Not a good flight

I went flying today. The “mission” was to deliver Paul P out to Batavia to pick up N9105X from its annual. The secondary missions were to see if the Lance, N43977 was still holding a charge from my flight two weeks ago, and could start itself, and also to get a bit of practice for my upcoming BFR.

I jumped in, hit the master, the fuel pump and moved the mixture up to prime, and hit the crank as quickly as I could. The Lance turned nearly two blades before the battery died, without catching. We hooked up the pre-heater cart battery same as last time, and as I discovered last time I needed to turn on the battery master to get both the cart battery and the Lance battery involved before it would turn over. It started pretty easily, but it sounded like it wasn’t hitting on all cylinders at first. It idled as I finished my pre-flight and office set-up and Paul P put away the pre-heater cart, by which time it was as smooth as ever.

The ceiling was at 2600 ft. Not a great day for buzzing around. Flew out to Batavia and while we’re on the CTAF I hear somebody calling in giving their aircraft type as “Boeing”. Oh, those Stearman pilots, I think, they love to confuse people with that “Boeing” call in. But then I heard him say “B-17 taxiing across the runway”. B-17??? I couldn’t believe it. But sure enough, out in the distance I could see something huge and green moving around on the airport. After we landed, Paul identified it as “Memphis Belle”.

Because of the difficulty we’d had with starting 977, I did something I’ve never done before, and would never do with a non-pilot – I let Paul out of the plane without shutting it down. Even though Paul is a pilot, I still kept my hand on the mixture in case I saw him walking towards the front of the plane. Everybody makes mistakes, and that one has killed even experienced pilots in the past.

The idea was that I’d fly around doing my stuff, and he’d call on the CTAF or text my cell phone if he had trouble and needed me to come pick him up. But the low ceiling was putting a damper on my fun – I didn’t particularly want to to steep turns 500 feet below a solid cloud deck, nor did I want to do stalls that close to the ground. I flew up north, because the cloud deck looked a bit holey-er up there. I got to the lake shore, and after buzzing up and down the shore sight seeing a big I found a hole and flew up over the clouds into severe clear at 3,500 feet. I did some steep turns, but for some reason I was starting to feel queasy. I wonder if that’s because I couldn’t see the ground? I hadn’t heard Paul on the CTAF, but in the course of my travels I’d gotten 20nm away from Batavia and had been down low at some points so maybe I hadn’t heard it.

I decided to head back to Batavia to see if I could see 05X on the ramp or in the pattern. I overflew the airport at 2100 feet, barely 500 feet below the solid ceiling, and didn’t see 05X anywhere around. My airsickness was getting pretty bad, so I turned on the autopilot and the altitude hold and opened the vents. In spite of the fact that the original plan was to wait until I’d heard from Paul P or until 13:00, I decided to head home in spite of the fact that it was only 12:40.

Almost immediately after checking in with Rochester approach, I heard 05X being told to extend his downwind, so I knew that I’d missed him on the CTAF. Good thing he didn’t need my help. I was given another long vector way around the runway 22 approach corridor, and eventually told to enter a left base for runway 25 and contact the tower. In spite of the fact that I was 15nm out, I was cleared to land. I made a nice greaser of a landing, and managed to get home without throwing up, although I made a bit of boo-boo by not taxing over the hold short line before doing my after landing checks. I blame the airsickness.

Because of how crappy I felt, I decided to deal with the faulty battery problems next weekend. And maybe schedule my BFR for some time after I can go out and practice without getting sick.

I’m now home, and of course the clouds have all broken up and instead of a broken layer at 2500 AGL like when I was flying, I’m now looking at one tiny little cloud at 3000 AGL and other than that, “clear and a million”. Sigh.

2 thoughts on “Not a good flight”

  1. I did some surfing to find out the details of the B-17 we saw today. I have seen this particular one at several airshows. The best site I could find was this one,, which identifies this B-17 as the “Memphis Belle Replica”, which was built in 1945 and never saw combat. Wikipedia says this is the aircraft that was used in the Memphis Belle movie

    Apparently the original Memphis Belle is under a restoration project at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Comments are closed.