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I took 59H up today. I charged 15 minutes of time to MTX since I had to try to figure out what is wrong with its ADF, but then flew an additional two hours, just because it was a beautiful day today (well, a little hazy, but little wind and a very high cloud deck).

The problem with the ADF turns out to be grit or something in one of the frequency selector knobs. After turning it to a different digit (this is a completely electromechanical device, read: ANCIENT) it doesn't make its connection very well and the radio won't receive nor will the DF needle point. Jiggling the knob causes a big burst of static and then eventually the station comes in, and then the needle faithfully points at the transmitter. I'd be more concerned about this if the ADF were at all critical, but I suspect that other than the instrument students having to practice NDB approaches, it never gets used. I'm going to recommend that we not get it fixed... that much more money to put towards an IFR panel GPS.

Speaking of GPS, this was the first moderate-haul cross-country flight I took with my handheld, and the first time I really put it through all its paces. The thing is absolutely amazing. Between its cute little HSI display, lots of graphical trend indicators, and a "course-to-steer" bug, it wasn't hard to stay within 100 feet of the plotted course the whole way. And it even handily computed the winds aloft for me (and adjusted the predicted groundspeeds and ETE's for future legs accordingly) AND led my turns. I completely ignored the VOR's and the DME, which felt a little odd. I knew in theory and from having played with this thing plenty on the ground that it had a lot of capabilities, but its software is heavily aviation-centric, so this was the first time I could really see what it's capable of. Obviously, the way of the future.

Back home, I flew a good pattern (I had discarded the GPS for pattern flight but did not turn it off, so later when I looked at its track markers, it showed a beautifully rectangular right-hand pattern with nice square turns--good after-the-fact feedback)... but then, as usual for me, I came in hot on final and floated in ground effect for over a thousand feet down the runway. Embarrassing.

But overall, a good flight, and I'm pleased with myself. I must remember that my vague anxiety about flying alone is not really warranted, and evaporates immediately when I get in the air. I'd probably go up a lot more if I could break that cycle.

Pushing the plane back into the T-hangar alone is not so fun, though... it's a slight upward incline and I can barely, by putting all my weight into it, get the plane to move.




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July 2013