I flew one of the club’s Archers to Batavia for an oil change and to get the wheel pants put on. I volunteers because I hadn’t flown in over a month and I needed to knock some rust off. A free flight in a plane that’s easier to fly than the Lance seemed like a good way to do it. The weather wasn’t great – there was a broken to overcast layer at about 6000 feet, and shafts of rain scattered all over the place. And as typical for a June afternoon, it was pretty bumpy.
After the oil change, I came back to Rochester and got the Lance ready to fly to Ottawa. I filed IFR at 9000 feet, and the Lance took its own sweet time getting up that high. Man that plane is getting aenemic. I barely got 300 fpm before I retracted the gear, and about 800 fpm afterwards, and getting worse and worse as I got higher. I climbed through a bit of a layer at 6,000 feet, and was in solid IMC at 9,000 feet for about 20 minutes before it cleared off and left me in pretty decent visual conditions. Man, I’m never going to keep IFR current in actual, am I?
I really wish I was able to fly more often to become a “better stick”. I have no problem with the procedures and the thinking part of flying, but I am just not happy with how well I can hold a course or an altitude. I hand flew the whole way for the practice, but even when I briefly put on the autopilot in order to dig out a chart, the autopilot did an absolutely horrible job of holding a heading – the turn coordinator is very very slow to react, and I think that makes the autopilot slow to respond and prone to overcorrect.
This was my first flight to Canada since getting my CANPASS registration. That means that I called beforehand, and didn’t have to call on arrival. Big whup. But it also means that in the future I won’t have to stop off in St. Catherines on the way to Oshawa (because Oshawa customs isn’t available after 4pm) because I don’t have to arrive at an airport of entry while customs is available. If I could have, but I didn’t, choose to land at Rockcliffe, Carp or Gatineau instead of Ottawa, and maybe save a few bucks on ramp fees. I didn’t, because I wasn’t sure if it was going to be IFR conditions and I wasn’t sure of the arrival and departure procedures for those outlying airports. Maybe next time.