Given that we had mostly clear skies forecast for today and there was a 2 hour block open on the schedule, I decided late last night to go practice landings again today. I booked my old friend N5032G from 11:301:30 and arrived this morning to find it with a bit more than half full gas tanks. It's always nice when you don't have to mess with fueling the plane.

I completed my preflight checks, pushed it out to the line, got in, dialed up the ATIS, and called the tower to ask if I could head to the runway for pattern work. (That sounds better than "landing practice" doesn't it?) The day was shaping up to be good. There were broken clouds at 2,000 but like yesterday, they were mainly near the hills. The wind was calm as I taxied to the run-up area next to runway 31 Right.

Once my run-up checks were complete, the tower directed me to runway 31 Left and cleared me for takeoff. It had been a while since I'd flown this particular plane (I like toe brakes), and I was quickly reminded of how smoothly the engine runs.

I proceeded around the pattern and was cleared to land back on 31 Left. The landing felt... different. It wasn't bad, but it was somehow just a little different than I expected. The plane seemed to float a bit longer, touched down more lightly, but also felt more like it wanted to bounce.

It reminded me of something I tell myself (and often my instructor) every time I fly a new plane. It doesn't matter if you've flown other planes of the same make and model, every plane has its own personality. They're just different in subtle ways.

Over time, that doesn't matter much. You end up flying in the same fleet long enough and it becomes second nature, almost unconscious, to adjust to each one as you climb into the cockpit. But I'm not at that point yet. There are 4 or 5 planes in this rental fleet that I've flown, but I've only flown a few of them enough to make it semi-automatic.

Anyway, I ended up performing a total of 8 landings in the course of 1.5 hours. Unlike yesterday, I didn't get to do any touch-and-go landings. The pattern got a bit more crowded each time I came around. The best I could do is get clearance for an immediate back taxi on 31 Left and takeoff again. But several times I had to go around the long way and wait in line behind 5-7 other planes.

I guess I should have realized that the airport would be busy on one of the first decent flying Sundays we've had in a while.

Posted by jzawodn at January 08, 2006 11:02 PM

Reader Comments
# Jason Fesler said:

Are there any smaller uncontrolled airports nearby that would be in less demand? I've started training out of SAC; pattern work will be done 12 miles away at KF72, 12 miles south out.

on January 9, 2006 06:07 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

That is, in fact, my next move. I'm hoping to get my "stay in the pattern" restriction lifted soon so that I can visit a few nearby airports.

on January 9, 2006 06:43 AM
# kevin hogan said:

Ah this kinda takes me back. I remember my Dad's plane(n23971) was restored and I had a lot of hours in before the restore(first plane I soloed in). I thought that it would have a totally different character and handle different post restore. I could not have been more wrong. Maybe it was the fact that my dad and uncles restored it in the 70s as well as this past restore, but still amazing. It was like the plane only went through a really long paint job.
Really dig the blog, just started reading last week or so.
Good luck in flying and hope you keep with it. I love the citabria (n7528f)and I was reading on your wheel landings. You should give it a try with a "no bounce" landing gear and large wheels, that is fun! I had a few "near death experiences" with 9064b while my instructor (my uncle)laughing in the back.
Take it easy,

on January 9, 2006 06:17 PM
# Paul Pencikowski said:

Great blog, totally agree "airplanes have personalities".


Emailed some airline pals asked "Do airliners have personalities? Does a DC-10 tail-#-ABC fly differently than tail-#-XYZ?"

From FedEx came this reply...

"Not unless an airplane has become out of rig (flaps, spoilers, etc) or has stiff controls to the point it touches my cognizant threshold. Most same model airplanes feel exactly the same. Of course the more sensitive among us have lower thresholds. I didn't get that training. Laugh."


Blog topic/survey: After owning 2 airplanes (1970's and 80's) I swore I'd never do that again (or, maybe unless I could keep it in a hangar). Now I'm contemplating buying a new (maybe used) glider. *Comments appreciated* from any owners out there...

on January 11, 2006 07:11 AM
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