Lesson 68
4 June
0.9 hour
Because of maintenance on 4725B and 68608, I ended up in 65545--and learned a few things.
You'd think that all Cessna 152s would be alike.  Of course, they are the same in design and fundmental construction; it's in the details that they differ.  The seats in 25B are the 6-way deluxe ones that go up and down, as well as fore and aft.  However, they don't go down very far--their down is still about four inches higher than in the other two planes, but they also don't go back very far.  So in 25B I can see the horizon in all but the steepest climbs, but my knees stick up.  608's throttle moves only about half as far from closed to open as 25B's does.  Right now, 25B's front strut needs air, so the tail is high when it's parked.  608 needs more right rudder in a steep climb and a stall than 25B does.  Their radios are entirely different.  25B has a useful but complicated arrangement that lets you tune to one frequency while listening to another, and then switch between the two frequencies by pushing a button.  The VOR receiver works the same way.  It's very handy.  608, on the other hand, has a rock-bottom basic comm and VOR that do only one thing at a time--but are much easier to learn to use because they're so simple. What's all this have to do with 65545?  Naturally, it has entirely different radios than the other two.  It also has an ADF, which the others lack, and the VOR has a glideslope indicator, which they also lack.  The transponder and the audio panel are crammed all the way over on the right, hard to get at.
That's all well and good--more stuff to help you out.  And the airspeed indicator is the kind that's supposed to display corrected airspeed, and I guess that's nice, too.
The problem is, I got the feeling that I couldn't trust the fancy airspeed indicator.  On takeoff roll, it got up to 60 knots in a hurry, but the airplane wouldn't rotate until it indicated 65 knots, about 10 or 15 knots faster indicated than in the other planes.  So I rotated and then the airspeed indicator needle settled back down below 60, even though the airplane was continuing to accelerate.  Well, that's okay.  The controls--especially the ailerons--felt kind of odd, but the thing seemed to be flying all right, and after all I hadn't flown it in about six months, and never alone before, so I kept going.
I climbed to 1200 feet, headed west, and went on up to 2000 feet.  Leveled off at 2000 and trimmed it.  Took my hand off the yoke to see if it really was trimmed--and immediately it began banking to the left, enough so I had to correct it with some vigor.  Odd.  I tried it again--let go--and again it started banking left, and turning left, too, of course.  That time I let it go to see what would happen, and it went to 20 degrees, 30 degrees, and was rolling faster and faster toward 45 degrees when I stopped it.  With the wings level, it took only a little pressure, hardly noticeable, to keep it from banking.  But it needed a good bit more pressure to turn right than to turn left.  Just to be sure I wasn't imagining it, I tried letting go again, and it rolled right over to the left again.  The more it banked, the more it wanted to bank more.
That didn't make me feel terribly comfortable (although I didn't exactly feel terror, either)   Anyway I did a few turns around a point and S-turns along a road and decided that I could do them well enough, so I headed back to the airport, intending to do a few landings.  But the first turn around the pattern--turning left--didn't make me feel exactly at ease.  Neither did what I'd been noticing in the airspeed and altimeter readings.  The airspeed often didn't seem to indicate the real speed, and it seemed to vary in ways I couldn't fathom.  Also, the altimeter didn't seem to be reliable, either.  I'd be cruising along at an indicated 1500 feet and look down to see the ground looking much too close.  Open the throttle wide and haul back, but not seem to be climbing--and then all of a sudden I'd have climbed.  I don't think it was caused by drafts--or at least not like any I've encountered before.
Finally, I just got to feeling that either I or the airplane wasn't registering things right today.  So I decided to quit for the day after finishing the second landing.  Even that was unsettling.  I think I was landing pretty well, lined up nicely despite a little crosswind, when all of a sudden the thing just plumped down on the runway.  I was waiting for it to land, but it just suddenly dropped that last foot.  I don't think it was caused by a gust.  It didn't feel stalled and there wasn't a peep from the stall warning horn, but it just sat down.  Then the nose wheel began shimmying and wouldn't stop until the speed got below about 15 mph.  That was enough for me, even though I hadn't been up even an hour.  Had to go to the john, anyway.
Inside the terminal, I was talking with a woman who works there and who also is taking lessons.  I asked if she'd ever flown that plane and she said she flies it all the time.  So I told her about turning left.  She said, "I hope not.  We're taking it to Suffolk in a few minutes."
Well.  I'll try to remember to ask her on Monday how it went.  And I'm going to decline any future opportunities to fly N65545.
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