A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Tyson and Russ stayed up all hours Friday night trying to install the rebuilt magneto in the Bearhawk. Saturday morning they restarted the project and finally assembled the airplane around 11AM. When Tyson then took the airplane out for a test flight, Isaac watched excitedly. So we walked over to the hangar to say a brief hi to Russ and see if Isaac could get a ride in the airplane.

We started to clean out the spare jumper cables and paper towels from the back of the Bearhawk. Tyson figured if he was taking Isaac flying, he might as well go over to Jaffrey to get gas. I checked my tanks and decided I wanted to top off too before our trip to western Massachusetts the following day. So we put everything back in to the Bearhawk so we both could taxi over to the house and get headsets. Except I discovered after pulling my airplane out, preflighting, and buckling in, that I had no key. While I was walking back to the house, Diane texted Tyson, so he invited the three of them to come along for lunch and ice cream at Kimballs in Jaffrey.

When we started this whole discussion, the weather had been a low overcast and kind of cold. Tyson even called over to Jaffrey to make sure he could get across the Wapack ridge. By the time we had everything sorted out for our evolving plan, it was sunny, T-shirt and shorts weather, and kind of breezy.

RV flight plan

RV flight plan

Diane and I taxied out first. Apparently Tyson left the master switch on in the Bearhawk. So we found him in front of the house jumping the Bearhawk yet again. Good thing we left the jumped cables available.

At Jaffrey, the winds were almost directly across the runway. Additionally, I had a passenger, Diane, in the back seat which reduces the climb performance and significantly changes the trim. I kept that in mind but did not let it distract me from properly compensating for the cross wind on landing. I think this was the most significant cross wind I had landed in yet. I rolled onto the pavement with the left wing low and the right tire well into the air. I apparently corrected insufficiently for the cross wind because I landed on the downwind side of the runway and then slowly swerved to the upwind side. Overall, though it was a decent landing.

Then we had lunch and ice cream. Tyson and his Dad went off to Keene to pick up another airplane. They took so long we were starting to consider putting Tyson’s ice cream in the freezer and eating his lunch. Isaac spent the time riding around on a little tractor push toy. And Ian got to taxi in the big two-engine Aztec when it came back. So all the kids were happy.

After lunch, I asked Diane if she wanted to fly anywhere in particular. She said we could go fly anywhere I wanted. Since we had already flown around Monadnock on the way over, I decided to go down to Wachusett and do a landing at Fitchburg. Wachusett still had pockets of snow here and there.

I listened to the Fitchburg automated weather (ASOS) and it reported winds from 220° at 15kts gusting to 23kts. They have a runway 20, which would be 20° off the wind, so that sounded pretty doable. No one else seemed to be out flying. I went around the pattern. About mid-field on the downwind, I looked down at the wind sock, and it pointed straight across the runway. I decided to circle and reconsider runways. The ASOS now said winds from 290°, so runway 34 would be better. Another airplane showed up in the pattern and headed for 34, so I followed along behind them. The Brookline airport is down in the trees and is protected from cross winds where you actually land. Fitchburg is the opposite. The runways are surrounded by wide open grass. Coming down final, I hit some significant wind shear including one particularly rapid sink. I had to apply significant cross wind correction again, but this time I did not apply enough. I ended up with a sharper swerve than I was happy with. We taxied back and took off with the windsock limp.

From there it is a short flight back to Brookline. I flew final a little bit fast to maintain margin for the bumpy air and wind shear. Because of that I landed long, but the cross winds were not a big deal.