Lesson 123
3 October 1999
2 hours
A Nice 172 Day
(with some odd things)

We had a nice, clear day here, although when we got to the airport the wind was 230 at 8 gusting 14.  That was close enough to count as a 90-degree crosswind on FCI's runway, 15-33.  It had been 78 days since I last flew a 172, so I did a couple of landings alone before taking up Chris (my elder son) and his cousin Ross.  The crosswind landings were--well, not nearly as bad as I'd feared.  Heard some tire chirping, but otherwise they were okay.  Back at the ramp I shut down the engine and the boys climbed in.  Chris volunteered to sit in back because this was Ross's first ride in a light airplane.  Unfortunately, the FBO didn't have a spare headset, so Chris also volunteered to go without and let his ears ring.  I was not happy with the FBO.  Chris was probably a lot less happy, but he didn't complain.

We flew around for a while, looking at things on the ground and taking it easy to be sure that Ross was having a good time.  When I though it was about Chris's turn to sit in front, I landed at PTB--a piece of cake with the wind straight down runway 23.  But Chris said he'd stay in back, so I taxied back around to 23 and took off.  Suddenly I spotted a guy standing on the runway, although we were already at about 50 feet by then because of the wind and passed well above him.  He was retrieving a large radio-control model that had evidently landed on 23, and then I saw that there were about 30 cars parked in the grass and dozens of people flying models along runway 32, west of its intersection with 23.  Interesting.

We left the pattern and climbed to 2000 feet.. I was still tuned to the PTB UNICOM frequency, although there was no traffic at all.  I decided it was time for Ross to try flying and started explaining how some things worked--what the throttle does and the elevators, and stuff like that.

The next thing I knew,  someone came on the radio and said, "Aircraft giving a lesson to a non-pilot passenger, you're not on intercom, you're on the air."

Oops.  I still have no idea of what went wrong.  Neither mike button was down.  And we were able to hear the other guy while we were talking on the intercom.  Weird.  That 172 has two comm radios, and I'd been using the second one for PTB, so I just turned it off--and hoped that the rest of what we said wasn't getting broadcast.  It it was, no one else said anything.

Ross did a pretty good job of holding it straight and level, and he was able to turn to a heading nicely, too.  He's probably a natural.

We flew north then and gawked at familiar roads, schools, shopping malls, and whatall.  Then we flew west along the river, staying low enough to see things, but high enough to be well above the power line.

The wind was light when we got back to FCI, and the landing was easy.  Nevertheless I managed to do something dumb.  We were approaching from due west and they were using 15, so I set up to enter on the 45 to upwind, which is standard practice there.  But I'd been talking with Ross and somehow I got twisted in my head and announced entering on the 45 for downwind for 15.  Just wasn't thinking.  Right away some guy said he was on downwind for 15 and wanted to know where I was.  Still not thinking, I said a mile from the field.  Stupid stupid--as if "a mile from the field" meant anything.  Two stupid things together!  Of course he said he couldn't see us and I said I couldn't see him and we both worried unnecessarily.  Finally I figured out that I'd said downwind, not upwind, and felt really stupid.  Then when I really was on downwind, a Cherokee got on downwind right behind us, moving a lot faster and was already turning final before we made the runway.  I turned off at the first taxiway, but he was already on the ground and passed behind us just as I got to the hold line.  I suppose that's a little of what it's like at Oshkosh, when they're landing simultaneously short and long on the same runway..

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