and headed to the airport (after a good weather/TFR check of course). I performed the preflight checks while K did some interior decorating with the portable GPS, headsets, cameras, and charts. We added another 1/2 quart of Aeroshell 15W-50 to bring Thursday's post-oil-change levels up to snuff for the longish flight. We flew direct both ways, using flight following from the gracious Potamac Approach and Washington Center folks. We battled a nasty headwind on the way up, which at one point (during a climb) had us getting a lovely 40 kt groundspeed. Some of the landmarks we saw included: Paramount's Kings Dominion off I-95: The Blue Ridge Mountains (they peak around 4000' MSL in this area) Skyline Drive After a while we landed at Luray: At Luray we were met by a very helpful gentleman named John. He fueled us up to replace th

Cirrus Videos

Being a big fan of Cirrus Design I routinely search small parts of the web for Cirrus videos. It's my way of coping via vicarious living, OK. Don't you judge me! . :) This post is a quick collection of some I've found so far, please add comments for ones I've missed! First of all, I should start with the Cirrus147 website. They are a flying club in the UK and have posted a large number of videos to their site in the past, including many parts of the ferry flights they do to get their airplanes home from the U.S. They seem to be updating their site now, so hopefully the videos won't get lost in the process. Now on to the more convenient youTube-based ones - check this out .

Super sweet oil change action shots

OK, maybe not super-sweet but kind of enlightening none-the-less. I worked with one of the co-owners, who has experience changing aircraft oil, to learn the ropes of changing the oil. It turned out to be a fairly simple process - easier than changing the oil on a car or motorcycle. We first removed the cowling, which came off and on surprisingly easy, and then drained the oil. Our airplane doesn't have a filter so there was nothing to do WRT that - though no filter means twice as many oil changes (every 50 hours instead of every 100). We didn't clean the oil screens yet - I plan to get with our mechanic in a few days to learn that process. We added the fresh oil in and Maciek and I did some taxiing and a run-up in the dark to test it out. We watched the oil pressure throughout and everything looked great! To complete the task I had to add an entry to the Engine logbook. The enlightening part for me was to realize how the engine is just hanging out in front of the airplane,

BFR prep

I'm approaching that time of the year (well, 2 years) that require me to get a biannual flight review performed. Being a little rusty on things like soft field takeoffs and short field landings I went out to the airport tonight to practice the fundamentals. The wife, K, was using the airplane (like always!) so I had to wait my turn. She gave me a call and handed me the keys at 4:30. That meant that I had about 40 minutes of practice time before dark set in - perfect! I started with a soft field takeoff. For this one you keep the nose up nice and high as you roll on the runway and coax the airplane into the air as soon as possible. Then you lower the nose and imagine yourself as a low-level fight pilot by trying to fly 1-2 feet off the deck to remain in "ground effect". After a very short amount of time doing this you've gained enough airspeed to go ahead and climb out. And climb out I did! It was ~60 degrees F out, so not too cold, but boy did the airplane cl

Taking a prop to the chest

I didn't think walking into a propeller would be a survivable incident, but this guy apparently lived . Wow.

VOR checkin'

One of the requirements for IFR flight (flying in the clouds) is a current VOR check. This only applies if you actually plan to use a VOR from up in the clouds, but even if you're all setup with fancy GPSs and non-so-fancy ADF receivers you still want to be able to rely on your VORs as a backup. So the FAA requires that you check you VOR receiver within the last 30 days. They provide a variety of different legal ways to perform this check. They are: VOT - these are test signals that you can tune in (usually only when on the ground) and put your OBS (omni-range bearing selector) to 360. If you see a FROM indication and the needle is within 4 degrees of perfectly centered - you're all good (don't forget to test with the 180 radial too though) Ground checkpoint - special locations at certain airports are listed where you can taxi over and make sure you're VOR indicator shows you on a particular radial. Again, you can have a max of 4 degrees of error. Airborne checkpoi

Avionics looking better

Last week Jim used his Cirrus to help me ferry our C172 back down to PVG for the last bit of avionics maintenance. It was to get its new - um, refurbished, - VOR indicator installed and an ADF antenna strung up since the old one was no where to be found. I tried to crank up the cessna and found I needed to prime it a bit more to get it started. This was the first cold morning I've flown 35388 and I under-primed. I also had to spend about 20 minutes scrubbing off the frost with a towel. By the time I was done the sun was hitting the wings. If I had just sat back with a Bloody Mary and waited for the sun to do its thing I would have had the same result, but with less elbow grease. Oh well, live and learn (and re-learn). I took off and saw a great climb rate - the cold air had me climbing out like I was on a fast elevator - maybe 900'/minute. I dropped the plane off and buttoned it up as Jim was taxiing up in the SR22. I hopped in with him and we taxied out to leave. He


For a good time, call Airtoons

My wife’s first solo flight(s)

This Saturday K woke up early for a momentous occasion: her first solo flight. I stayed behind to sleep in a bit and, with that properly accomplished, to gather up the camera gear (including a tripod I bought special for the event). I went out to the airport at 8:30 – just in time to see K and her instructor heading down the taxiway for their first practice takeoff of the day. John was in his hangar repairing a wheel pant on his microlight so I stopped by and bugged him for a bit with idle chatter. I was nervous for K – I thought she was soloing a little early though later I’d realize she had more hours than my mental math gave her credit for. I also knew she was packing quite a few butterflies in her stomach – I had a concern that my video camera pointing at her every move wasn’t helping them go away. I filmed a takeoff or two while her instructor was still with her as practice. I found a good spot near the taxiway to set up the tripod. After getting bored with that, I retire

The preciseness of modern flight

UPDATE: I think John Glenn agrees with me when he says "going direct keeps the airplanes spread out more" toward the end of that video. Reading a recent post on Philip Greenspun’s Weblog got me thinking about the pros and cons of VOR-based navigation vs. GPS. I would argue with Philip in that, at least compared to VOR-based navigation, GPS would be less likely to cause a collision. The primary reason being that it creates the possibility for more "airways" than a pure VOR-based system does. A little graphic shows this: The yellow icons are VORs, the purple are airports. With VOR-based airways planes going to different locations may have to cross the same point if they use the same VOR for their route. This is exacerbated if multiple VORs are being shared (purple line is overlapping course). However if each is on a direct route there would be, at most, one point where they would cross paths. Even though the VOR airway may be 8 miles wide (because of the error i

Another flight down South

K and I took a long weekend and flew the C172 down to Rock Hill, SC for a little R&R. By R&R I mean: a Clemson football game some Wal-Mart shopping a bit of fireside cooking some tree felling ATV riding A few minutes of cheapo R/C airplane flying It was a good weekend, though I did spend some time worrying about the weather for the flight back. I don't guess it’s irony, but it kind of stinks that after getting my IFR rating I buy a plane that I don't really want to take in instrument weather. Right now it is not legal to do so (since the VOR indicator is out I'd have no way to shoot an approach and I'm not sure all the inspections are current). However, even when it is legal I won't be too inclined to do so. I think this is for 2 reasons - 1) no IFR GPS so my trips would be VOR-to-VOR and 2) no autopilot so slogging through the clouds would be a bit taxing. Maybe I shouldn't have gotten my rating in a "technically advanced aircraft" like 5

Ferry flight to KPVG

We took the airplane (35388) down to PVG tonight to drop it off at Bay Avionics. The fine folks there will take a look at the glideslope problem we've had as well as test comm 2 and the ADF. I tested the ADF on the way to PVG and felt it was still acting up, unless I was using it in the wrong mode. Since it didn't behave in any of the modes (ANT? BFO?) I figure it is in a bad way. Jim gave John and I a ride back in his lovely Cirrus SR22. He was kind enough to let me fly it up the the threshold where I, a lowly C172 guy flying from the right seat, asked him to land it for me. That airplane flies like a dream. I trimmed it up with the hat on the stick and it stayed right where I wanted it in the smooth air. The roll trim was handy. John was jokingly remarking that we were going too slow for his tastes so Jim put in all the power - we went from something like 14 GPH of fuel flow to 30 or so. I started trimming nose down to keep us level and once I had it stabilized again

R/C Cessna 182

Last night K and I went to a nearby park for the second "first flight" of my radio controlled Cessna 182 . Why second “first flight”? Because on the real first flight I crashed it within 5 minutes. That left the airplane with multiple broken parts and a one-year prison sentence in the attic (that’ll learn ye!). Last weekend I finally used the extra parts I ordered to fix it and realized that there was a reason I felt the ailerons didn't work properly the first time - they were installed incorrectly from the factory (more specifically the servo mount was not properly offset from center in the middle of the wing). After putting on the new wing and horizontal stabilizer and correcting that servo mount the ailerons seemed a little better (they actually traveled fully in both directions this time). We took it out to hand-launched it for the test flights. It took a little while for us to figure out how to properly hand launch (how much power and at what angle) but we e

Airplane updates

Well, yesterday our local mechanic, Kevin, improved the primer in the airplane (by making it easier to use - it was sticking badly before) and he may have also reduced the amount of water getting into the right fuel tank (by sealing some screws). Also, the wife started flight lessons this morning ! A momentous day! She can now preflight for me! Woo Hoo!

Aero Ace - part 2

Today I went back to target to get the higher performance aero-ace. This one looks like a jet fighter. It flies a good bit faster than the bi-plane version and glides much better. It needs more room to fly in though - the back yard was too small. So what does that mean? Well, we started using it in the front yard and over the street. Krista crashed it in the road and messed up the nose a little. Didn't seem to affect its flight characteristics though. We've tried not to annoy too many passersby with it. :) This is next on the list, for indoor fun at the office: Picco-X

First weekend trip

This weekend I took my first overnight flight trip. I flew down to KUZA to visit with the parents and sister. The flight there and back worked out nicely. I went VFR both ways - 6500' to KUZA and 7500' back to KJGG [Google Earth GPS track] . I think that was the highest I have ever piloted an airplane. During both trips I was just above the cloud tops (broken layers) and above the haze and rough air. Since I didn't have an autopilot I made the best of the situation - I made dodging cloud tops a little game. I would pick a valley in the clouds to fly to in order to maintain my heading and dodge any updrafts that were trying to raise a cloud in my way. This gave my flight path a few wiggles now and then (as did the heavy wing when I was operating from a single fuel tank above 5000’). I was impressed by the fact that 7500' really does look pretty high when you look down at the cars and buildings. They are really, really tiny from that height. There were a few n

Aero Ace = Funtimes!

Yesterday I read a post at Digg about a small, cheapo RC airplane that's a lot of fun . So at lunch I went to the local Target and picked one up - all $30 of it. I just got to play with it today at lunch and it WAS a lot of fun. I started out trying it in the two-car garage but wasn't really making it work. So I headed out into the backyard where there is a little more room. I had it flying fairly well in just a few attempts. The little plane is structurally strong! As long as you crash nose-first (as most crashes are) it holds up to the punishment well. I have been careful not to mess up the tail, as it looks pretty weak. The controls are really simple - one up/down stick for throttle/pitch and one right/left stick for differential engine power (it's a twin engine!). Within just a few flights I could toss it (that's how it takes-off), fly it in a few circles, and then catch it. My wife was flying it well just as quickly as me. The wife said I had a goofy smile

Glideslope testing

Last week I was experiencing some trouble with the glideslope indicator in 35388 so today I planned to test it at a another airport while building a little more time in the airplane using the VFR GPS for navigation. I also brought along the GPSMap 296 to test out the cigar lighter power plug (worked well). We went over to KFCI since they have an ILS 33 that we could test against. We made sure to stay clear (south) of the KRIC airspace since we weren't talking to them today. Unfortunately I found that the glideslope needle never came alive during the approach. The localizer worked fine but the glideslope flag never came alive and the glideslope needle just stayed centered. I double-checked my freq dial-in and ID'd the station via Morse code. I also twisted the OBS to make sure the localizer needle was correctly unaffected by that. All my tests seemed fine - except I was getting no glideslope. Guess we need to get it looked at. We've also had some problems with water

Google Maps flightsim

This was too fun to not post. Someone made a small game where you fly over top of Google maps satellite images . Pretty fun way to waste a few minutes.

Puppy Fly!

This morning we beat the rain clouds out to the airport (just barely) so that we could take our dog, Lynk the black lab, up for his first flight. He sat in the backseat while K kept watch on him, wary of any possible freak-outs. He did just fine though. Stayed totally calm throughout the entire traffic pattern. The only problem he had was figuring out how to get in/out of the backseat (quite a jump for him, especially with the wheel pants in the way). He also wasn't a fan of the doors slamming shut, but he'll get used to it. The dog made the short 0.2 hour flight a memorable one. I liked looking back to check the elevator movement and seeing him smiling back at me.

First time in a microlight

K and I went out to the airplane today to work on a few things. I wanted to add some air to the tires and put some petroleum on the primer in the hopes of making it move a little easier. K wanted to start work on some of the pockets that have not aged well. She removed one of the interior panels (held on by about 3 screws) and started looking into the best way to fix it. I also grabbed the GPS data card so that I can update it tomorrow. As we were leaving the airport one of the co-owners of 35388, John, gave me a call. He was coming out to the airport to fly his microlight trike and was looking for a passenger to join him - I think I said yes almost before he could ask. K and I turned back toward the airport and before long John was pulling the trike out of the hangar. We donned helmets (that had cut-outs for headsets too) and cranked up the engine. We taxied out and soon we were off the runway climbing at what seemed like a really nice rate. The throttle is operated by a gas

Proud (partial) first-time airplane owner

Today I purchased a 1/4 share in a Cessna 172-I, N35388. The airplane was built 9 years before I was born, but has been well maintained and updated over the years to keep it from getting too out-of-date. It has a VFR GPS ( a Garmin 250xl ) and a relatively new paint job. This is the first airplane I have been an owner of and I'm excited to start taking overnight trips with it soon. Having never made an overnight trip before (since I've always rented airplanes) I am looking forward to seeing what new flight-planning curve balls those types of trips throw my way. My underlying plan is to make sure I have a flexible schedule, since I will not be pushing any limits when the weather is involved. Some of its interesting traits, being an older 172, is that the right-side door does not have a window and there is no step-up to get to the fuel tanks - you need a little ladder. The airspeed indicator is in MPH. It also has old style switches (push-rod type) and a mixture that can

Over the clouds

Today was just a quick 0.9 hour flight to give 8KR some engine run-time. I went down to the FKN VOR and back again. On the way I was just over some tiny clouds that were at 1800'. As I went further south they started getting thick enough that I needed to climb up to 3000'. I like being higher up because the air is cooler - I don't like it because the airwaves seem more polluted. Listening to UNICOM 122.8 from that height has you hearing all kinds of overlapping transmissions with the associated squeals from the radio. Being over that layer of thickening clouds was pretty though - made me feel like I was flying way up high. I ended the flight with a decent landing on 31 back at JGG.

Night Loop

Tonight I took my wife and Maciek up for a little over an hour for night recurrency. I filed an IFR flight plan to get some more practice with that stuff. I filed for an 8:15 departure (sunset was 8:20) leaving PHF for ORF and then back to PHF. FlightAware has some of our track for the IFR portion . We had a leisurely dinner at good ol' Schlotzsky's and made our way over to the airport. We went through the new Mercury Air Center building; it's quite an upgrade compared to the old facility -- very nice. After checking with the nice lady at the desk to get the key and book for 99A, we walked out across the tarmac, up past the Cirrus (drool, drool), and on to our trusty conveyance. Since I wanted to get the requisite three takeoffs and landings in before Mercury closed at 10 pm (in order to return the key/book) but they wouldn't count until 9:20, I took extra time on the preflight, talking Maciek and K through everything as though I was an instructor and having them

No horizon? No problem.

Today's short flight turned into a small exercise in navigation. With no GPS on board I took off with the plan to go to Newport News for a few touch and goes. At 2000' the haze was quite severe. I could see the ground for only about 10 miles out and had no horizon. This made it like a partial IFR flight. Since I could see the ground the potential for getting disoriented was small though (compared to real IMC flying). I pulled out the sectional and found a nearby landmark that I could use to identify myself to the tower as I approached. I ended up using " dead fleet " as my landmark. I made my touch and goes and then headed back to JGG. On the way I saw what looked like a small runway with X's on each end . It seemed kind of short, but I was wondering if it had once been a small private airport that had been closed up. However, after a few seconds I noticed a small white object flying down near the runway. I then realized I was looking at an RC airport.

Some IFR flight plan time

Today was 1.4 hours of IFR flight plan flying. The weather was clear but I wanted to practice "working in the system" with ATC so I filed an IFR flight plan, used the GCO (Ground Communication Outlet) at JGG to get my clearance and headed out for a touch and go at Richmond. The GCO is pretty handy. Since JGG is too far away from any big airports to use the normal radio frequencies to get a clearance the airport provides a phone line that you can access through the radio. You tune in the GCO freq, key the mic 4 times slowly, and then you hear a phone dialing. After a ring or two Norfolk ATC will pick up the line and you can get your clearance from them over the radio. It was another hot flight. In fact, at one point ATC asked if I wanted to climb, even though I was close to starting my next approach. I had to think about it for a second (the cooler air up higher was inviting) but declined since I'd just end up descending soon anyway. On the way to RIC we were at 4

Piper's 35 year old mistake

AOPA's weekly email pointed out a recent Airworthiness Directive request made by New Piper to fix a slight problem in the documentation for the PA28R-200 (the airplane I got my complex endorsement in). Seems the Pilot's Operating Handbook incorrectly states that you should avoid continuous prop RPMs of 2,100 to 2,350 when it was supposed to say 2,000 to 2,350. The fix to this error is to ether install a placard stating the correct range to avoid or replace the entire tachometer. Apparently there have been no troubles with the airplane that can be attributed to this oversight, but they still want to force owners to at least pay the $35 bucks for the placard. AOPA is trying to prevent that. Thankfully this was never a problem for me in the few hours I flew the retractable Arrow – I always had the RPMs at 2400 or higher unless I was landing when they’d be lower than 2,000. Incidentally, the Arrow was one of the first general aviation planes to have auto-extending landing gear

Lunchtime Pilotage

Today I spent 1.4 hours in a C-172 to get a little pilotage experience in again. The goal was to fly "by the seat of the pants" from JGG to EVM. What that means is that I did no pre-flight planning for the route I would take, other than to see that I needed to go generally SW. I wanted to see how I would do with just the sectional - trying to use remote VORs and landmarks from the map to know where I was over the ground. This is fairly hard to do in southern VA as there are very few good landmarks - no big lakes or cities on the route I would take. Part of the time I would just look for landmarks such as small highways intersecting railroads or power line right of ways. The other part of the time I would determine the radial I was on from 2 nearby VORs and see where they intersected on the map. The latter is a pretty good technique to gain positional awareness, but you really need to actually draw the radials on the map to know where exactly they intersect. I did OK

A hot and quick flight

I had ForeFlight Desktop running all day today on my computer. Every 30-45 minutes I would sneak a peak at the current weather over at JGG airport. Throughout the day the winds were "3 kts" or "calm" or "2 kts" and the skies were clear. Unfortunately each time I checked the temp had risen another 3-4 degrees. But the heat wouldn't stop me - I took the motorcycle out to the airport right after work. All by myself for the flight, I chugged through the preflight and hopped in for engine start. Today I'd only give the passenger briefing to myself. The plan was to head north and do a VOR check. I wanted to do this in order to get the airplane "IFR worthy" again (the last VOR check was a week or so expired). I pointed the nose to HCM, tuned both NAV radios to 108.8 and twisted the OBSs until they both read 005 degrees. They were in agreement (2 degrees off) so I made a mental note of the radial and distance from the station for later

Spin it in instead?

With all apologies to the inventor who patented this new technique for crash landing , I'd rather take my chances without the explosive-induced high-rate yaw. I would figure it would make the airplane roll as well, but I am no aeronautical engineer.

A short field over a short lunch

A little lunchtime jaunt out to the airport was on order today. I had planned to play the IFR card and file a short trip to Richmond in order to get a little "time in the system". Instead, we decided to play the simpler hand - a VFR hop a few counties north. The winds were calm, the sun was out, and the skies were relatively unoccupied. Another goal for today was to try out the new video camera (a Panasonic PV-GS500). While I pre-flighted 738KR Krista had a little fun filming some other folks performing take-offs and landings. Soon we were taking off and heading NE. We made a straight-in landing at Hummel since it was deserted at the time. A quick taxi-back to runway 01 got us in position for our short-field takeoff (not that it was truly needed). We headed straight down to JGG and set back down on runway 31. I made a rather high approach that had to be corrected with 40 degrees of flaps (I rarely use more than 30). An uneventful and fun flight complete! Here are s

Stretching those welded legs a little

Today was a nice morning for a quick 0.8 hour hop around the local area with Krista. I am plane-sitting for my friend Tom - he asked me to take his airplane up about once a week to give it some exercise. I did an extra-long preflight since this was the first one I have performed on Tom's airplane (738KR - slideshow ). There was nothing too unusual - this being a 172 I was quite familiar with the general design. Finding everything in excellent working order and the tank full of AvGas, we cranked it up (the engine started almost instantly) and taxied out to runway 31. The plan was simple - head north to West Point, do a touch and go, then head back, flying over our neighborhood along the way. I worked on making a more stable flare and did fairly well with that. The touchdowns were pretty soft too - it has an in-the-flare sight picture almost identical to the newer 172 I often fly. Below is a video from the last landing. Krista made this video with our still camera by holding