Quincy – Take Two

September 25th, 2012

Quincy – Take Two

If you have to do more than one approach I’m not flying with you to Quincy again no more!

I decided I had better get myself low enough. And if I have to go around resign myself that Gen Yeager will not be flying with me to Quincy again. Or not in the near future – even though we go there for some GREAT sandwiches.

I checked with weather briefing – sky clear, smooth, great day for flying. Some fires northwest not a factor. TFRs at Beale – not a factor.

This time I had learned to just put in 2O1 – NOT K-2-O-1. It has to do with having numbers in the identifier. Some say it has to do with “no approach” – however at Nevada County, we had an approach with numbers in the identifier. It was when we got an AWOS that we had to change, says I#1.

We pre-flighted, got in – now I have to tell you, getting in the Diamond DV20 takes some doing no matter how old you are. Getting out is even harder. Especially if you are male and over 20. Gen Yeager does it, but carefully.

Gen Yeager: No wind, you can take off on 7.

Me: They (owners of airplane) restrict us from taking off on 7.

Gen Yeager: Why?

Me: No place to land if in trouble after take-off.

Gen Yeager: There’s none the other way either!

Me: Agreed but those are the rules if we want to fly this airplane.

I realized I hadn’t flown in a while – maybe three weeks – in the Diamond.

So we taxied on up. Run-up and then called departing Runway 2-5 right turn departure.

Me: Ready?

Gen Yeager: Yes.

And when I had flown, it was lighter and took off a little earlier. But we were fine – smooth take-off. At 700’ above the runway turned right.

A few seconds later I heard:

Masdipewirypyr023975hgrona (garble) and then “upwind for 2-5”.

I looked and didn’t see anyone “upwind for 2-5”.

I considered saying something on the radio and should have when I heard “crosswind for 2-5”.

Never did see them.

Later I heard the same airplane say Grass Valley after the Unicom operator asked them if they needed parking.

I definitely should have said something – I don’t think they even knew I was there or had monitored the radio before they called in on “upwind”.

We climbed to 9500’. It was hazy and so I asked: Do you think the visibility is good enough to go to Quincy?

Gen Yeager: You always have this if there are fires in the area – but you have at least 15 miles of vis.

I can’t get used to realizing that before I get to the area I can’t see, I’ll be able to see it. Hard to explain – but if I can’t see the 16th mile, then I think – better turn around because that’s where vis is 0. Instead of, vis is still 15 miles there. And if it’s not, I’ll know before I get there.

So we continued on – some mild turbulence that gave a gentle wag of the plane.

And distance is not my best talent either. Gen Yeager: Let down before you are over the airport. (Last time, we were doing dead reckoning so weren’t sure we were there till we were right there.)

And: Head a little East so you can reverse course from the way we left (gaining altitude down the valley – so now lose altitude down the valley)

Me: Is it just over this ridge or the next one.

Gen Yeager: Next one.

A few minutes later: Isn’t that the airport?

Me: I thought you can’t see it until you go right over the ridge.

He was right of course. So I started doing s turns to let down (to 3400’ runway elevation).

When we got down to 500’ I called in long final.

And we got down just past the numbers. However, I had misunderstood what Gen Yeager had said before and so we lost life about 2 feet up, so certainly didn’t grease it. I put some power on and smoothed it out. I was too slow at the last bit – overcompensating for being too hot and high before.

We taxied on in, parked. I called the FBO where I rent the plane – they have their own flight following.

We walked on in to town. It’s a very long walk when one is hungry.

I never understand this – we got to the restaurant and a group was leaving. But they weren’t. They stood right in the doorway and didn’t move – discussing what they were going to do next. They saw us waiting.

I finally said: Excuse me –

Nothing happened. So I said it more loudly to get their attention. They woke up and moved.

Lunch was great – he had the grilled cheese with grilled onions, avocado, and something else. And I had the sirloin burger with Swiss cheese, avocado. Happy campers!

While waiting for our food, Gen Yeager said: We hit kinda hard, didn’t we?

Me: Yes. Why?

Gen Yeager: You lost lift. You need to either come in flatter or with more speed and flare. You know how high you are above the runway.

I looked perplexed.

Gen Yeager watching me: Understand?

Me: I understand the words. But a while back you had said get the attitude, I thought on final, and then land.

Gen Yeager: No. (And he repeated what he had said) and then: You get a downdraft and you are going to land even harder and hurt your airplane and yourself.

Me: I think I was overcompensating for being too high and too fast last time.

Gen Yeager: Well, watch your airspeed. And you could have been lower on final.

After lunch, Gen Yeager headed back while I did a detour to check out Quincy – nice town, lots of interesting places to eat – wish we had those in Grass Valley. And the city hall and museum area – nice and open. The facades along the main street – that old western feel which I love.

I headed back to the airport jogging to catch up to Gen Yeager.

At the airport is the Visitors Center. I asked the woman there (Casey) if we might be able to get a ride into town next time – it’s a long way in when we’re hungry.

Johnny was talking to Gen Yeager – gave Gen Yeager a book about himself. Casey came out to get an autograph for her husband whose birthday was the next day and who thinks the world of Chuck Yeager.

Gen Yeager wanted to take off the opposite direction “recommended” to show me how to handle rising terrain and valleys and how to judge if there’s enough room to climb.

I asked Johnny about it. He said there’s no wind – we recommend 6. He assessed the situation (that Gen Yeager wanted to take off on 24 and checked the wind) and said, you’ll be fine, the wind is coming from the south in the valley as usual so you’ll have some up drafts if you stay to the north side. Remember you never fly down the middle of a valley because you may not have room to turn around and if you turn downwind you’ll have to turn steeply and all your lift is in the turn and that’s where you get in trouble.

After we were alone, Gen Yeager to me: You’ll be 1000’ above the ridges before you get to them.

I remind Gen Yeager that I ask others because sometimes they tell me, or remind me of, things that Gen Yeager assumes I remember. I don’t EVER ask others because I don’t believe Gen Yeager.

We talked a little while longer and then headed to our plane. Another plane was just coming in – a family of four (two little girls).

While getting in I said “Hello” to one daughter staring at me from just outside their plane. “Are you from here?”

The father said, No, the bay area.

I started getting myself in the plane.

The pilot started walking over with his toddler daughter.

Gen Yeager: Sorry – we have to get going. (To head them off – sometimes he likes to just be left alone which is fair.)

Me: Sorry –

The fellow said whoops and headed back. I wish we had had time – they seemed like a nice family.

I was a little distracted so didn’t call our FBO to commence flight following again.

I realize more than ever, now that I am a pilot, that it is very important to not talk about anything else while prepping to fly. And by the same token, I am going to try to remember to not approach anyone as they are preparing to fly.

Gen Yeager doesn’t want anyone coming up to him an hour before he’s to fly a plane especially one he hasn’t flown in a while.

We taxied down to the other end, did the run up and Gen Yeager was pleased – well, I was! – that I remembered to go to the very edge.

Me: Ready

Gen Y: Yes. Now remember turn slightly to the right once you’re airborne

Me: Okay.

I held the brakes, slowly push the throttle up to full power, let go the brakes and we were off.

We climbed quickly, We turned slightly right.

Gen Y: See? Plenty of time to get above the ridges!

Me: (The eloquent one) Yep!

We were getting all sorts of updrafts and lift.

Gen Y: This is a much better way to go – more on track to Grass Valley.

He was right.

We headed home. We had some moderate turbulence now and again, but it was a little less hazy.

About 20 miles out, I saw the airport.

Gen Yeager: Now remember don’t go so slow when you land you lose lift.

Me: O.K. (gulp. I knew my timing was off, and had thought I needed to talk to I#1 – maybe even do a short lesson with him but Gen Yeager was right on, as usual).

There was some more turbulence and I thought – oh sure, and now there’s crosswinds too!

I did the pattern and came in about the right height but we were sinking so as I put on power, Gen Yeager mimed putting on power. Great minds….I wish!

And we got to the numbers and I pulled the power but again we were sinking too fast so I put some on and waited till we just about touching and pulled the power and we…..yikes!… greased it on.

Woo hooo! And Phew!

Another great adventure with Gen Yeager!


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