15th March 08:48
Wife dares to go again
For the second time in my wife's life, she agreed to go flying with me
Saturday. Saturday up here in northern New England was a brilliant
clear day with very little wind. It was a perfect day to go up and
see the foliage, which, while not as brilliant as years past, was none
the less a real color show. I really wanted my wife to be able to
enjoy the views that, till now, were something I and only a few others
The very little wind is important anytime I consider flying with my
wife because she is prone to motion sickness. Once in the air, all
turning has to be at minimal bank attitude, as I mentioned when I
would continue to go down until we were upside down.
Now that she was an old veteran of one flight, I thought that she
would be more comfortable this time; she'd know more what to expect.
I always try to get the older of the two available 172's because it
starts easier and the cable pulleys have less friction. The controls
return to neutral, whereas the newer 172's controls do not. It isn't
an issue, or dangerous, I just like the older 172 better.
But that wasn't what was available, I was given the new boy. It has
it's pluses, one of which are the nice leather seats and the newer
GPS. I pointed the leather seats out to my wife as I went through the
preflight. Nice leather smell.
The airport was pretty busy, with 3 business jets parked at the ramp
and a big LOUD Falcon jet taxiing in, plus a Cherokee that came to a
stop in front of us. In addition, the tower frequency was busy with
departures and arrivals.
With preflight over, we climbed in and got ourselves situated. My
wife remembered that her window could be opened and immediately did
so. I was pleased to see this as it showed she had paid attention
during the first flight.
I knew that the startup could be difficult as the engine was still hot
from the previous flight. I'd had one other experience with this
airplane and I could not get it running. That was when I was a
student and this time I did not have anyone to turn to if it wouldn't
I was careful to avoid using the auxilary fuel pump as that caused
trouble the first time I tried starting it. The engine went into
hydraulic lock that time and eventually I gave up and switched to the
Darned if the prop didn't spin halfway and stop. I was surprised as I
hadn't touched the mixture control and had only moved the throttle to
1/4" pushed in.
I commented to my wife that we might have to wait a while for the gas
to evaporate. I tried various settings and finally went to full
throttle to see if the engine would at least spin over to give it a
chance to fire. It finally did start spinning normally and suddenly
we heard a pop. My wife said that that sounded encouraging. Another
crank and it started, which necessitated some rapid movements with my
right hand to shove the mixture in quickly and .... the engine cought
and ran. I grabbed the throttle and retarded it from full to around
1,000 rpms and let it run there for a few seconds before daring to
bring it down to a normal idle. Whew, what a chore, but at least we
Taxi and takeoff were normal, my wife had the digital camera and her
job was to shoot pictures of whatever caught her eye. I hoped that
handling the camera would distract her if we ran into turbulence.
I had told the Tower that we would head NW and he cleared me out of
the pattern. I turned up the White River, which was basically right
in front of us, following it towards Sharon Vermont, where we would
turn north and wander over towards Strafford. I'd told several people
we were going flying, and promised I'd cruise by their property.
While going up the White River, the air was glass smooth and I had
hopes it would stay that way, but once we turned north and headed out
over the hills, which characterize this area, we encountered
occasional little bumps. I mean really little, they barely upset the
airplane at all. But when you are prone to motion sickness, any bump
is a problem. My wife was snapping pictures like crazy, the
countryside was just berzerck with orange and yellows, mixed in with
the clumps of evergreens as far as the eye could see. The foliage was
But now, half an hour into the flight, the bumps had gotten to her and
she asked to return. I turned south towards Lebanon and pointed out
Mt. Ascutney as the geographic marker that helps bring us back, hoping
that the activity would help.
Her ears were also bothering her by now which seemed strange to me as
they did not bother at first and I'd not changed altitude since
reaching 3,000 feet. But now, something happened that really pleased
me. Something that demonstrated that she was really plugged in to the
flight and what's happening around her.
I listened to ATIS and picked that up. It hadn't changed since we
took off, but the tower was still pretty busy. We listened to the
chatter as we cruised in towards the field, waiting till I was ten
miles out before calling in. When I found a pause in the radio
responses, I contacted the tower and reported north of the field for
landing. I was directed to a right base for 25 and to call in at 3
miles. I set the heading bug for 25 and pointed out to my wife what
that meant in terms of our approach and the turns I'd be making and
showed her on the GPS how I'd be watching for our distance from the
field. I'd already learned that she likes to know in advance what I'm
going to be doing. In the meantime several other airplanes were
approaching, plus a helicopter wanted to transition the airspace at
around 500 feet. There was also traffic on the ground that wasn't
responding to the tower's contact. We both listened to the radio,
with me commenting that the guy who wasn't responding was making the
We were now about 5 or 6 miles out and there was traffic on a long
final in front of us, coming straight in. They'd pass from left to
right and I suggested my wife look for it as a means of keeping her
appraised of the situation. In the meantime, the tower, which did not
have me in sight yet, began calling: "68 Charlie, say position".
Normally, I'm not in 68 Charlie, and I missed the first couple of
calls thinking I was in 4 Sierra Pop. By the third call, I commented
to my wife that THIS guy was also pissing off the tower and she
suddenly exclaimed: "That's US!"
WHOA, so it was. I quickly called in telling the tower I was 4 miles
out. The Tower, sounding relieved, replied "OK, you are number two to
land following the traffic on short final." By the time I was at 3
miles and calling in again, I had the landing traffic in sight and
pointed it out, it was just touching down.
We turned in on final in good shape. I wish I could say that I
absolutely greased it on as a nice finish to an interesting flight,
but I didn't. We were drifting slightly to the right when I connected
to the runway which jolted us both to the right in the seats.
I apologised to my wife and we had a pretty interesting discussion
about the process of landing. She wanted to know how I knew how high
we were when I rounded out in the flare. I said that you get to
understand after flying for a bit and that your impression gets better
with practice. I added that if you observe what the ground looks like
when sitting in the ****pit on the ground, that's what you're looking
for. Obviously, my impression could use some honing...
All and all I'm very pleased with the interest my wife is taking in
the airplane and the aspects of flight. She's still keeping the seat
WELL back so as to absolutely and completely make sure she isn't near
the controls. She's afraid that if she touches something, we'll go
out of control, an impression I hope will dissapate with familiarity.
But she demonstrated on this flight that she is paying attention and
not just riding along as a non interested passenger.
15th March 08:49
Wife dares to go again
Aye, she is a brave lass,, she is!!! :-)
Sounds like ya must have done just fine! As long as they keep heading
towards the plane instead of running every anything remotely resembling the
silhouette of an airplane appears - you must be doing all the right
Cecil E. Chapman, Jr.
"We who fly do so for the love of flying.
We are alive in the air with this miracle
that lies in our hands and beneath our feet"
- Cecil Day Lewis-
Check out my personal flying adventures: http://www.bayareapilot.com
16th March 07:44
Wife dares to go again
Be careful about this. For a lot of people, using a viewfinder makes
motion sickness much worse.
Overall, sounds like fun!
I don't know if your 172 is fuel-injected, and check with an instructor
first, but when I used to have a fuel injected engine, I hated having
to start it hot. Then my CFI showed me a trick - flood it. There's
a "flooded start" procedure in the book, so he had me run the fuel
pump a few seconds more then usual, and that would clear out any
vapor lock in the lines and get plenty of cold fuel in the lines and
engine - then quickly do the "flooded start" checklist. Worked every time.
16th March 07:45
Wife dares to go again
That's eventually what got the engine started. Makes for some
exciting moments when the engine finally does start though...
The camera we used is a digital, and you don't have to look through a
lens finder to use it, you just hold it up and look at the LCD screen.
When you see what you want, even if the camera is being held several
feet away from your face, you snap the picture. Don't know if using
the camera was a factor in her mild nausea this flight or not. We'll
find out next time we go flying, we'll leave the camera at home or in
the flight bag.
The main thing with her was the increasing discomfort she felt from
the pressure in her ears. I was surprised to learn from her that it
wasn't bad at first but then increased. We did not leave 3,000 feet
during the time of the flight so I don't understand how the discomfort
would grow for her. I wonder if her ears are mildly blocked?