It feels like years since I've made a decent landing in an airplane. I'm in a slump. I can't tell you for sure when it began, and now I can't tell you when it's going to end.
This is one of the problem with being a renter: It's too expensive to get out and keep one's skills sharp. Yesterday, Carolie and I flew along the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers to check out flooding that hit last week after some areas got 10 or more inches of rain in 24 hours.
Carolie usually doesn't fly with me, so it was nice to have her along. It was a little bumpy down low and she probably drove up the stock of Benadryl a fair amount, but she's a trooper:
And before the flight, I perform the traditional toast to the airplane.
Actually, I'm checking the fuel sample I just took out of the wing tank.
Then we flew...
The actual flying skills were fine -- better than fine, actually. I held altitude at 1,000 feet AGL in steep turns over Pine Island. While filming.
What else went right? Situational awareness. We flew well, we spotted the traffic (including birds) we needed to find, we did a great job of communicating through some busy airspace around Mankato, keeping everyone alert for us, and helping them navigate around us. We got a great view of tow plane, cutting its tie to a Civil Air Patrol glider over Mankato, and then diving for the ground.
There's just this landing thing to overcome.
We headed over to Red Wing for a bathroom break and a check of the Vikings score. Red Wing is a huge runway (5,000 feet), along the Mississippi, below bluffs on the Wisconsin side. And, sure, it gets a little squirrely, but it shouldn't have been as poor a landing as it was, especially given an incredibly stabilized four mile final.
But it was a bad landing, partially because the size of the runway makes you think you're lower than you really are, and partly because I'm not focusing on the far end of the runway, I'm looking ahead of the nose. I know this is the problem, I'm just not getting out enough to practice it.
So as we bounced down the runway, I firewalled the throttle and executed a go-around, which couldn't have thrilled Carolie, who rarely flies with me and didn't know what I was doing.
The second landing was a little better, but I still dropped it the last 10 feet or so.
And back at Flying Cloud -- a more familiar runway -- I had a better landing, but still not great.
As the RV-7A project nears its conclusion, I always think immediately after landings, "What would have happened if you were flying an RV?" I don't like the answer.
(If you're reading this via Facebook, you'll have to go to the "original posting" to see the video and Flash slideshow)
An interview with Tom Berge
3 months ago