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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Luke's report on N4653T

Here is Luke's report on his flight in N4653T:

All my glider flying thus far has been in the Schweizer 2-33, with one flight in the Grob G103 Acro with Bob Holiday. My flight in Leah's Cherokee II, 4653T, gave me my first glimpse into single-seat flying.

Tony gave me a quick rundown on the airplane and let me sit in the cockpit while he lifted the tail to demonstrate various pitch attitudes. He explained that most pilots tend to over-control in pitch on their first takeoff in a single seater...and while I had this in mind the whole time, I still managed to bobble a little bit on takeoff but recovered quickly.

I was expecting to need some forward pressure on tow...but was pleasantly surprised that the Cherokee tracked behind the towplane nicely with very little control input. Part of the reason for that is because it was around 8:00 and most of the wind and thermals had subsided for the day.

Everything seems to happen much quicker in the Cherokee than the 2-33, and speed correction is no exception. Several times I'd be in a bank, look down, and see the airspeed indicator pushing 70. You can really tell when you speed up in the 2-33 because it gets a lot louder. Not so in the Cherokee.

I tried a few stalls, some straight ahead and some in bank. As Tony had warned me, there is a lot less incipient stall indication in the Cherokee. Once you feel the buffet, you are fully stalled, and the left wing tends to drop. Easily recoverable though. I did get a secondary stall on my first try however, I got the impression it takes a little longer for the Cherokee to regain flying speed than the 2-33. Either that or I've never had the 2-33 stalled as completely as I did in the Cherokee.

I also tried a few slips at altitude. It took me a few tries to get comfortable with the recovery, smoothly rolling out of the bank and rudder input without too many oscillations. On that note, I felt like I was okay at keeping the Cherokee coordinated while rolling into turns, but rolling out was a different story. Possibly because it doesn't require as much opposite rudder to roll out as the 2-33, but it's something I would have to fine-tune on further flights.

The approach and landing was pretty straightforward. I had watched Tony come in really high on his previous flight, and not wanting to test my newly-acquired Cherokee-slipping skills in front of everybody, I made sure to widen out the approach a bit. The airplane is definitely happy in the air and did not want to come back down! The airbrakes don't do much, but I was expecting that too, per Tony's instruction. Landing attitude felt very much the same as the 2-33, but with no tailwheel on the Cherokee the touchdown and rollout seemed much louder.

Tony is as sly as a used car salesman...letting me fly the Cherokee like that. Next thing I know, I'll be buying my own!

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