Flying Young Eagles at Collegedale (3M3) · · PAGE 188.
October 22/23, 2005: I spent most of
Saturday and Sunday giving 10 young people a chance to fly in the Enterprise.
Wendell took these pictures as I was taking off from Folks Field for the 10-minute flight
over to Collegedale. In all my flights in and out of here, I have never seen the
cows or the barn in the background.
Ready for the takeoff run from the south end of the usable runway. The
bulldozer that is being used to smooth the new fill dirt down there is visible just to the
right of my airplane in this photo.
Wendell snapped this photo just after my wheels cleared the turf runway.
He estimated the takeoff roll at about 350/375 feet based on the spacing of the old runway
Wendell asked me to fly by on the downwind before departing for the Collegedale
Airport. I did not crop this photo since the wind sock gives some perspective to the
When I got to the Collegedale airport, I heard a lot of "cool" and "neat" expressions. Only one of the six "Young Eagles" was nervous. Saturday afternoon was all about a family of two brothers and sisters, and two of their cousins getting the chance to experience a new point of view. They all took pictures, but somehow, I did not! (Sorry!) I will have to call them to see if I can get them together for a group photo. The ages of the group were from 9-year old Grace to 17-year old cousin Jonathan. I put in my 1-inch booster pad under the right seat, and even needed the local phone book under the seat cushion to give Grace a good view out the front and side of the cockpit.
Brandon was first to fly since he is the one that enjoys Microsoft Flight
Simulator at home. Brandon quickly mastered coordinated turns when I got up to
altitude and gave him a chance to feel the controls. It was a cloudy morning keeping
us down around 2,100 MSL for the early rides around the Collegedale area. Choo Choo
VOR (GQO) is not far from Collegedale and at the edge of the inner ring of the Chattanooga
Class C airspace. Each of the flyers got to see what the VOR looks like out the
window as I flew past it. They also could observe the movement of the VOR OBS needle
and the digital readout of the radial on the front of the Garmin AT SL-30 NAV receiver.
After that, it was a flight away from the the Class C airspace and into the
practice area to try their hand at flying. Here is how the VOR looks from the ground
at a point just off US 41.
Grace was second to ride and I realized that she could not reach the rudder pedals for the coordinated turns that I taught to her older brother Brandon. I had to think of something that Grace would like since she would not have the same experience as her older brother. Since the RV-9A has such gentle stalls, I realized that might be the thing to do. I asked Grace if she liked roller coasters and she quickly gave an enthusiastic "YES" while nodding her head. I slowed down and pulled the nose up until the the faintest buffets were felt and she giggled as I released the up elevator pressure to resume flying. After the second stall, she was laughing. In each flight, I was telling my flyer what would be happening with each maneuver throughout the flight. A thick phone book under the seat cushions helps to raise the shorter flyers up high enough to get a better view over the cowl and outside over the wing.
Cousin Daniel was next, followed by Grace's older sister Victoria, and then another brother Andrew. By the time I took Victoria up, the cloud cover had dissipated enough to let us get up on top over a broken to scattered layer and get into smooth air and up to 180 MPH true airspeed. I made sure that each flyer could see the difference in the air speeds, indicated vs. true airspeed, and the GPS ground speed. Since Victoria was the first to get up high with me, she found out just how smooth it is up there, even with a 25-MPH tail wind or headwind. I was teaching her about coordinated turns up in the smooth air. Cruising at 180 MPH true airpseed, I had her turn to the East first to experience the 205 MPH ground speed reported on my Garmin 296. The she made a smooth 180-degree turn and climbed to the correct VFR altitude and again the airplane trued out at 180 MPH. Now the GPS was showing 155 MPH ground speed. She really understood why pilots seek out the best altitude for cross-country flying.
When the family showed up earlier in the morning, one of them was not planning to fly. Cousin Johnathan was unsure and did not want to go up in my airplane. As each of the other fliers returned from their 30-minute flights, their enthusiasm convinced Johnathan to take the ride. He was apprehensive as he prepared to get aboard. I had to remove the padding under his seat cushion. Johnathan is a big 17-year old at over 250 pounds. I advised him of the lifting capability of the airplane and of my test flights and cross country flights at heavy takeoff weights. When we got up to the smooth air and he realized that not all flying is bumpy, he had changed his mind about the experience.
When I got inside and signed their Young Eagle Flight Certificates, Grace was first to get one. She beamed a big smile and reminded me of young "Laura Ingalls" from the first episodes of the "Little House on the Prairie" television show.
Here is a map overlay showing the GPS ground track from the six flights on
Saturday for he Dunnaway family and the Rose boys. That curve in US 41 at Summit
Hill is where the Choo Choo VOR is located. It is just short distance from US 41.
The flights totalled over 353 miles for today, in six 30-minute flights. My
short flights to and from the Collegdale airport are also shown from the Chickamauga,
October 23, 2005: Sunday had only three Young Eagle flights scheduled, but it turned out to be four flights when another young man named Brandon and his father arrived for an airport visit and discovered what was happening.
Michael was first to fly just after 2 PM. I realized right after take off that Michael was a nervous flyer. He talked about riding a roller coaster at the Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park yesterday and flying was different from a roller coaster on a track. I wished I had briefed him more about what to expect before I started the engine for takeoff. After turning downwind and assessing his feelings, I made sure that all my other turns were very shallow.
He finally relaxed when I got him up above the haze layers into smooth air. Today was CAVU from the ground, but there were visible haze layers easily recognized from the various altitudes. I had been giving the "river of air" explanation for the bumps as we crossed the ridge south of the Collegedale airport on the way to Choo Choo VOR. Each flier on both days understood the analogy and took it in-stride, except for Michael. I realized the sooner I climbed to altitude and into smooth air, the better he would feel. Once we were above the haze and floating along without a bump, he settled down and agreed to fly a very shallow turn with me. When I told him we would be going down soon, I realized that I would need to make a slow airspeed decent to minimize the buffeting as we came down through each layer of moving air. I kept reminding him that the change in the visual appearance of the air layers marked the levels where we could experience the change in the wind speeds and the mild buffeting that would be felt. Since no one was in the pattern at Collegedale, I used a straight-in approach to runway 21 and that was just fine with Michael. Right after we touched the main wheels on the runway, there was a very relaxed Michael now expressing how much he liked the flight.
The other young man named Brandon was next to fly and he was enthusiastic!
We had a good ride like all the others from Saturday, and he got to fly the
airplane. He was very energetic in his appreciation of the flight and loved looking
out at the traffic on Interstate 75 and the patchwork of fields and forested areas in our
home area. He was the first of the Young Eagles that I remembered to photograph
today. This shot was taken in the FBO lobby at Collegedale just before we went
Brandon had been so eager to get flying, I skipped the introduction to the
outside of the airplane until after the flight. My next flier of the afternoon had
arrived and I wanted to explain the control surfaces and other important features of the
airplane to both of them at the same time. Brandon has his hands buried in his
pockets while cello player Graham is still dressed from his early Sunday afternoon cello
recital. The beautiful weather today is plainly evident in the background of this
photo looking East. Graham was the gentleman his attire suggests. After he
learned the proper names of all the control surfaces, he settled in for the ride I had
been giving every flier on both days. When he was in is seat, his mom took his
picture with the headphones on and he gave that same smile you see here. I had an
extra baseball cap that I provided for each of them to wear during their flights as the
sun was getting low in the afternoon sky and we would be heading that way down to the VOR.
The last flier scheduled today was Tyler. His mom was very thankful and
appreciative for his chance to fly. He really had a good time during the flight.
You can tell by my shadow on the wing it was getting late in the afternoon when we
completed his flight.
A cloud deck was coming over the valley from the West and helped me get home without having to face too much sun on my solo departure from Collegedale for the 10-minute flight back to Folks Field. I called Chattanooga approach on 125.1 MHz for the flight home near the inner ring of the Class C airspace. I had seen another airplane down low when I was flying Tyler during the last Young Eagles ride of the day. I wanted to be sure ATC would warn me if another airplane might be "hiding" in the glare of the sun before I passed into the shadow of approaching overcast layer.
Today's four Young Eagle flights totaled over 281 miles of GPS ground track as
Looking back on these two days, each flight introduced me to a new young person and reminded me of how much I have learned in my years as a pilot. I realized that teaching another about the lessons learned in life is not just parenting, but being a tutor and providing guidance to enjoy life's adventures as each new experience comes our way. From the gleeful yank on the joystick that Grace used, to the gentle, touch that most of the fliers discovered was all that was needed to coax the Enterprise through a turn -- I enjoyed seeing each one experience flying. One or two of them had been on airliners, but all were having their first "hands-on" flying experience. I am glad I could be the one to give them this chance to fly.
Wendell was waiting when I landed about 30 minutes before sunset back at Folks Field. He had finished riveting the edges of the horizontal stabilizer during the day on Saturday. I did not go in the shop on Saturday afternoon, so today was the first time I saw the completed parts on the work table with no clecoes needed. I have a couple of pictures posted in his section showing the horizontal stabilizer when he was working on it the other day.
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