Our Tour of Folsom

A half mile down the road from our house is a big lot that's going to be the new home of a large shopping mall, Kaiser emergency center, 4,000 screen movie theater, and whatever else. They've been building roads and scraping the ground and who knows what in there, so we decided the next time I flew we'd all go, fly over the area, and see what's going on in there. While we were at it, we'd also fly over the middle school my son will be attending next year, and the jr. college in town they've been expanding.

It's March, and been raining for a week or so, and supposed to be raining for the next week or so. I've been thinking the odds of us going up today were pretty small - I even reserved a plane on Wednesday, the only other day in site that may not have rain - but the sun was out and the sky was clear this morning. We piled in the truck and headed off to Rancho Murieta.

While preflighting the plane, I noticed a lot of things the guy that flew it before I did messed up. The tail tie-down was not on the plane, the seat belts weren't fastened over the seats, the control lock wasn't in place, and the sun screen wasn't on the windsheild. Sheesh. So I got it ready, we got gas, and up we went.

We headed towards Folsom, staying down at 2000 feet or below, so we could be in a good spot to see the town and be legal (>1000 feet above populated areas, Folsom is around 300 feet above sea level). It was a little bumpy, but not bad. We got to the area and went over the college first, then the field near our house.

Nothing was in it. Well, one road going through, that we knew was there, and other than that, nothing. There is a raised area that is probably a spot for a foundation, but there is no building going on, no roads, no nothing. I don't know what the equipment there has been doing the last couple of months... Anyway, we went around it a couple of times, and still saw nothing.

That's when my wife started to get a little queasy. So I flew straight out towards the north end of town for a while, so she could settle down, but once you're there, you're there. We flew around the middle school once or twice, in big sweeping circles so they'd not be too steep, and headed on back to Rancho. This is about when my son announced that he had to go to the bathroom. Cool. On the way we opened the passenger window to get some air - some lots of air - and we made it back to the airport fairly quickly.

I got into the pattern, determined to get on the ground as quickly as I could for my passengers sake, and came around on final too high and too fast. I pulled every trick I know to get down on this pass, cuz I didn't want to have to go around again. I wound up making a fairly decent touchdown in about the middle of the runway, instead of on the end, and made it in to let my wife and son out while I went back and did the rest of my landings.

When I took off again, alone this time, something was funny. It had more power, which you'd expect with two less people, but it wasn't as stable as it had been, which you would not expect. I checked everything twice, and couldn't find anything wrong. So I went around and by the time I landed I wasn't noticing the instability any more. It still seemed a little different, but ok. When I landed and pulled around, I noticed that the passenger door was not latched. Doors don't come open during flight, there's too much air pressure outside, but it might have thrown the aerodynamics off a little. Or it might have been me getting carried away with the rudders.

Everyone was better when I parked. That's when I started noticing things about the plane that I hadn't known before. Like: there was no hook in the tail for a tie down (there used to be)... the seat belts didn't fasten closed, the were spring loaded... the control lock wasn't in the plane... Ok, ok, so the last guy wasn't such a goober. I did manage to find the control lock and put it in place, but I completely spaced the sun screen.

My currency would have run out on Thursday, but I'm good now until May. I'm sure the weather will be a lot better then. :-)

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