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About 80% of general aviation aircraft fly using Lycoming engines. Clearing the trees at the end of the runway. Leaving 4500ft for 6500ft. Maintaining airflow and generating lift across the wings. All are impossible without a reliable engine. Lycoming powers my training aircraft and so fuels my quest for a private pilot certificate. This blog is a record of my thoughts and experiences on life, flight, and learning.

17 January 2006

Final for 22...uh, I mean 04

Well, it had been a long time. 76 days to be exact. But after weathering a few months of 70-80hr weeks at work, watching those Ohio clouds cruise by spitting rain and sleet as they went, and waiting for the airplane to come out of its yearly coma, I finally got up in the air on Sunday.

This being the first time that I had flown our C-172 since the inspection, I took a great deal of extra care in my pre-flight, just to make sure that I didn't miss anything. You look at an aircraft differently after you've seen its guts! Also, though I had listened to The Finer Points and every other aviation podcast I could get my iPod on, it had really been a long, long time since I was behind the controls.

Sunday was perfect! Temperature was about 2°C, altimeter 30.06, SCTD 7000, and a 45 degree cross-wind at 3-4knots. You can't get any better weather during January in Ohio. So, I taxied up to the hold-short point on ol' runway 22, and ran through my checklist. During my engine warmup, I noted two Cherokees in the pattern calling on the UNICOM that they were in the pattern for runway 22. I listened as they noted their position (downwind, base, final), but looking around the sky, I just could not see them at all. So, I wondered if they were flying a right hand pattern, and looked to my left (down runway 22). What did I see but a Cherokee making a turn to final for 04, landing in the opposite direction that he had called. I don't know if he needed new glasses, or just needed to look at the chart a little more closely, but he didn't realize his mistake until he could see the numbers "04" painted on the runway during his final approach. Okay, Coshocton Richard Downing is not a towered airport, so you really have to watch out for other people.....but here's the situation: I'm holding short at runway 22, this Cherokee is landing towards me, and there is another cherokee on base that is going to land head-on with the first Cherokee. So, I radio the first Cherokee and tell him that I have him in sight, and that I will hold short. He says "OK".

He then misses the first turnoff and taxies all the way down the runway and pulls in front of me. I can't go anywhere - two airplanes on the runway with a third one landing is a recipe for disaster (or at least an FAA citation or two). This guy then taxies directly towards me, placing his wing underneath mine, and continuing on up the taxiway. Unbelievable. I feel like I should report him to the FAA for unsafe ground operations, or at least write the guy a letter telling him to plug his brain in next time. I guess this is why you need insurance....I should've chewed him out on the UNICOM, but maybe I'm too charitable. (EDIT: After doing some websearches, I found that this guy is on Piper Cherokee #2. Apparently his first one, crashed and burned in 1997 on a misjudged short field takeoff).

Well, Cherokee #2 landed shortly therafter, and I did an extremely thorough scan of the horizon before I departed. The rest of my day was fairly uneventful - had nice smooth air, and practiced turns, stalls, slow speed flight (70-75kts), and climbed to 5500ft. It was really nice - I should've had my camera - you could see CAK easily and powerplants down on the Ohio river. My landings were stellar (if I do say so - greasers - all five!). Good to be back in the saddle.