Clear skies and reports of good weather for the next twelve hours seemed like a good time to fly to Yreka to visit our daughter.
We opened the hanger door the propeller cast a shadow in the form of a smile just under the nose. It reminded me of bird about to take its first flight, clinging to the edge of the nest wings stretched waiting for a rush of air to lift off.
With a fresh annual and new tires it seemed glide over the yellow stripe that guided to run up area. The pilot did an extensive pre-flight to be sure all the nuts and bolts were secure and proper. The fresh oil in the engine forced the oil pressure to the upper edge of the green arch as the engine races at ninety percent of full power for a run-up check. The locked wheels strain to hold the Cessna in place as the vital functions are checked. The prop wash flattens the tall grass and strips the cat tails behind us as the wings create lift and rock from side to side eager to take flight. With all the pre-flight checks done and lights all green, we ease up to the hold short line. After a check of any traffic and a radio call we roll to the runway. A final check of the instruments and the pilot gently pushes the throttle to the firewall . The thrust of the engine tries to twist the 172 off the center line. With some cross control we lift off in just seconds. It felt like a rubber band stretched past it’s limit, and we were free of gravity rocketing skyward.
The Sutter Buttes passed under the right wing and I was able to get some good photographs with my new Go Pro camera mounted on the landing gear. As we headed north, Mount Shasta directly in the smear of the propeller and Mount Lassen off the right wing tip, the view off the left wing was of more interest. A huge cloud bank obscuring the Cascade Mountains came as a surprise to both the pilot and the passenger. We both heard the weather and it was for clear skies all around and all day. Past experience taught us now to rely completely on the weather service as things can change quickly. So we made the decision to return to our home port and make the trip to Yreka on another day.
We flew across mid field to check wind and traffic, the wind was favoring runway 33 and there were no aircraft on the ground or in the air. We came around and flew a left pattern for 33. By the time we made the turn on final approach the wind had changed to a crosswind from the west. By the time we touched down the crosswind was severe and I am sure we landed on one wheel with the wingtip nearly touching the pavement. We made it to the hangar shoved the Cessna in its roost just as the rain began to fall. By the time we got the doors closed, it sounded like bullets hitting the tin roof. Another successful flight due to good judgment.
Words by Dave Harris