Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Introducing LiteFlyer

My next contract is a little different than what I've been doing lately. I'll be flying with a client, as usual, this time in the client's airplane. The biggest difference is not in who owns the airplane, however, but in what sort of airplane it is. It's small. It won't quite be the smallest airplane I have ever flown, but close. It cruises at about the speed I normally touch down on the runway. The owner contacted me to help her fly it from the factory in Florida back to Canada, a long trip for a little arirplane, especially factory new.

My client is also new to aviation, a very new student pilot. Her training record reveals that she can fly straight and level, make medium turns, correct for drift, and keep a look out for other aircraft. That is ninety percent of the mechanical task of flying an airplane to Canada, but there's the little matter of take-offs and landings, and the big matter of planning a 1500 nautical mile trip through several kinds of weather and a lot of complex airspace.

Waiting for my flight down to Orlando to meet her, I look over the checklists and information she has sent me on the airplane. Its "never-exceed" speed is my "over-the-fence" for landing speed. At least there will be lots of time to think. And think I should. The difference between the cruise speed and the clean stall speed is only 40 mph, and the airplane has little mass, so little momentum and that would be only a few seconds. The manufacturer's checklist advises three-point power-on landings for the little airplane. It has conventional gear, but retractable, because it's an amphibian.

What? You want to know what kind of airplane it is? Why don't I let Lite Flyer tell you herself.

I've spoken to her on the phone a few times and now I'm meeting her at the baggage carousel. Here goes another adventure! For the next week you can read both our blogs, to follow our progress.


nec Timide said...

Sounds like a great adventure. Can't wait to read about it.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Cool! I find myself really looking forward to this series. As a non-professional pilot I often read your posts on commercial aviation with wonder and awe at the pure difficulty of your daily job. You do a great job of explaining and bringing the reader into your world but when all is said and done it's a world that I'll never be a part of. This on the other hand... this is a grand adventure of the sort that I might one day undertake. It's a difficult task but it is in within the realm of my certification and abilities. There are a lot of parallels to draw between this adventure and Rinker Bucks' "Flight of Passage" with the obvious exception of having a highly skilled pilot along for the ride. :) Be Safe, Fly Well, Report Often!

Anonymous said...

In May I did a cross-country in an old 172M. Your trip will be even slower than mine! I'm looking forward to hear about it.

Is this with your same company?

Anonymous said...

Don't know what the Time Delay is on this series.... but with Hurricane Hanna moving up the eastern coast of the USA it might just be an "interesting" trip. At least she bought the model with the roof.

Anonymous said...

Holy Crap that thing looks pretty precarious!

One benefit is that you can land on water, if it ever came to finding a place for a forced landing. :)

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

LiteFlyer will never forget her first Cross Country trip. Every day will be an adventure of a lifetime.

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

You can wave at the Canadian geese flying south in that thing. Have a terrific time. Be careful.


Anonymous said...

Be careful of the Canada geese flying south, cause if you hit one of them in that little thing it might be all over for you.

Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful! Be careful, Have fun and take a lot of pictures please. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the trip.

OK, one snarky joke. "in pre-flight, be sure to check your ailerons for evidence of bird strike." Done, really, there's sure nothing wrong with low & slow aviation. It's just a different kind of flying than flying for transport. Wave to the geese for me.

Wishing for clear skies,