A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Owls Head Maine

November 22, 2014
Emilie Phillips

I flew Gary, another pilot on the field, up to Owls Head Maine to buy a Cessna 170A. He picked a cold Saturday morning with not much sun and a 40 knot wind from the southwest.

The RV had been parked for a while waiting for an oil change and some brake work, and then I hadn’t flown it since Tyson brought it back from service on Halloween. So I was itching to get some hours in. Flying up to Owls Head with company sounded like just the thing.

When getting an airplane back from the shop, it is good practice to be vigilant in case they didn’t hook something up right. On the flight back from Manchester, Tyson had two issues; well really three. Manchester ATC couldn’t detect his transponder, though that could have just been because Tyson couldn’t see the transponder in the dark well enough to turn it on. Later, the electric trim moved uncommanded all the way to one extreme, though that could have been Tyson accidentally pushing the buttons on the stick while trying to tune the radios in the dark. And the third problem was the batteries had run dead on the headlamp we carry in the airplane.

So I was on the lookout for all those problems on the way up to Owls Head, and trying to evaluate whether the brake had been fixed. I skirted around Manchester, climbing through Nashua’s air space, to give myself time to stabilize the aircraft before calling Manchester ATC for a transponder check. They said all was good. I also never had issues with the trim.

Flight plan from NH16 to Owls Head Maine

Flight plan from NH16 to Owls Head Maine

On the way up, the rising sun poked under the clouds out to sea and illuminated the snow on Mt Washington, highlighting it against the other mountains that disappeared into grey clouds. For the first half of the flight, we conversed about airplane stuff. Gary was buying this airplane to upgrade from a two seater to a four seater so he could carry more of his family. By the second half of the flight, whitecaps were forming on the ocean and I was getting too cold to be chatty. After an hour flight, when we arrived at Rockland Regional, I mixed up my runway headings, so I flew around the pattern an extra time. Between feeling sluggish from the long flight and the cold, and being uncertain about the brakes, my landing was somewhat sloppy. I also really noticed the aft center of gravity from a passenger and luggage in the back.

I parked for just long enough to let Gary out, get fuel, and a quick run to the bathroom. The surface winds were forecast to get gusty later, and it was too cold to socialize. Gary is a pretty big guy. After an hour stuffed in the back of the RV and cold, he had troubles getting out. For the flight home, I flew direct, no detours, and lower altitude to try to reduce the headwinds. It still took an hour and a half. Down where I was, the winds were turbulent from bouncing off the ground. Up higher pilots reported smooth air. Gary said it took him over two and a half hours to come back.

Back home, I did another sufficient landing. My brakes definitely were not working right. I headed straight to the house to light a fire to warm up. Once home I remembered that we had not finished splitting wood, so I warmed up doing that instead.