Thursday, May 24, 2007

Playing on the grass.

1.6 hrs – “short cross country to Greenbank and back”. Simple number and a one-liner in the logbook hide so many experiences and emotions. Joys of grass landings as they supposed to be done (in the tail dragger!), flying low and seeing the earth come alive with flowers, grasses and leaves in the late spring and my first ever tail dragger passenger.

It was a gorgeous day at the end of a long weekend, the one we all wished for with all the wind, clouds, hail, storms that Mother Nature unleashed on us in the days before. Winds calm, visibility unlimited, temperature just right for inside the plane in the sun – it was a perfect flying day.

I had my dual acro lesson that morning, and seeing the glorious forecast, made an afternoon booking as well. Did not want to push my body too much, so decided against second acro that day and instead invited a best friend (who is also a great photographer) to come along as I flew to a local grass field to practice my grass landings.
As I was checking out the plane, my passenger occupied himself by taking some interesting pictures of my rental Citabria. Check ups done, we got inside were soon rolling to the run up bay.

I was concentrating on getting all my check lists items done and did not even notice the camera clicking behind me as I was flipping the switches.

Take off was uneventful and soon we were floating in the sea of green as various fields, farms and ravines passed under our wings. The warm air radiating from the ground was starting to cause a few bumps here and there, but seeing that we were both quite comfortable to ride those out, I decided to stay at 2,000 ft, not climb any higher.

Citabria does not have the Heading Indicator or any navigation instruments save for the compass, and with the bumps, holding the compass course would be difficult, so I pulled the maps, figured out which roads would end near the airport and just followed the roads.

Greenbank, so appropriately named, has 2 grass runways and is surrounded by farm fields and ravines, so it was quite difficult to spot. I made my calls to Unicom, but the radio in the Citabria was unusually squeaky, so I did not expect any answer (Greenbank is advisory frequency).

We flew over the field looking at the sock, which indicated Rwy 34 would be appropriate. I then turned around, descended to circuit attitude and joined the downwind for Rwy 34, making the calls. With the day being that beautiful, I asked my passenger to keep an eye for other planes as well, expecting lots, but we have seen none and had the little airport all to ourselves.
As I lined up with the Rwy, I realized that I was coming too low and was slowing down. Something in all that greenery disturbed my visual references a bit. I made the power and pitch adjustments and soon landed just fine with a bit of a bounce. Rolling to a full stop, I let my passenger and his cameras out to set up for shooting my touch and goes.

Made a few touch and goes trying to perfect the glide to the field w/o needing much power adjustments and had one of the very beautiful landings and couple of small bounces. And lots of great shots were taken as well.
Having had enough of touch and goes, I picked up my passenger and we flew a bit of a sight seeing tour over Lake Scugog and then made our way to the home field talking about how nice it was and how we wanted to do that again.
It was amazing to be able to share the plane that I normally have all to myself with a close friend and have some great pictures to prove it too.

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