Sunday, March 27, 2011

Capt. Kyle Goes Flying

Capt. Kyle flying the plane.
My friend and crew member, Jake Miller, took me flying Thursday while we were visiting Oshkosh.  It was a perfect night for flying with cool, smooth air and great visibility.

Jake after the flight,
as Emmet runs by.

The scale of the earth is readily apparent.  I could see all of Lake Winnebago from a few thousand feet up.  From the air it's hard to believe the lake is 30 miles long and 10 miles across.  It'd take Donnybrook a few hours to cross and half the day to travel the length, something the Cessna 172 would do in a matter of minutes.  In fact, we could see Green Bay about 30 miles to the north, and Jake tells me you can see Manitowoc and Lake Michigan 60 miles away to the east on a clear day.

Conor during pre-flight.
The boys loved visiting the airport.  They "helped" with the pre-flight check out.  Karen and I decided it was best if they didn't fly.  Maybe in the future.  Besides, I wanted to have some fun and didn't want to risk giving the boys, most likely Conor, motion sickness.
Emmet during pre-flight.

Karen kept them entertained in the terminal building while we were in the air.  They watched me land and Emmet came running out to greet me and help put the plane away.

Captain Kyle climbing.
Note the horizon.

I did have fun!  Jake let me fly much of the time.  I practiced turns, dives, and ascents.  During one dive I had the plan up to 140+ knots (over 160 mph) airspeed, the fastest I've been in control of any vessel/vehicle/craft.  At 3500 feet it didn't seem as fast something low to the ground or on the water, but still a lot of fun.  We did some sharp banks, practiced stalls, experienced zero gravity, and did a few touch and goes before landing.

There are many parallels to flying and sailing.  Jake and I talked about some of them during the flight. The first is the weather.  You really are at mother nature's mercy.  As any good pilot would, Jake checked the weather several times.  The first prior to take-off.  Again while flying a nearby airport (adjusted altimeter based on local conditions), then again prior to landing.

Landing the plane and docking a boat give like challenges.  In both cases you're maneuvering close to immovable objects--dock in the case of the boat and the runway in the case of the airplane--and you don't want to hit either any faster than you have to.  Docking and landing are the hardest activities with either vessel.

Pressure over control surfaces is similar.  In boat sailing and flying the more pressure the easier it is to control.  As the plane slows down its response gets mushier and its less responsive.  As a sailboat slows down, the rudder is less responsive.

The sails on a boat are really infinitely adjustable air foils.  You can change the shape as conditions change.  The plane allows you a relatively finite amount of control.  On the plane you make your own wind (engine).  With the boat you harness the wind you can find.

I enjoy and respect both activities.  If I didn't live near a major body of water I'd be a recreational pilot.  In fact, I took several lessons (about 10 hours total) during college.  Maybe one of these days I'll be able to practice both.

No comments:

Post a Comment