At last, I made time to climb back into the good old 172 and head out from Trenton-Robbinsville (N87) up north to Lincoln Park (N07). I’ve been planning to do this for over a month now, ever since I finally finished off Lincoln Park back at the end of November last year. Today wasn’t the best weather for flying, but I’ve done too much fair weather flying lately and it was time to mix things up a little bit. A high layer of cloud scud around 9-10 thousand feet provided a nice ceiling and I wasn’t planning on going up above 2.5-3 thousand feet anyways. The route I plotted had me zig-zagging a bit but I wanted to do some VOR navigation and steer clear of any controlled airspace as well.
Flight started off a bit rocky as I chose the wrong runway for takeoff and ended up departing with a tail crosswind. Not fun, but I managed to get off the ground okay. Then once airborne I climbed towards my 2500′ cruise altitude and forgot to back off the throttle and start leveling out at 2000′, so I went close to 3000′ instead and had to climb back down to find 2500′ then trim for level flight. Still, while I was fighting for proper altitude I did manage to stay fairly well on-track towards my first VOR, especially since I had to fight a 20kt cross-wind trying to push me east. So I offset my heading about 30° to keep tracking straight along the radial I was on.
Once I reached the first VOR I tracked out west a bit farther than planned to pass over the Round Valley Reservoir, which looks like a crater lake and is a pretty cool visual feature I like to fly over when I can. After that I turned north again to track towards my last VOR. Now I had the wind mostly to my back so I was up towards 125kts ground speed and really zipping along. I was just thinking to myself how smooth the ride had been so far when things started getting bumpy. And then shortly thereafter started getting extremely bumpy. I had just installed the new AccuFeel 2.0 release for this flight and I’m pretty sure I have this to thank for really getting my pulse pounding as I was shaken and rattled for a good 5 minutes. It felt way longer! Still, despite the fact that I probably would have been in danger of losing my lunch had I been able to feel G-forces, I had throttled back to 50% as soon as the chop got severe and managed to hold my altitude and course fairly well. By the time I hit smooth air again I was only around 2700′. I circled the turbulence section of the vertical trail analysis below (click to see it in the larger version)
Once past my last VOR it was time to switch over to visual navigation and looking out my right window I easily spotted Route 23 and confirmed it by checking the charts and noting it passed just north of a readily-identifiable water body (the Charlloteburg Reservoir). Following that I had my eye out for the airport and couldn’t see it until it popped into view as it was hidden behind the ridgeline I was flying over. I could have made a straight-in approach as Runway 19 was in use but heard some incoming traffic on the multicom and decided to fly a full pattern to give them time to land and clear out. Rounding out on final I finally started to feel the effects of the crosswind as I came down towards the runway. I tried holding her aligned but just kept getting blown off to the side and literally at the last moment (stall horns were sounding!) I threw open the throttles and started to climb out and go around, pulling up flaps almost too late as the wind was blowing me into the trees and I wasn’t climbing fast enough to get over them. So that was a bit hairy. Coming around again the crosswinds of course hadn’t abated but I did line up with a proper crab angle to help offset and although I still had trouble and landed with no flare rather hard I stayed on the runway. You can see below just how askew I was climbing out over the east side of the airport!
Next up I’m thinking a new livery for the Bell 222B and taking her from here all the way down to the city, as that’ll be the longest flight I’ve flown in it so far.