I received a phone call from Mark Putzer this afternoon, asking if I would like to go flying this afternoon, and to meet him at the field at around 4:00 PM, weather permitting of course.
The afternoon was a picture perfect calm fall day, and upon arriving at the field I met Buzz Haviland and Dennis Sporing who were just loading up their planes to head back home. After a brief bench flying session with them I got busy and got out my Piper Pawnee crop duster to get it flying again. It had been grounded for a few months awaiting repairs on the landing gear assembly, and after completing the necessary repairs, it was time to fly it again. Dennis and Buzz both stayed around to watch me with the Pawnee, and Buzz is getting anxious to get the necessary stick time developed for his skills, so he can also fly his own Piper Pawnee that he now has.
In the meanwhile Mark Putzer showed up with his plane and got in a couple of great flights, and what seemed to me like several dozen beautiful touch and goes and landings too. Mark sure has progressed rapidly in his flying skills, and I sure look forward to seeing him continue at the rapid pace he is on track with, and with continued success also.
Next up was the Pawnee's turn and after a very short roll-out for takeoff, and the tail is coming up wayyyy tooooo soon and the plane is desperately trying to nose itself over from excess down-thrust. I grabbed a bunch of up elevator to attempt to plant the tail back down to allow the plane to achieve more speed, but rather it simply lifted off almost ever so gently on it's own, and we were aloft.....I had a bit of a time trimming things back out, especially with the excessive down thrust condition, but managed to throttle way back so things were very manageable then. I did a few runs past the runway and laps around the pattern and then started to feel the plane out at reduced speeds and feeling it out for any stall characteristics and such, but it just would not show me any nasty habits.
This plane banks and turns either shallow or sharply, almost by itself without use of any elevator or rudder....just simply bank it over like you want and set back and watch it turn.....flat and true.
After a few passes around the pattern, I decided I would set up for some slow and low approaches for landing, to get the feel of them with this plane again.
A couple of low passes, and it felt good all around so it was time to shoot for a landing. That was accomplished without even trying to, as this thing just glides in on the huge wings almost without effort. A nice soft landing at a very slow speed was pleasant and enjoyable to do. Once on the ground and having to give it a bit of power to taxi again, and the nose was wanting to dig in again and the tail kept coming up. I am definitely going to re-check the down thrust angle before I do anymore flying with this plane, and get that corrected.
Mark Putzer got in several more flights with his beautifully modified trainer as well, and soon we had more company to enjoy the afternoon with, when Cloyce Mann showed up to fly his Twist. He makes it look so effortless with his inside and outside loops and rolls in all sort of manner and directions. He is a very skilled pilot in his own right.
The sun was down behind the mountain range and dusk was fast approaching when we packed up for the afternoon to head back to the hangar. A great time was had by everyone there, and I will be flying the Piper Pawnee a lot more in the very near future again I am happy to report.