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2004 Rough River Diary - Day 3

Date: October 3, 2004

Sunday started early (for me, anyway, at 7:30 AM - John was up at 6:30 AM) with bright sun and a cool breeze - the sky was clear blue and visibility was great.  I wandered around a bit talking to folks and looking at planes for a while.  Some folks were already starting to pack up and leave.  I packed up all my stuff and rolled up the sleeping bag and pad in preparation for leaving.  Although John had already eaten breakfast, he accompanied me to a LEISURELY breakfast of waffles in the lodge.  Around 10 AM, we wandered back to the tent and watched a long line of canards departing on runway 20 as we finished packing up and taking down the tent.

I waited for Matt Bunch and his almost 6 year old son to arrive in their C-150 from Lexington, KY - we had made arrangements for a left seat checkout for him, since his COZY III is just about ready to fly.  He arrived around 11:00 AM, so we still had time to do the flight.  It took a few minutes to get out, since we had to back taxi on the runway (no taxiways at RR) in between many departures and a few arrivals.  We took off with Matt's son on the booster seat in the back - in the rush to depart, I neglected to set the DG and the altimeter - stupid, but hardly critical on a Clear Air, Visibility Unlimited (CAVU) day.  Once in the air, I handed the controls over to Matt, and he felt the plane out - some climbs, descents, turns, etc.  We flew about 20 miles over to Ohio County Airport (7K4), since the runway was 4800 ft. long.  We entered a long 45 degree downwind, Matt flying the whole time.  Matt was very thorough, asking about altitudes, airspeeds, critical instruments - extremely safety aware.  He flew a very nice pattern and brought us in for a good landing - I didn't touch the controls once - just talked him through it.  Since the altimeter was off a bit, the first pattern was somewhat low, so we didn't use the landing brake.

This was a strange airport (at least for me, coming from some congested airspace/airports) - there was a 4800 ft. runway that looked as though it had been recently paved and painted, but there were NO airplanes there, no hangars, and just one large building that didn't seem to have any folks around.  There was no other traffic anywhere near it.  Hmmmm...

After adjusting the altimeter (Matt was a gentleman and didn't mention to me that I had forgotten to do it upon original departure), we took off for another pattern.  Matt was whizzing through 2000 ft. AGL when I mentioned that he should throttle back and stop climbing - the COZY climbs just a BIT faster than the C-150 he was used to :-).  He brought us around for another landing, and this one was another good one, using the landing brake for a steeper descent.  At that point, Matt's son started complaining that his ear was hurting (prior to that he had been a complete angel in the back - never making a peep).  We took off again and headed back to RR.  On the way, we demonstrated some stalls, again with the 30 degree turns.  Then Matt did some 60 degree turns to see how the plane dealt with them, and he got us back into the pattern at RR.

I took over on downwind, overshot the final, and then made a crappy landing (I'll blame it on being in the right seat and having a different sight picture) - I landed a bit sideways and put up a puff of white smoke from the tire, and did a very slight bit of damage to the right wheelpants.  Obviously, I need to practice landings from the right seat a bit more in preparation for the checkout rides that I give - it's hardly a ringing endorsement of me as a pilot if I can't fly the dang thing from both seats :-).

Anyway, Matt was very happy with the ride and the plane's performance, and I'm sure he'll be able to fly his plane no problem given the two landings he made.  I taxied over to the gas pump and fueled up, and John and I loaded all our stuff in the back for the return trip.  By that time, there were only two or three canards left on the field, and Eddie Bryant was working hard with Michael Link to figure out what the heck was wrong with Michael's right brake - they had bled it twice and it still wasn't working - I speculated that the master cylinder was leaking internally......

John and I loaded up and taxied out, and Nick Ugolini taxied out behind us.  We departed to the east-northeast, and Nick headed out toward St. Louis to the northwest.  We were off the ground at 2 PM EDT, almost exactly, and climbed up to 7500 ft, above what little haze there was on exactly the same path as we had come.  We had about a 10 - 15 kt tailwind, so we decided to try and make it all the way back to Fitchburg in one shot - no stops.  We climbed up to 9500 ft. to see if the winds were any better up there, but they were actually a few kt worse, so we went back down to 7500 ft.

The sky was CAVU the whole way back, and the winds varied from 10 to 20 to 5 Kt. tailwind along the way - it was beautiful.  We did manage to see Wurtsboro (N82) on the way back, and it was just as I remembered it 30 years before.  While passing over the Hudson river, we were able to see the Catskill mountains behind us, the Adirondacks to the north, the Green mountains of Vermont to the Northeast, NYC to the south, Albany to the north up the river, Hartford, CT to the southeast, and in another 10 minutes, Boston even further to the east.  We landed at Fitchburg (KFIT) at 6:01 PM, almost exactly 4 hours after we took off.  We traveled 742 nautical niles TO RR at an average speed of 156 kt (180 mph) into a headwind, and traveled 742 miles back from RR at an average speed of 185.5 kt (213 mph) with a tailwind.  We landed with 8 gallons of gas (I had the throttle firewalled the whole time, and leaned to peak EGT at 75% power, burning about 11 gal/hr.).  I need to get a fuel flow gauge :-).

So, a GREAT Rough River outing - tremendous people, tremendous planes, NO ORGANIZATION :-), no plans, just a good time.  Lot's better than OSH or Sun & Fun, unless you want to buy stuff.  The only thing that would have made it better [no offense, John] is if my wife had come with me instead :-). Once the kid is in college, she'll come next year, so I'm looking forward to it even more!

Thanks to everyone for a great time!

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