Sunday, October 08, 2006

Joy riding in the sky

Well this morning saw Matt and I take a jaunt in John's beautiful bi-plane. It's an Acro Duster and is open cockpit tandem seating. I called John in the morning to double check if his offer of taking us up the night before was still on and he gave me the thumbs up. I called Matt to let him know, had a quick shower and we drove down to John's hanger.

When we got there, John already had her out and was about to set-off to fuel her up. Matt and I took out our cameras and waited for him to return. When he got back, we had lots of fun trying to fit me in the cockpit. It's a tight fit, especially for someone who's legs are as long as mine. But we managed it. Then the next fun bit was trying to get the five point harness strapped around me so I wouldn't fall out. We managed to figure it out with a little help from John. Then I tried on the hat with the headphones, Matt took a few photo's and then off we went.

It's a taildragger, which means that you have to swing side to side to see what's up ahead as the forward visibility isn't too good when on the ground. John got taxi clearance and we made our way to the runway. We took off from 27R and made our way to El Capitan lake and did some light aerobatics there. Then John gave me the controls and my god is it different. Flying a Cessna is like flying a tin can with wings.....they fly, but are extremely manouverable. That's the whole point to them being a good trainer, because they're stable. But flying John's was totally different. It was very ginger at first, afraid to do too much, but then John told me to try turns to the left and right. I was putting in too much rudder, again my foot is heavy because I'm used to the Cessna's. But I think I eventually got the knack. Only the lightest touch is needed on John's plane. Then we did some lazy eights in the sky and climbed back up.

Because it's a opencockpit plane, the wind rushes past you and it makes communicating between one another rather difficult. So we had a deal that if I see traffic ahead and think John hasn't seen it, then I waggle the stick and then take control to steer us away from the traffic. It happened to us briefly and I helped steer us clear and then handed control back to John. On the way back to Gillespie though I was worried that he wasn't away of a mountain looming ahead of us. So I asked John, he climbed just to be doubly sure and made our way back to Gillespie.

A soft landing later and a taxy back to John's hanger, I then had fun getting out of the harness again. We then shot off for lunch before returning again for Matt to have his spin in her. I made my way then to the school to get ready for my solo cross country......more on that later.

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