last required item

Last night, I spent some quality time with xfig and drew up some cross-country flight logs for use with my trip to Keene, NH (KEEN). They fold nicely for my kneeboard and have all the information I need.

My plan was to challenge myself a bit more. I'd check the wind en route and see what I could do with checkpoints. That was the plan, at least, and I'm happy to say that I learned something, although not what I was planning to learn.

First off, the weather wasn't cooperating. It's beautiful here -- perfectly clear skies, almost unlimited visibility (as much as I'd expect in summer), and no wind. At all. All the way up to 9000 feet, BOS was forecasting 9900.

So much for calculating wind, which is really just as well. I had no trouble on the flight out staying on the EEN VOR radial and pulling checkpoints from GDM, but getting an accurate enough time source was problematic. The plane's clock is near-unreadable except for short timings (good for timing out a turn under the hood, but not good for checkpoints a few minutes apart), and neither my watch nor cell phone (set to "flight," which turns off the radio) has sweep-second.

Getting magnetic heading and temperature (the latter for TAS) was no problem. Working the whiz wheel while scanning for traffic -- not so good. It's much easier at the kitchen table. I think that if I were in a real bind, I could probably manage it, but I'd probably be better off getting the raw numbers and then landing early to replan the rest of the trip. Assuming I'm doing this for fuel calculation purposes anyway when dealing with an unexpected wind, setting down and getting more fuel and perhaps calling an FSS fixes all problems at once.

So, it looks like I'll probably want to get some kind of fancy computer for the usual case. At least now I know what sorts of features I need for it to be useful.

The other interesting note was about comfort. It was 32+C on the surface this morning (90+F), and rising, but as soon as I got up above 3000 feet, it cooled way down, to about 18C. It occurred to me that this is just a feature of a high-pressure system: descending air is going to bring with it cooler temperatures from above, and that means a more rapid than normal lapse rate on ascending. I don't remember reading that in any of the books (or in ground school), but it seems quite logical, and it's nice to know.

At EEN, I met up with what appeared to be a local pilot talking with a Cessna aircraft salesman. The latter was showing off a really nice looking Skyhawk SP with G1000 screens. I asked the pilot to sign my log book, and a few other folks (the pilot's wife and some other guy) showed up to introduce themselves. We talked for a couple of minutes. The pilot told me that they're moving the terminal to the other side of the field soon. I thanked them, and went back to go home.

The trip back home was mostly uneventful. I couldn't pick up Boston Approach on the outer frequency for EEN -- probably because they were extremely busy -- so rather than pester them I waited until I was in range for 124.9, and I stayed with them until I was about over Lowell. I was a little distracted by staying clear of Pepperell (jumping possibly active), and I had to reorient myself once on the LWM VOR, but I had the field in sight (and told Boston so) when they kissed me goodbye.

Total time was 2.0. That's probably about 1.2 in the air, and as much as 0.8 taxiing around and doing run-up. In any event, I've got the last piece of the requirements puzzle, and I now have to talk to Tim about doing practice checkrides and then scheduling the real thing.

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