8 years later … I logged another 2.6 hours

Well, it’s been 8 years, but I finally logged another 2.6 hours of time flying. On Saturday I got to do a little cross-country flight to Gaston’s White River Resort in Lakeview, AR. A few weeks back, I got an e-mail newsletter from CubCrafters listing that their network of dealers will be hosting “Demo Days” throughout the month of June. These are demo sessions across the country promoting LSA and CubCrafters’ Carbon Cub SS. I’ve not seen many LSA, and the Carbon Cub SS is a development I’ve followed, so I took a list of Demo Days events and looked where the closest one might be — it was in Lakeview, AR. That was just close enough to entice me, but still too far. It’s a 4.5 hour drive and at this point I’d have to do the visit in a day trip. That’s just not happening, so I decided to look into air-taxi as I’d seen one advertised before by Downtown Aviation. It wasn’t going to be cheap, so I actively recruited other aviation buffs to join me and help defray costs. I only had one taker, but every bit helps. Downtown Aviation was willing to structure the flight as a training flight to help save us some money. I really appreciate that. So, come Saturday, we loaded up in a Cessna 182 and made a cross-country training flight out to Lakeview and it was a blast.

Gaston's White River Resort

We were set for an 08:30 departure and told we only needed to be there 15 minutes early (I’ve never had a training flight like that before). Weather for the route was already checked, and the plane was preflighted. We got there a little earlier and so I believe we were wheels up before 08:30. Much to my surprise — I was flying. Jay had me take the left seat and without seeing a page of the manuals he ran through things at light speed — prompting me with pertinent details as I needed them. I don’t have a complex aircraft endorsement. I don’t know much about constant speed props, but Jay had me running through the procedures for start and run-up and the next thing I knew I was taxiing us out onto Runway 17 and pushing the throttle to the firewall. Compared to how I remember the 152s I used to fly, we were hauling. The climb performance was great.

Our Ride

It wasn’t long before the amazing avionics made themselves known. We were still climbing to our cruise altitude over Arkansas when the TCAS alarm went off. My first thought — what the heck is that alarm? Jay immediately reacted, announcing what the alarm was while pulling us into a more steep climb while initiating a left bank. As he took control I looked to the right at him and then to the nearest horizon (behind him). I immediately saw a V-tailed bonanza headed for us, but (as a result of Jay’s actions) it appeared to drop below us and passed behind and below. I didn’t notice them altering course, so I wonder if they even knew we were there. The joys of uncontrolled airspace. I swear I’m an airplane magnet, but that’s several stories for another time.

I resumed the climb and course and then Jay started to show me what all the Garmin G1000 could do. It’s AMAZING. WOW! It’s like I stepped into a whole new world. It’s not like I wasn’t sold on EFIS just reading all the aviation magazines, but it’s nothing like seeing it work in person. He had us set for direct route to 3M0 (Gaston’s has their own grass strip) at 4500MSL. With XM weather overlaid on the moving map I had up-to-date weather info telling me the wind components, heading to hold to maintain planned route, alarms that alerted as I approached our intended cruise altitude, COMs that auto tracked to the nearest CTAF, calculated ground speed, true air speed, estimated time in route, an ovoid with range projections, XM radio that auto-muted for COM traffic, just EVERYTHING. I could get used to that. Naturally, we had a bit of headwind that worked against us, but it wasn’t too serious. I think we arrived in about an hour and 15 minutes.  As we approached, Jay said it can be difficult to identify the field (and it was).  He did the soft-field landing and taxied us to the tie downs.

Sitting in the tie-down area was a black and grey Cub (and it was a Carbon Cub SS, I just wasn’t absolutely sure from where we were standing).  It was beautiful, but we could only assume it was what we were there to see.  I didn’t see anyone standing around, so we went to the office and gift shop for info.  Nobody knew what I was talking about and suggested I hit the restaurant.  They didn’t know either.  We headed back out to the airstrip and now there were two Cubs with a few people standing around — that has to be them.  We walked up and joined the crowd.  After some mingling, we went back to the restaurant for a slightly early lunch.

Black and Grey Carbon Cub SS

Let me just say, I really liked the facilities of the resort.  The airstrip was well maintained.  The grounds looked quite nice.  The staff was very friendly.  The decor was eclectic and really “right”.  Our restaurant experience  epitomizes this.  We walked in and the decor is awesome — it’s a bunch of antique-looking outboard motors.  That really fits for a fishing resort.  The A/C was set to a very nice cool temperature.  The hostesses were very friendly.  We were seated immediately at a window table along the south wall of windows.  This overlooks the river and is a very nice feature.  We were able to watch the fisherfolk doing their thing on the river.  Our server was polite, friendly, and prompt.  I decided to order a broiled fish sandwich, being that fish should be their specialty, and I wasn’t disappointed.  It was absolutely fresh and perfectly prepared.  Wow.  Great way to make an impression on me.  Flying or not, I’ll be back.  I’d like to do a family trip out there.

After the meal we went back out to the Cubs and mingled some more.  The dealers did a nice demo showing a good short and soft field takeoff, steep climb out, and slow flight.  After a pause for some refreshments they started giving some demo ride flights.  They did these in the black and grey Cub.  I got the second ride.  I was told that that particular plane was only 2 weeks old.  I’ve never seen a plane that new in my life — certainly not fly in one.  Despite having my big butt on board we made a very short takeoff.  We probably had a 50 yard takeoff roll (hard for me to estimate very accurately from where I was sitting).  We did a pretty quick climb up to what I’m guessing was 2000′ AGL.  Seeing the area from the air was beautiful.  We made “high” orbit (meaning above the pattern) around the north side of the field.  On the eastbound leg I noticed another aircraft about half a mile to our left in a perfectly parallel course.  I think it was the 172 that took off right after us.  Their speed was a touch higher than ours, so I let them pull ahead a bit and then continued our orbit turning in toward the course they just left.  I must say, the ailerons were stiffer than I expected.  That’s not to say they were stiff, just more than I expected.  I should probably also state that the only other control stick I’ve felt was in an Sukhoi Su-29 that was just sitting on the ground.  Everything else I have experience with has had a yoke.  We continued on around the west to the south side and I relinquished control back.  We then did a low power (maybe even idle) descent, cutting around to the north over mid-field, continuing around to an eastbound landing and short stop.  It was neat to come in low and slow in such a capable aircraft.  We were below the tree-top level on final, just above some power lines.  Roll-out after shutdown was short.  What a blast.  I could imagine owning one.  I’d even be tempted to get one with floats.

Both Carbon Cub SS

Carbon Cub SS on a low and slow pass

We stuck around for probably another hour.  The rain rolled through a couple of times and we hung out under a wing.  The demo rides continued for a bit and we decided to pack up and go.  Jay had me do an abbreviated run-up on the “ramp” and I taxied out to the runway and did a soft-field take-off to the east.

As we started the climb, Jay directed me to climb to 5500′ for cruise.  Rain cells were all over the place.  The clouds looked lower than reported conditions, but Jay had me maintain the 5500′ target.  Jay pulled up weather on the G1000 and this is where I was amazed once again.  He picked out the weather and had me deviate to the south to avoid a larger cell.  As we reached cruise altitude it was obvious that we couldn’t remain there and stay legal VFR, so we descended to 3500′.  Coming around the south side of the weather we headed direct to M01.  I saw our ground speed hit 170mph, which is a far cry from cruise in the 152s I trained in.  I’m really liking this modern 182.  As we approached the outer ring of the Memphis Class B I dropped us down to 2500 as Jay took a closer look at the weather to see if we could actually make it into M01.  There were rain cells in our path, but a hole over M01 and small break just north would be enough for us to get in.  I’d never have attempted that, but the XM weather made it possible.  We were able to spot the opening and follow through.  Amazing.

In flight, on the way back home

All in all, a great trip.

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