Because of maintenance on 4725B and 68608, I ended
up in 65545--and learned a few things.
You'd think that all Cessna 152s would be alike. Of course, they
are the same in design and fundmental construction; it's in the details
that they differ. The seats in 25B are the 6-way deluxe ones
that go up and down, as well as fore and aft. However, they don't
go down very far--their down is still about four inches higher than in
the other two planes, but they also don't go back very far. So in
25B I can see the horizon in all but the steepest climbs, but my knees
stick up. 608's throttle moves only about half as far from closed
to open as 25B's does. Right now, 25B's front strut needs air, so
the tail is high when it's parked. 608 needs more right rudder in
a steep climb and a stall than 25B does. Their radios are entirely
different. 25B has a useful but complicated arrangement that lets
you tune to one frequency while listening to another, and then switch between
the two frequencies by pushing a button. The VOR receiver works the
same way. It's very handy. 608, on the other hand, has a rock-bottom
basic comm and VOR that do only one thing at a time--but are much easier
to learn to use because they're so simple. What's all this have to do with
65545? Naturally, it has entirely different radios than the other
two. It also has an ADF, which the others lack, and the VOR has a
glideslope indicator, which they also lack. The transponder and the
audio panel are crammed all the way over on the right, hard to get at.
That's all well and good--more stuff to help you out. And the
airspeed indicator is the kind that's supposed to display corrected airspeed,
and I guess that's nice, too.
The problem is, I got the feeling that I couldn't trust the fancy airspeed
indicator. On takeoff roll, it got up to 60 knots in a hurry, but
the airplane wouldn't rotate until it indicated 65 knots, about 10 or 15
knots faster indicated than in the other planes. So I rotated
and then the airspeed indicator needle settled back down below 60, even
though the airplane was continuing to accelerate. Well, that's okay.
The controls--especially the ailerons--felt kind of odd, but the thing
seemed to be flying all right, and after all I hadn't flown it in about
six months, and never alone before, so I kept going.
I climbed to 1200 feet, headed west, and went on up to
2000 feet. Leveled off at 2000 and trimmed it. Took my hand
off the yoke to see if it really was trimmed--and immediately it
began banking to the left, enough so I had to correct it with some vigor.
Odd. I tried it again--let go--and again it started banking left,
and turning left, too, of course. That time I let it go to see what
would happen, and it went to 20 degrees, 30 degrees, and was rolling faster
and faster toward 45 degrees when I stopped it. With the wings level,
it took only a little pressure, hardly noticeable, to keep it from banking.
But it needed a good bit more pressure to turn right than to turn left.
Just to be sure I wasn't imagining it, I tried letting go again, and it
rolled right over to the left again. The more it banked, the more
it wanted to bank more.
That didn't make me feel terribly comfortable (although
I didn't exactly feel terror, either) Anyway
I did a few turns around a point and S-turns along a road and decided that
I could do them well enough, so I headed back to the airport, intending
to do a few landings. But the first turn around the pattern--turning
left--didn't make me feel exactly at ease. Neither did what I'd been
noticing in the airspeed and altimeter readings. The airspeed often
didn't seem to indicate the real speed, and it seemed to vary in ways I
couldn't fathom. Also, the altimeter didn't seem to be reliable,
either. I'd be cruising along at an indicated 1500 feet and look
down to see the ground looking much too close. Open the throttle
wide and haul back, but not seem to be climbing--and then all of a sudden
I'd have climbed. I don't think it was caused by drafts--or
at least not like any I've encountered before.
Finally, I just got to feeling that either I or the airplane
wasn't registering things right today. So I decided to quit for the
day after finishing the second landing. Even that was unsettling.
I think I was landing pretty well, lined up nicely despite a little crosswind,
when all of a sudden the thing just plumped down on the runway. I
was waiting for it to land, but it just suddenly dropped that last foot.
I don't think it was caused by a gust. It didn't feel stalled and
there wasn't a peep from the stall warning horn, but it just sat down.
Then the nose wheel began shimmying and wouldn't stop until the speed got
below about 15 mph. That was enough for me, even though I hadn't
been up even an hour. Had to go to the john, anyway.
Inside the terminal, I was talking with a woman who works
there and who also is taking lessons. I asked if she'd ever flown
that plane and she said she flies it all the time. So I told her
about turning left. She said, "I hope not. We're taking it
to Suffolk in a few minutes."
Well. I'll try to remember to ask her on Monday how it went.
And I'm going to decline any future opportunities to fly N65545.
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