Sunday, June 10, 2007

Grob 103 checkout - again

Our club's Grob 103 Twin Astir was out of service for several months for some repairs. Because it was for such a long time, our instructors decided everyone who wants to fly it should get checked out and signed off again, a decision with which I agree. Due to my availabilty and the instructors', it's taken me a couple of months to arrange it. Yesterday was the day.

Flight 1 was to about 3000' AGL. Very good wings-level takeoff. The Grob, especially ours, is pretty heavy on the controls, especially ailerons. So it takes a *lot* of stick pressure if you get wing wobble at low speed, before you get much control authority. The tow was weird... low for a long time. I don't know if the towplane was low on power or if the pilot just chose a very flat flight path. CFI said all his tows were that way. Much lower than I've experienced there, even in the heavy 103.

I had forgotten how great the visibility is from the front seat of the G103. The canopy is huge, and comes down pretty far on the sides. And being new, it's perfectly clear and clean with a blue tint. What a view!

We found a little zero sink, but not much. The flight ended up at 20 minutes. Good approach and landing, but with one mistake. I used my airbrakes on base leg, and part of final approach. I judged that we were undershooting a little, so I closed them all the way. We were still undershooting a bit (not dangerously) but I figured we were just getting more headwind or some sink. Then CFI said to close my brakes, and I said they were. But when I looked out, they were up about an inch. I had closed them until I felt a bump, which I assumed was the locking detent... but apparently what I was feeling was some bump before they were closed. And they are so effective, an inch is very noticeable! Once I pushed harder and closed them (still not locked closed), we proceeded normally. I even paid better attention to my aiming point and landed nicely within the box.

Because of that issue, CFI wanted to see one more flight, even though my pattern and touchdown were great and my speed control was right on. So we went up for a pattern tow, or so I thought. Remember that low tow flightpath? By the time we got to where I would normally release from a pattern tow, we were only at about 700' AGL, which would have made for an abbreviated pattern. So I hung on. By the time we got to the initial point area again, we were at about 1300' AGL, so I had to waste some altitude before entering the pattern. This pattern and approach and rollout were just fine. CFI liked my approach planning very much.

So now I'm signed off to fly the Grob, which is a very nice ship for passengers. But... one of the instructors will be taking it to a cross-country workshop for a week, and then we're talking about placing it at Tehachapi for most of the summer. That'll be great for some XC mentoring - maybe I'll get my Silver there soon - but not so great for passengers.

No comments: